With so many ski and snowboard resorts in the Rockies, it’s tough to figure out exactly where to spend your hard-earned cash and where to seek the best snow. In this, our annual rundown of our favorite spots to ski and ride, we decided to keep it simple. We tell you that one run you have to hit, where you need to go to find the goods, and where to sit back and enjoy life a bit when you are done.
One Run: Follow the line straight under Chair 1—it’s one of the best continuous steep pitches in the state.
The Stash: The cat-accessed skiing off the Continental Divide has no lift access, so it doesn’t see as many skiers. Sign up for a free pass at the base area.
Aprés: Don’t call yourself a football fan if you haven’t watched a Broncos game in the Rathskeller.
ELDORA MOUNTAIN RESORT
One Run: Most people simply use Muleshoe to get to Corona Bowl, but it’s one of the longest runs on the mountain and tosses in a few bumps between screaming groomed piste with a wide open view.
The Stash: The newly thinned Gully Glades thin out the crowds.
Aprés: Bring your laptop up from Boulder and “work” over a marg in the Timbers Tap Room.
One Run: Take the short hike to the top of Peak 8 and ride all the way to the bottom (or just hop on the Imperial Express and repeat).
The Stash: Hike to the top of Peak 6 and head in either direction.
Aprés: We are big fans of the bourbon at Breckenridge Distillery.
One Run: Get yourself to Chair 7 and lap it.
The Stash: Hike Palmyra Peak. It offers some of the best in-bounds big-mountain skiing in Colorado and boasts big cliffs, spines, and steep open faces.
Aprés: Get yourself into town and belly up at the Last Dollar Saloon.
One Run: You can’t go wrong “lapping screamers under the new American Eagle gondola—no matter the weather.
The Stash: It may be obvious but you won’t be disappointed if you ride the free Tucker Mountain Snowcat.
Aprés: Head to JJ’s Rocky Mountain Tavern for pizza and live music.
One Run: Forever. In the words of Peter Kray, “I love the way the open slope falls down into the valley like a tilted meadow, and, yes, I love the hubris of making long, floating arcs right under the chairlift.”
The Stash: The trees on the skier’s right of Riva Ridge, especially the tight ones lower down often get overlooked in the mad rush to get back to the base.
Aprés: We once had a longtime ski writer get offended when we suggested we go dancing at Vendetta’s. Sounds like a good recommendation.
One Run: How do you call yourself a skier if you have not schussed down the Birds of Prey World Cup course.
The Stash: Well-heeled Beaver Creek skiers tend to keep to the respectable groomers. That leaves a lot untouched in trees like Royal Elk Glade.
Aprés: Pazzo’s in Avon serves one hell of a martini.
One Run: It’s odd to recommend a green, but Schoolmarm is the type of beginner run that can turn nubes and kids into lifelong shredders.
The Stash: Get thee to the Outback. The trees to the far skier’s right seem to go on forever and hold soft snow late into the day.
Aprés: You may have to wait in a long line but it’s worth it for The Crepe Stand.
One Run: Start with a few laps on Eagle, on the backside of the mountain. Then Piney and Burnout are the runs to take for a more challenging high-speed run through the natural rolls and bumps.
The Stash: We have not skied it yet but we know that Cooper is adding a new lift, 14 new trails and new double black terrain to the mix this year. Or try Black Powder—because it’s in the trees on the front side, the snow stays good and cold, there are very few people on it, and you can make it a real burner to get back to the bottom of the double chair.
Aprés: Everybody heads to Katie O’Rourke’s Irish Pub.
One Run: One hardened local gives us this intel: “First, I go up Pali chairlift, for a warm up lap down Slalom or Wild Cat. From there I head up the Lenawee chairlift, hike to the top of the East Wall and then down North Pole.
The Stash: The newly opened terrrain in the Beavers has lots of spots that get missed on a powder day—if you are wiilling to work for them.
Aprés: Grab a Bacon Bloody Mary at the 6th Alley Bar and then head to the Beach—there is always a party to be found.
One Run: Monarch has a wide range of diverse terrain with natural snow, huge sunny bowls, finger chutes, wide open groomed runs, stunning views, a terrain park and an amazing family friendly atmosphere. You can’t go wrong.
The Stash: Mirkwood Bowl. But bring an extra pair of lungs. Lap after lap here is the ultimate adventure for advanced skiers and boarders.
Aprés: Be here for the New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade & Firework Show. An on-snow parade down the mountain, lit only by torches.
One Run: The Silver Queen Gondola takes you from the very streets of town and whisks you up over 3,000 vert to the top in under 15 minutes. That’s pretty hard to beat.
