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Insider Tips: Terrain Secrets (Where to Look for the Best Skiing at Colorado Ski Areas)

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Think you’re the ultimate local at your favorite ski area? Think again. Colorado’s resident ski experts reveal the little-known secrets to a great day of skiing at each mountain.

Arapahoe Basin

Pay attention to the sun and wind (know your aspect!) – use the weather to find the best snow. Wait until late morning or afternoon to ski the south-facing terrain in Montezuma Bowl. On a powder day, it seems like a lot of people skip the runs on the lower mountain, which hold some great snow. Is it windy? Check out Falcon, Dragon, The Knolls and runs off King Cornice where the snow piles up in gullies.

Aspen Highlands

Hit up Highlands if you’re looking to test your skills in Highland Bowl, followed by a boozy après scene at Cloud Nine. But Highlands does include great intermediate terrain as well.

Aspen Mountain

Head to Aspen Mountain if you are an expert skier/rider or looking for steep groomed runs as well as great après at the base and the classic Aspen scene.



For park rats, beginners or kids—head to Buttermilk. X Games Aspen Course as well as great beginner terrain are both an option.


Powder stashes last several days after a storm at Cooper as the crowds are low.

Copper Mountain

Take advantage of the Naturally Divided Terrain – As you move from the west to the east on the mountain, the terrain becomes more challenging. The west side of Copper Mountain is home to the resort’s beginner ski school programming with more accessible lifts and gentle terrain. Out of Center Village, skiers and snowboarders can access Copper’s more challenging terrain off of the new American Eagle and new American Flyer lifts. The majority of the terrain out of Center Village is intermediate, and provides access to even more challenging runs on the back side of the mountain. The east side of Copper is home to some of the most challenging terrain in the state with steep, natural chutes and wide-open bowls.

Granby Ranch

Dean’s Glade is a must ski. Located to the skier’s right off Conquest Lift on the West Mountain, it’s a thrilling way to test your skills.

Howelsen Hill

Howelsen has great powder days.  The ski area opens at 11 a.m. and usually has fresh powder lines all day.

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Loveland Ski Area

If you are looking for quantity, stick to Chet’s Dream. It serves green through double black terrain so there is something for everyone. And with a lift ride of less than 3 minutes, you can make hot laps for as long as your legs will allow.

Monarch Mountain

No matter what type of terrain you enjoy, you will find it at Monarch Mountain. From steep and deep, to cruisers, terrain parks, and backcountry access we have it all.  At Monarch Mountain you can lose the crowds, not your friends.  Our centrally located base lodge makes it easy to reconnect with your ski buddies and family.

Powerhorn Resort

At Powderhorn you can expect beautiful, wide-open aspen glades, hidden boulder fields, and fresh powder stashes days after a storm!

Purgatory Resort

Head over to the backside of the mountain and ski Lift 8 terrain first thing in the morning.  Enjoy a nice lunch at the Backside Bistro or grab a quick bite at Dante’s and then finish the day on the frontside.  You’ll avoid what little crowds Purgatory has and even get in some powder stashes days after a storm has passed.

Silverton Mountain

Silverton Mountain limits its daily skier numbers. The amount of skiers most big resorts see in a day, Silverton Mountain sees in a winter. Don’t worry about waiting for a big storm. Silverton Mountain is almost always good.


For families and friends of diverse skills and tastes—head to Snowmass as it has it all. From expert couloirs in Hanging Valley and intermediate cruisers that go on for days to excellent beginner’s facilities and terrain, everyone will be happy at Snowmass.

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Steamboat Resort

Steamboat is known for its Champagne Powder® snow. On a powder day, many flock to the upper mountain or Storm Peak first thing in the morning. Stick to the lower mountain to find plenty of snow stashes waiting to be skied.

Sunlight Mountain Resort

At Sunlight the powder lasts for days, not hours.

Telluride Ski Resort

Download Telluride’s new app for up-to-the-minute lift operations, snow conditions, grooming information and more, and check the white boards at the bottom of each lift to stay up to date on terrain updates as the mountain is often opened in stages as Ski Patrol progresses through avalanche control work on snow days.

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Winter Park Resort

On a powder day make a bee-line for the Panoramic Lift and Parsenn Bowl to beat the crowds.  All powder skiing is great but Parsenn Bowl when it’s loaded up is beyond fun.   

Wolf Creek Ski Area

Wolf Creek Ski Area’s extensive variety of terrain allows for friends and family to ski together, but have runs for everyone’s ability level.  A great example is Treasure Stoke Chairlift and the intermediate and advanced terrain it services.  A group of ski buddies can ride up Treasure Stoke and the skiers who want to gain some altitude and take on some steeps can hike along Prospector Ridge while the skiers wanting to take it easy cruise down Silver Streak. Another insider tip when visiting Wolf Creek Ski Area is to bring your fat skis!  Wolf Creek’s unique microclimate lends to its reputation of prolific powder days while making it a fair bet you’ll be able to catch a fat ski day while visiting.  Keeping in mind that Wolf Creek is known for epic powder days and an annual average of 430 inches of natural snowfall a year, fat skis are a necessity when visiting the Southern San Juan ski area.