Colorado's Rocky Mountains tower so high they can take your breath away. Not only because the sweeping mountain range is a spectacular sight, but because the elevation brings you so far up that there's actually less oxygen. These heights are ideal when it comes to the state's ski resorts, many of which rise to over 12,000 feet (by comparison Denver is a mile high at 5,280 feet). That means more snowy days, which means better skiing overall. When planning a ski trip to Colorado, it's not essential to base it on the elevation of the resort. However, the peak height of a particular resort can tell you something about its conditions and opening and closing times. The state's ski resorts are spread throughout the Colorado Rockies, perfect when visiting any part of the state – so grab your skis and head out.
Way Up High
Experienced skiers may want to take on the highest ski resort in Colorado: Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. A-Basin, as it's also known, is located in Dillon and hits its peak at 13,050 feet, which is actually above the tree line. It includes some of the highest skiable slopes in North America. Nearby Loveland Ski Area is a close second, hitting 13,010 feet at the top of its slopes. A-Basin is famous for staying open late into the spring, often allowing visitors to hit the runs until mid-May, thanks in part to its high elevation.
In the Middle
Of course, height isn't everything when it comes to skiing. While elevation can mean more plentiful snow that layers the slopes in extra powder, it doesn't always make one resort better than another. Some of Colorado's largest and most popular ski resorts clock in between 12,000 and 12,999 feet, which is still quite staggering when it comes to elevation. Breckenridge Ski Resort hits 12,998 feet, while Aspen Snowmass, in an area known for its posh hotels and amenities, makes it to 12,510 feet. Keystone Resort, an extensive ski resort with several mountains and snow-filled back bowls, reaches 12,408 feet, similar to the neighboring Copper Mountain Resort (12,313 feet).
Other midrange elevation ski resorts are Telluride Ski Resort (12,260 feet) in the southwest region of Colorado, Crested Butte Mountain Resort (12,162 feet) and Winter Park Resort (12,060 feet), a ski area easily accessible from Denver.
Surprisingly, Vail Ski Resort has one of the lower elevations in Colorado. The massive ski area, which can take days to fully explore, tops out at 11,570 feet, similar to nearby Beaver Creek Resort, which maxes out 11,440 feet. That doesn't necessarily impact the ski conditions that much, however. Both resorts are incredibly popular and well-kept, and generally remain open until mid-April. Check the weather conditions ahead of your trip to see if there's a better chance of fresh snow, but don't be put off by a lower elevation when selecting which resort to visit.
At the Bottom
Some of the smaller ski resorts are located around 10,000 feet or lower, but that's still pretty high when it comes to the mountains. Durango Mountain Resort, which comes in at 10,800 feet, and Steamboat Ski Resort, at 10,568 feet, are both great for skiing and don't suffer a lack of snowfall. Even the Powderhorn Resort, in Mesa, at 9,850 feet, offers an ideal Colorado ski experience.