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The American West in the winter becomes a veritable skiers’ paradise, from Utah to Wyoming. But if your aim is to hone in on one general location (or stay within state lines), Colorado is really a gold mine of sought-after ski resorts. The state has 32 ski mountains (five of which are on Epic Pass) and a seemingly endless number of five-star ski resorts, spas, and culinary pop-ups hailing from New York City. The sheer volume of must-visit resorts in Colorado makes it an ideal winter road trip destination. We’ve composed the perfect luxury Colorado skiing road trip through the state. Our itinerary goes from north to south, because travelers flying from the East Coast can easily fly into Denver and then start their journey in Breckenridge. However, those driving from the West would be best served doing this road trip in reverse, crossing into the southwest corner of the state from New Mexico, Utah, or Arizona and starting in Telluride. Whether you start at Breckenridge Ski Resort or Dunton Hot Springs, you’ll be awestruck by the unadulterated beauty of Colorado as you drive from one alpine haven to the next.
With 3,000 acres to ski—and 40% of the 1,400 trails above the treeline—Breckenridge is not a ski resort for the faint-hearted powder chasers. Just an hour-and-a-half drive from Denver, it’s the perfect mountain to start your road trip from if you’re flying in from out of state. The new it-hotel in Breck is Gravity Haus—a social club-hotel hybrid, it’s a chic spot where the work-from-slope crowd can create an office environment on the days they can’t get to the mountain. Between the Gravity Haus culture and the up-and-coming Breckenridge Arts District, starting your Colorado skiing road trip in Breck will set a cultured, luxurious tone for your alpine adventure.
Drive time from Denver: 90 minutes.
Less than an hour from Breckenridge, the luxury Colorado skiing continues at the one-and-only Vail Ski Resort. This resort is the epicenter of the now 10-mountain strong Vail Resorts network—for good reason. Vail itself has 5,317 skiable acres, split between the front face, back bowls, and basin. It’s a mountain best suited for advanced skiers, with more than half the runs deemed “advanced/expert terrain.” True to Vail form, there’s no shortage of luxury resorts here; stay at The Arrabelle at Vail Square, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property that’s located in the heart of the ski village, adjacent to Eagle Bahn Gondola, and boasts stunning views of the Rocky Mountains.
Drive time from Breckenridge: 45 minutes
A favorite resort among annual Epic Pass holders, Beaver Creek is a more intimate Colorado mountain with less than 2,000 skiable acres. But the 150 trains and 23 lifts provide as much variety as any advanced skier could ask for, particularly with more than 3,000 feet of elevation gain. Beaver Creek Village is especially charming, with a beautiful skating rink and public art activations (the 2021 ski season brings elaborate sculptures as part of the “Beaver Creek Wonder” exhibition. Stay at The Osprey at Beaver Creek, a Rock Resort, which is said to be the “closest hotel to a chairlift in North America.” Much like the mountain, the hotel—with just 45 rooms and suites—has an intimate feel, bringing serenity to the bustle of Colorado ski country.
Drive time from Vail: 20 minutes
We’re advocates of making the trip to Steamboat Springs (after all, the goal is to take in the full scope of Colorado’s alpine beauty), but admittedly, it is a significant detour. Beaver Creek is an hour and 45 minutes from Aspen—and detouring to Steamboat Springs adds an additional hour and 45 minutes and diverts your route north. Nonetheless, the detour makes most sense (when considering highway routes) fit between Beaver Creek and Aspen. And for your efforts, you’ll be rewarded with Steamboat’s famed Champagne powder on the mountain, a stay at the Steamboat Grand penthouses, and perhaps most notably, a soak in the 104-degree Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
Drive time from Beaver Creek: 1 hour 45 minutes
No Colorado skiing trip is complete without an Aspen stint. The opulence of Aspen is no secret (this year alone Giorgio Armani and Dante NYC are both coming to town to bring high-fashion après-ski looks and cocktails, respectively, to the exclusive enclave). And the skiing certainly doesn’t disappoint, especially considering you have four peaks—Aspen Mountain, Aspen Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk—to choose from here. When you’re not exploring the acreage at each of the four ski areas, unwind at Relais & Châteaux hot-spot The Little Nell, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property with ski-in/ski-out access to Aspen Mountain and a brand new wine bar perfect for those in need of a full-bodied red after a day on the slopes.
Drive time from Steamboat Springs: 3 hours; Drive time from Beaver Creek: 1 hour 45 minutes
The longest trek of your Colorado skiing road trip will be making your way down to the southwestern part of the state. But winding up in the San Juan Mountains is more than worth the drive. Telluride, an old mining town that has now become a full-fledged ski village with old-world charms, offers more than 2,000 (Epic Pass-approved) skiable acres and excellent private ski instruction. Stay at Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property that regularly offers over-the-top ski experiences to guests (like heli-skiing or private ski clinics with an Olympian). The ski-in/ski-out resort has a ski valet, backcountry dog sledding, and an exquisite spa for your sore post-ski muscles.
Drive time from Aspen: 4 hours
For the final stop of the ultimate Colorado skiing road trip, it’s time to fully commit to après-ski (which seems appropriate après a six-mountain ski tour) at Dunton Hot Springs, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property. Only an hour from Telluride, you can drive to the mountain easily if you still want to spend your days on the slopes while at Dunton. But really, the focus here is pure relaxation and appreciation for the wintery Colorado bliss. Relais & Châteaux fixture Dunton Hot Springs is also nestled within a former mining town, but is now a luxury enclave known—as the name suggests—for its hot springs, which can be experienced in the 19th century-style bathhouse or al fresco in the wilderness. Spend your days unwinding at The Spa at Dunton, and discovering the area with the help of Dunton’s resident guides.
Drive time from Telluride: 1 hour