Thrill-seeking skiers and snowboarders are always on the hunt for the tallest mountains and steepest slopes. And while winter sports enthusiasts can find first-class skiing across the entire U.S.—from the Sierra Nevada of California all the way to New England—the highest skiable mountains are all found in the Rockies, with nine out of 10 of them in Colorado. So if altitude is what you're looking for, you really only need to travel to one place to find them all.
Silverton Mountain, Colorado: 13,487 feet (4,110 meters)
If you're looking for some serious altitude for your next ski outing, look no further than Silverton Mountain in Colorado. With an altitude of 13,487 feet, it holds the distinction of being the highest ski peak in the U.S. Thanks to that incredible altitude, the resort boasts more than 400 inches of snow each year, making it one of the more consistently good ski destinations in all of North America.
While there aren't a lot of frills to be found on Silverton, it does offer plenty of great powder and a backcountry-feel inside an inbound, groomed area. The peak is accessible by a single chairlift, which also gives it a quaint, almost nostalgic feeling. Not for the faint of heart or inexperienced, this is a ski destination that will leave you breathless as much for the fast runs and intense vertical as it does with the thin air.
Pro Tip: Be sure to pack your avalanche safety gear. It is required at all times on Silverton.
Telluride Ski Resort, Colorado: 13,150 feet (4,008 meters)
Located in the heart of the San Juan Mountains—a gorgeous sub-range of the Rockies—Telluride is nestled amongst the highest concentration of 13,000 and 14,000-foot peaks in all of North America. The resort boasts nearly 150 runs spread out across 2,000 acres and receives more than 300 inches of snowfall on an annual basis. And if the resort's 13,150 feet of elevation wasn't already impressive enough, it also boasts one of the longest vertical drops of any ski run in the U.S. Skiers and snowboarders who are daring enough to go all the way to the summit will plummet more than 4,425 feet on their way back down to the lodge.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Colorado: 13,050 feet (3,977 meters)
Arapahoe Basin—or A-Basin as it is known in ski circles—isn't especially large (just 960 skiable acres), but it does feature over 100 runs, plenty of snow (350 inches per year), and a season that often stretches from October to June. That makes it very popular amongst hardcore skiers and snowboarders who want to hit the slopes early and continue to shred powder well into the spring. A-Basin's 13,000-foot elevation, coupled with its north by northeast facing, helps to make that extended season possible, keeping the snow around a lot longer than most other resorts, including others that are at a similar altitude.
Loveland Ski Area, Colorado: 13,010 feet (3,965 meters)
Located just 53 miles outside of Denver near the city of Georgetown, Loveland Ski Area is one of the more easily accessible high-altitude ski destinations on this list. The resort offers free snowcat skiing along the Continental Divide and features more than 1,800 inbound skiable acres with 94 trails and eight lifts to keep the traffic flowing. With an average of 422 inches of snow each and every year, there is always plenty of fresh powder to be had too.
Pro Tip: When visiting Loveland—or any of the other high altitude resorts—be sure to take it easy for the first few days. It can take some time to acclimate to the altitude, which can potentially leave you lightheaded and nauseous.
Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado: 12,998 feet (3,961 metes)
Another legendary ski destination, Breckenridge is home to the highest quad chair ski lift in the entire world. It also boasts nearly 3,000 skiable acres and an impressive vertical drop of 3,398 feet. While the resort is amongst the most visited in all of North America, its 32 total lifts, including one gondola, helps to keep the traffic flowing along at a brisk pace.
Breckenridge is home to 155 total runs, with its longest—dubbed "Four O'Clock"—stretching for more than 3.5 miles from top to bottom. If you're going to hit the slopes here, be sure to be well-rested and well-nourished to last the whole day on these runs.
Snowmass Ski Area, Colorado: 12,510 feet (3,813 meters)
Located in spectacular Aspen, Colorado, Snowmass Ski Area is part of the Aspen/Snowmass conglomerate that consists of four individual resorts. But, the highest peak at those resorts is found at Snowmass itself, reaching more than 12,510 feet in height. The ski area also features 94 runs, including one ("Longshot") that is over 5.3 leg-busting miles in length. The resort is best known for its wide-open and fast terrain that is best suited to advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders. That said, it is also accommodating to newbies taking up the sport for the first time.
Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico: 12,481 feet (3,804 meters)
Colorado isn't the only state to be home to excellent high-altitude ski options. New Mexico has its own great ski destination in the form of Taos Ski Valley. Luring some of the top free skiers in the world on a yearly basis, this is a ski destination that tends to be less crowded than many of its Colorado counterparts. With its 110 trails, 15 lifts, and over 1,200 skiable acres, the resort has plenty to offer skiers and snowboarders of all experience levels. It also receives over 300 inches of snow each year, giving it some of the best powder in the country. If you're looking for a high-altitude alternative to the classic Colorado ski destinations, Taos is your best option.
Keystone Resort, Colorado: 12,408 feet (3,781 meters)
Colorado's Keystone Resort may not get as much snow as some of the other mountains on this list ("just" 235 inches per year), but it makes up for it by providing plenty of room to play. The ski area stretches out across 3,148 acres and offers over 130 individual runs to explore. It also has a world-class terrain park and offers visitors opportunities for night skiing and guided backcountry cat skiing as well. Those aren't common options in most other major resorts, adding a dash of adventure to go along with it its lofty elevation.
Copper Mountain, Colorado: 12,313 feet (3,753 meters)
Another big Colorado peak with plenty of trails (146), lifts (22), and skiable acres (2,450), Copper Mountain is located just 70 miles from Denver. It also has the distinction of sitting on land that is leased from the U.S. Forest Service, which lends it a remote wilderness feel. The terrain is well suited for skiers and snowboarders of all experience levels, with an option to go tubing when you're ready for an entirely different kind of wintertime thrill.
Speaking of thrills, Copper is also home to a 22-foot superpipe for those who love the acrobatic side of snowboarding and skiing. The towering walls of that pipe provide plenty of speed and elevation.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colorado: 12,162 ft (3,706 meters)
Crested Butte Mountain Resort is another fantastic destination for skiers and snowboarders of all experience levels. Its more than 120 trails are geared more toward the intermediate skier, but there is plenty for beginners and experts to enjoy here, too.
The resort offers 1,500 skiable acres, 16 lifts, two terrain parks, and receives more than 300 inches of snowfall per year. In the summer, it also becomes a top-notch mountain biking destination, attracting riders from all over the world.