Trail Guide: Easy Going In Colorado

  • How To Take It Easy In Colorado
  • Vail: The back bowls are blue!
  • Beaver Creek: Groomers galore
  • Breckenridge: Hit Peaks 9 & 7
  • Keystone: Night skiing

Photography By Carl Scofield, Chris McLennan, Cody Downard, Jack Affleck

A beginner’s roadmap to a mellow day on the slopes, no matter which resort you choose.


The view over Vail's groomed terrain.

You’ve heard about Vail’s back bowls since you pizza-sliced your first turn, but wonder if you’re expert enough to ski ’em.

Stop doubting. 

Vail’s backside offers a trove of intermediate trails to give you a taste of the legendary terrain.

Get there:

From Vail Village, ride the Gondola One to mid-Vail, zip left to Mountaintop Express (Chair 4), and follow signs to Sun Up Bowl, almost directly in front of you. 

Follow the blue-square Sleepytime as it meanders through the forested bowl. 

You’ll duck under the Sun Up lift and the Tea Cup Express before bottoming out at the base of Orient Express

Head left and do laps on Chopstix and Poppyfields in China Bowl.

Must Know:

The snow is usually deeper in the back bowls, which can require more physical effort. 

Stay hydrated, and stop for a snack (swing into Two Elk Lodge at the top of China Bowl) before you feel ravishing hunger.

Beaver Creek

First tracks at Beaver Creek

There are two things everyone knows about Beaver Creek:

The resort serves homemade chocolate chip cookies every day at 3 p.m., and it’s home to Birds of Prey, the notorious World Cup course that’s seen the likes of Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn.

The Beav’s best kept secret?

Impeccable groomers guaranteed to boost confidence and optimize your riding.

Get there:

Praise the developers of Beaver Creek who understood that everyone wants the view from the top—even if they don’t ski double black diamonds. 

From the base, ride Centennial to Cinch Express to the 11,440-foot summit of Beaver Creek Mountain. 

Breathe in that oxygen-thin air and then steer left onto Powell, a green groomer that strolls down the mountain as it delivers expansive views.

Must Know:

Beaver Creek’s award-winning ski and snowboard school attracts some of the world’s best instructors. 

Book a private or group lesson for a tune-up and a guided tour of the mountain.


Carving turns in fresh snow at Breckenridge

With five peaks spanning 2,901 acres, it’s no exaggeration to say Breckenridge has something for everyone.

Stick to Peaks 9 and 7 for runs in your beginner and intermediate comfort zone.

Get there:

Ride the BreckConnect Gondola in town to its first stop at Peak 7 Station and hop on the Independence SuperChair

Spend the morning exploring the rolling blue runs on Peak 7, pausing, occasionally, to draw inspiration from your view of the expert runs on the exposed bowls directly above you. 

Migrate to Ski Hill Grill at the base of Peak 8 for lunch, then ride the Colorado SuperChair

Exit left off the lift to the sweeping groomer, Four O’Clock, and follow it to Sawmill, which will lead you to Peak 9 for an afternoon on friendly terrain.

Must know:

Take a free mountain tour with a resort ambassador stationed at the bases of Peaks 8 and 9. 

Tours leave at 10 a.m. daily. Get details here.


Keystone hosts many intermediate and beginner trails.

With 20 lifts, two gondolas, two base villages, and 3,148 skiable acres, not to mention an impressive park and pipe scene, it’s no wonder Keystone has a loyal following that returns year after year.

First stop: The Dercum Mountain summit, which towers above a cornucopia of intermediate and beginner runs.

Get there:

Hop on the River Run Gondola, which delivers you to Dercum Mountain’s Summit House(11,640 feet). 

Get your bearings on Schoolmarm, skier’s left of Summit House, which winds to the River Run base through an official “slow skiing zone.” 

Feeling good? 

Go back for more and head left off the gondola this time. 

Spring Dipper, far skier’s right, skirts the resort boundary and offers a few steeper pitches interspersed with flatter stretches.

Must know:

Two words: Night Skiing

Nothing compares to watching the sun set—while still on the slopes. 

Bundle up and carve turns as the stars come out.

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