Whether you’re a never-ever or a seasoned slope veteran, skiing enthusiasts should definitely plan their next wintry weekend at one of Colorado’s award-winning mountain resorts. While Colorado is famous for its snow-capped peaks, visitors can indulge in relaxing spa-treatments, awesome dining, shopping and even a snowy night-life scene. It's a great multigenerational destination, too, because there's literally something for everyone on a Colorado vacation. Best of all, great early and late season deals on lodging and airfare can make a trip to one of Colorado’s mountain resorts even sweeter.
Here are 10 of our favorite spots for an unforgettable weekend close to Denver. Be sure to factor in at least an hour of driving to get to these fabulous resorts in winter. To adjust to the alititude, consider spending a few nights in the city on arrival and you can hit up some of Denver's many attractions.
Our 10 Favorite Colorado Ski Spots (alphabetically)
28194 US Hwy 6
Keystone, CO 80435
Boasting some of the highest skiable terrain in North America and the longest ski and ride season in Colorado, fans of Arapahoe Basin — aka A-Basin — know that winter time at this resort is more than a season: It’s a way of life. The authentic A-Basin, a favorite of locals, offers adult, children, and group lessons for all levels with a free one-run lesson so you can check out instructors. Budget watchers appreciate the kids under 14 ski free deal each December, the multi-mountain passes, and the ability to sleep in either Denver or Boulder since there's no on-slope lodging. A-Basin also has a dedicated food scene, and guests should be sure to check out their diverse dining options that can satisfy just about any craving, or their famous Moonlight Dinner series at the Black Mountain Lodge. These special events highlight mountain cuisine from around the globe; for a detailed calendar of events be sure to check out their website here.
601 E Dean Street
Aspen, CO 81611
While Aspen may be famous for its celebrity visitors, glitz, glam and the X-Games, an Aspen Snowmass vacation can be surprisingly affordable in the early winter. Aspen boasts a wide range of lodging options, making a retreat to this historic-mine-town-turned-resort possible for just about anyone. And while the name may be famous for star clientele, visitors will also be impressed with its four mountain slopes. Choosing between Aspen, Buttermilk (which gets its own children's center in 2014), Aspen Highlands, and Snowmass means there’s plenty of options for all, from beginner to advanced skiers. Of the four mountains, Snowmass is the largest and is known as "family snow sports central" thanks to its Treehouse Kids Adventure Center. The Center boasts a children's gym, teen activities, kids' retail and a host of themed rooms for ages 8 weeks and older. It is accessible from anywhere in the purpose-built Snowmass base, and is also a convenient check-in point for the Ski & Snowboard school, which provides lessons from kids to adults. Snowmass in fact offers such a variety of activities that even the non-skiers in a visiting family will feel more than welcome. The less athletic members of the family can certainly enjoy Aspen village's famous boutiques, restaurants, and happening nightlife. A dream-stay at Aspen can even happen without the snow — Aspen hosts dedicated summer activities with special kids camps and off-season prices. For FTF staffers, Aspen is a favorite choice and is very much kid and teen approved as a great a wintery getaway with diverse lodging options to satisfy guests of all budget types.
Beaver Creek Resort
40 Village Rd
Avon, CO 81620
Part of the Vail Group of resorts (which includes Breckenridge, Keystone and Vail in Colorado) Beaver Creek brings more exclusive family fun to a hidden outdoors paradise. Smaller and less crowded than nearby Vail, this elegantly designed pedestrian resort is favored for its quiet appeal and concierge level service. Beaver Creek has long been an environmentally aware mountain resort committed to the preservation of its natural wildlife and landscape, making it a top family destination for all sorts of outdoor activities — from guided nature hikes to horseback riding and rafting in summer. Much like other snowsports resorts, Beaver Creek offers classes for the whole family, but unlike them, they'll pick up the kids and get them ready to ski or ride. And if skiing or snowboarding isn't your forte, but you still want to experience the thrilling rush that the mountain has to offer — be sure to check out Beaver Creek's exciting tubing hill, where families can race down the mountain without having to schlep a pair of skis. Our staff loves Beaver Creek for its children's activities and services, as well as for its many lodging options, such as the Park Hyatt at Beaver Creek.
