Off the Beaten Path: Crowd-Free Spots at Your Favorite Colorado Ski Resorts
Escape the Crowds on Your Next Ski Trip
Colorado’s ski resorts boast endless amounts of fresh snow, terrain for every skill level, beautiful bluebird days, and yes, plenty of people to share it all with. Even if you’re exploring some of the most popular resorts in Colorado, you can still find some crowd-free spots to enjoy a day of skiing or snowboarding.
Avoid the crowds the next time you head up skiing or snowboarding. Try these tips for finding the low traffic zones on your favorite Colorado mountains.
Off the beaten path spots at Vail
Vail isn’t known for its lack of crowds. The resort is hugely popular thanks to its excellent terrain and multitude of trail options. If you want to have any chance of getting in some runs in relative isolation, you’ll need to head to the back of the mountain.
For some good bowl runs, hop on the Crescent Express lift to China Bowl.
From the top you’ll have your choice of powder runs, and none of the terrain is too steep or complicated. Confident intermediates would feel comfortable out here. Poppyfields East and West are two fun trails that eventually merge into Poppyfields, and Shangri-La Glade is a fun, open run that cuts through the trees (without having to dodge them left and right.)
Get some alone time at Breckenridge
is another hugely popular ski resort in Summit County, and the crowds it draws each winter weekend are a testament to the love people have for the resort. To get away from the masses you’ll want to get yourself over to the T-Bar. This lift is tricky, and the added difficulty keeps people away. You’ll be dragged up a steep mountain toward terrain that can’t be accessed via a chairlift, and the powder sticks up here long after it snows.
From the top cruise down Alpine Alley to reach bowls like Contest and Horseshoe, which are rated as double blacks due to the trees, not the steepness.
To get there, take the Rocky Mountain SuperChair from the base area of Peak 8. Once you’re off the chairlift just follow the catwalk off to the right until you reach the T-bar.
Find solitude at Keystone
When it comes to Keystone, you’ll want to get on the Outback Express lift. Not many people know about the bowls out there so you won’t have to fight for space. Get there by riding the Gondola up, and then taking a trail over to the Santiago Express lift (Mozart is a good blue run that will get you there.) From the top of Santiago Express, take Fox Trot, Anticipation, or Spillway to Outback Express.
At the top, you’ll have to do a bit of hiking, but don’t sweat it too much. The grade isn’t very steep, it doesn’t take long, and the solitude will be entirely worth it. The path passes between two fence posts, so be sure to pay attention. Once you’re at the top (or not – you can also just walk for a few minutes and drop down whenever you feel like it) you’ll find endless powder, tree runs, and lots of fun. Since all of the runs bring you right back to Outback Express, you can ride these bowls all day long.
Enjoy the isolation at Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek doesn’t have the crowds that Vail does, but you can ride the Larkspur Express lift to get even more peace and quiet. As you’re getting off of the lift go right across the top of the mountain. Go right until you pass Larkspur and Yarrow, and pick up Primrose. Follow Primrose until you reach the first fork, and go right (you’ll go right at the next fork, too.)
You’ll end up back at the bottom of Larkspur Express, so do as many loops as you want! This particular bowl is great for beginners and experts. Experts can find untouched terrain in the trees, and beginners can stay out in the open.
Other tips and tricks for finding secret spots
Of course, these are hardly the only spots at Colorado’s ski resorts to escape the crowds! With a few tricks, you can find some crowd-fee runs of your own:
- Look for runs that go through trees. They’re harder to spot, and many skiers try to avoid them.
- Ask the ski lift operators, ski instructors, and any other staff about their favorite spots. They’re the experts, after all!
- Get away from the base area. Runs that lead down to the main lift tend to be far more crowded. Look at some trail maps before heading out and try to identify some lifts that are further away.
- Even if you can’t escape the crowds, don’t let it get you down. A day spent skiing is better than a day spent inside.