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The 5 Best Mountain Resorts
to Visit in
this Winter

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With powder so sweet it could pass for sugar, there is a reason the Colorado Rockies are the premier US wintertime destination for skiers and snowboarders alike.
However, while the fresh powder alone may be reason enough to visit any of Colorado's top ski resorts, it isn't the only reason.
In fact, with each resort featuring its own unique nightlife, culture and scenery for skiers from all over the world to enjoy, the toughest part of planning your ski-trip will be figuring out which one to start with (hint: you can't go wrong with any of them!).
And, that's in addition to the fact that no fire is toastier—or hot toddy tastier—than the one in the ski lodge after a long day of hitting the slopes, no matter which resort we're talking about.
Ready to go? Great! Here is a guide to the 5 best ski resorts this beautiful state has to offer, just to help give you a leg-up on your planning.
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Aspen Snowmass

The Resort: No need to steer clear of this high mountain playground due to its chi-chi reputation, since Aspen's world-class skiing and snowboarding can be enjoyed by everyone. And, with 4 mountains and over 3,900 acres of prime skiing available, there is PLENTY to enjoy. In fact, for the $159 cost of a 1-day adult lift ticket, you get access to all 4 of Aspen's mountains, including Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk, making it a relative bargain. This means over 3900 acres of the backcountry, black diamond, intermediate, and beginner runs. As one enthusiastic reviewer put it, "Oh Snowmass, I love Snowmass more than I love myself. This mountain quite literally has everything."

The Town:  Aspen is characterized not only by its multitudes of restaurants, nightclubs, shopping, and culture, but its friendly, down-to-earth vibe. With such attractions as the Wheeler Opera House and the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen IS the cultural center of the Rocky Mountains. Of course, this doesn't mean it isn't also an incredibly fun town — you're going to find the nightlife and selection of eateries to be some of the best in the West. Hit the Aspen Public House (located in the Wheeler Opera House) to fuel up for the evening before catching some live music at Belly Up Aspen, and also be sure to enjoy any of Aspen's many friendly local taverns and brewpubs.

Affordable Lodging: So far as affordable accommodations, there are hostels such as the St. Moritz Lodge, where a night's stay can cost as little as $75. Airbnb or other local renters are also worth looking into for low-cost accommodations, and keep in mind too that for those willing to stay a few miles down-valley in Glenwood Springs, lodging costs can go down dramatically from Aspen's premium accommodations. Want to really enjoy Aspen like a local while not only saving money, but earning it? Many local businesses hiring for the season offer season ski passes as perks for their employees, and some even provide housing or housing assistance. This includes local bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and ski lifts, all of which are also great ways to meet other "ski bums" and enjoy the social life of Aspen. 


The Resort: With up to 148 trails featuring beginner slopes, black and double black diamond runs, terrain parks, and hike-to slopes for advanced skiers and snowboarders, this resort is a blast for everyone. Even better, its combination of high-quality runs over the best powder the Rockies have to offer — and its low ticket price of $115 for an adult day pass could easily qualify this as Pugs Mountain for its value! In all seriousness, whether you come to rip double black diamond chutes or spend the day exploring the woods on Nordic skis, you can't go wrong with this one-of-a-kind resort. Or, as one anonymous reviewer put it, "I've never had a ski vacation quite like Telluride. Simply the best in Colorado, if not the U.S."

The Town: This former Victorian mining town is set in a box canyon below picturesque, forested peaks, and still retains its timeless old western spirit. And, with some of America's top chefs calling Telluride home, there is no wonder Conde' Nast readers ranked it among their top 20 cities for foodies. With a collection of restaurants featuring everything from brick oven pizza to free-range steak, food choices will be the least of your worries. Catch up on calories while enjoying handcrafted beers at Smuggler's Brewpub before enjoying live music at the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon. Wake up the next day to Cowboy Coffee's fresh roasted Java before hitting the slopes and repeating — total paradise! 

Affordable Lodging: As with any of these 5 resorts, AirBnB is often the best source of affordable places to stay so you can save your cash for the important things: beer, grub and more skiing! However, there is also the option of expanding outside of town for better hotel rates, such as the Angler Inn, which is a short distance outside of town. Another option is to gather the gang and go in on a townhouse or condo. It will likely mean that a few in the group have to blow up their air mattresses, but this way everyone saves while living in style. However, keep in mind that some owners may have limits on the number of guests they allow, so make sure and verify these things when making reservations. 


The Resort: At Breckenridge, skiers and snowboarders are treated to 187 trails covering over 2908 skiable acres, 40% of which are high alpine terrain. How's THAT for plenty of skiing to go around? Oh, wait, we forgot to mention that the resort spans 5 peaks so that beginners, intermediates, and black diamond fiends can all have plenty to choose from, so even at $157 for an adult day pass, you get what you pay for. Even better, order online 7 or more days in advance, and your weekday ticket can be as low as $147. However, ordering at the window will cost you $178, which is a pretty penny, no matter how fantastic the skiing is!

The Town: Not only will you love this Victorian-era town for its great skiing, nightlife and gold-mining history, you'll also love its lively, fun-loving attitude as well. Once you're there, you're sure to feel the "Breck Effect" as you take in the high-mountain air and enjoy any of the town's more than 50 restaurants and bars (pub-crawl, anyone?). In fact, it's Breckenridge's nightlife which has helped earn it a Powderhound's Best Skiing in the USA award for 2018, and with a community full of artists, musicians, and lovers of all-things-creative, there is never a loss of culture to be had here either. Try hitting the Breckenridge Brewery for some pints and reasonably-priced pub-grub before heading to the Gold Pan Saloon, where you can boogie the night away on their massive dance floor to DJ music (and you'll love the wallet-friendly drink specials).  

