3 of the Best Places To Go Downhill Skiing in Colorado

Amity Moore Joyce
| January 25, 2024 | 1 Minute Read
View of the slopes, ski lift and resort at Purgatory in Durango, Colorado © Christian Ridings

Purgatory, Durango

This southwestern Colorado ski resort (above) sometimes gets overlooked in favor of Summit and Eagle County slopes that have a reputation for catering to advanced skiers. But what it might lack in lengthy double blacks, (it has about a dozen short trails) it makes up for in runs that beginners and intermediate skiers appreciate. It’s especially kid-friendly, since children 12 and younger can ski for free with the Power Kids Pass. For the 2023–’24 season, Purgatory made skiing more affordable for everyone by offering lift tickets on select days for $9. It’s a demand-based pricing program that rewards visitors for planning ahead. The resort got a bump in popularity last year when it earned the No.33 spot on Conde Nast Traveler's Readers’ Choice Awards for Top 40 U.S. Ski Resorts.

Aerial view of the snowy slopes at Vail Ski Resort on a sunny day Max Ritter

Vail Ski Resort, Vail

When you look up at the runs (above) from the base of Vail Mountain from the Vail Village and Lionshead side, they look steep. When you look at them from the top of the Northwoods Express Lift, you know that they are. Sure, a green catwalk here meets a green run there, but the blues and blacks dominate on both the front and in the legendary back bowls of the resort’s 5,317 acres of skiable terrain. Vail is one of the largest ski resorts in the world, so it has something for every level. But it’s most appreciated by intermediate-to-advanced skiers. What’s one of the notable pistes? Riva Ridge, a blue-black combo that extends nearly four miles across the mountain’s face.

Three skiers taking a selfie while riding a ski lift on a snowy mountain Ian Zinner

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Dillon

A bumper sticker that declares “I Ski A-Basin” means one of two things: The vehicle’s driver knows a thing or two about skiing, or the driver has made it down the mountain in one piece and wants to declare that fact to the world. Arapahoe Basin (above) is known for its high-elevation skiing (topping out at 13,050 feet) and challenging terrain; it’s where hard-core skiers go. They love the area’s October-to-June ski season, the laidback vibe, the sense of camaraderie and the community’s focus on the sport. Lodging at the base doesn’t exist, which is OK for people drawn to A-Basin. They aren’t seeking frills; these experts are seeking thrills.

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