5 Hidden-Gem Snowboard Destination in Colorado That Don't Get Enough Mention
It’s no secret that Colorado is the home of some great world-class skiing and snowboarding destinations. Year after year, people from all over the world flock to Vail, Keystone, Copper Mountain, and many of the other well-known resorts in this state. But, what may not be quite as well-known is that there are hundreds of other great ski destinations that are largely undiscovered by the mainstream.
In this article, we’ll talk about the 5 most underrated ski resorts in Colorado. What makes them unique. How they compare to the more well-known destinations. Also, we’ll discuss some pros and cons of each. Let’s go!
#1. Wolf Creek
Wolf Creek is located in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Its summit is at 11,904 feet and it has a vertical drop of 1604 feet. While that may not sound very impressive in comparison to Vail’s roughly 3500 feet of vertical drop, you have to remember that vertical drop isn’t everything. And, what Wolf Creek may lack in vertical drop, it makes up for in other ways.
With 1600 skiable acres (and 133 runs in total), Wolf Creek’s longest run is about 2 miles long. 20% of its runs are double black runs, 25% are advanced runs, 35% are intermediate runs, and 20% are beginner runs.
Reviewers have commented that Wolf Creek is a great mountain for beginners who are looking for more green trails to practice on. Unlike some of Colorado’s mountains, Wolf Creek has a wealth of skiable green terrain. It also has a surprising amount of lifts (ten total), which means shorter lines and quicker bottom-to-top access.
Wolf Creek is also said to have a lot of untouched powder that you can easily hike to. With many satisfied reviewers and great skiing at a fraction of Vail’s price, Wolf Creek is a great option for anybody looking for a new skiing (or snowboarding) discovery. Note - a full day ticket costs $76 and $39 for kids.
#2. Sunlight Mountain
Sunlight Mountain is located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. With a summit at 9,895 feet and a vertical drop of 2010 feet (a fair amount more than Wolf Creek), Sunlight Mountain has a lot to offer.
Sunlight Mountain has a total of 730 skiable acres (significantly less than Wolf Creek), and a total of 72 runs. It has a terrain park, and its longest run is 2.5 miles long. 38% of its runs are expert runs, 17 percent are advanced runs, 29% are intermediate runs, and 17% are beginner runs.
Sunlight Mountain is said to offer great views from its summit of the Elk Mountain Range. Reviewers have praised it for its short lines and its large variety of runs. Some say they would easily choose Sunlight Mountain over Vail or Aspen Mountains -- both for costs and experience.
There are not very many complaints about Sunlight Mountain. In a few of the more negative reviews, one person complained about the food variety and the lifts (not being very senior-friendly). So, those may be things to keep in mind if they are pertinent to anyone in your party. Otherwise, Sunlight Mountain presents a great new opportunity for new adventures and discoveries!
#3. Ski Cooper
Cooper is one of the oldest ski destinations in Colorado. Nestled about an hour south of Summit County (and about 10 miles north of Leadville), Cooper Ski Resort is considered a gem to those lucky souls who have stumbled upon it. With a summit at 11,700 feet and a vertical drop of about 1200 feet, Cooper Ski has a lot to offer.
Cooper has 470 acres of skiable terrain. It has 59 different runs, with its longest run being 1.4 miles in length. 31% of those runs are advanced runs. 25% are expert runs. 27 % are intermediate runs, and 17% are beginner runs. So as you can see, there is something for everyone -- regardless of your level.
Some regard Cooper as the best-kept secret in Colorado. A refreshing change of pace in comparison to the more trafficked destinations in Colorado that tend to get all the hype and ballyhoo. Unlike them, Cooper is renowned for having almost no lift lines whatsoever. And, its great food, fantastic service, and great prices on rentals (and passes). Sure, you could go to Keystone and spend half your day waiting in lines, but why? Why not see some of these other great places whose praises aren’t sung quite as boldly and flamboyantly? You will not regret experiencing the wonder that Ski Cooper has to offer!
Just 11 miles from Durango lies another of Colorado’s hidden gems -- Hesperus Ski Resort. Hesperus’ peak is at 8878 feet. Its vertical drop is 600.4 feet. But wait… stick around. I can assure you that Hesperus is worth visiting. Keep reading!
Hesperus is not huge. It’s nothing like Snowmass or Breckenridge. If that’s the kind of setting you had your heart set on, then you probably wouldn’t have been interested in this article in the first place. But, if you want to step off Colorado’s beaten paths and explore some great less-hyped terrain, then Hesperus should be on your destination list.
Let’s start with some of the basic info about Hesperus. It has 6.2 miles of total trails. 31% of its runs are considered easy. 50% are considered difficult, and 19% are considered expert runs. Hesperus has a total of two lifts. Does that sound like enough? It is. All of their terrain is accessible with these two lifts! And, the lift lines are not ridiculous and unbearable. You don’t have thousands of people cramming up the trails and lines. You get to do less waiting and shoulder-bumping and more of what you came for -- going down the mountain!
Also, consider that Hesperus Ski resort is one of the six ski resorts in Colorado that offer night skiing. Hesperus advertises having the largest night-skiing area in the southwest. If you’ve never tried skiing after the sun goes down, you’re missing out. It is a unique, wonderful experience. The scenery changes. The stars come out and the distant lights glow like candles on the landscape. It is a different kind of beauty than you’ll see during the day. And, it’s great not having to leave the slopes at dusk.
With adult day passes being only $41 and kids day passes being only $28, Hesperus makes for a very affordable ski or snowboard experience as well -- less than half the price of some of these other more-well-known destinations. Consider Hesperus a must if you’re serious about exploring Colorado’s hidden gems.
#5. Silverton Mountain
In some ways, we’ve saved the best for last. Silverton Mountain is an exceptional mountain that doesn’t get enough mention. With proclamations of having the steepest skiing east of Alaska, Silverton makes a great destination for advanced and expert snowboarders.
This is not the kind of place where you want to bring your nephew along who has never skied before in his life. Take him to Chukee Cheez instead. This is a place where you want to bring your Red Bull fanatic buddies who are just as crazy (and just as addicted to adrenaline) as you.
Silverton’s basics don’t take long to list. Its summit is at 13,487 feet. It offers 3087 feet of purely intense vertical drop. You have one chair lift (a two-seater), 69 runs (its longest being 1.5 miles in length), and a whole lot of steep, ungroomed backcountry terrain to make memories on. 1819 of those acres are accessible by lift. 22k additional acres are accessible by helicopter or hiking.
Due to the extreme characteristics of Silverton mountain, there are certain times during the season when unguided skiing and snowboarding are not permitted. And, to promote ecological balance on its premise, Silverton limits unguided skiers and snowboarders to 475 per day. Rentals are available, if interested. Day passes range from $49 to $139.
If Silverton’s description is one that interests you, I think you’ll find that there’s no comparison. Sure, you’ll find a lot of great backcountry terrain to explore throughout the great state of Colorado, but you won’t find any other places like Silverton. It’s one of a kind.