The mountainous state of Colorado boasts some of the best family ski resorts in the world. There’s no better combination of elements than 300 inches of average snowfall and 300 days of sunshine in the majestic Colorado Rocky Mountains. Read on to discover the best ski resorts in Colorado for your family.
To make our list of the best Colorado ski resorts for families, a mountain resort must have accommodations available either slope side or in a base village convenient to the mountain. Or they must have ski valet or some other service that makes schlepping gear easier. They must also offer amenities and events that cater to families, such as sleigh rides, ice skating, tubing, alpine coasters and more.
Some of these ski towns may be better suited for younger children or first-time skiers. And some may be better for families with teens who want a freestyle park or to watch an exciting ski or snowboard championship. No matter what your skill level, we have you covered! Here’s where to go for your Colorado ski vacation.
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And, please remember to know before you go. For ski season 2020-2021 masks are mandatory both indoors and outdoors through ski towns. But, yes, neck gaiters or buffs work too. There are likely changing guidelines on restaurant capacity. And, a Covid test may even be necessary. Be sure to check local regulations prior to your visit. All of these things may work in your favor though. Find out how Covid-19 may make a ski trip better!
1. Snowmass Ski Resort
Between Snowmass, Aspen Mountain (Ajax), Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, skiers will find more than 5,300 acres of skiable terrain, 337 runs, and 42 lifts. There are sure to be ski runs that your whole family will enjoy.
Of these mountains, Snowmass Ski Resort is the most family friendly, as well as the second largest in the state. There’s a plethora of fun family activities and the ski terrain is ideal for families, with wide open runs. Don’t miss a ride on the Breathtaker alpine mountain coaster!
The ski school is amazing. This is a great place for kids to take skiing or snowboarding lessons.
Families can rent kids’ equipment (ages 7 to 12) from Four Mountain Sports, and they’ll get a free lift ticket. They’ll provide complimentary lift tickets for the same amount of days on their rental (with lodging booked through Stay Aspen Snowmass).
The recent first phase of the $600 million Snowmass base village redevelopment included the new Limelight Hotel Snowmass, ski-in/ski-out residences, an events plaza with free ice skating rink, lots and lots of fire pits for outdoor socialization, and The Collective Snowmass. It all makes for a convenient village with everything from the ski slopes to fun family activities all at your fingertips.
The Collective Snowmass features a an artsy game lounge, and this winter a pop up Selfie Lounge. It is also home to MixSix, a unique, healthy and delicious restaurant concept.
TravelingMom Tip: One of our favorite things to do when taking a vacation is to hire a photographer for family photos. This is a special gift and souvenir that we cherish. We use Flytographer to book a local photographer located in the area that we're traveling to. Use this link and you will get $25 off your photo session.
Read More: Don’t Like the Slopes? Try Snowshoeing with Kids!
Dining Options at Snowmass
You won’t be disappointed with the dining options in Snowmass.
This winter a new restaurant opened at the top of the Village Express lift. You will want to be sure to make reservations at Sam’s for lunch. Our family would make another trip to Snowmass just to enjoy this special Italian culinary experience again. Oh, and the views aren’t too shabby either with large glass windows showcasing almost panoramic mountain views.
TravelingMom Tip: Take your family on a search for the branded s’mores carts, resembling oversized marshmallows. Or make your own s’mores back at the condo with these s’mores recipes.
2. Beaver Creek Ski Resort
Beaver Creek Ski Resort has 1,832 skiable acres, 150 runs, and 24 lifts. This is where the locals learn to ski for a reason. The resort’s Haymeadow Express Gondola and Haymeadow Park Learning Area are perfect for beginner skiers and young kids. Our 11-year-old always hits Jack Rabbit Alley and Ghost Town, the resorts fun kids’ terrain parks, on her tour of the mountain. And, any chance she gets, there’s a stop at Candy Cabin.
Beaver Creek has ski-in/ ski-out accommodations. Additionally, the resort also does a good job of making everything within the resort accessible. A free shuttle and bus system runs every few minutes throughout the homes and condominium complexes to a main bus stop.
With the expansion of Beaver Creek’s snowmaking system at Red Buffalo Park and a newly renovated Children’s Ski School, Beaver Creek is even more family friendly than ever.
Sadly, Beaver Creek’s chocolate chip cookies are on hiatus this ski season., as is Candy Cabin I am certain this popular end to the ski day will return next year.
3. Vail Ski Resort
Vail may be best known for its legendary back bowls, but there really is something for everyone on Vail Mountain. There are plenty of groomed runs. Blue Sky Basin is one of my favorite areas, with plenty of intermediate runs. It is so stunning, expansive and has some really fun runs.
The Vail valley is also home to several unique outdoor Vail ice skating rinks. A clean, convenient and free bus system makes everything within town accessible, including world-class dining and shopping.
I love Vail’s wide-ranging terrain and gorgeous locale. While there is plenty of beginner terrain, intermediate skiers and above will really be able to take advantage of the terrain and experience the legendary back bowls. Families with older kids or teens will enjoy Vail the most.
