Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the USA. There are the gorgeous Rocky Mountains, huge national parks unique places, such as sand dunes among the mountains, and of course it is one of the most popular skiing states. Skiing is a popular sport almost everywhere in the USA and is almost everywhere luxurious and therefore expensive activity.
Season for Colorado: usually runs from mid-November to mid-end of April.
In order to organize a vacation at a ski resort, you need a little more than just a packed suitcase with clothes for a week.
In addition to the staples of housing, transportation and food, with high probability you will also need equipment rental and access to lifts.
Let’s start with the last. In the US lift tickets are expensive. I would say it ridiculously expensive. On average, an adult one-day ticket will be about $125. In the most expensive ski areas and during holidays, the price can reach up to $200. It is expensive for the Americans themselves. Therefore, most of those who plan to ride for more than 4 days usually buy seasonal “passes”.
Passes are different – unlimited, limited, student, etc. Generally, 3-5 days of skiing completely pays back the cost of a pass. For example, at Cooper Mountains a pass for an adult is $600, for a student – $300, and one-day ticket – $150 (discount only for children younger than 12 years old and people over 65 years). Most season passes also include a certain number of “guest” lift tickets, which are usually 50 dollars cheaper than the usual price (if bought early).
Passes also vary by which ski areas one can access. Some allow you to ski only one ski resort and others can will include multiple places sometimes even beyond Colorado. Passes that offer a variety of locations including numerous geographic areas provide an opportunity to reduce the risk of poor snow conditions negatively impacting your vacation. You have paid for the lifts, now just see where the snow has fallen. For instance, with the bad snow in Colorado this year, many pass holders have been able to ski California, Washington on Vermont where the snow is plenty for no additional costs.
The most popular “passes”
Epicpass – the owner of this pass runs the most beloved, the largest and one of the most expensive ski areas in the USA – Vail (people say that it is so huge that if is your skied every run once it would take you over two weeks to ski all of them). The town itself was used as a military base to train American soldiers for battles in the mountains during the Second World War. Two of these soldiers fell in love with the beautiful views and when they returned from the war they found investors and established a ski resort. In my opinion the town is very different from other USA skiing areas. I would say it feels “European”, and this was probably influenced by some of the early inhabitants. The buildings are decorated with Austrian type pictures, street art organically complements the architecture and the natural landscape. Everything is thought out and comfortably laid out, parking is close, delicious food everywhere, shops are plentiful – so even just walking around is extremely pleasant.
Included in the full pass, besides Vail, are 15 more ski resorts in different parts of America, with 4 in Colorado (Beaver Creek, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge) and more in Canada and around the globe (30 resorts – Switzerland, Italy, France, etc.). In total – a staggering 46 areas around the world.
In Epicpass there are various options, as I have already mentioned – local with restrictions, unlimited, student, etc. Unlimited pass is $899.
More information here: https://www.epicpass.com/
Colorado super pass – a total of 13 ski resorts, 7 in the US, in addition to Colorado in Oregon and Alaska, 6 out of the country – Japan, New Zealand, Iceland. Colorado is included: Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort, Steamboat, Crested Butte.
The pass also provides discounts for food, equipment rental, housing, group ski lessons, etc.
More information here https://www.skicolorado.com/#pass-details
But it looks like it may be last year existing for this pass. Instead, enter a new one:
ikonpass – will give access to twice as many ski bases – a total of 26. In Colorado, in fact, they are the same as for Colorado superpass + Aspen.
I would advise to buy a pass at the end of one season for the next year – prices are lower and more likely to be available (by fall, almost nothing remains).
Colorado also has a large number of independent ski resorts. Until this year, the most famous of them was Aspen, but as we see they decided to expand by buying Steamboat and joined the ikonpass.
However, many independents ski areas still remain, among those I recommend:
Loveland – known as the highest Colorado Ski Resort (4,000 m above sea level). Besides that, in addition to amazing views prices are very affordable. A day of use of lifts will cost $75 and if you want your children to become better skiers enroll them in a group lesson lead by a great instructor with equipment rental and lunch. All this is only $126. ($256 at Keystone) They have their own season pass and it is 93 trails are conventionally divided into two neighborhoods: Loveland Valley and Loveland Basin. This place suitable more for beginners (for beginners, probably the best in Colorado) and middle level skiers and riders.
