Looking to hop over to Colorado for a family ski trip? With tons of family ski resort options, the Denver area is a great destination for skiing. Not to mention, Denver International Airport (DEN) is the largest airport in Colorado (24 airlines and about 215 nonstop destinations), making it an easy city to fly into.
From kid-friendly Keystone to luxurious Beaver Creek, you'll find an abundance of ski resorts within a few hours of Denver. While these are not as close as Echo Mountain or Loveland Mountain, these are what we think of as the all-around best choices for families. Here are some of our favorite family ski resorts near Denver and the Denver airport!
If you are skiing in the 2020-2021 ski season, keep in mind that skiing looks a little different this year. Some services (such as childcare) are unavailable this season. Be sure to bring your face coverings with you, as they are required. It's especially important to book ski lessons in advance (as same-day lessons are unavailable). The mountains are limiting capacity, so that means you'll need to purchase dated lift tickets in advance or make a lift ticket reservation for most Denver-area ski resorts. If you are skiing at Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail or Beaver Creek, hop over to our post on what to expect when skiing at the Vail Resorts this year. You'll need to make a reservation or purchase a dated lift ticket in advance. If you are visiting Winter Park, hop over to our post on what to expect at the Ikon Pass destinations this year. You'll need to purchase a dated lift ticket or make a reservation to ski if using the Ikon Pass.
Dining will look a little different too, with limited capacity. Bring some snacks and water with you. Indoor dining space is limited. You can find limited outdoor seating or use the EpicMix app at Vail-owned resorts to reserve indoor dining if you need to warm up. You'll find more grab-n-go items available for quick bites.
Best Family Ski Resorts Near Denver
The best family ski resorts near Denver are within about two hours of the Denver International Airport and easily can be reached by car or shuttle when the roads are clear. If you are visiting Winter Park, you can even hop on the Amtrak Winter Park Express from Union Station! The train option returns in 2022. Distances are based on traveling from the airport itself as opposed to the city of Denver, which is actually about 23 miles closer to the ski resorts. That’s good news if you will be coming from the city of Denver itself!
Keystone Ski Resort
Keystone is 99 miles and less than two hours away from the Denver Airport. This large resort (over 3,000 acres with 128 trails) is very family-friendly, with terrific terrain, excellent ski school programs, daycare and more. The resort is spread out over three peaks and five bowls.
There are a variety of amenities such as shopping, Kidtopia events, the world’s largest snow fort, a tubing hill, a Nordic center, ice skating rinks and more. Keystone offers some of the best night skiing in Colorado and claims to offer the longest ski day in the state. Its award-winning A51 Terrain Park (with its own lift) is one of the best you’ll find, so if you have “park rats” in your family, Keystone is a must-stop.
Breckenridge is an excellent family ski resort set in a bustling historic mining town. It is located 104 miles, and under two hours, from Denver. You’ll discover plenty of terrain for every ski ability in your group, and it offers a ton of beginner and intermediate trails that are perfect for families. Breckenridge has the highest lift in North America, but with those bragging rights come potential issues with altitude sickness (here's how to prevent it), so take some caution to prepare your family for altitude at this high ski resort. Tubing, ice skating, snowmobiling, Nordic trails and a recreation center are nearby but not right at the resort.
The 2019-20 season brought a new Peak 8 Base area with a Children's Ski and Snowboard School and childcare facilities. This resort usually opens earlier than many other Denver area resorts. In 2020, it opened Nov. 13. Breckenridge can have a long season during epic snowfall years — its skiers and snowboarders were riding into June 2019!
This resort, about 80 miles from downtown, is the fourth largest ski resort in Colorado and known for its ample snow and monster moguls! Getting there couldn't be easier. It offers direct Amtrak service on select days to and from Denver during ski season, making it one of the easiest resorts to access! If you are flying into Denver, you can take the A-Line to Union Station and then catch the Winter Park Express the next morning.
Winter Park offers a variety of terrain for skiers, including more difficult terrain on Mary Jane, one of its three mountains, but there is also plenty of beginner runs. The resort offers ski lessons for kids starting at age 3 and child care for infants, toddlers and on up. The ski village is growing, and parents can find some nice restaurants, shops and ski-in, ski-out lodging. There are even more accommodations in the town of Winter Park, just a few miles from the resort. Winter Park is on the Ikon Pass. To save on lift tickets for next season, you'll want to purchase in summer or fall.
There is nothing like Vail. Located about 120 miles from Denver, this massive ski resort is the largest in the state, with over 5,289 acres to explore. There is a variety of terrain to keep everyone hoppy. Cruise down wide-open beginner and intermediate groomed terrain. Blow through the famous bowls of light powder. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, you’ll love the family fun available at Adventure Ridge. You can enjoy tubing, snowshoeing, kids snowmobiling, a Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster and ski biking. Vail has three villages with ice rinks, restaurants and top-notch service. It’s fancy but in a laid-back sort of way.
Beaver Creek is Vail’s sister resort. If you want a luxury ski resort with long runs, fast lifts, meticulous grooming and short lift lines, then Beaver Creek is worth the drive. It’s about 15 to 20 minutes past Vail. Beaver Creek has 1,800 skiable acres and 150 trails. Beaver Creek is not a budget-friendly resort, but it does come with perks like stellar service, free warm cookies at the end of your ski day, family programming, weekly fireworks and a posh ski village complete with escalators, fire pits, an ice rink and a performing arts center. There are a lot of ski-in, ski-out accommodations and delicious restaurants from casual to fine dining.
Other Factors That Go into Choosing a Denver Ski Resort
You'll want to find the best ski resort for your crew. When comparing Denver ski resorts (besides distance from Denver), you might consider a few other factors into your decision, such as:
- When you want to ski. Some resorts have longer ski seasons than others.
- Crowds. Breckenridge and Vail draw larger crowds than some of the other resorts.
- Grooming. Vail and Beaver Creek are well-known for taking particularly good care of their snow.
- Price. Keystone and Breckenridge are more reasonably priced than Vail and Beaver Creek. That savings extends to lift tickets, lodging, parking and activities.
- Size of the mountain. Vail has the most skiable acres. If you want long runs, Vail, Breckenridge and Beaver Creek have the most vertical feet.
- Type of terrain. The good news is that both learning and experienced families will all be happy at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone or Winter Park.
- Transportation. Winter Park has Amtrak service on select days from Denver, meaning you do not have to get in a car!
- Family fun off of the mountain. Look into other family activities, such as tubing or family programming, and other winter activities such as dog sledding, snowmobiling or ice skating.
- Here are some ideas for family fun beyond the ski slopes. Find a resort that appeals to your sense of adventure.
If you want to compare the best family ski resorts near Denver with other resorts in Colorado, or even in Utah or California, check out this quick-glance Ski Resort Decision Matrix to help narrow down the best location for your family. While it may be hard to choose, know that you really can’t go wrong.
If you are like most parents, you like to save money on your family travel. Here are some tips for toadally easy ways to save when flying to Colorado.
Once you decide where to visit, it’s time to book your ski vacation. All of the best Denver family ski resorts are close enough that you can stay at one resort and hop (with a relatively short drive) to another during your stay. Find a rental car and bundle it with a hoppin’ deal on a ski hotel to maximize savings. You can purchase discount Epic Pass and Ikon Pass before the ski season kicks offwith Undercover Tourist.