There are far too many outstanding ski resorts out there for us to possibly list them all in FREESKIER’s 2016 Resort Guide. While the top-ranked resorts receive due credit, it’d be preposterous for us not to highlight some of the resorts that are favorites among our squad; each of these spots serves up rowdy terrain and serious snow totals. Put ‘em on your list.
Words / Donny O’Neill
In a state where a select few resorts seem to hog the recognition, Crested Butte is a hidden gem. Rather than following the crowd up Interstate 70, drive south on the infinitely more scenic US-285.
Once you’ve arrived at the classic ski town of Crested Butte, you may never want to leave. It’s one of the best in the American West. Its bustling community, local shops and stellar dining and drinking establishments—we suggest you grab a drink at Montanya Rum on Elk Ave—are all highlights. However, it’s the skiing that comprises the true soul of this place.
You’d be hard-pressed to find more challenging inbounds skiing in all of Colorado. Teocalli Bowl, which now features 40 acres of new terrain opened last winter, and the North Face are full of steep lines and lofty cliffs, with runs all rated as “Extreme Terrain.” For the most confident shredders, a quick hike to the top of “The Butte”—the resort’s signature 12,161-foot peak—will deposit you atop puckering lines like Banana and Funnel. Drop in, if you dare. You can also enter these lines via a traverse from High Lift or Silver Queen.
Words / Thacher Stone
Located in southwest Colorado, Telluride Ski Resort offers some of the most diverse terrain in the United States. The picturesque resort towers over the iconic ski town of Telluride and is host to 127 trails and 3,845 feet of lift-accessed vert, spread across 2,000 acres.
While the resort has runs catering to all levels of skiers, the big appeal, here, is the assortment of expert terrain; 41-percent of the trails on the mountain cater to advanced/expert skiers, and are widely considered some of the most thrilling in all of Colorado.
Telluride’s best terrain is its array of hike-to lines. Check out the Mountain Quail Couloir in the Black Iron Bowl; ride the Revelation lift and traverse out to one of the ten Gold Hill Chutes; or take the hour-long hike out to 13,320-foot Palmyra Peak, east of Black Iron Bowl, for 200 acres and 2,000 vertical feet of pure bliss. If you’ve got some extra funds, check out Telluride Helitrax, the resort’s heli-skiing operation that accesses some 200 square miles of San Juan-epicness.
Jibbers take note: Telluride houses three pristine terrain parks and is the home resort of Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy.
Words / Thacher Stone
Situated just 53 miles from Denver, CO on I-70, Loveland Ski Area is ultra-accessible and offers 2,210 feet of vertical across 1,800 skiable acres. Averaging 422 inches of annual snowfall, Loveland is a less-crowded, more pow-filled offering for visitors to Colorado and Front Range ski commuters alike.
You’ll enjoy exploring the basin, complete with a multitude of long, winding groomers, open bowls and terrain parks. Wind lips, cliffs and challenging terrain await in the high country. Chairs 1,8 and 9 will be your go-to for maximum thrills. Additionally, you’ll want to reap the fluffy benefits of a free ride above Loveland’s lift-accessed areas, courtesy of The Ridge Cat. That’s right, a free cat ride to tear up fresh tracks atop the Continental Divide.
For good eats, try the Loveland Deli & Coffee Shop at the Basin Lodge in the morning for a delicious breakfast sammie, and stop by the Loveland Rathskellar post-shred for an ice cold brew.