Off the Beaten Path
Six underrated ski resorts for an authentic Colorado experience
As soon as the first snowfall dusts the Rockies, Coloradans eagerly await their chance to hit the slopes at one of the many ski resorts our state has to offer. With world-class skiing all across Ski Country USA, extreme winter athletes and après skiers can’t go wrong with any resort they choose.
But, what about the uncommon and less crowded terrain? Albeit smaller than some of Colorado’s well-known ski towns, these underrated mountains certainly don’t lack in quality.
Photo by Scott DW Smith
An alternative to the packed ski resorts, Wolf Creek has an old-school feel with inexpensive lift tickets, 430 inches of snow annually and 1,600 skiable-acres. This southern spot has unparalleled views of the San Juan Mountains as well as backcountry territories with chutes, ridges and bowls galore.
A family-owned resort, this quaint ski town feels like you have the mountain to yourself and it's only 90 minutes outside of Denver. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly spot or night skiing, Granby Ranch Ski Resort has you covered. All of the ski runs end back at the base, making it easy to meet up by the fire pit (and bar) if there are different skill sets within a group.
Photo courtesy of Visit Longmont
Alpine and Nordic trails, freestyle terrain park, and 100% groomed skiing makes the 680-acre park a hidden gem in the ski community. Effortlessly cruise from Denver just 47-miles northwest to Eldora Mountain to find equally as stunning mountain views as if you drove for hours. At the top of the Corona chair lift, be sure to check out the appropriately-named The Lookout Restaurant to admire snowy peaks of the Continental Divide and people watching while enjoying lunch.
Although it originally opened in 1960, Echo Mountain is relatively new to Colorado’s ski scene. After becoming a terrain park and private training facility for 11 years, the management reinvented itself in October 2016. Now, Echo Mountain gives guests a less intimidating haven to improve their skills before graduating to more extreme terrain. With incredibly reasonable lift-tickets (read: only $55 for adults), and not far from Idaho Springs, Echo Mountain is the perfect Saturday ski getaway without the added planning pressure.
Photo by Hayley Houlihan
Near Salida, Monarch Mountain has 64 unique runs and averages nearly 350 inches of fresh powder annually. The park offers plenty of blues and greens for newbies, but also has 1,635-acres of guided backcountry double blacks for the experts. Book an afternoon with ‘Cat Skiing’ and ride up the peaks via a cat track that includes extreme skiing on virtually untouched snow, followed by a fresh brew in a private yurt with some of your fellow ski buddies.
This no-nonsense park gets right to business with only one chair lift that delivers riders straight to the goods: 1,819-acres of outrageous backcountry skiing. With absolutely no groomed runs or set trails, anything is fair game at Silverton Mountain for those needing an adrenaline kick. The mountain offers both guided (December 27 – March 17) and unguided skiing (March 17 – April 14), but also provides heli-skiing to some of the most diverse and rugged areas of the mountain.