Colorado is known worldwide as a primer ski destination. Hitting the slopes of one of the 32 Colorado ski resorts guarantees a mellow day in the snow. For those looking to earn their turns and escape the crowds, Colorado has some of the best backcountry skiing as well. Getting to the pristine wilderness locations is not as difficult as it seems. Here are our favorite places for backcountry skiing near Denver.
— SAFETY ALERT —
If you’re new to the backcountry scene, consider hiring a certified, professional mountain guide, or certified and avy-aware friend. Beware, Colorado is avalanche country so be sure to research your avalanche updates from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. There are also a number of AIARE courses available to those looking to be savvy on the avy. Colorado is absolutely beautiful and backcountry opportunities abound. Just make sure you have a partner, plan and pathway before you hit the slopes!
Get comfortable on your gear, hang out on low-angle slopes until you get your Avy 1 course done and soak in some sun! Find places with little to no avalanche danger and do some laps in the great and expansive Colorado backcountry.
This national park, 90 minutes outside of Denver, is home to 72 mountain peaks and some of Colorado’s best wilderness. Whether you are looking for a day long trek or low angle beginner terrain, the park has something for backcountry skiers of all abilities. Trail Ridge Road runs through some of the best skiing in the park and makes access to powder super easy. Skin up the snow over the road or blaze your own trail in Happy Valley. This is an old ski resort that shut down in the 90s making for great glades and man made runs in the backcountry. Check out backcountry ski rentals nearby HERE.
This pass connects travelers from I-70 to the famed ski resort Winter Park. While Winter Park and Mary Jane are fun resorts to explore, Berthoud Pass itself is great for backcountry skiing. A parking lot at the pass summit allows for access in all directions for skinning, hiking, or even car laps. Beginners can check out the once operating ski resort for low angle terrain. Experts can explore the 65 other slopes in the surrounding area. From adrenaline pumping bowls to playful tree runs, Berthoud Pass provides amazing backcountry skiing access just an hour away from downtown Denver. Check out backcountry ski rentals nearby HERE.
Indian Peaks Wilderness is an amazing escape from the traffic of I-70 and just 90 minutes from Denver. Within this wilderness, great resorts such as Loveland and Winter Park operate making its backcountry terrain even more amazing. Beginner backcountry skiers can check out more forgiving slopes like Caribou Glades. Those looking for a more advanced route can head up to East Portal with the locals. This area sits at a very high elevation which makes it great for long runs and epic trips. Check out backcountry ski rentals nearby HERE.
Much like Berthoud Pass, Loveland Pass is a very convenient way to get to skiing in the backcountry quickly. Just an hour from downtown Denver, this pass connects I-70 travelers to ski resorts like Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, and Keystone. There are multiple spots to park along the pass including the bottom and the top. Skin up the perfectly spaced trees and find fun rock features. You can even make car laps for a super relaxed experience. Those looking for more of a challenge can explore the terrain to the west and east of the parking areas. Check out backcountry ski rentals nearby HERE.
These are just a few of the many great places for backcountry skiing near Denver.