Silverton can be recommended for extreme skiing. This is a paradise for those who love powder and backcountry adventure. There are 24 thousand acres, most of them can be reached by hiking or helicopter, with some of them accessible only with a professional guide. The number of people who can simultaneously be in this area is limited to 475, so if someone is interested – you must reserve it in advance.
Wolf Creek Ski Area – for those who worry about the whether and snow, and want to have a guarantee that the weather will not spoil the vacation. Here’s the largest amount of snow in Colorado, so that skiing in any case will be ensured. It will be suitable only for those who are good skiers – the tracks are steep and no trails for beginners.
An entire list of ski resorts with a rating and a short description can be found here:
If you need equipment it is recommend to order in advance, because during the season, despite the number of visitors, and regardless of the number of companies providing equipment for rent, you can end up without skis.
Another tip is to rent equipment away from a ski resort, such as Vail. Price may vary by half. For example, rental of only skis in Denver at Christy Sports (a large chain of stores and rentals throughout western America) cost $30 for an adult, while in Breckenridge they are $47.
You can find equipment for all tastes and for different levels of skiing skills, and you can rent anything including ski suits, helmets, glasses etc. You can also order delivery of equipment directly to your home.
The largest rental companies are:
Christy Sports – https://rental.christysports.com/store_locations.php?s=co
Breeze and Affinity https://www.skirentals.com/#!/
The prices in them will be pretty much the same. But you can also find cheaper private rentals locations.
Colorado Sports Rent in Arvada offer a ski rental from $16 per day
Crystal Ski Shop from $20 per day
All ski resorts are extremely well equipped. The first question is usually parking. Each of the ski areas have many parking lots. Some of them located near the lifts and usually paid (it is not cheap, averaging $25 per day), but there are a huge number of free spots located a bit farther away usually serviced directly to the lifts with special free buses.
Skiing lessons are offered everywhere in different variants for all age categories and skill levels, details can be viewed directly on the site of a particular resort.
About restaurants, shops, rental equipment – I will not even mention – you can find everything that may be needed. In Vail even fresh oxygen can be bought, though for $15–well for those who do not have enough natural.
Toilets, water, napkins are everywhere. There are specially trained personnel who help people with disabilities, so in America, there are many such people in the skiing areas. Almost everywhere there are day care for children if you want to leave them.
There are specially trained photographers in the best locations for photography that will make great professional photos.
Places for charging phones, recliners to catch the sun even museums – I can say that in this case, Americans definitely know how to make the place comfortable and full of life.
What else to do?
Usually most ski resorts also offer plenty of extra entertainment except skiing.
Most offer a free skiing session with famous skiers. Information about the time and meeting point will be at the main lifts.
Also, in Copper, is the North America’s largest Rocky Mountain Coaster. This is something similar to a traditional roller coaster, but which uses the natural slope for speed – special cars on special rails rushing at crazy speeds between the trees – quite extreme and exciting. The cost of $25 per adult. Details here, I think interesting to experience:
Often there are places for sledding on special inflatable doughnuts, gondolas, skating, snowmobile riding, balloon flights, dinners in the woods where you ride on sleighrides lead by to be horseback. All this information is usually on the site of one or another resorts.
There are also various shows, festivals, holiday markets, plenty popular games on the streets, almost everywhere there are specially equipped places with open fire to sit by and get warm.
There are a couple of hot springs places, but here I have to say that Americans know nothing about thermal spa and how to make them comfortable. So it will be either just an old hot water pool or a lake with hot water, without any conveniences. Steamboat and Glenwood Springs are the main ones.
In general, you can find what to do for any taste and age category. Many people coming here not for skiing, but just stroll, breathe fresh air and do something from the list above.
