Ski season in Colorado is gloriously lengthy: most mountains are open until early or mid-April.
Yet in a state with so much skiiable terrain, it can be confusing to figure out which park will deliver the exact experience you crave. Allow us to assist.
If you want to... hone your athletic prowess
Try... Steamboat Springs
This is Olympic territory, and they won't let you forget it. Ski Town, U.S.A. has produced a staggering 69 Winter Olympians, some of whom teach in the local ski schools. The mountain is famous for its trademark Champagne Powder, which is fluffy, smooth, and ultra-shreddable. With four terrain parks and a high ratio of advanced runs, Steamboat is for the fit and fearless.
If you want to... après ski as much as you actually ski
Try... Aspen or Beaver Creek
"The après rivals the skiing" at Aspen Mountain, a ritzy resort village that operates in conjunction with three other ski areas (including swanky Snowmass). There's an exclusive event space on top of the mountain, excellent nightlife and shopping, and celeb sightings up the wazoo. Beaver Creek has a comparable vibe, with escalators carrying families directly to the chairlifts. Don't underestimate the actual terrain, though: "there are no beginner runs" at Aspen, and "The Beav" hosts World Cup races.
If you want to... get your adventure on
There are runs for every level at this locals-approved mountain just a couple hours from Denver. But what it's really famous for is night skiing-- most days, the terrain park is open till 6 p.m. and select runs stay open till 8. There are also night tubing, dinnertime sleigh rides, and a five-acre skating lake.
If you want to... feel comfy as a beginner
Try... Telluride or Loveland
Telluride is relatively far from civilization, which makes for short lift lines and the general uncrowded-ness that puts beginning skiers at ease. Twenty-three percent of the runs are beginner level, too, so it's a perfect place to train before tackling one of Colorado's trendier mountains. Loveland has a separate, beginner-friendly area at its base and "gentle slopes perfect for learning." Make no mistake, though: you'll find harder runs on both faces for after you've found your footing.
If you want to... please everyone in your massive group
Try...Vail or Breckenridge
Vail is the biggest single ski area in the United States, so there's a good chance everyone will find a happy place somewhere on 196 trails. Vail Village is accessible, upscale, and adorable to boot. Breckenridge is also famous for cutesy architecture that makes it "the perfect mountain town." Aficionados say "Breck" has some of the best overall terrain in Colorado-- you can't go wrong.
If you want to... roll with the locals
Try... Winter Park or Wolf Creek
About an hour's drive from Denver, Winter Park gets tons of local action. It's known for being family and budget-friendly, but with no shortage of cool perks like a superpipe and built-in helmet cameras for rent. Wolf Creek is also popular with locals and has, according to many reports, "the best snow in all of Colorado."