Knee-Deep Novices: Ten Great Ski Resorts for Beginners

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Let's face the facts: If you've been skiing for only a season or two, you don't need the longest runs, the deepest powder, or the biggest moguls. Instead, you are probably in the market for some gentle gradients, consistent, well-groomed trails, and plenty of room to practice your turns without being flattened by maniacal powderheads.

Despite its good reputation among strong skiers, Breckenridge, Colorado (800.221.1091. is not just for the experts. The Peak Nine area, with its host of wide, well-groomed runs, is one of the best training areas in Colorado for novices and lower intermediates. Smooth, dry snow makes it easy to work on those parallel turns, and a high-speed, quad chair means more time on the snow and less waiting. Many local hotels feature ski-in/ski-out access to the slopes.
Part of the Aspen resort network, Buttermilk, Colorado (800.525.6200. took top honors in SKI magazine's rankning of ski school nationwide. It also finished second (after Snowmass) as the country's best ski destination for families. With over 200 instructors, classes are small, and even the best guides will teach beginning skiers. All the runs are easy to ski, and though the novices who make up half of Buttermilk's customers often clog the bottom of the hill, there's plenty of good skiing on the mountain's 43 trails.

Copper Mountain
A perennial favorite weekend resort, Copper Mountain, Colorado (800.458.8386. offers some of the most economical packages in the Rockies. Occasional skiers are the resort's bread and butter, and it delivers with a fine network of long, wide novice trails with progressively more difficult trails as you move eastward across the mountain. You don't have to choose between short bunny hills and steep sections that will send you sprawling. Located close to Vail, Copper Mountain shares that resort's superb high-altitude snow conditions.

Crested Butte
For advanced novice skiing seeking to practice their parallel turns, a superb network of long, smooth, "easy blue" runs is on tap at Crested Butte, Colorado (800.544.8448. Long known as a great choice for intermediates—and more recently as the host of the U.S. Extreme Skiing Championships—Crested Butte has really pulled out the stops to attract first-timers with 150 acres of beginner terrain. As further enticement, Crested Butte offers free skiing at certain times. Discount accommodations are also available.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 20 Aug 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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