With recent closures of I-70 due to safety concerns, plus the fact that weekend traffic on the I-70 is the absolute worst, we thought we’d try to avoid it all together. With Colorado having so many other viable options–plus there being an alternative route to big resorts like Breckenridge and Vail-we thought we’d try to help you guys out with finding the best ski resorts that are as close as we could find. Of course I-70 is a quicker route to most of these destinations so some of the times are a bit longer, but at least you won’t be stuck in traffic. With that said, here are 7 of the closest ski resorts that avoid the I-70 interstate near Denver
1. Eldora (~1 hour)
Eldora is that resort that frustrated drivers on the I-70 jump to when traffic gets too bad, plus it’s also the closest one to Denver. All that is to say that, realistically, Eldora can be pretty packed. Before you scroll away though, Eldora could be a perfect weekday destination if you’ve got a surprise day off, plus, they’ve added 800 new parking spots to help with the parking congestion. Purchase a lift ticket in advance and save, with prices starting at $139, and enjoy their variety of terrain from the scenic Nordic Pass to the more difficult trails off the Corona lift. They’ve also kicked off their Music Series, starting with Tripleset on January 14th playing on the Timbers Deck and Upstairs in Indian Peaks.
2. Breckenridge (~2 hours and 30 minutes via US 285)
On the US-285, Breckenridge is only about an hour more than it would be on the I-70, so you can avoid all that congested traffic and having to worry about any Interstate 70 closures. Breck’s got world-class skiing and snowboarding terrain nestled above a cute Colorado mining town. It’s also got five fantastic peaks that hold over 180 alpine trials for skiing and snowboarding, plus more terrain that takes you higher than the skyline for breathtaking views and high-adrenaline rides. They’re also working on a Freedom Superchair for their 60th anniversary, which quickly takes riders up to terrain like Montecristo and Lincoln Meadows.
3. Monarch Mountain (~3 hours)
Monarch Mountain is a smaller resort that may not make is own snow, but they haven’t had any issues with the last couple of epic winters we’ve had. Traffic is good, lift lines are generally short, and tickets are cheap at Monarch, making it the perfect spot for those of us who are disenchanted with busy slopes, high prices, and Interstate 70 closures and traffic. Beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders can enjoy their Terrain Park, Tilt, while more advanced riders should hit the slopes at Steel City where there are boxes, rails, large jumps, and more to enjoy.
4. Crested Butte (~4 hours)
A town that has stayed true to its “Colorado’s last great ski town” roots, Crested Butte is a charming little place with a reputation amongst skiers as having some of the least dense and most challenging terrain. With its recent 2018 purchase by Vail Resorts came a repurposed ski resort (bye bye to the old Teocali lift) and hello to an even better operating mountain, and one that works under Vail’s Epic Pass. Enjoy the 10 Peaks Terrain Park to judge or boost your level, or take the North Face Lift for the more extreme terrain, like Phoenix Bowls and Staircase. Don’t forget to take a stroll down Elk Avenue. We’d suggest Secret Stash Pizza, which is continuously voted best pizza in town.
5. Copper Mountain (~3 hours and 40 minutes)
Copper Mountain is a great ski and snowboard destination with 137 out of 155 open trails, 22 out of their 23 lifts open and operating, and over 2,000 open acres. Their lifts cater to all level of skiers, to those just starting out who will enjoy lifts like High Point or Loverly, or those who want something extreme (17 Glade or Cache Glade are viable options). They’ve got resort lodging in case you want to make a day trip out of it, and plenty of dining options on the Mountain or just outside in the Village. Lift tickets are best booked in advance, and start at $99. A great stay away if you want to avoid Interstate 70.
6. Vail (~4 hours through Breckenridge)
Vail doesn’t need much of an introduction as one of the best, most popular resorts, winning best resort 14 times in a consecutive 17-year period. They’re also the 4th biggest in North America, just behind Whistler Blackcomb, Park City Mountain Resort, and Big Sky. Even better, you can avoid Interstate-70 and still get into Vail by going through Breckenridge and US-285. Vail offers some of the most heart-pumping trails, with the longest run of 4 miles waiting for you. Down below, the city is as quintessential and charming as a Bavarian mountain town, which was built alongside the resort. You can take advantage of one of their new seasonal offerings, the Lift Line Forecast that works through the EpicMix Time app to give you a forecast of longer lines, so you can be better prepared.
7. Steamboat Springs (~4 hours and 20 minutes via US 40 E)
Entire families can enjoy the amenities that Steamboat Springs has to offer, as it prides itself on being welcoming to adults and children alike. Kids 12 and under ski free and lift tickets for adults start at $205. To enjoy Steamboat Springs while avoiding I-70 traffic, take the 70 through Golden then US 40 E all the way up. Steamboat’s also got a few renovations in the works, with one of those being a 10-person long gondola, which will be the longest in North America and is set to open next season.
[featured image via breckenridgemtn via instagram]