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What do The Colors on Ski Slopes Mean?

What do The Colors on Ski Slopes Mean?

If you are a beginner on the ski slopes then you might be wondering what the colors on ski slopes mean. This is actually really important for a beginner to know.

When I first started snowboarding it was a little bit confusing.

I am going to explain everything that you need to know to about all the colors and symbols that you see on the ski maps. 

What do the colors on ski slopes mean? Ski slope trails have symbols and colors that represent the level of difficulty. A green circle is a beginner friendly easy trail. Blue squares are for intermediate skiers who can turn faster. Black or double black diamonds are for expert skiers. 

If you are going to be skiing or snowboarding it is very important that you understand the meaning of the colors and symbols on the ski slopes.

You need to make sure that you are only going on trails that are your level or you might end up getting hurt. 

Here is what you need to know. 

Meaning of Colors on Ski Slopes 

The ski colors refer to the steepness of the gradient on the trails. The easy trails have a lower gradient (less steep) and as the trails go up in difficulty the gradients get higher (more steep). 

Here are all the levels of difficulty of each color/symbol you will see on the ski slopes. 

Slope Color Levels

  • Green Circle = Easy / Beginner Friendly
  • Blue Square = Intermediate / More Advanced
  • Black Diamond = Intermediate / More Advanced
  • Double Black Diamond = Extremely Advanced / Experts Only
  • Orange Rectangle = Terrain Park

Here is more of what you can expect and why each color on the slopes is rated at these color levels.

Green Circle 

A green circle on the ski slope means it is an easy run.

Slopes with a green circle are the easiest slopes and are very beginner friendly.

They have a gradient of less than 25%. These slopes will be well groomed, wide and very open. 

Green slopes are for people that have just started skiing or snowboarding.

The green slopes don’t have many turns so beginners can just focus on getting down the mountain without having to worry about turning.

Blue Square

A blue square on the ski slopes mean that it is an intermediate run.

If you see a blue square then this represents a trail that is at intermediate level for more advanced skiers or snowboarders.

Blue slopes have a gradient of 25-45%. The blue slopes have more varied terrain and are steeper so that you can pick up more speed.

You will normally find many blue slopes at ski parks. These are also the most popular runs and will be kept well groomed.

Black Diamond

A black diamond on the ski slopes means that it is a hard run.

Slopes that are marked with a black diamond are for experts only. These are very steep runs that have gradients over 45%.

Black diamonds are only for expert skiers or snowboarders that can pick up a lot of speed and turn quickly. 

Black diamonds are also more likely to be ungroomed, so you might find uneven snow conditions and lots of fresh snow.

Double Black Diamond

A double black diamond on the ski slopes means that it is for experts only.

You might also see a double black diamond. These are even harder than the black diamond runs. 

Double black diamonds are only for the very advanced expert skiers and snowboarders.

They are very steep and narrow and can have cliff drop offs and other obstacles. 

Orange Rounded Rectangle

A orange rounded rectangle on the ski slopes means that the area is a terrain park.

When you see the color orange it represents a terrain park. You will often see the orange as a rectangle with curved edges.

Terrain parks are normally a flat area where you will find rails, boxes, and jumps. This is a place where skiers and snowboarders can do jumps and tricks. 

Finding the Colors of The Slopes

You can find the colors of the slope by looking at a ski map.

The ski maps will show where each lift is, and will also show each slope marked by their name and in the colors green, blue, black, or orange. 

It is a good idea to carry a map with you so that you can plan out your runs and make sure that you are starting on a slope that is at your level. 

The slopes will normally be marked with signs at the start that also shows the trail name and the color (difficulty level).

Never start on a slope that is beyond your experience. It is very dangerous and you could get hurt.

If you aren’t sure then ask an employee or the people running the lift. They will be happy to help you out and guide you in the right direction. 

Why Are Colors Important?

As a beginner it is very important that you don’t accidentally go on a slope that is more advanced than your skills. 

Beginners aren’t able to turn as fast so they would have a very hard time and could really get hurt on a steep slope with turns. 

How Do You Know What Level You Can Ski?

It’s best to start one level down from where you think that you are.

So if you think you are a blue square intermediate snowboarder , first try the green circles, and if you are completely comfortable then you can move up to the next level. 

Also, if you are skiing at a new ski park that you have never been it’s always good to start with the lower levels first.

Just because you can ski on a blue run at one ski park, doesn’t always mean a blue run at another park is the exact same difficulty level. 

Progressing to Higher Color Levels

Start with green, then go to blue, then finally you can progress to the black slopes. 

A first time skier or snowboarder will start on green because it is perfect for practicing turns and getting the fundamentals down.

The greens are wide open and not a steep slope. Once you can pick up speed and still be in control then you can move onto the blue. 

Blue runs are the most popular and since they are steeper you will be able to go faster.

When you learn how to control your board even at fast speeds and can easily turn quickly you can move up to the black. 

Weather and Snow Conditions Matter

Depending on the weather and snow, slopes of all colors can become more difficult.

Skiing or snowboarding over fresh power vs skiing on icy conditions can make these runs harder or easier. 

Also, if it is snowing heavily and you can’t see as good, this can make the runs much more difficult.

You should always consider the current snow and weather conditions when choosing your difficulty level.

I hope that this helped to answer all your questions and that you now know exactly what the colors of slopes mean the next time you are at the ski park.

This is very important to know so that you can stay safe and have fun!

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