Affordable Lodging: For one of the best ski town deals going, try the Bivvi Hostel, where you and 3-others can get 4 nights in a private dorm for as little as $269 per person, and even less if you choose their shared 4 or 6-person options. They also have higher priced luxury suites and private rooms available. No matter what you opt for, it comes with wifi, use of the outdoor hot tub, complimentary breakfast, and everything else an active outdoor adventurer could want. Did we mention they serve beer and wine until 8 pm daily? Yep, they have that too. 


The Resort: Ready to tackle the legendary terrain of Vail? You're in for a treat. At 5,289 acres of skiable terrain, not only is Vail one of the largest ski resorts in the world, but you will love its array of bowls, chutes and terrain parks which include plenty of skiing and snowboarding for all levels. In fact, with 195 named runs, the longest of which is a full 4-miles long, you are going to need to take advantage of a multi-day or even season pass here to experience all of it. And, even though Vail has one of the highest adult 1-day lift tickets costs at $161 (when you order online and over 7 days in advance), it covers multiple resorts including Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone Resorts. However, Vail does get crowded at times due to its popularity, although as one reviewer put it, "Regardless of how crowded it may seem at times, there's always plenty of space on the back side to get away from it all. Will continue to come back. Absolutely love this mountain!"

The Town: Ready to indulge in a little Aprés-ski? This high-mountain vilage with European flair has plenty of opportunity for this French skiing tradition — which we Americans are more likely to refer to as, "unwinding at the bar after a long day on the slopes." And, that's not all this beautiful mountain hamlet has to offer: it's also known for its nightclubs, fine dining, hotels and summertime festivals such as Bravo! Vail classical music festival or the 4-day Vail Film Festival. Start your night by ending your last run of the day at the Tavern on the Square located at the base of the Eagle Bahn gondola in Lionshead to get your Aprés on, before heading to Bõl for some world-class dining and bowling, before wrapping up at the 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits Company where you can sample some of their award-winning hand-crafted spirits. 

Affordable Lodging: For those who value affordability and community, there is the Bunkhouse, Vail's answer to the needs of those more interested in spending their hard-earned dollars on the adventure than on expensive hotels. With its hip atmosphere, clean, comfortable surroundings, multiple amenities, convenient location and beds for as little as $71 per night, there is no need to look anywhere else. However, this place is popular, so in the event of a sellout, there is always AirBnB, or you can shop around the area for hotel deals in Vail or the surrounding area. 

Steamboat Springs

The Resort: While it may not have quite the enormity of a place like Vail, Steamboat Springs nonetheless features 165 trails spanning, 2965 skiable acres, and 18 lifts. Skiable regions include its legendary Champagne Powder in the trees for the experienced powder-hound, and plenty of terrain parks and runs for all skill levels. Mountain access includes an eight-person gondola and seven high-speed lifts, and there is even night skiing available. An adult lift ticket goes for as little as $139 when you order online and one week in advance. Those who are lucky enough to spend the season here can also save with the purchase of a season pass, which are only available at the beginning of the season. 

The Town: What could be better than a town which not only features some of the world's premier skiing and snowboarding? Well, true to its name, Steamboat Springs is adjacent to the soothing waters of natural geothermal hot springs! The town's relaxed atmosphere, steaming hot springs, nightlife, and world-class skiing make this a favorite for ski-bums world-wide. This authentic mountain town features over 46 restaurants along with shopping, live music halls and a bar scene for those hearty enough to party into the night and still cut fresh powder in the morning. Get your aprés on at the Slopeside Grill before going for some serious carb-loading at Vaquero's, where the burritos are big and the prices are low. Next, head to Schmiggity's for some live music before wrapping it up with a sampling of some mountain brews at the Mountain Tap Brewery — just remember that you have to do it all over again tomorrow, so don't stay out too late!

Affordable Lodging: While Steamboat Springs has its share of luxury hotels, there are also hotels with rates as low as $79 per night for 2 people, as well as AirBnB options. Try the Steamboat Hotel, which is pet-friendly and features such amenities as free wifi, pool, laundry facilities, and comfy beds. The rooms may be a bit dated, but who cares? You're here for the snow, not the interior decorating! There are also other inexpensive hotels, and so long as you shop around at least a month before your stay, you should be able to find lodging for as low as $50 per night, and possibly even less. 

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Time to Hit the Slopes

 With 5 great resorts to choose from — all of which feature the best Colorado Rocky Mountain powder you can imagine — your only challenge is figuring out which ones you can visit during your ski vacation. 

With the friendly, laid-back attitude any of these towns have to offer, along with the active, high mountain lifestyle, you're liable to arrive a tourist — and leave a local. 

And, with the money you save on affordable lodging, you will have plenty left over for some quality Pugs polarized sunglasses to protect those peepers on sunny, high altitude days. After all, with Pugs legendary affordability and style, you're not only going to look great while you ski, you'll have more cash in your pocket for the things that count: grub, beer, and MORE SKIING

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Get the right pair of shades for your winter adventure in Colorado