When it comes to ski resorts, Colorado is pretty hoppin'! The "Centennial State" is home to nearly 30 ski resorts. When we frogs think of skiing, most often the first place we think of is Colorado. The Colorado ski resorts range in size from small, hidden gems to some of the largest in the U.S.! Some cater to families and new skiers with plenty of activities off of the mountain. Others are better for thrill experts and die-hard skiers. Whatever the size or amenities, they are all blanketed with that famous Colorado fluffy powder. Wondering which one to visit? We're toadally excited to share our favorite ski resorts in Colorado for families.
Are you planning on skiing during the 2020-2021 season? Before we hop into it, you should know that skiing — like everything else we do these days — is a little different this year to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The ski destinations have new safety measures in place. Face coverings are required. New physical distancing measures are in place, and the resorts are reducing capacity. Some resorts require reservations and they all offer date-based, advance-purchase lift tickets. Some services are temporarily unavailable (such as childcare), and you'll need to book lessons in advance. And if you are heading to Aspen/Snowmass, you should book that COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival. Hop over to our posts on what to expect when skiing at Vail Resorts this year and what to expect at the Ikon Pass destinations this year for all the latest details.
Our Favorite Ski Resorts in Colorado for Families
While you are sure to find great skiing at other Colorado ski resorts, as well, these seven are some of our family favorites. They rank high based on diversity of terrain, ease of traveling there and family friendliness. These resorts also hold the interests of the more experienced skiers in the family. (Ahem, that's Mommy Frog, who has been skiing her whole life.) They offer price tags for a wide range of budgets, as that may also be a deciding factor for you. The best ski resorts in Colorado have something for everyone in a ski party. They serve beginner-never-ever skiers, to the veterans ready to explore the whole mountain.
Psst! Did you know Undercover Tourist has hopped into ski vacation planning and can help you save money on your ski trip? You can jump into savings by booking hotel rooms and purchasing Epic Pass and Ikon Pass for the best ski resorts in Colorado. The destinations on the Epic Pass include Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and our latest addition, Crested Butte. Some of the best Colorado destinations on the Ikon Pass include Steamboat and the four Aspen/Snowmass locations: Aspen, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. If you need a rental car for your journey, you can unlock huge savings when you bundle it with a hotel or ticket purchase.
Steamboat Springs (aka “Ski Town U.S.A.”) has produced more U.S. Winter Olympic athletes than any other town in the country — 88 in total! You can drive there from Denver — it’s a three and a half- to four-hour drive — or you can fly right into Steamboat Springs nonstop from 15 cities (or connect from 350 other airports). The resort has a ski village with wagons, so you can load your tired kids (tadpoles to Flora and me) and all of your gear. We love little touches like this that make a ski resort super welcoming for families with young children. It helps make Ski Town U.S.A. one of the best ski resorts in Colorado for families!
You’ll find a variety of terrain for everyone in your group at Steamboat. It offers just under 3,000 acres of skiing and some long, thigh-burning runs. It has night skiing, and there is plenty of fun off the mountain, such as natural hot springs, sleigh-ride dinners, tubing, ice skating, a mountain coaster and fun family events like festivals, Friday night fireworks and dance parties.
Aspen/Snowmass is actually made up of four ski destinations — Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, plus two nearby towns (Aspen and Snowmass). Each ski resort offers something a little different, allowing you to try out different ski resorts with one lift ticket. But they all boast about their famous powder! Buttermilk’s Hideout Children’s Center is a perfect place for kids to learn to ski. The Aspen/Snowmass area has an alpine coaster, tubing, snow cat dinners, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and touches the kids will jump for, such as free s’mores and après ski kid programming.
There are several airports you can fly into, ranging from really close to a significant drive. Downtown Aspen is 3 miles from Aspen/Pitkin County airport, 70 miles from Eagle County Airport, 125 miles from Grand Junction and 220 miles from Denver International Airport. With a convenient location and plenty of family-friendly activities, Aspen/Snowmass is one of the best ski resorts in Colorado for families.
During the 2020-2021 ski season, you'll need to be aware of rules for visiting. Hop over to our guide to Aspen/Snowmass to learn about mandatory COVID-19 tests and a Traveler Affidavit.
Crested Butte is a former coal mining town that is known as "the last great Colorado ski town." Take a stroll down Elk Avenue with colorful Victorian storefronts in the historic district. You can enjoy museums, restaurants, shopping and art galleries in this quirky small town.
If you have skiers of varying abilities in your family, you'll find something for everyone here. Crested Butte draws extreme skiers and experts for its double black diamond runs and some of the best backcountry skiing in Colorado. But don't let that intimidate the beginners in your family, because 18 percent of the runs are for beginners and 29 percent are for intermediate skiers. The Ten Peaks Progression Park is the perfect place for learners to work on terrain park skills with small and medium features. Crested Butte recently joined the Epic Pass.
Besides great skiing and riding, the town of Crested Butte offers many miles of groomed cross-country skiing out of the Nordic Center that also has an ice-skating rink. The Adventure Park offers year-round family fun with a bungee trampoline and a climbing pinnacle. Check the calendar for wacky family events and dress-up parties!
