North America Outdoors Winter

A Guide to Skiing in Colorado: Things to Know Before Booking Your Stay

Colorado stands as a premier destination for skiing enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of ski resorts that cater to all skill levels, from beginners to advanced skiers.

The state’s high altitude and geographical positioning ensure a reliable snow season, making it a magnet for those seeking both adventure and breathtaking natural beauty on the slopes.

Choosing the Right Time to Visit

The ideal time to visit Colorado for skiing largely depends on what you’re looking for in your skiing experience.

The season typically starts in November and can last until April, with each month offering something unique. For those looking to avoid crowds and find the best snow, February is particularly recommended.

This month not only sees significant snowfall but also fewer crowds following the busy holiday season. It combines crisp temperatures and longer daylight hours, which means more time on the slopes under often clear, sunny skies​.

Selecting Your Ski Resort

Colorado is home to some of the most famous ski resorts in the world, each offering unique features that cater to different preferences and skill levels:

  • Vail: Known for its vast size and variety, Vail is a top choice for many. It has specific areas designed for beginners and a wealth of high-end shops, dining, and accommodation options. The resort is well-connected by a free bus system, making navigation easy and accessible​.
  • Aspen Snowmass: This resort is a favorite among the rich and famous, known for its upscale town and lively après-ski scene. It offers four distinct skiing experiences across its areas: Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands, each suitable for different skill levels. Aspen is particularly noted for its cultural events and high-end dining and shopping​.
  • Telluride: For those seeking a blend of historical charm and excellent skiing conditions, Telluride stands out. It offers a mix of beginner to advanced runs and is known for its scenic beauty and less commercialized feel. The free gondola connecting the town with Mountain Village enhances its charm and convenience​.

Each of these resorts provides a unique atmosphere and range of slopes, making Colorado a versatile skiing destination. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned skier, there is a Colorado ski resort that can cater to your preferences and skill level.

Accommodation Options

When planning a ski trip to Colorado, one of the key decisions you’ll face is where to stay. The choice often comes down to convenience and the type of experience you desire.

Here’s a comparison between staying in a condo at a resort and opting for a remote mountain lodge:

Condo at the Resort


  • Convenience: Typically located within or near ski resorts, condos provide easy access to the slopes. Many offer ski-in, ski-out access, meaning you can literally ski right up to your door.
  • Amenities: Condos often come with fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities, and multiple bedrooms, making them ideal for families or groups.
  • Flexibility: Renting a condo allows you to choose your dining options—cook at home or dine out.


  • Cost: Condos can be expensive, especially those with ski-in, ski-out access or those located in popular resorts like Vail or Aspen.
  • Crowds: Being in the heart of the resort means you’re more likely to encounter crowds, particularly during peak season.

Remote Mountain Lodge


  • Scenic solitude: These lodges offer a more secluded, intimate experience away from the bustling resort atmosphere.
  • Unique experience: Staying in a remote lodge can provide a rustic and cozy mountain experience, often with fireplaces and communal areas for relaxing after skiing.


  • Accessibility: The biggest downside is the potential difficulty in accessing ski slopes. You may need to drive or take a shuttle to the lifts.
  • Limited amenities: While some high-end lodges offer luxurious amenities, others might lack the conveniences of a condo, such as kitchens or nearby dining options.

Preparing for Your Trip

What to Pack

Packing for a ski trip requires consideration of both on-slope and off-slope necessities:

  • Clothing: Waterproof ski jacket and pants, thermal layers, gloves, beanie, and warm socks are essential. Don’t forget swimwear for hot tubs or pools at the resort.
  • Protection: Sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, and goggles or sunglasses to protect against the sun and wind.
  • Miscellaneous: Consider packing a camera, snacks, and a water bottle. If staying in a condo, you might also bring some basic cooking ingredients and supplies.

Ski Equipment: Rent vs. Bring Your Own

  • Renting: Ideal for those who do not ski frequently, or who want to avoid the hassle of carrying heavy gear. Renting also allows you to try the latest equipment.
  • Bringing Your Own: Best for regular skiers who are comfortable with their own gear. This can be more economical over time and ensures you are using equipment that is familiar and well-fitted.

On-Site Amenities and Activities

Beyond the thrill of skiing, Colorado ski resorts offer a plethora of other amenities and activities that can enhance your stay:

  • Spa Services: Many resorts offer spa services, including massages and treatments ideal for soothing sore muscles after a day on the slopes.
  • Dining Options: From casual cafes to upscale restaurants, the dining options at ski resorts cater to a range of tastes and budgets. Resorts like Aspen and Vail are renowned for their culinary scenes.
  • Apres Ski: The après ski scene is vibrant in Colorado, with options ranging from cozy lodge firesides to lively bars and clubs.
  • Non-Skiing Activities: Many resorts offer activities such as snowshoeing, tubing, and ice skating, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

Special Events or Attractions

During the ski season, Colorado resorts host various events that can be a major draw:

  • Cultural Festivals: Such as Wintersköl in Aspen, which celebrates winter with art, music, and fireworks.
  • Sporting Events: Competitions like the X Games in Aspen provide a chance to watch professional skiers and snowboarders.

By considering these factors and planning accordingly, you can ensure your Colorado skiing trip is memorable and tailored to your preferences.

Travel Tips and Practical Information

Colorado’s ski resorts are accessible via several major airports including Denver International Airport, which serves as a primary gateway.

From Denver, you can reach most ski resorts by car or shuttle services within a few hours.

Smaller regional airports like Aspen-Pitkin County Airport and Eagle County Airport offer closer access to specific resorts.

Once at the resort, many offer comprehensive on-site transportation systems such as free shuttles between lodges, lifts, and local amenities.

Vail and Telluride both have free public transportation systems that make it easy to navigate the area without a car.

Information on Lift Tickets, Ski Passes, and Ski Classes

  • Lift Tickets and Ski Passes: Purchasing lift tickets in advance can often save money, especially if you plan to ski multiple days. Resorts like Aspen and Vail are part of broader ski pass programs like the IKON and the Epic Pass, which offer access to multiple resorts at a discounted rate over the season.
  • Ski Classes: Most Colorado ski resorts offer ski and snowboard lessons for all ages and skill levels. Booking classes in advance is recommended, particularly during peak season, to ensure availability. Classes range from private lessons to group sessions, catering to both first-time skiers and those looking to refine their skills.

Colorado remains one of the premier destinations for skiing thanks to its diverse range of ski resorts, abundant snowfall, and stunning natural beauty. Consider the timing of your visit, the type of accommodations, and the on-site amenities when planning your trip.

Planning and booking early are crucial, especially if you’re visiting during peak times like February or around special events. Early booking not only secures your preferred accommodations but often ensures better deals on lift tickets and rentals.

So gear up, plan ahead, and prepare to enjoy a memorable ski experience in the majestic slopes of Colorado.


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