Breckenridge Ski Resort
1599 Ski Hill Rd
Breckenridge, CO 80424
Another one of Vail's properties, Breckenridge gently looms over a environmentally aware and fun Wild West style community of the same name. There's plenty to see and do on and off the slopes — notably the sort of bustling apres ski and nightlife that makes for a lively mountain town. Families will love the many village condos and free in-town shuttle bus, and with a bit of down-time can enjoy a stroll along Breckenridge's Main Street. Be sure to take the little ones to visit Breckenridge's Mountain Top Children's Museum. Breckenridge has plenty of outdoor adventure activities in the summer, too. FTF writers love Breckenridge not only for its great mountain but for the scene, with FTF parents and teens approving of this quaint mining town and all it has to offer. Like the other resorts, Breckenridge has a wide range of lodging options to choose from to ensure a Breckenridge trip will not break budget.
209 10 Mile Cir
Frisco, CO 80443
Copper Mountain is home to delightfully mixed terrain that's all about progression; a $15 beginner chairlift ticket and free magic carpet access means parents and grandparents can sit in the comfortable pedestrian base village (9.600 feet in altitude) and watch little shredders age 3+ learn new tricks. More active ones can try the zipline, join a free snowshoe tour, or try out the wide variety of trails ranging from easy-going to intermediate and advanced jumps and pipelines. Copper caters as well to novices in Painter Wood as to Olympians on its rugged steeps, and the Elevation Hotel (formerly a Club Med) makes access easy. Interested snowboarders and free-style skiers — as well as those who might need a little more practice — will be pleased to visit the unique Woodward at Copper. This school offers year-round training for free-style skiing, snowboarding, and even skateboarding, biking, and digital media classes. Located in the Barn, a 19,400-sqaure-foot indoor playground and unique training facility, Woodward guests have the chance to learn from the pros in a unique environment designed to help them successfully master new tricks. For more details on Woodward's exclusive classes, or information on how to "drop in," visit their official site here.
500 Gothic Rd
Crested Butte, CO 81225
Crested Butte is a best-kept-secret (it's harder to get to than other resorts); this year that's become a blessing since they're offering up to $400 in airfare reimbursement for midweek spring skiing vacations. It's also a favorite of those in the know who are looking for a more adventurous challenge. The mountain dominates a small town and With hundreds of acres of trail set aside for skiing, hiking, and other activities, it also makes room to accommodate beginners age 3 and up with small class sizes. In summer, Crested Butte features a summer zipline tour that takes guests on an approximately two-hour mountain tour with a literal bird's-eye view of the landscape as you whizz on by. Guests will also have to challenge themselves by taking on the tour's five zip-lines connected by suspended bridges and towering platforms; save 5% discount if reservations are made at least 5 days in advance of a tour. FTF writers enjoy Crested Butte for its reprieve from the crowds, and even our Teen Scholars recommend Crested Butte's natural beauty.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch
3530 County Highway 83
Tabernash, CO 80478
For terrific cross-country skiing, with a taste of western Colorado and Wild West culture, just 10 minutes away from the alpine slopes at Winter Park, be sure to book a stay at Devil's Thumb Ranch in Tabernash. This rustically upscale, year-round ranch provides a variety of lodging and outdoor activity options for the adventurous family who wants an alternative "base camp" from the usual prefab ski-village lodgings. In winter, ranch guests can enjoy a steamy dip in the resort's heated outdoor pool, snowshoe through one of their many cross-country trails, or take a ride on one of the lodge's outdoor sleighs. There are other alternative activities offered at the Ranch that are not the norm for a ski resort, including ice fishing and fine dining. And with its proximity to other attractions in the area — including the Hot Sulphur Springs and the Grand Lake, the largest natural lake in the state — the possibilities are endless. For a detailed visitors guide, check out our review of Devil's Thumb Ranch.
100 Dercum Square
Keystone, CO 80435
Yet another highly acclaimed Vail property, Keystone has also long been a place where kids rule. Less than an hour from Denver, Keystone also features three mountains, great terrain parks, snow tubing, night skiing, and a variety of other activities to choose from including ice skating and ice hockey. The little ones will especially love the family-friendly lessons and apres-ski offerings made just for them, while parents will love the resort welcoming kids to ski free every day, all season, including weekends and holidays, if you book two nights or more lodging– a rarity in the ski industry. With more than 800 accommodation options, Keystone is the place to be for a winter adventure for every size group and every budget. FTF staffers have much to say on Keystone. We love the Kids Ski Free Program for under-12s and older teens love Keystone–although it is a tough mountain for anyone who suffers from altitude sickness, so take it easy!
