If you want world-class skiing with all the amenities, yet half of the Vail resort crowds, head to Beaver Creek ski resort in Colorado. An easy 15-minute drive west of glittery, Swiss-inspired Vail sits this gated ski community tucked up in the mountains. Here, you can experience world-class powder skiing, as well as the incredible Birds of Prey downhill course that hosts the Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup each year.
Beaver Creek's skiable terrain spans Beaver Creek Mountain, Bachelor Gulch Mountain, Larkspur Bowl, Grouse Mountain, and Arrowhead Mountain. The resort is perched at just over 8,000 feet above sea level with a summit elevation of 11,440 feet. Beaver Creek gets an average of 323 inches of snow per year on more than 1,800 acres, and 150 different trails are accessible by 25 lifts. At just under a two-hour drive (in light traffic) from Denver, this resort is far enough off the beaten path for you to avoid the Summit County weekend push.
Beaver Creek's Base Villages
Vail purchased the land for Beaver Creek in 1972 and opened it for action in 1980. Since then, numerous expansions have resulted in three distinct base villages. Beaver Creek Village represents the heart of the resort, with five-star dining, luxurious hotels, a performing arts center, and great shopping all centered around a fun outdoor ice rink. The smaller Bachelor Gulch Village revolves around the Ritz-Carlton and is a ski-in and ski-out resort community comprised of private homes and mountain lodges. Arrowhead Village provides a western entry point to the ski resort and access to the Arrow Bahn Express Lift. Most homes and private condos let you access the lift by foot, as well as the community pool, seasonal restaurant, and an outdoor fire pit.
Beaver Creek boasts 1,800 skiable acres with a 3,340-foot vertical drop and offers terrain for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. However, the resort is mostly regarded as intermediate, with mid-level terrain making up most of its runs.
Head to Bachelor Gulch if you’re a newbie skier or rider to check out beginner trails with a view at the top of the Bachelor Gulch Express Lift. Also check out the Elkhorn Lift which services trails like Lamplighter, Maverick, and Easy Come, Easy Go. From this lift, you can wind your way down to Beaver Creek Landing and take the Riverfront Express Gondola into the town of Avon.
Intermediate enthusiasts should take the Larkspur Express Lift to Coyote Glade near Bachelor Gulch. Here, you will enjoy open, spacious terrain with great views. Advanced intermediate skiers may find a fitting challenge off of the Centennial Express Lift, where you can dabble in a few short black diamond runs that lead into blue and green trails.
Grouse Mountain is the haven for advanced skiers and riders on a powder day. Head down through Royal Elk Glades, but note that this area closes at 3 p.m. Challenge yourself on all four of the resort's terrain parks and its halfpipe, which is located off of the Centennial Express Lift. Extreme athletes can check out the famous Stone Creek Chutes at the edge of the resort's boundary (they close at 2:30 p.m.). Of course, there’s also the Birds of Prey downhill racecourse for those who want to strap on their skinny skis and lay down some carves.
Beaver Creek's adult lift tickets start at $169 per day, with weekend passes for $338. Children can ski or ride for $117. Of course, for a premium price, you can also buy an Epic Pass that gives you access to multiple ski areas throughout Colorado, California, the Midwest, the East Coast, Canada, and Europe. The scaled-down Epic Day Pass will give you seven days at Beaver Creek, as well as many other participating North American resorts.
Food and Drink
Beaver Creek Village's charming downtown is lined with great restaurants and slopeside dining, from fine dining to seafood that's flown in fresh. Or, you can head down the hill to the town of Avon for off-hill dining.
- Beano's Cabin's legendary on-mountain dining experience is far from your typical ski resort burgers and beer. Instead, Beano's serves up five-star, fine dining perfectly paired with wine. Enjoy a 20-minute, open-air sleigh ride through the powder to the restaurant nestled in Larkspur Bowl. (No car necessary.) Reservations are required to score a five-course dinner at this award-winning restaurant, so make sure you come hungry.
- Hooked, in Beaver Creek Village, is easy to miss unless there’s a massive line out the front door, which, rightfully, there should be. Here you can enjoy amazing sushi, oysters, king crab, and live lobster flown in fresh. However, don't leave without trying Hooked's famous chef's specialty, the Crimpster. It's a lobster tail stuffed with a snow crab stuffed shrimp. Now, let that sink in ... Hooked is pretty casual, so come as you are.