How to get
Most people use Denver Airport. The airport is very specific in my opinion – it was built to be modern and attractive, but everything turned out as always–bad. So, I think, this is one of the least convenient and logical airports in the world. It is where I can wait an hour for baggage, or even longer for security control because all passengers of the three terminals must pass through in one point (on the second floor there is a secret door, which opens from 9 am to 5 pm 🙂 ). Oh, and did I mention it is located in the middle of a field which takes forever and half to get out to.. As a frequent user of this airport, I find a new reason for discontent every time I go through DIA but this is the main way to travel to Colorado.
There are a few small airports located not far from some of ski resorts, but they have a limited numbers of direct flights and tickets in most cases will be expensive. If you chose you can fly to :
Eagle County Regional – airport near Vail
The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport – respectively, near Aspen
Steamboat Springs – Hayden Airport near Steamboat
Montrose Regional Airport – near ski resorts Telluride and Created Butte
Well, maybe you could chose Colorado Springs, but it is located a bit further from the mountains and mostly services the military.
Next – the most popular way to get to the slopes is- to rent a car. At each airport, there are hectares and hectrars covered by cars for rent from all possible agencies. Prices depend on the season, it is advisable to book the car in advance, and choose all wheel drive , because of roads, even highways are steep, the weather in the mountains changes unexpectedly, so you can get into a dangerous situations.
Otehr options from car:
To get to Steamboat – Alpine Taxi https://www.goalpine.com/
To Vail, Aspen and several more ski bases mostly included in the epicpass – Colorado Mountain Express https://www.coloradomountainexpress.com/
For all other places – the tip itself – car rentals.
Each ski areas has a fairly wide range of offers from hotels to apartments.
With apartments as I already wrote here: https://milliontrips.org/wisconsin-dells/ – this is also an investment for many Americans, a combination of practicle and enjoyable. A common option to buy apartment in popular places for recreation in special complexes, use it a couple weeks per year and all the rest of the time rent it out. Thus covering its cost and covering the maintenance. Complexes usually have a developed infrastructure – a company that cares for housing (clean, repair), reception desk as in the hotel, and entertainment for tenants – sauna, billiards, jacuzzi, gym, etc. – all depends on the level and price.
The most popular resources for renting:
https://www.vrbo.com/ very similar to the airnbnb and older
Of corse Airbnb
Also, each ski resort has its own rental and sales companies, which I can recommend as an alternative or in addition to the sites above, for example, you can see Steamboat: https://www.steamboatlodgingcompany.com/ or Vail http://www.vailrealty.com/
Rental information can also be found directly on the website of the certain resort.
You can rent a whole house through these services. There are a lot of offers, the option is quite popular.
Another option to explore is accommodation in a town nearby the ski area. For example, from Frisco or Dilon you can get to Keystone, Copper Mountain and Breckenridge within 20 minutes. There are a few advantages: saving on rent, because prices will be much lower, and you can ride in several ski areas.
Another town Avon is near Vail and will save on housing somewhere around 1/3 of the price. For instnace, one-bedroom apartments in a not very busy period at Vail will cost from $250 per night, and at Avon $180.
Glenwood Springs – near Aspen, there are by the way the thermal pools are located, so added value.
There is much more options if you are ready to drive approximately one hour, like we for example, from our home.
Expensive. Of course, it depends on the place, but in most resorts it is really pricy. A lot of people come with sandwiches, because if to pay $7 for a small cup of French fries – you can quickly ruin your budget. The dinner for two with alcohol can reach up to $200, and the choice is not so frankly big – burgers, steaks, ribs – typical American food. Well, maybe Mexican, Pizza and Chinese cuisine, and that’s all. This is one of the reasons for the popularity of renting apartments because you can cook.
So in the end – when choosing where to go it is necessary to consider several factors:
– The cost of housing
– Level of tracks
– How to get there
– Number of people or in other words the popularity of the ski base (I for example do not like to ride in crowds)
– Do you want something and what exactly in addition to skiing.
– Choose a season pass
What I can definitely guarantee: that whatever you choose in Colorado – you will not be disappointed.