Outdoors

The Edge: Our guide to the season's best skiing, boarding and more

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General Information: www.beavercreek.com; 970-845-9090.

Location: 110 miles west of Denver via I-70, exit 167.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Snow Report: 1-800-427-8308.

Lift Rates: TBA.

Terrain: 1,815 skiable acres with 149 trails; 19 percent beginner, 43 percent intermediate, 38 percent advanced/expert. Base is 8,100', with a 3,340' vertical rise; summit: 11,440'.

Breckenridge Ski Area

Everyone knows Breckenridge is popular with the out-of-town crowd, but Colorado native and seven-year Summit County resident Drew Pashley thinks it's just as good for the locals as the tourists. "They have an amazing terrain park," he enthuses. "They have probably the biggest booter line as far as resorts go, and every year they have the Triple Crown. A lot of the professional snowboarders are coming out of Breck, and I think their terrain park stands out from everyone else's. I think it's the crew they have there building it. They really know what they're doing; they hire really good staff. And their half-pipe is always world-famous."

Although Pashley doesn't venture outside the terrain park too much, he does take the top lifts up to Peak 7 and Peak 8 after a big storm. "The hidden trees off Peak 7 are phenomenal on powder days," he reveals, "because what you find is that a lot of intermediate skiers and riders stay lower on the mountain. They don't make it all the way to Peak 8 or Peak 7, and it's such a big mountain that it doesn't really get tracked-up too quick." Beginners can stick to Peak 9, and the expert-level Back Bowls off Peak 7 and the Imperial Bowl offer spectacular views and challenging terrain.

"It does get busy," Pashley notes, "but you can always get away from everyone else. As long as you get up on Peak 8, it goes forever up there."

Pashley likes to hang out Downstairs at Eric's when the day is over, calling it "a really good local scene and a great place to eat, as well."

General Information: www.breckenridge.com; 970-453-5000.

Location: 104 miles west of Denver on I-70 (exit 203), then Colo. Hwy. 9 to Breckenridge.

Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Snow Report: 970-453-6118.

Lift Rates: TBA.

Terrain: 2,358 skiable acres with 155 trails; 14 percent beginner, 31 percent intermediate, 19 percent advanced and 36 percent expert. The base is 9,600', with a 3,398' vertical rise; summit: 12,998'.

Buttermilk Mountain

Not only is it the seat of X Games fame — and will continue to carry that honor through 2012 — but Buttermilk also features more runs for beginners than any other ski area in Aspen, making it perfect for families as well as newbies wanting to learn to shred. The 22-foot, Olympic-standard Superpipe and X Games slopestyle course in the main terrain park is perfect for advanced practice, but there's also a Panda Pipe and Ski and Snowboard Schools Park for beginning riders to practice their moves. The easier runs off the West Buttermilk Express Lift, including Big Face Hollow, Larkspur, Westward Ho and Red's Rover, tend to be well-groomed, providing the perfect place to hone your skills, but there are also advanced runs off Tiehack Parkway for the skillful skier or rider, such as Ptarmigan and Timber Doodle Glades, Javelin and Racer's Edge, all of which stay relatively untouched on powder days.

It's not the most advanced skiing in the area, but for a gentle day on the slopes with the family, Buttermilk is just what the doctor ordered. Check out lunch options at the Cliffhouse, where you can make your own Mongolian barbecue and enjoy the lovely views of Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Creek Valley — a perfect family photo op. And the resort offers free parking in all Buttermilk lots — except during the X Games, of course, when the area suddenly becomes a swarm of activity.

General Information: www.aspensnowmass.com/buttermilk; 1-800-525-6200.

Location: 218 miles west of Denver via I-70 and Colo. Hwy. 82.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Snow Report: 970-925-1221.

Lift Rates: TBA.

Terrain: 740 skiable acres with 44 trails; 35 percent beginner, 39 percent intermediate, 26 percent advanced. The base is 7,870', with a 2,030' vertical rise; summit: 9,900'.

Copper Mountain Resort

Pro skier Jess Cumming, like most other Copper Mountain fans, is enthusiastic about the resort's park and pipe program. "They have the first pipe that opens in North America," she notes, "so for me, getting in there and training right away is huge. Of course, she spends a lot of time in the Superpipe and the Catalyst Terrain Park. But, she says, "when there's a lot of snow, I normally go over to some of the glades off the Alpine chair, and then we'll ski in the Black Bear and the Free Fall Glades. They have a lot of good snow in them, and it's really steep there, so it's fun."

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen