Ski Liberty is located in the center of the United States of America, and it prides itself on being the largest ski-in/ski-out ski resort in North America, with more than 450 trails and 20 chairlift lines servicing all types of skiers and snowboarders. This year it will be celebrating its 80th anniversary, and it’s definitely showing its age with a bit of a theme park vibe, but that’s what we love about it. The crowds are smaller, the village is smaller, and it doesn’t feel quite as hectic. You’ve probably already heard of it; it’s in one of the most recognizable sports in the world, after all. It’s also the host of the Winter X Games, so it must be good.
This year marks the first time that Ski Liberty has opened its doors since the great ski retreat of the 80s, Paradise, became a mountain again. After the 2019 avalanche that devastated most of the surrounding area, killing 19 people and injuring dozens more, the resort’s owners decided to rebuild it bigger and better than ever before. While Paradise will continue to be a part of the Ski Liberty story, Vail, Colorado–site of the legendary Vail Ski Festival each summer, will now be joining it as the newest member.
Located in northern Colorado, the Arapaho and Sawback mountains form the backbone of the ski village, with three other prominent peaks rounding out the scenic skyline. The first chairlift opens at 9:00 am, and the last one closes at 6:00 pm, which gives you plenty of time to ski or snowboard all day long, as long as the snow stays on. Day passes at Ski Liberty cost $79, $109, or $129, according to the length of the pass. Twilight and night passes are also available for $79 and $109, respectively. The snow park, where you can spend a couple of hours at the end of the day, is covered by the $79 pass.
The ski trails at Ski Liberty range from expert terrains to intermediate ones to perfect for beginner skiers and snowboarders. Expert terrains, like the famous Pyramid, are what we call “resort terrains”, designed with all the nuances and complexities of a real mountain, like expert snow plowing and grooming, snowfalls, avalanches, and rockfall, just to name a few. These are the trails that professional racers and experts ski, and they are some of the best in the world.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have some “village terrains,” featuring mostly intermediate and beginner trails, which are designed to give you a taste of what the resort has to offer. You won’t find any vertigos or expert trails on these, but you will find some very nice blues, reds, and greens waiting for you.
The village at Ski Liberty is home to around 1,600 residents, who live, work, and play in the mountains. The village, which is spread over 4.5 miles, consists of smaller clusters of townhouses, log buildings, and mountain cabins, that together make up the feel of a small, quaint mountain town. A bit of a theme park vibe prevails in the village, with the main street, Ski Liberty Drive, featuring restaurants and bars that offer on-mountain dining as well as live music and dancing in the evenings.
Many of the trails head directly to the village, where you can either rent a ski boat for the day from one of the local outfitters, or take the gondola lift to the top of Mt. Marker, a.k.a. “Ski Marker”, the tallest mountain in the area, with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It is a 3.9-mile round-trip climb to the top, and the last stop on the gondola.
For those looking for a more leisurely day, the ski lodge, with its magnificent stone fireplace – the largest one in North America – is the ideal place to enjoy a relaxing hot tub soak after your day on the slopes. While you’re at it, you can warm up by the fireplace and dry your wet ski boots, or just rest and get ready for a night out on the town.
An Outdoor/Indoor Pool
In addition to relaxing in the hot tub, you can also cool off in the outdoor pool at the resort, with nearby shaded cabanas and lounge chairs providing a place to rest and unwind. If you get cold even in the middle of summer, the indoor pool at the resort provides the perfect place to warm up before diving into one of the ice-cold mountain lakes for a swim.
One of the best things about this place is location, location, location. It’s in the middle of the United States, so it feels like a real vacation. You’re a couple of hours away from the biggest cities, yet you feel like you’ve escaped to a peaceful, secluded paradise. Location, location, location.
Ski In/Ski Out
Another great thing about this place is the convenience of ski in/ski out. It is a fairly small resort, with only around 100 rooms available for rent, which means there is almost always someone around to help you with your bags. Most of the townhouses and smaller hotels in the village provide this service, as well as offer wonderful dinners and nightlife, should you decide to spend the evening there. Otherwise, the lift ticket, camera, and parking permit will be the only luggage you’ll need to bring.
This is also one of the biggest ski resorts in North America, which means there is a lot of activity in the winter and summer, so be careful where you walk and play. Especially in the summer, be respectful of other villagers and tourists, as there are a lot of tourists that visit the village each year, in both the summer and winter. The snowboarders and skiers love it here, which helps make it a bit more tolerable. This is not a place to show off or take a “primal scream” experience, as it is located in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by desolate wilderness. If you want an authentic mountain experience, we’d suggest one of the smaller, more intimate resorts, like Lost Creek, located in the southeastern part of the state.