Why You Should Stay in Dillon for Your Summit County Ski Trip
Dillon, Colorado: Elevation, 9,111. Population 963 (in 2017). That’s right, the elevation is almost 10 times higher than the number of people who live there. It’s also the perfect base camp for launching all sorts of winter adventures—its location just off I-70 puts Dillon within driving distance of seven major ski resorts. See for yourself why this town on the Dillon Reservoir is more than just a summer destination.
When it comes to winter sports, Dillon is in the center of all that Colorado has to offer. Here’s how easy it is to access the major resorts, which are all a short car ride away.
Keystone (11 minutes away)
To Colorado locals, Keystone is known as the family resort. It's extremely kid-friendly with a comprehensive ski school program, nursery facilities, and even childcare. There’s also snow tubing, snow biking, sleigh rides, a giant snow fort, ice skating, and even fireworks. For the adults, almost half of its 128 trails are for advanced riders. Keystone has 3,148 of skiable acres spread out over three separate mountains, five above-tree-line bowls, and one of the best terrain parks in the country. And with extensive night skiing, Keystone offers the longest ski day in Colorado.
Arapahoe Basin (16 minutes away)
A-Basin, as it’s known locally, is primarily known for its advanced and expert terrain. The resort has nine lifts that access 145 trails spread across its front side, back bowl, and its crazy-steep East Wall. A-Basin’s summit sits at 13,050 feet, making it one of the highest skiable slopes in North America. The altitude—and an average of 350 inches of snow—allow for epic spring skiing through early June. It has even made it to the 4th of July!
Copper Mountain (17 minutes away)
Copper is unique in that its 140 trails and 2,500 acres are naturally divided across its three distinct bowls and three separate peaks. That means beginners, intermediates, and experts each have their own section of the resort to themselves. For advanced skiers, Copper offers free cat skiing for a unique experience that is not to be missed and a nice change of pace from lift riding.
Loveland (18 minutes away)
The Loveland Ski Area summit sits at 13,010 feet and straddles the Continental Divide. With an average of more than 400 inches of snow each year—more than any other resort in Summit County—it’s often possible to ski from October to late May. Nine lifts whisk skiers to 94 trails on 1,800 acres. Loveland also has over 100 acres of hike-to terrain, a nice way to avoid the crowds. It also has a terrain park, a separate area just for beginners, and free snowcat skiing for experts.
Breckenridge (26 minutes away)
Breckenridge proudly boasts North America’s highest elevation chairlift. Breck’s summit sits a hair under 13,000 feet and delivers an impressive 3,398 feet of vertical with its longest run being 3.5 miles long. It’s home to 187 trails sitting on 2,900 acres of terrain including more than 600 acres of groomers. It’s also got four award-winning terrain parks and a 22-foot-long halfpipe. It’s been a favorite training ground for Olympic stars like Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn.
Vail (35 minutes away)
Covering 5,289 acres across four distinct base areas, seven legendary back bowls, and the Blue Sky Basin, Vail is world-renowned for its massive size and the quality of its terrain. Its 195 trails area served by 31 lifts, and its longest run is four miles long. And despite being lower in elevation, it still gets more than 350 inches of snow a year and claims a full 3,450 feet of vertical.
Beaver Creek (49 minutes away)
Beaver Creek is known for two things: luxury and beginner friendliness. A full 68 percent of its 150 trails are blue and green cruisers. That doesn’t mean advanced riders are left wanting. Beaver hosts World Cup downhill races and puts experts to the test with deep, narrow 45-degree chutes and plenty of cliff bands dotted with tight glades.
Located an hour and a half from the Denver Airport, Dillon is easily accessible for out of state guests—and you’ll save money staying here vs. at any of the resorts. Dillon features four major hotels—the Best Western Ptarmigan Lodge, Comfort Suites, Super 8, and the Dillon Inn. There’s also a huge supply of vacation rentals that can accommodate everything from a romantic getaway to a family reunion. Look into offerings from the Summit Resort Group, A-1 Vacation Rentals, and Vacation Rentals By Owner to find a property that suits your needs.
Winter sports work up an appetite. Fortunately, Dillon is as much of a foodie’s town as it is an adventurer's hub. In the morning, it’s time to fuel up for the day at White Boots Restaurant, which is famous for its breakfast burritos and chilaquiles. For a great cup of coffee, hit The Pour House.
You’ll have some tough choices to make for dinner. Any visit to Dillon would be incomplete without trying the best burger in town—the green chili burger at the Arapahoe Café & Pub. The Summit County institution is a funky old place with lots of local charm. For pizza, it’s got to be Jersey Boys, and it even delivers. Pug Ryan’s Brewing Company is known for its elevated pub fare—it, too, features great burgers and sandwiches—in addition to its wide variety of beer made on the premises.
Colorado is a microbrew haven, so for après ski beverages, head to the Dillon Dam Brewery, the largest brewpub in the Colorado Rockies. They typically have a dozen beers on tap across many styles. The brewmaster often taps a one-off keg of a special brew on Tuesday nights, and it’s available until it runs out, never to be sampled again.
If you’re worried about navigating mountain roads in winter conditions, jump on the Summit Stage and let them do the driving. There are stops all over town and frequent shuttles to Keystone, A-Basin, Copper Mountain, and Breckenridge. Best of all? It’s free. That’s right, free.
Dillon in and of itself is a beautiful, fascinating place to visit with its large lake surrounded by mountains and its quaint, historic downtown. It’s also significantly less expensive to dine and lodge in and conveniently close to all the action. It really is the gateway to Summit County skiing.
Written by Shaine Smith for RootsRated Media in partnership with Town of Dillon.