The Stash: Pandora’s Box on Aspen Mountain is a side country stash that’s not exactly a secret but always delivers.
Aprés: The Caribou Club where you’ll see women with way too much botox and plastic surgery. Seriously terrifying stuff.
One Run: Seriously? Head to the Bowl.
The Stash: There’s literally stashes all over the mountain—find a local and, if you’re lucky, they’ll show you what’s up.
Aprés: A cold craft beer at the Aspen Brewing Company taproom is a must. Or class it up with a cocktail dreamed up by the talented mixologists at Justice Snow’s Restaurant + Bar .
One Run: Anywhere. For those of you keeping track, Snowmass offers 3,339 acres of skiable terrain and claims most guests won’t be able to ski it all in one visit.
The Stash: According to one local: “Frog Pond Glades is super out of the way and hard to find—but it offers some great tracks.”
Aprés: At the base of the mountain, the Base Camp Bar & Grill offers friendly and fast slopeside food service to get you fed and back on the hill, but beware of the over 30 hand-crafted Colorado beers on tap or in a bottle or lunch may turn into full-on après.
One Run: We suggest you ski Purgatory and mountain bike nearby Phil’s World for a classic Colorado pairing.
The Stash: Head to Bottom Chute when it’s deep and you are first on the lift. Or try under Chair 5 when it’s not running. When the weather is great (puking snow), all of the Texans head for the lodge, leaving more untracked for the locals
Aprés: Stop at the Backside Bistro at the top of Chair 5 for extended lunch.
One Run: The Butte is famed for its steeps but you can’t go wrong warming up on the blues on the Paradise Express Lift.
The Stash: Teocalli Bowl. Plain and simple.
Aprés: Party with dirty telemarkers at the Ice Bar. If you’re in town during happy hour, hit up Montanya Distillers. This longtime mountain distillery is producing three different kinds of barrel-aged rum using all-natural ingredients. Small tastes of each of the smooth rum offerings are available at no charge, but chances are, you’ll want to order full pour on it’s own, or as a part of one of the many exceptional craft cocktails available in the tasting room.
One Run: The place to be on a powder day, or in spring corn ego-snow, is the Alberta lift which accesses 1,000 acres of steeps, trees and stashes.
The Stash: The hiking’s the real highlight here: Bonanza Bowl, accessed from the top of Treasure chair is barely a hike and pays big dividends. The Peak Chutes off of Alberta offer the type of steep thrills you won’t find in Summit County. Horseshoe Bowl is a much longer hike from the top of the Alberta chair, but well worth the effort, and a good place to hunt for freshies post-storm.
Aprés: Best party spot has got to be The Buffalo Inn or The Coyote Moon. Both have pool tables, bomb food and even better drinks.
One Run: With five lifts—including The Flat Top Flyer, a high-speed quad launched in 2015—serving 42 trails, two terrain parks, and loads of beginner and intermediate runs, Powderhorn is ideal for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and skill levels.
The Stash: Dash over to the West End and try to hit Mad Dog Glades if the pow is fresh.
Aprés: Save some energy to head out wine tasting in Palisade.
One Run: It has to be a tram lap. From the top of Lone Peak, you can head out for an intermediate run down Liberty Bowl or test yourself in the Big Couloir.
The Stash: Lewis and Clark is far enough out that it doesn’t get hit until late. But with so few crowds here, there’s plenty of pow on a big day.
Aprés: Grab a post-couloir cold one at Beehive Basin Brewery.
One Run: A drop down Corbets Couloir is a right of passage for any skier or snowboarder. Better yet, be here during in mid-February 2020, when you you will be guaranteed to see insane air.
The Stash: Easy-to-access backcountry and sidecountry (be safe and have all your gear, mountain judgement and current training). Pinedale is a magical spot if you want to head a little further off from the sidecountry crowds.
Aprés: Sitting at the base of Jackson Hole, The Mangy Moose draws crowds ranging from van lifers hoping to make it in a ski flick, to investment bankers wanting to be van lifers, to EO’s Conor Sedmak “tasking remotely.” It’s a classic ski-town bar you need to visit at least once.
SKI SANTA FE
One Run: Gayway is one of the best swooping blue runs around—with a panoramic view of town and the surrounding desert.
The Stash: When the snow is good head around the back to Cornice—but stay away from it if coverage is low. Or you can ask EO’s Peter Kray.
Aprés: The locals all convene at Totemoff’s on-mountain. And thhis is Neww Mexico, so find green chili. Anywhere. But try Tomasitas in town.