6226 County Road 110
Silverton, CO 81433
You won't find an apres ski treat, or even a heated bathroom — just an outhouse — but you will enjoy a unique ski experience unlike any other at Silverton Mountain resort. Silverton is a resort that is all thrills and no frills — what you sacrifice for all the bells and whistles will instead treat you with a real mountain skiing experience. Be warned, this also means that the mountain is unforgiving to beginners with only advanced and expert only riding — but the payoff for having experience is access to beautiful scenery and uncrowded slopes. Kids are allowed, and as seen in one of our FTF staffer's reviews, can handle the mountain alongside their parents — so for a real adventure off the beaten path, definitely hit up Silverton Mountain as your next extreme retreat.
Steamboat Ski & Resort
2305 Mt Werner Cir
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487
Home to one of the premier snowboard/skiing superpipes in North America, the Western style Steamboat Ski & Resort is certainly a haven for experienced skiers and snowboarding adepts with over 165 runs. While most of the terrain is set for intermediate and advanced skiers/snowboarders, Steamboat boasts a dedicated Snowsports School with group and age-based classes to get beginners on their feet early. Steamboat has ski classes for little Buckaroos; this program hosts 2- to 4-year-olds to get their feet wet with moving in skis and in snow, and continues from kids to teens to adults. Steamboat also has a special Kiddie Corral Childcare center where kids play with supervised instructors while parents can hit the slopes. And if you want to have the Kiddie Corral service and let your little ones out on the powder, sign up for the Palomino Kids program which not only has the benefit of the Kiddie Coral service with lunch but also includes a semi-private ski-lesson with helmet and ski equipment included. We can't wait to try the outdoor barbecue being installed in their new mountainside eatery.
Telluride Ski Resort
565 Mountain Village Blvd.
Telluride, CO 81435
Located above a remote, picturesque mountain village (named of course, Mountain Village) with America's highest altitude commercial airport, Telluride attracts the devoted, off-the-beaten path skier and snowboarder. Perhaps because flight conditions are so unpredictable in the San Juan Mountains in winter, this ski resort has actually become more popular for Telluride summer attractions than its winter ones. Nonetheless, the programs, conditions, variety of slopes and terrain parks among its 2,000 skiable acres, and the winter scenery cannot be beat. There are no lift lines or waits in the cafeteria. The ski school welcomes kids 3 to 14, and beginners especially love being able to access the highest peaks and cruise the 4.6-mile-long Galloping Goose run back down. There's a highly regarded adaptive ski program. No need to worry about parking. Take the airport shuttle into the historic old mining town, then you and your pet can use the free gondola system between the Telluride peaks and Mountain Village. The purpose-built Mountain Village, built in 1985 to supplement the Victorian era charm of downtown, is packed with quality hotels, spas, boutiques and fine dining so there's plenty to do apres ski. The big caveat for Telluride is altitude — the highest lift goes to 13,150 feet, tough even for Denver locals to acclimate.
450 E Lionshead Circle
Vail, CO 81657
Ski lovers should definitely visit Vail Ski Resort, the largest single mountain ski resort in the United States. With a variety of terrain from cruising runs to wide-open glades, chutes, and moguls, Vail is truly like nothing on earth, the perfect escape for the skiing enthusiast. Skiers ranging from never-evers to seasoned veterans will be pleased with Vail’s slope selection, excellent grooming and clearly marked beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails. Families of different levels can stick together on the front side while intermediates and experts can make use of the famous open-glades and back bowls. Vail has plenty to offer guests, from a wide range of snowsports to luxurious pampering at Vail's Arrabelle spa. Vail is also highly-rated by FTF staffers, and their teens for both its winter and summer off-slope activities.
Winter Park Resort
85 Parsenn Rd
Winter ParkCO 80482
About an hour-and-a-half drive from Denver, Colorado, Winter Park is a cozy, family favorite with five mountains to choose from and varied terrain for all skill levels. Experts will really love their wild moguls. You can spend the day in a 'family lesson' that includes lift tickets, gear and an instructor for four, or check out Winter Park's variety of on-and-off-slope activities, such as hiking, tubing, snowcat tours and even s'mores nights by a big bonfire. While families enjoy the wide variety of resort-organized activities and events together, those who want a bit of personal time can opt into the "Kids' Night Out" program; from 5:30 to 8:30 PM 4- to 12-year-olds can participate in a variety of indoor activities from arts-n-crafts to movies while Mom and Dad have the "night off" to spend some time for themselves. (This service is free if $30 per child is spent in any commercial outlet at the resort during the hours that your child is in the program — great deal.)
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