The Best Family Ski Resorts In Colorado
25 Marvelously Skiable Mountains
It's a Challenge For Parents To Choose ~ Location, Terrain, Ski School or Day Cares?
With five of the top 10 best ski resorts in the country, according to Forbes magazine, Colorado is a powder hound’s paradise. Shredder heaven. In fact, the Centennial state has more than 25 marvelously skiable mountains, making it a challenge for parents to choose the best fit for a family ski vacation. Does one choose a resort by location, terrain, lift ticket prices or ski school? What about a resort’s amenities, like day cares, additional activities and kid-friendly dining? It’s enough to boggle the mind. So let’s break this down.
Threading east to west through the middle of Colorado is Interstate 70. The major ski resorts that are a short distance off I-70 include Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain, Vail and Beaver Creek. For families flying into Denver and then driving, the I-70 resorts are the most accessible and provide tons of recreational opportunities. If you’re seeking a more secluded resort nestled in one of Colorado’s very cool (and very high up) ski towns, families can try Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs, Telluride and Winter Park. Snowmass and Buttermilk, two family-friendly ski areas near Aspen, round out the list of the state’s most popular ski destinations. Each of these destinations has a variety of terrain from beginner to expert, and services, amenities and restaurant options that will make families’ stays very enjoyable.
With the exception of Aspen, all major Colorado ski resorts have plenty of beginner runs, kid slopes and “magic carpets” for novices and the ski school. Beaver Creek even has a kids-only gondola, and other resorts have a variety of mini chair lifts and other accommodations for emerging skiers.
All of Colorado’s most well-known resorts offer day care for babies and little kids, and many have a ski school/day care option for preschool and elementary-age kids. Each resort puts its own spin on high-quality day care, activities and ski lessons for young children so parents can have a worry-free time on the slopes.
Let’s face it: You’re lucky if your little ones will ski for even two hours. Why pay for a lift ticket for junior if you don’t have to? At Steamboat, kids up to 12 years old ski and rent gear for free (with the purchase of a five-day adult lift ticket), and many other resorts, including Vail, Copper, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge offer free skiing for kids under age six and reduced-price lift tickets for kids six to 12. In Telluride, kids under age five ski free, and kids five to 12 receive discount pricing.
The best family-friendly resorts have loads of activities in addition to skiing and snowboarding. Keystone’s Kidtopia offers parents and kids all kinds of free events, games, cookie time and more. Snowmass’ huge Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center is a drop-off, supervised play area for infants and children up to age four. Want more? With a la carte pricing, most resorts offer extra activities such as ice skating, sledding, tubing and horse-drawn sleigh rides. But activities aren’t limited to the ski area. Breckenridge and Crested Butte have children’s museums and outdoor play areas, and don’t miss Vail Village’s pirate ship.
Colorado’s ski schools are the best in the country. When parents enroll their kids (as young as three) in ski lessons, they can rest assured that while they’re enjoying their powder runs their kids are in the hands of instructors who know how to teach children and will do everything they can to make it safe and fun.
Older kids with more experience on the slopes will enjoy all of the same resorts, especially Buttermilk. Once home to the X Games, it has a mini terrain park for your budding shredder. Parents will love Beaver Creek and Crested Butte for their independent skiers and boarders because all runs funnel down to the main villages, making meeting up a cinch.
Parents will also love discounted lift tickets for their 13 to 17 year olds at all major resorts. Snowmass is offering free lift tickets for kids ages seven to 12 with equipment rentals from Four Mountain Sports during the 2015-2016 season. Check out resort websites for deals on rentals and tickets. And since all of these resorts cater to families, kid-approved restaurants are easy to find, such as Fatty’s Pizzeria in Breckenridge and Rex’s American Bar & Grill in Steamboat.
Activities for older kids and teens include kid’s snowmobiles, tubing and snow biking at Vail’s Adventure Ridge. Copper, Beaver Creek and other locations also offer tubing and snow biking (height, weight and age limits apply).
With so many choices, it’s hard to go wrong with a Colorado ski vacation. Once you narrow down the list to the resorts that best suit your family’s needs, you’ll have nothing less than an amazing time skiing in the Rockies.
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