You can fly directly to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC) on daily flights with American and United Airlines. You'll can connect through Denver, Dallas and Houston. If you plan to drive, Crested Butte is about a four- to five-hour drive from Denver and just under four hours from Colorado Springs. This mountain's ski base is at 9,375 feet, and the peak reaches over 12,000 feet. That means you'll want to take it easy at the beginning of your trip, stay hydrated and take some steps to prevent altitude sickness.
Keystone Ski Resort
Keystone is a large family-friendly ski large resort with over 3,000 acres of terrain spread out over three peaks and five bowls. This ski destination is just 99 miles and less than two hours away from Denver International Airport. Kids will love learning to ski or snowboard in the ski school program, as well as attending Kidtopia events. They can play in the world’s largest snow fort, go tubing and ice skate. Daredevils can show off new tricks at the award-winning A51 Terrain Park. Parents, enjoy kids ski free lodging deals, shopping, spas, a Nordic center, daycare center (for worry-free skiing) and restaurants. If you are always the last one off the mountain, then you can take advantage of the longest ski day in the state and stay for the extensive night skiing.
Staying at a more budget-friendly ski resort such as Keystone is one of the best ways to save on a Colorado ski trip. Keystone is definitely one of the best ski resorts in Colorado. It's also a relatively short distance from Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge.
Breckenridge is a great family resort situated 104 miles from Denver. It's one of the best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners because of its many wide and gentle Green trails and family learning zones. It's also great for intermediate skiers as they progress to the seemingly limitless Blue runs. Expert skiers in the group can explore entire areas of the mountain that will challenge them and keep them coming back for more. With just under 3,000 acres of skiable terrain and 187 trails, it’s pretty safe to say that there is something for everyone at Breck.
When you step off of the mountain, you are literally in the streets of a historic mining town. You'll find tons of shopping, restaurants, coffee shops and bars that are perfect to get your après on. Breckenridge (like Crested Butte) sits at a high altitude. That's why you’ll want to ease yourself into this ski town. Maybe even take advantage of an oxygen delivery service to prevent altitude sickness.
For family fun off of the ski hill, there is a sled hill and nearby tubing, sleigh rides, ice-skating, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. You can take art classes in town or go for a scenic walk in the snow along ponds and rivers. The town has a beautiful recreation center with climbing walls, pools and athletic equipment. The ski resort offers daycare services at the base of Peak 8 for tadpoles not quite ready to ski. This mountain is a little more affordable than Beaver Creek and Vail, especially if you purchase multi-day lift tickets.
Vail is like nothing else, and no doubt one of the best ski resorts in Colorado for families. It is the largest Colorado ski resort, with over 5,289 skiable acres. Every family member will enjoy skiing at Vail. The resort offers a range of wide-open beginner and intermediate groomed terrain with family learning zones and the famous back bowls of light deep powder. Vail is located about 30 minutes from Eagle County Regional Airport. It is about two hours from Denver, just off I-70.
Take the kids for a gondola ride up to Adventure Ridge for afternoon winter fun. You can go tubing, do free snowshoeing or try kids snowmobiling, a mountain coaster or ski biking. Vail has three different villages (one with a daycare center). It also offers ice rinks, playgrounds, many restaurants and great services such as ski valets. Vail is fancy, but in more of a laid back sort of way.
As you can expect, Vail is a popular Colorado ski resort. But because it is so large, it disperses the crowds. If you will be skiing at peak times (such as holiday times), it’s smart to start your day early and move away from the base areas.
Beaver Creek is Vail’s fancier sister resort, although let's face it, Vail is fancy, too. This beautiful resort is nestled among the aspen trees. It's about 15 to 20 minutes from Vail. It's about 30 minutes from Eagle County Regional Airport and about two hours from Denver.
Beaver Creek is a luxury ski resort. It provides short lift lines and fast lifts to long, well-groomed runs — in fact, they groom 600 acres daily! Beaver Creek has 1,800 skiable acres and 150 trails. The gorgeous Beaver Creek Village is sprinkled with fire pits, helpful employees, family programming, a performing arts center and an ice rink. One of our family favorite perks is getting free warm cookies after skiing! You can catch weekly fireworks on the mountain. There are many great restaurants, from casual to fine dining.
While Beaver Creek may be at the top of your budget, it’s quite nice. You can save money by buying lift tickets in advance through Undercover Tourist. These lift tickets are also good at nearby Vail.
It’s a difficult decision to pick from all of the best ski resorts in Colorado for your family. Hopefully, our guide has helped narrow down your options. If the resort you choose is near another ski resort, you might hop on over for a day of skiing and riding to add some variety … perhaps scout it out for your next trip? We frogs have the travel bug and are always looking ahead to the next adventure!
Once you choose from the best ski resorts in Colorado, you might need help in reserving a rental car, finding a hoppin’ deal on ski hotel and equipment rentals, or purchasing the Epic Pass or Ikon Pass. Hop on over to all of our other ski-related blog topics for more helpful tips on skiing with kids, ski school, getting the right equipment or clothing, ski safety and even sanity-saving tips to simply make it all easier.