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1

Vail Village is a picture-perfect replica of a 1960s European ski resort, maintaining a small-town feel. Photograph courtesy of Vail Mountain

Vail Village is a picture-perfect replica of a 1960s European ski resort, maintaining a small-town feel. Photograph courtesy of Vail Mountain )

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Breckenridge boasts the slogan “Come a visitor, leave a local.” Photograph courtesy of the Breckenridge Tourism Office

Breckenridge boasts the slogan “Come a visitor, leave a local.” Photograph courtesy of the Breckenridge Tourism Office )

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Photograph courtesy of the Breckenridge Tourism Office

Photograph courtesy of the Breckenridge Tourism Office )

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Photograph courtesy of the Breckenridge Tourism Office

Photograph courtesy of the Breckenridge Tourism Office )

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Vail Mountain boasts over 5,000 acres of skiable terrain. Photograph courtesy of Vail Mountain

Vail Mountain boasts over 5,000 acres of skiable terrain. Photograph courtesy of Vail Mountain )

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Aspen/Snowmass could be considered one of the finest skier experiences in North America drawing both skiers and snowboarders. Photograph courtesy of Aspen/Snowmass

Aspen/Snowmass could be considered one of the finest skier experiences in North America drawing both skiers and snowboarders. Photograph courtesy of Aspen/Snowmass )

Experience Colorado by the Slopes

Published Dec 06, 2018 • Last Updated 01:58 pm, December 06, 2018

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Colorado is known for many things, but when the weather turns and snow starts to fall, the state is first and foremost known as a skier's paradise. Boasting multiple resort areas that cater to all skiers – from those still mastering the pizza/French fry turns on the bunny slopes to those who enjoy the thrill of a double black diamond run to start your day – the Rocky Mountain slopes keep locals and visitors coming back again and again.

While there are numerous places to ski (or snowboard, if you must) in the state, some of the largest, or at least most popular, destinations include Vail, Aspen, and Breckenridge.

Vail Mountain, located in the Rockies about 100 miles from Denver, offers over 5,000 acres of skiable terrain and is home to the legendary Back Bowls. As one of the largest ski resorts in the world, Vail has a wide diversity of terrain – making it an easy pick for a family or group with varying skill levels.

Along with its sister mountain, Beaver Creek, Vail tends to attract a high–end clientele which can sometimes make the hotel and dining options a little pricey. However, despite some of Vail's more opulent features, Vail Village looks more like a picture-perfect replica of some 1960s European ski resort and maintains a small town feel, conveniently equipped with heated sidewalks.

Locals say the only drawback to Vail, and Breckenridge for that matter, is the sheer mass of people that descend on the mountains during peak season. Both are within driving distance of Denver, so they tend to pick up a lot of day skiers, especially on the weekends and holidays. However, both areas have added high speed lifts to help keep the traffic moving up the mountain during the day but getting to some of the more remote or difficult terrain at the start of the day can take a while.

Breckenridge was once a small town with only one mountain and has now expanded to a year-round resort with five peaks. The mountain has about 3,000 acres of skiable terrain spread across nearly 200 trails. The mountain has some of the highest elevations, offering challenging options for advanced skiers, but also has a lot of long gentle slopes at the lower section of the mountain, making it a good option for people just starting out.

The town, referred to as Breck, is also considered reasonably low-key as major ski areas go. Under the slogan "Come a visitor, leave a local" the town is a real town – the population doesn't leave when the snow melts – giving the whole area an authentic feel that tends to be popular with all ages but does have a younger vibe. One of their mountain passes is called the "Epic Pass" – that's got to tell you something.

Aspen/Snowmass could be considered one of the finest skier experiences in North America from the actually skiing to the lodging, dining, and other activities for people of any age. The resort offers four mountains with distinct terrain, a desirable feature because those learning to ski and those trying to live out their Winter Olympic fantasies often wouldn't even end up on the same hill. Aspen is also too far out from Denver for day-trippers, which means the lift lines tend to be shorter and there might be fewer snowboarders.

The town itself is an interesting mix of history and modern luxury. What started as an old silver mining town is now one of the premier winter destinations that can often attract very wealthy visitors – having visited Aspen once, I personally will never forget seeing a woman walk through snow slush and not care that the edge her full-length mink coat was dragging through that dirty snow, because, I have to assume, things like that just don't both you when you are that alarmingly wealthy.

Besides the famous clientele that like to make Aspen their winter holiday destination, the mountains themselves, particularly Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain, offer runs that can challenge even lifelong skiers and keep winter sports enthusiasts coming back year after year.

Whichever mountain you choose, Colorado skiing is an experience in and of itself. The Rocky Mountains make for one of the best backdrops in the world and the dry powder snow is a treat for those of us use to New England skiing where skiing can suddenly feel a lot like ice skating, or California skiing where the temperatures can make for a lot of wet snow, slowing everybody down.

And one of the nicer, but maybe less promoted, facts about all of these mountains? People can groom the runs and make snow when there is a shortage, but people can compete with what nature made. Each resort has an outlined sustainability plan or a public commitment to being environmentally conscious, hopefully protecting the natural wonder of the mountains for a very long time.

Other Things to Do

If you head out to one of these areas for vacation but don't necessarily want to ski – or ski every day you are there because, let's be honest, ski boots are not the most comfortable form of footwear day in and day out – the resorts and ski towns still have plenty of other activities to offer folks during the winter months.

As most of these areas are considered resorts, they all have the dining options, spas, ice-skating rinks, etc. Of the lot, Aspen might have the most to offer in terms of other activities, in large part because it would be difficult to just come for a day.

Aspen is often considered to have the best Après-Ski scene in North America – they have a champagne bar that is towed around Aspen Mountain on a snow cat, just as an example. The area also offers plenty of more traditional winter activates too like dog sled rides, snowmobile rentals, and fireworks over the mountains.






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