Looking for the best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners? We got you covered. Many ski resorts in CO feature as top winter/ski destinations in the USA and even globally; and it is for a good reason.
In this post, we have asked travelers to reveal their favorite Colorado Ski resort that goes beyond the usual and indulges in luxurious staycations. We got not one ski resort, but 9 of them that are perfect for a winter getaway with friends and family!
Guide to Best Ski Resorts in Colorado for Beginners
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In a hurry? Here is the list of the best beginner friendly ski resorts in Colorado.
- Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort
- Buttermilk Ski Resort
- Steamboat Mountain Resort
- Breckenridge Ski Resort
- Winter Park Resort
- Vail Ski Resort
- Keystone Ski Resort
- Copper Mountain
- Arapahoe Basin
Before we explore all the amazing ski resorts for beginners in Colorado, let’s go over a few tips to help you prepare for your trip.
Tips for first-time skiers
These tips will be useful for anyone embarking on their first ski trip including for Colorado.
- Preparing for your first ski trip: Ensure you get into shape before you hit the slopes. It will just be more enjoyable if you are well-prepared. The fitter you are, you will be able to learn easily and make the most of your vacation.
- Take it slow: This is your first time skiing, so take it slow and enjoy the experience. It is a good idea to take professional lessons to make the trip more productive and safe! Do not ski alone on your first trip!
- Don’t invest in ski equipment: As a newbie skier, do not buy ski equipment. Rent them instead. Many resorts and ski area shops will have equipment for you to rent, try it out before making a purchase. Ski rental packages include skis, boots, poles, equipment delivery, and pickup to your resort.
- Eat and drink: Remember to carry (nuts, and snacks) and eat when you are hungry or tired. Don’t forget water, and stay hydrated.
- Packing for your ski trip: We have listed some essential items to pack for your ski trip. Regardless of what brands you end up carrying with you, remember the 3 layer strategy. Wear a base layer (preferably merino wool), then a mid layer, which is designed to keep you warm (fleece jacket), and a main outer layer which is a waterproof/windproof jacket.
Pro tip: To save money, and access many of the world-class ski resorts, buy the Epic Pass.
With this pass, you have unlimited access to Vail, Breck, Park City, Whistler Blackcomb, and more. You also get Epic Mountain Rewards which is 20% off food, lodging, group lessons, and rentals.
Packing Items for your ski trip
- Base Layer: This layer is designed to keep you dry by wicking sweat away from your body. Click to check out my favorite base layer (top) AND bottom
- Mid Layer: Warm fleece jacket like this one
- Outer Layer: This is your windproof and waterproof outerwear. Here is my favorite jacket
- Snow Pants: I like this one, and it’s great as it has short sizes 🙂
- Snow Boots: (Rent ski boots) Wear snow boots while enjoying non-skiing activities at the resorts. Click to buy my favorite pair
- Accessories: Gloves, scarf, warm socks
Travel Tips: Getting to Ski Resorts Colorado
Colorado is a US state, located in the Rocky Mountain region of the country. Geographically, it is considered to be a part of the Western and Southwestern regions of the United States.
- Denver is the capital city of Colorado.
- If you are traveling internationally most likely you will arrive at the Denver International Airport. The closest resort with beginner terrain is Granby Ranch, located only 90 minutes from Denver.
- Most of the ski resorts mentioned in this guide can be reached from Denver International Airport or Eagle County Regional Airport.
- Distances of most popular resorts in Colorado:
- Vail: Vail is about 33 miles from Eagle County Regional Airport, and 97 miles from Denver
- Aspen: Aspen is 70 miles from Eagle County Airport, and 220 miles from Denver International Airport. Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort can also be reached via the Gunnison Crested Butte Regional Airport – 169 miles.
When to visit Colorado for skiing?
The ski season varies every year. But typically, they start in November and end in April – May. As with most winter ski resort towns, the beginning of the ski season witnesses less snow, and right after March, it is more suitable for skiing and related activities.
Time after April resorts close for the season.
What is the best month to ski in Colorado?
February is the best time to ski in Colorado. During this time the snow in the mountains is at its deepest, and plenty of snow pouring in. This is also the BEST time to spend a romantic staycation at a ski resort like the Beaver Creek Ski Resort which is great for couples (head there for Valentines’ Day!)
During the ski season, lift tickets, and lodging including rental cars get booked far in advance, and we recommend you do the same, and not wait until the last minute.
Also, remember each of these Colorado ski resorts offers more than just skiing. You can hang out at the resort town, shop, eat, and indulge in other beginner-level enjoyable activities like tubing, snowshoeing, and more.