- For a nice night out in the village, head to Toscanini, right next to the ice rink. This restaurant boasts innovative Italian fare, yet has plenty of gluten-free options. Toscanini's open-air kitchen lends a nice ambiance and their roasted calamari (yes, roasted, not fried) tastes like bacon of the sea. Ask to talk to the on-site sommelier for recommendations on the perfect wine pairing for your meal, selected from their extensive Italian wine list.
- Maya, located inside the Westin in Avon (just a short drive from any one of the base villages) is one of the best Mexican eateries in Colorado. This modern Mexican grill puts its own spin on traditional dishes, and the guacamole alone is worth the drive from Denver. Tequila abounds, as the restaurant has more than 100 agave-based spirits and house-infused tequilas—a perfect warm-up after a day on snow. Snuggle up with a drink in hand next to one of Maya’s outdoor fire pits and enjoy views of the mountain and Eagle River.
Rentals and Gear
Save money and time by reserving your gear online at Epic Mountain Rentals. Select from demo skis (the latest technology for all abilities levels) or performance skis (specific to intermediate carvers), and then pick your skis up slopeside from multiple locations. Even better—your gear can be delivered to your hotel room or condo, complete with overnight storage and an on-snow valet. (Don't forget to tip.) Snowboard rentals can be picked up at the Burton flagship store in Beaver Creek Plaza. Other rental outlets include Base Mountain Sports, Christy's Sports, and multiple hotels like the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch and the Westin Riverfront.
Lessons and Clinics
The ski and snowboard school at Beaver Creek is top-notch. Whether you're up for a powder lesson, some coaching through the steeps, or sharpening your skills on wide, flat groomers, the instructors here will hook it up. Choose from private or group lessons for kids, teens, and adults. You can even book a session with video analysis to further strengthen your skills.
Beaver Creek's ski and snowboard instructors are USSA-certified; they even have race-specific staff for those who want to brush up on their slalom skills. Their clinics suit newbies to all-mountain technical freeriders, and their school won the National Ski Area Association’s Best Overall Safety Award, so you can be sure you're in good hands.
Skiing and Snowboarding Alternatives
If you need a day off from skiing or snowboarding, Beaver Creek offers plenty of other activities, too. Try a snowshoe tour with a 48-hour advanced reservation. Don’t miss the Thursday night fireworks shows. Allie’s Cabin gives you front row seats, if you care to dine while you watch. Of course, you can also shop and ice skate in Beaver Creek Village and munch on a free, homemade cookie at 3 p.m. on the plaza (the staff at Beaver Creek hands out nearly half a million cookies every year).
Beaver Creek's lodging options fall in line with the rest of the resort's world-class service. So, if you want to be pampered with slopeside amenities, catch some z's at one of these lodging options:
- The ski-in, ski-out luxury of the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch gives you exclusive access to the Bachelor Gulch trails, meaning shorter lift lines and no need to drive, park, and haul your gear to the base of the resort. This dramatic mountain chalet was inspired by lodges in the National Park System and is one of AAA's Five Diamond Hotels. The spa at the Ritz offers jaw-dropping luxury with rocky, grotto-style soaking pools where you can relax your sore muscles.
- The Beaver Creek Lodge offers an indoor-outdoor swimming pool, breathtaking balcony views overlooking the creek, and easy access to the center of Beaver Creek Village's restaurants, shops, and two chairlifts. Rent one of their fully equipped, three-bedroom condos if you're traveling with a group. Each condo has a full kitchen, separate dining room, multiple living rooms, and plenty of space to sprawl out and make yourself comfortable. Enjoy pillow-top beds, artistic mountain decor, crackling fireplaces, and a great concierge service. Other in-suite features include a Keurig coffee maker, a laundry room, and a whirlpool bathtub.
- Trapper's Cabin is a totally exclusive private residence located right on the mountain, allowing you to ski out your front door. The cabin has four bedrooms and can sleep up to 10. You can also customize your stay to fit your needs with a personalized concierge, a private chef, ski rental delivery, and spa treatments.