Winter sports culture would be even more world-renowned in the Mile High City had Denver actually hosted the 1976 Winter Olympics it was awarded. But Colorado voters opted to back out of financing the games with public funds, apparently wanting to keep various Rocky Mountain Highs to themselves. Today, Colorado enjoys far more skier visits than any other state. Colorado is literally the highest state, with a greater average elevation than any other chunk of man-made boundary in the United States. Olympics or no, things have worked out just fine for sliders of the Centennial State.
Less than an hour away -- straight up a precipitous, gas-tank-draining Interstate 70 -- is Loveland. You boot up in the highest ski area parking lot in the United States: 10,800 feet above sea level. It's a huge mountain, with 2,214 skiable acres, and it must be the most alpine resort in the Lower 48, a very bald, very white apex, the hunchback of the Great Divide. The hike to that 13,010-foot top is so dramatic, it bears an iconic, if somewhat pretentious, name: "The Ridge at Loveland."
You've no doubt seen Crested Butte in Westerns or Coors commercials. It's a hyper-scenic, Victorian-era Colorado mining town that deserves its status as a National Historic District. Crested Butte Mountain Resort rises to 12,162 feet and sprawls across 1,547 skiable acres. It's famous for its challenging backside bowls, with trail names like "Body Bag." Relax: there are plenty of beginner-friendly green-circle slopes, too.