How to Avoid Lift Lines in Colorado

Colorado is one of the most popular destinations for downhill skiing in the country. You can almost guarantee blue skies, comfortable temperatures, and sweet powder — which is why millions turn out each ski season to hit the slopes there.

Just a few weeks ago, I skied in Colorado three days in a row, during one of the coldest weeks of winter. With my family, I found clear blue skies, perfect powder, and . . . temperatures of only 4 degrees above zero. Sounds tough, you say? We covered up head to toe in ski gear and stayed out until each lift closed. Wimpiness does not run in my family, I am proud to say.

Let me give you a little advice: if you ever find yourself in a gorgeous ski destination facing frigid temperatures, don’t stay home. The benefit of freezing days is: only the toughest skiers and snowboarders venture out. During the three days I skied, I never waited in a single line for a lift. My second day out, there were perhaps only 50 skiers on the entire mountain. This means, essentially, each run was shared by only three people at a time. Wintertime bliss.

Without further ado, a write-up of the three gorgeous mountains I had the opportunity to ski:

1. Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain is one of my favorite places to ski in Colorado. It’s not one of the harder mountains, which means I can ski almost all the runs. It’s also pretty huge, so you won’t run out of new runs to try all day. It’s also less expensive than some of the other similarly-sized mountains, so it’s a good option for skiers who are just out to have fun. Copper also has a half-pipe that you can try, which my sister has, and which I eventually I plan to.

Ski Cooper, Colorado

2. Ski Cooper

I am hesitant to tell you about Ski Cooper, because I almost don’t want to let anyone else in on this awesome place. Ski Cooper has fewer runs than places like Vail, Aspen, or Breckenridge, but what you do get is a really cheap lift ticket and almost no crowds. (Please, if you are reading this, only tell your closest friends.) This is one of the best places to hit if you just want to spend an easy day on a gorgeous mountain.  There are enough runs to keep you occupied all day, though there aren’t as many runs as some of the bigger resorts; and they’re pretty easy in comparison to other places. This week, we had just gotten snow, and with only about 50 people on the whole mountain, perfect powder covered almost all of the runs.

Ski Cooper, Leadville, Colorado
Ski Cooper, Leadville, Colorado

3. Steamboat Springs

This was my first trip to Steamboat Springs to ski, and having spent only a day there, I’m hooked. Right away, you take the most jaw-droppingly beautiful gondola ride up the mountain. Then you are faced with the monumental task of choosing which runs you’ll hit. Unfortunately, there is no way to ski all of them in a day. No matter which ones you choose though, you will have incredible views all day; when heading downhill you can see all the way to the bottom of the mountain, thousands of feet down, and miles of mountains in the distance. My day there was perfect. It was sunny, with no lift lines, and a light snow that continued for about half the day. The result: largely empty runs covered in powder that sparkled in the sun. You can tell in the photo I have included below.

Steamboat Ski Resort, Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Ski Resort, Steamboat Springs

Note: I’m sorry for not having a photo of Copper Mountain. It was a high of about 3 that day, and it was literally too cold to take phones up the mountain without them freezing, and too cold to take off your gloves if you did by chance have a heavy-duty phone. Just Google it. It’s gorgeous!


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