It's no secret that Colorado offers some of the finest skiing in the U.S. With the highest altitude lift terrain in the country, the state offers plentiful snowfall and spectacular views! (It also offers some of the most varied and challenging terrain.) We've been hopping with excitement about being back on the slopes this ski season. This post will walk you through the best time to ski in Colorado by month!
Don't wait until the last minute to book your trip this year! Hop over to our post on what to expect at the Vail Resorts for skiing 2021-2022 and what to expect at the Ikon Pass destinations for details on what to expect this season. Most ski resorts drop advance reservations systems this year, making it easier to plan without worrying about reservations filling up. Skiing itself moves back to normal operations. But there are still some safety protocols for indoor environments, so you'll want to bring a face covering and even a COVID-19 vaccine card to access certain on-mountain restaurants at Vail-owned resorts.
Now let's hop to it and get to what you came for: our month-by-month guide to the best time to ski in Colorado.
Our Month-by-Month Guide to the Best Time to Ski in Colorado
As you can probably tell, we love skiing in Colorado! There are plenty of blue-sky ski days and terrific conditions that make even us newbie ski frogs hoppy. (My wife, Flora, is our resident ski expert. She has stopped saying "hit the slopes," because she thinks I take it literally. I'm almost afraid to tell her it's not intentional.) Factor all that in with Colorado's central location and abundant airport options, and you've got one of the most popular ski destinations in the world!
While we've written about the best and worst times to ski in general, this post addresses Colorado ski resorts specifically. Use this month-by-month guide to help your family plan the best time to ski in Colorado. Keep in mind that in 2021-2022 the ski destinations are easing themselves back into more normal operations with no reservations but still with safety protocols in place (which may vary by destination).
Since last ski season, vaccines became widely available, so people ages 12 and up should be prepared to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 tests at certain destinations. We aren't out of the woods just yet.
We expect to encounter more skiers than last season but still fewer-than-normal international travelers this season. You can also use this guide if you have your sights on the 2021-2022 season to get a general sense of the weather and conditions each month.
Colorado Ski Resort Reopening Dates
Before we explore Colorado skiing, month by month, let's talk about projected snow and reopening dates this fall. North America is looking at a pretty good chance of La Niña conditions this winter. What does that mean? That means that certain areas may get hit with colder temperatures and above average snowfall from October through Spring. The Colorado ski mountains that do particularly well in a La Niña year include Steamboat Springs and Aspen Snowmass. That doesn't mean the other resorts won't get great snow too though.
If you are looking ahead to the 2021-2022 season, you can use the below dates as a guide for planning. Hop back in November for the updated opening dates. In 2021, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin lead the way, planning to reopen as early as possible in October. Breckenridge and Vail plan to open Nov. 12. Beaver Creek and Crested Butte both open Nov. 24. (BTW, did you hear that Crested Butte has joined most of these other resorts on the Epic Pass? Toadally cool!)
For the Ikon Pass Destinations, here are opening dates. Winter Park kicks off the season on Nov. 17. Steamboat reopens Nov. 20. The Aspen Snowmass ski resorts have varying opening dates. Aspen Mountain and Snowmass reopen Nov. 26. Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk reopen Dec. 11.
Reopening dates are subject to change.
While many of the ski resorts open in mid- to late-November, some resorts, such as Arapahoe Basin and Keystone, often open in October! Usually in November, you'll typically find only a handful of lifts open. Snowfall at this time is sporadic, and while most all of the resorts have snow-making capabilities, skiing is still fairly limited. Although sometimes early snowfall brings early openings!
Late November is a nice time for an early winter getaway, especially a last-minute getaway, but you have to be OK with there perhaps not being very much snow. Prices are very good on both hotels and lift tickets. Keep in mind that, try as people might, nobody can predict the weather (and in 2021, the pandemic and virus variants), but with all of the safety precautions in place the 2021-2022 season overall should be, well, epic.
December skiing in Colorado can also be quite hit or miss, especially in the first half of the month. But the nice part is that you won't have too much competition for the snow. Snowfall can vary significantly from year to year. If there isn't a ton of snowfall, the resorts may still be operating with a limited number of runs and lifts open. It is a great way to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, because the ski towns and villages — plus all of the hotels — are decked out for the holidays. Most families should still expect limited snow or skiing at this time, but you can certainly make memorable winter ski memories and enjoy holiday events! We hopped over to Beaver Creek the week before Christmas this year and found the conditions were toadally awesome, with a good mix of runs open, thanks to a few recent snowstorms.
Limited crowds and decreased travel due to COVID-19 made last holiday season the least crowded we've seen. We do not know what is in store for 2021-2022. People may be ready to go, but others may be cautious, waiting for less-crowded and less-expensive weeks to ski.
By and large, the masses think January and February are the best times to ski in Colorado. These months are the "best bets" in terms of snowfall. Most of the ski resorts' trails should be open by mid-month at the latest. And aside from the days when the kids are out of school and weekends (for those resorts closest in driving distance from Denver), these are the least-crowded months to hit the slopes. Do keep in mind that January is typically the coldest month for skiing in Colorado, so it requires extra bundling! If you plan to ski during MLK weekend, be sure to book your trip in advance.
Typically, February is the best time to ski in Colorado. The base depth of snow on the mountains is at its deepest, and there is plenty of powder still pouring in! By February, the mountains are fully open, so there is a ton of terrain to cover. While the days around Presidents' Day are some of the busiest on the slopes, the rest of the month sees lower crowds. If you have your sights on skiing Presidents' Day weekend, book those days before they fill up.
This is another popular month for skiers. It's true that the crowds are high, especially mid-month with spring break, but it's still a good time to go because of the warmer temps and sunnier days. The mountains are fully operational! If you can, go early enough in the month for lower crowds on the slopes. If you visit during spring break, consider the larger resorts such as Vail and Keystone since they can handle larger crowds and have so much terrain to explore.
The resorts typically close in early to mid-April as wetter conditions arrive. If you want to ski in April, definitely go early in the month. You can also find discounts at this time. Occasionally, the snow gods smile on Colorado, and good ski conditions continue on until May. At some of the highest-elevation resorts, snowing can continue even into May and June. Breckenridge hosted skiers until June 9, 2019, and until May 23, 2021! Keep hopping back for updates, as the ski closing dates do vary by resort based on weather and snow quality.
I have a few more tips to save on a Colorado ski trip so that you're outfitted for success (and savings) on the mountain. We frogs are always excited to save some “green” and pass the tips to you, so if you need to book lodging at ski resort hotels or to purchase Epic Pass or Ikon Pass, be sure to check out our hoppin’ deals and purchase passes before December.