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.)
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 its 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.
Our Month-by-Month Guide to the Best Time to Ski in Colorado
While many of the ski resorts open in mid- to late-November (some resorts, such as Arapahoe Basin, plan to open on October 11, 2019!), there are typically 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!
For the 2019-2020 season, Breckenridge tentatively plans to open Nov. 8, 2019. Vail plans to open Nov. 15, 2019. Steamboat is set to open Nov. 23, while Keystone, Beaver Creek and Crested Butte follow behind on Nov. 27, 2019. (BTW, did you hear that Crested Butte has joined the Epic Pass? Toadally cool!) Aspen is the last of these resorts to open on Nov. 28. This is a nice time for an early winter getaway, especially a last-minute getaway if you're 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, so these dates may change.
December skiing in Colorado can also be quite hit or miss, especially in the first half of the month. 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!
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!
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.
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 skiiers until June 9, 2019!
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, reserve equipment rentals or purchase lift tickets that don’t have block out dates, be sure to check out our hoppin’ deals.