A family ski vacation is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have — and you won’t find a greater concentration of kid-friendly resorts, terrain and off-the-slopes activities than in Colorado. Ciao Bambino Family Travel Advisor Megan Norris not only lives there, but she and her family are avid skiers and she’s tapped into the character and amenities of all the major ski areas. Watch the video above, then read on for her advice.
Don’t underestimate the difference that sunshine makes on a ski trip! Colorado averages about 300 days of sun a year, which means you’re likely to have plenty of bluebird days on the slopes. Trust us, it’s preferable to cloudy skies (brrr) and pelting snow.
There are almost two dozen different resorts to choose from in Colorado, so it’s easy to find your ideal match. Are you and your family novices or more experienced skiers? Do you want snowboarding facilities or would you prefer no snowboarding allowed? Does your perfect resort include an Alpine-style village or a true Western town? Are you looking for luxury or are you on a budget? Part of the value of our trip planning service is helping you select the ski area that ticks all the necessary boxes.
The mountains at Colorado ski resorts tend to be big, with a lot of different runs in each category. Vail, the state’s largest in terms of skiable acreage, has nearly 200 trails and about half of those are for advanced skiers; meanwhile, beginning and intermediate skiers have plenty of terrain to cover and aren’t stuck with the same few runs. Snowmass, Keystone, Winter Park and Steamboat round out the top five for size.
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One big advantage of skiing in Colorado: it’s easy to get in and out. Direct flights to Denver are plentiful from both the East and West Coasts, and from there you can either drive up to the mountains or take a connecting flight to the major resort towns. Spend a couple of days in Denver on the front or back end to combine a quick city break with a family ski getaway.
Classic Colorado towns like Steamboat, which is surrounded by working cattle ranches, and Telluride, important in the days of gold mining, offer the authenticity that makes this region distinctive. By contrast, ski areas like Vail and Beaver Creek are purpose-built around luxury and mass appeal, so if you’re looking for a true Old West vibe, be sure to pick the right destination.
Peak ski season in Colorado is December through January, with the best statewide conditions but also the coldest temperatures and highest prices for lodging. Thanksgiving is usually more affordable, though the conditions can be a crapshoot: You might get decent powder or you might have thin snow that leaves rocky patches exposed. While the major resorts make their own snow continually, the quality can’t compare to the real thing.
March is a sweet spot — it sees the greatest fresh snowfall and also tends to be warmer (helpful especially for families with young kids). If this is when your kids’ spring break falls, you’re in luck!
Editor’s Note: Photos by Megan Norris.
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