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Summit County, Colorado

Some winter vacationers aren’t satisfied with skiing at just one place. When they return to the office, they want to drop resort names and compare black-diamond plunges and best family activities. For these skiers, we suggest Summit County.

Within Summit County, a little more than an hour’s drive from downtown Denver, are five of Colorado’s top ski areas—Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Loveland. Each resort—except A-Basin and Loveland—has its own lodging, shopping and restaurants.

If you plan to do most of your skiing at just one area, stay at that resort. But if you want to experience them all (and you’re not looking for much night life), then set up your base camp in Dillon, Frisco or Silverthorne, three small towns off I-70 that surround Lake Dillon. You won’t get the ambiance and romance of the ski resort villages, but you’ll be in a good place for heading out each morning. As a bonus, there are lots of fun happy hours around the county that begin when the lifts close, as well as lots of non-skiing activities like dog sledding, sleigh rides and snowmobiling. And, yes, shopping at the outlet stores is considered an activity.

This tri-town area is in the center of the ski action. Breckenridge is about 9 miles in one direction, Copper Mountain is 5 miles in another, Keystone is 7 miles away in a third, and A-Basin just a little farther than Keystone. Having a car is nice, but not really necessary. The Summit Stage, the free bus system subsidized by sales tax revenue, runs between the towns and the ski areas all day and into the night—until 2 a.m. Be sure to pick up a schedule at any of the bus stations or information centers.

Summit County deserves its lofty name. It has a base elevation above 9,000 feet. (If you have problems with high altitudes, take note. If you like spring skiing, also take note: High elevations usually mean a longer ski season.) Each of these areas stays open until mid-April. Arapahoe Basin—with its base lodge above 10,000 feet—often stays open until July 4.

Vail Resorts owns Keystone and Breckenridge. It has an interchangeable lift ticket that includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge. Or buy a multiday ticket for just Keystone and Breckenridge for a little less. Your Keystone-Breckenridge ticket is also valid at Arapahoe Basin, and you can buy that ticket separately. A separate ticket is necessary to ski at Copper Mountain, owned by rival ski resort corporation Intrawest.

While surfing through our pages for the resorts in Summit County, click on the Summit County link in the tab pages for lodging, dining, nightlife and non-ski activities. It will take you to those pages for the tri-town area of Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne. Pick up information and helpful brochures at the Summit Information Center in Silverthorne at 246 Rainbow Dr. in the Outlets at Silverthorne behind Wendy’s.

Photos courtesy of Summit County Chamber of Commerce