May 2, 2009

Colorado Ski Resorts Off The Beaten Path

Colorado ski resorts offer skiers and snowboarders world-famous conditions and unbelievable scenery. From champagne powder snow to bluebird skies and endless mountain views, it's easy to see why so many people visit Colorado in the winter.

If you're a snow sports fan, you probably already know about the most popular Colorado ski resorts or have even visited them.

You know the ones:

• Aspen
• Breckenridge
• Steamboat Springs
• Vail
• Winter Park

These are the most popular ski resorts in Colorado, and with good reason. There is plenty of terrain, lodging, and nightlife activity, and they're generally easy to get to, off the major I-25 interstate. But that also means there are a lot of people there. And you might find that you pay a lot of money for the experience.

But there are several Colorado ski resorts and ski areas that most people from out-of-state don't consider visiting, or might not even know about. The "off the beaten path" places, so to speak.

Most are actually quite easy to get to, but might require a little more drive time. And in my opinion, this isn't a bad thing. The scenery is breathtaking, and you'll find that time flies when you're up in the Rocky Mountains.

Here are a few Colorado ski resorts you should consider this winter...

Eldora Mountain Resort is 20 miles west of Boulder, and is skiing, snowboarding, cross country and snowshoe friendly. They have 100% groomed terrain (more than any other resort in Colorado) and get 300 inches of snow per year. They are also known for giving you a great "first time" experience with their SnowSports School.

Ski Cooper is located in the beautiful San Isabel National Forest near Leadville. Their tag line is "long runs, no lines." They offer an affordable alternative for Colorado ski vacations, with all-natural snow, a family oriented atmosphere, and a prime location.

Monarch Mountain is a gem in the center of the state, just south of Salida. They are known for abundant snow (350+ inches), friendly people and reasonable prices. They are also known for their Snow Cat tours and backcountry skiing. You won't find condos and furs, but you'll surely find some great skiing.

If you're a dedicated powder hound, head to the southwest corner of the state for a double-dose of Wolf Creek and Durango Mountain.

Wolf Creek Ski Area is 15 miles from Pagosa Springs, and touts "the most snow in Colorado" at 456 natural inches! I've been there in the middle of a 20-inch snow dump, and it is truly an amazing experience. The vibe is family-oriented and laid back, and due to its relatively remote location, the traffic is usually low.

Only an hour west of Wolf Creek is another family-friendly establishment: Durango Mountain Resort (also called Purgatory). Ski Magazine says, "If ever a mountain was created for families, it's Purgatory." Here you'll find 85 trails, and 2 terrain parks--the Paradise Freestyle Arena and Pitchfork Terrain Garden.

So if you're looking for Colorado ski resorts that are more affordable and less crowded but still bring that incredible Rocky Mountain snow, try one of these "off the beaten path" suggestions.

And have a great time on the mountain!

KK Farber publishes the website "Colorado Springs Vacation Insider," an independent travel guide focused on Colorado's Pikes Peak region. Find reviews and information on local attractions, lodging, outdoor recreation, restaurants, and fun things to do. See more at:

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