Sadly, Adventure Ridge atop Vail mountain is closed this winter. Snow tubing and alpine sledding will have to wait for next winter. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of snow sledding in the area.
TravelingMom Tip: You will want to check out our ski trip packing list before you go!
4. Keystone Ski Resort
Keystone has 3,148 skiable acres, 128 runs, and 20 lifts and there are plenty of off-slope things to do in Keystone. This Colorado ski resort is one of the nearer ski areas to Denver. It is home to the largest snow fort in North America, featuring a series of tunnels, slides and mazes within the walls.
Keystone Ski Resort boasts a Kids Ski Free program, which provides free lift tickets for kids 12 and under when guests book just two nights of lodging with the resort.
Sadly the resort’s Kidtopia event is on hiatus this season. But there’s plenty of other family fun to be had. The resort also offers off-mountain activities such as snow tubing, family snowcat tours, ice skating, sleigh rides and more.
Free designated family parking areas and little red wagons to help tote gear and kiddos to and from the slopes make the experience easier.
Families with older kids may want to try out a Family Private Lesson. Then they can spend more time together learning on the snow. Sounds like the perfect way to spend the day to me!
5. Copper Mountain
A Colorado favorite, Copper Mountain is known for its 2,490 skiable acres, 142 runs, and 23 lifts. The naturally divided terrain has distinct sections of advanced, intermediate and beginner trails, providing plenty of options for all skiing and riding ability levels.
An excellent ski school and a large area of beginner terrain make it ideal for families. Sadly, the typical free childcare offering is on a hiatus this year due to Covid.
Skiers can explore 273 acres of expert terrain on Tucker Mountain with the new Three Bears chairlift that opened in the 2019-20 season. This three-person fixed grip lift will access terrain that was previously accessible via snow cat or hiking only.
6. Breckenridge Ski Resort
Breckenridge Ski Resort has 2,908 skiable acres, 187 runs, and 34 lifts. But more importantly, it also has a charming Main Street with lots of dining and shopping options.
Young kids will enjoy Peak 9, where they’ll find beginner terrain as well as great spots for breaks. Skilled teens will dig Peak 10’s more challenging runs. Families may enjoy sleigh rides, dogsledding, Breckenridge ice skating or the speedy alpine mountain coaster.
7. Winter Park
Winter Park has 3,081 total skiable acreage, includes 166 runs and 25 lifts. A ski train going between Union Station and Winter Park enables guests to skip the driving. It is one of the nearest Colorado ski resorts to Denver.
A tip for more advanced ski families is to book First Tracks. First Tracks is available to blue, blue black, and black trail skiers and riders only. This tour helps with advanced skills on the bumps and showing skiers runs they may not have yet skied.
What’s new? The iconic Sunnyside Lift within the Mary Jane Territory at Winter Park Resort received a much-needed upgrade with the addition of a new high-speed, six-passenger lift in the 2019-20 season, part of $16 million in investment.
TravelingMom Tip: If you aren’t set on staying at the resort, you may want to consider YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch. It is a hub of winter family-friendly activities and a short 20 minute drive to the slopes of Winter Park.
8. Steamboat Springs
Steamboat’s 2,965 total skiable acreage includes 165 runs and 18 lifts, offering families a variety of ski terrain. Steamboat Springs offers kids 12 and under free lift tickets with the purchase a 5-or-more day adult lift ticket. There are plenty of dining options in the family-friendly town.
9. Crested Butte
This quaint ski town is as well known for its bike trails and wildflowers as it is for skiing. With 1,547 skiable acres, 121 trails and 15 lifts, Crested Butte offers about 20% beginner terrain and another 30% intermediate terrain.
Telluride is a historic mining town set in the San Juan mountains. This is a spectacular, and somewhat remote area of Colorado. But it is a favorite of Texans coming north to ski.
The mountain offers more than 2,000 skiable acres, 127 trails and 18 lifts with 23% of the mountain as beginner terrain.
11. Sunlight Mountain Resort
Sunlight Mountain Resort doesn’t offer the on-site accommodations and activities of these other ski resorts. But it is set just on the outskirts of Glenwood Springs known for its natural hot springs and kid-friendly activities such as the Glenwood Cavers and Adventure Park. It is also a great place for younger kids to learn. Lessons are more affordable here than almost anywhere else in Colorado.
Sunlight is one of our favorite uncrowded Colorado family ski resorts.
It is very difficult to choose the best Colorado ski resorts for families, as every resort has something special.
And they all offer so much more than skiing and snowboarding. There’s magical ice skating, snowshoeing, roasting s’mores, free and adrenaline-inducing sledding and so much more. There’s certainly no shortage of things to do with kids in Colorado.
All of the mountain towns in Colorado are charming and offer everything from skiing to history and hot springs. Where are you planning your family ski trip this winter? Tell us what you think are the best ski resorts for kids in the comments below!