Telluride Ski Resort - Ryan Bonneau
As we begin to head into our summer months and all of the winter gear gets packed up until the fall, it’s never too early to begin planning for the next ski season that awaits. After all, many people including college students have already secured their ski pass for next season and are eager for that first day to come.
For many college students, it’s easy to get used to going to the same mountain over and over because of its proximity and convenience, but there are plenty of ski areas worth making a trip for. It may not be the hour or so drive that you’ve become accustomed to, but it’s a beautiful change of scenery and a great experience all around.
These are just a few great resorts in Colorado that college students should consider making the trip for – you won’t regret it.
This is one of my personal favorites – located 157 miles from Denver, this is a bit of a road trip but if you’re willing to make it a long day or can find affordable housing, you’ll have an absolute blast. There’s endless terrain for people of all ages and skill levels and the town is just as vibrant as the area itself. The lift ticket price may be a little expensive for a single day lift ticket, but if you have an Ikon Pass then there’s no reason to worry! With 2,965 acres of terrain, 165 trails and 18 lifts, making a trip to this powder playground will be more than memorable.
Credit: Larry Pierce - Steamboat Resort
Some of the most intense and pure skiing Colorado has to offer, this mountain is worth the trip for any college students looking for a special skiing experience. This mountain is the highest and steepest that Colorado has to offer, so probably not the best stop for beginners, but is a must for those with some experience. There’s 1,819 skiable acres with a seemingly endless supply of bowls, chutes and cliffs. You can find an unguided lift ticket for around $84 if you’re up for the challenge. This mountain isn’t for the faint of heart, but that’s what makes it so awesome.
Located in Pagosa Springs, this incredible area is well known to have the best and most snow in all of Colorado. With only a $76 lift ticket, getting on the mountain doesn’t break the budget and if you make a weekend out of it, you could hit a few other special ski areas on this list. This mountain has 1,600 skiable acres and terrain for everyone. With an annual snowfall of 430 inches, you won’t experience anything quite like a day here at this ski area. There are nine lifts to choose from so you can make memories all over this mountain. If you map out your route, you could make it a whole winter or spring break trip and hit Silverton, Telluride and Purgatory along the way.
One of Aspen’s four mountains, this mountain is known for its difficult terrain. The world famous ‘Highlands Bowl’ is alone a reason to make the trip, but this is my personal favorite of the four mountains, although you can’t really go wrong with any of them. This mountain is mostly just challenging terrain, so Snowmass or Buttermilk might be better if you’re looking for something a little easier going, but for the adrenaline junkies, this mountain has to find its way on your list. This is another mountain with high single day lift ticket prices, but also falls under the Ikon Pass. Similar to Steamboat, it would be a long day trip, although not impossible, but if you could find affordable lodging anywhere in the area that might be more ideal.
Aspen Highlands - Alec Stowell
If planned out correctly, this is another location that could be combined with Aspen Highlands, or any of the Aspen mountains for the matter. However, if you’re trying to save some dollars this will be much more affordable than what Aspen has to offer. With lift tickets ranging around $50, this unique ski area located between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale is definitely special. It has 730 skiable acres and again has terrain for all skill levels, but also has some seriously steep terrain for the thrill seekers. And after the day is done, you can après ski at the Glenwood Hot Springs and likely find a room for under $100 for the night.
Sunlight Mountain Resort
Telluride is another destination for skiers and riders of all skill levels. It has terrain for every ability, including some incredibly difficult terrain for those looking to challenge themselves. This mountain has over 2,000 skiable acres, 148 trails and 19 total lifts. You can find flexible pricing including half-day tickets for as low as $75. This isn’t just any ski area though - similar to Aspen and Steamboat - this is a ski town. Telluride itself has plenty to offer including incredible restaurants, shops and nightlife. You could make this a stop along a multiple mountain trip or find yourself here for week. Either way you could do no wrong.
Telluride Ski Resort
This beautiful ski destination is near and dear in many hearts of Durango residents. It’s another large mountain with 1,605 skiable acres and terrain for everyone. There are 85 total runs with about half of them being considered intermediate, so this is a great choice for college students who have some experience but are still getting into the sport. With full day lift tickets starting at $109 and $75 for a half day, you can cater to your own needs. This can be a single day stop as you hit some of the other nearby mountains or you can explore the beautiful town of Durango, it all just depends what you’re looking for and how much you’re looking to ski.
Purgatory Resort - Eric Berry
Residing on the largest flat-topped mountain the world, Grand Mesa, this ski area is worth the trip for all college students but is conveniently located outside of Grand Junction for Colorado Mesa University students. It’s known for some incredible views and memorable tree skiing. With affordable pricing of only $79 for a full day lift ticket, you don’t have to worry about breaking the budget. This mountain also has plenty of skiing for all skiers and boarders with an impressive 1,600 acres of terrain. The town of Mesa itself doesn’t have quite the vibrant scene as some of the other locations, but Grand Junction is nearby and if you planned it out correctly, you could make a stop here after visiting Sunlight or any of the Aspen Mountains.
These are just a few of the incredible ski areas worth making a trip for if you’re a college student. For some of these mountains, you may be able to avoid lodging if you are willing to make a long day out of it, while others you may want to get a group of buddies and plan a multiple day trip.
As I mentioned, you have the opportunity to hit multiple of these mountains in one trip if that’s what you’re interested in doing, or you can commit to one and enjoy your surroundings. Regardless, I would start thinking about it now and start planning your trips. Whatever size budget you have, you can make a memorable trip to one (or more) of these mountains by yourself or with some friends of yours.
Alec Stowell is a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is majoring in Journalism and minoring in Business with a focus in entrepreneurship. He was born in Glenwood Springs and grew up skiing in the roaring fork valley. Being active and exploring the outdoors has always been a huge priority to him - everything from skiing, basketball, mountain biking, hiking, and more have all been hobbies of his for as long as he can remember. Early in his education, he discovered a passion for writing and so when the opportunity came along to both ski and write, he was ecstatic. After graduation, he hopes to still be able to pursue a career in which he can combine his passion for writing and the outdoors, but is still figuring out what the future holds. For now, he is looking forward to making the most out of his ski season with Colorado Ski Country.