Family Ski Vacations

Family-Friendly Skiing at Steamboat

Before my 2010 ski season came to an abrupt end on Valentine’s Day (no fun sledding accident), my plan was to scout a few new ski venues by following my own advice from my how to find kid-friendly ski resorts post. The good news is that I made it to Steamboat, Colorado before my luck changed.

It’s been ski week so far on CB with the best family ski resorts in Europe post and family-friendly recipes for ski weekends by Amanda Haas yesterday. Given that the end of ski season is not far away, it’s time to share why I like Steamboat for families.


Steamboat Springs is in Northwestern Colorado. Located 3.5 to 4 hours from the Denver Airport without weather and traffic, I learned the hard way that the isolated location makes it a much better destination for a 4-7+ day trip than a weekend ski venue. You can fly into the nearby airport of Hayden — reducing drive time to 25 minutes — although, you are likely to have to change planes in Denver and total travel time may be a wash.


We really didn’t spend enough time in the resort to appreciate all it has to offer in full, but I saw enough to conclude that this is a wonderful resort for family ski trips. The town and resort area are surprisingly big given the middle-of-nowhere location, but in this case, the upside is an unbelievable array of condo-type accommodation options that are ideal with kids.

Moreover, the excessive room inventory combined with the travel slump means there is incredible value for quality right now. Condos that would easily be priced in the $500 per night range at other ski resorts are $200-300 a night in Steamboat.

The skiing, however, is not a cheap date; there are packages available that include lift tickets to help keep costs down.

The other highlight for me is the ski terrain. Family-friendly skiing with young kids is all about logistics involved to get to the beginner hills and ski school, as well as the amount of intermediate terrain available so you can ski together as a family and not get run over by experts. Steamboat has an unbelievable amount of groomed runs that are perfect for skiing with kids. It’s nice to feel like you can relax and go in any direction without worrying about unwillingly getting stuck on a double black diamond run. That said, there is still plenty of room to find increasingly challenging terrain for school-age kids who have skills that grow rapidly over a short period of time.

Steamboat is known for incredible powder — attracting a bit of everybody — but overall, there are kids everywhere and the vibe is more family than party. There are some resorts that have stunning mountain facilities like Sun Valley in Idaho — Steamboat isn’t that for me, but nonetheless, the slope-side facilities here are well done and comfortable.


We stayed at the Lodge at Steamboat in a 2-bedroom condo, a value-oriented option with some nice features including very helpful staff and a free, private shuttle to the ski village. Read my complete family-friendly hotel review for more details.

I also toured the new Trailhead Lodge and loved it. The facilities are gorgeous with loads of appealing onsite places to hang with kids. They are also opening up a gondola right from the lodge to the ski area. If I was going back, this is where I’d stay.

I didn’t have time to see The Steamboat Grand, but it has an excellent reputation as one of the few full service hotels located right in the ski village. My feeling is that practically every accommodation in Steamboat is family-friendly — it’s more a matter of choosing between locations, amenities, and price points.

I’d go back to Steamboat in a heartbeat (over summer months too). If you are still itching for a top notch ski week with kids, add it to your short list.

Family-friendly recipes for ski weekends

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  • Skiing Magazine – 13 Best Ski-Country Hot Springs: #1 Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs, Colorado
    Skiing Magazine just released their picks for the 13 Best Ski-Country Hot Springs – – I know they got #1 right (so feel free to skip the other 12).
    13 Best Ski-Country Hot Springs
    After a day of skiing, nothing feels better than a steamy soak in a tub. Except maybe a steamy soak in an all-natural, outdoor hot spring, which also helps eliminate fatigue, promote blood circulation, and loosen muscles and joints. We’ve searched high and low for the 13 best hot springs near ski towns.
    #1 Strawberry Park Hot Springs; Steamboat Springs, Colorado
    A steep, winding, unpaved road from Steamboat Springs leads you to Strawberry hot springs, and from November 1 to May 1, four wheel drive or chains is required (the Colorado State Patrol is known for ticketing cars that aren’t prepared). Parking at Strawberry is limited, so consider the shuttle. Try Sweet Pea Tours, which will take you the 25 minutes from Steamboat to the springs, for $40 per adult. A day at Strawberry is $10 per person and the pools are cleaned and drained once a week. (*Clothing optional after dark, no glass or cans)

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