9 Best Skiing for Beginners Colorado
1. Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort
STAY AT: Aspen Mountain Lodge
Probably one of the most well-known ski resorts in Colorado is Aspen. Snowmass is the largest of the Aspen/Snowmass mountains and is home to 94 runs and 3 terrain parks.
And it has a variety of beginner-level activities that are perfect for newbie skiers. Snowmass is popular as a family ski resort due to the amount of kid-friendly attractions in the area, including the 25,000-square-foot Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center.
Snowmass is located 8 miles away from Downtown Aspen, and you can take advantage of a free shuttle to reach the ski resort. As mentioned there are tons of fun snow-related attractions here, like beginner level ski lessons, snowboarding, tubing, etc.
If you are in town to just spend a snow-filled weekend getaway, you will be mesmerized by the festive decorations in the winter, and not to forget delicious cuisine, spa, and retail therapy.
You can also embark on daily snowshoe tours, and wander the drool-worthy resort town, which is straight out of a postcard.
2. Steamboat Mountain Resort – Steamboat Springs
By Melissa from Parenthood and Passports
Steamboat Mountain Resort is one of the most family-friendly ski resorts in Colorado. It offers a variety of terrain for all levels of skiers and snowboards.
The ski school at Steamboat is also world-class, as more Olympians hail from Steamboat than any other town in North America. And you can book private lessons to learn too!
Known as Ski USA, there are so many things to do in Steamboat in winter, both on and off the mountain. The base area at Steamboat Mountain Resort is a great place to hang out, shop, and mingle with other skiers. With a large stage right at the base of the mountain, Steamboat often hosts live music events and festivals.
The resort also boasts the longest mountain coaster in North America. With more than 6,200 feet of tracks, both kids and adults will have a blast zipping down the mountain. In winter, there is also snow tubing, dog sledding, dinner sleigh rides, and hot springs for families to enjoy.
For those more interested in skiing or snowboarding, Steamboat is known for having some of the best snow in the country. Coined as ‘champagne snow’, the snow in Steamboat is typically smooth and dry, which is perfect for skiing!
Unlike many resorts where the beginner runs are all clustered together near the bottom of the mountain, at Steamboat you can find easier green runs across the mountain, often running parallel to more intermediate and challenging runs. This makes Steamboat a great ski mountain for those skiing with kids or groups with varying ski abilities.
3. Breckenridge Ski Resort
By Ashley Whitehead of World to Wander
The Breckenridge Ski Resort is located 104 miles and 2.5 to 3 hours from Denver International Airport. Breckenridge typically opens around early November and closes in late April.
There is a local free shuttle bus that has various pick-ups in town and provides many stops between the ski resort and the town of Breckenridge so leave your car at your rental and use public transport. The shuttle is a great way to avoid spending time looking for a parking space.
The Breckenridge area provides various activities that suit any age or preference. For beginner skiers and snowboarders, the bottom of Peak 8 and 9 is where you’ll want to start.
Snowmobiling or dog sledding tours are the perfect adventures for you and your family and friends. Pickup from your lodging is available.
You can visit the Rec Center too for an indoor water slide, gym, and rock climbing wall. Make time to relax, eat, and shop along Main Street in the town of Breckenridge.
From free sledding at Carter Park Hill, to fat-tire bike rides through dozens of trails, there are tons of things to keep a beginner skier busy. Oh, and you can also book a horseback riding tour, even in winter.
Breckenridge town offers great access to restaurants, coffee shops, and retail stores. Be sure to grab a beignet from The Lost Cajun while you’re there!
If looking for a place to eat, we always recommend making a reservation in advance as most will want to eat at the same time you do. Most of all, there is much to do in Breckenridge, you won’t be bored.
If you’re in Breckenridge around the holidays, book all tours in advance to ensure you get the date and time preferred.
4. Buttermilk Ski Resort – Aspen
Buttermilk Ski Resort is conveniently located near downtown Aspen and offers a laid-back, family-friendly ski experience. With 470 acres of skiable terrain, Buttermilk is the smallest of the four mountains in Aspen but it’s still packed with plenty of fun activities for both skiers and non-skiers.
Buttermilk is well-known for its beginner slopes and ski school, making it the perfect place to learn how to ski or improve your skills. But don’t let its reputation as a beginner mountain fool you – there are also plenty of advanced runs and challenging terrain parks for more experienced skiers and snowboarders.
Buttermilk is home to the legendary X Games, which brings together the best athletes in skiing, and snowboarding for a thrilling competition. This event draws large crowds every year and showcases some of the most impressive tricks and stunts on the mountain.
After a day on the slopes, you can relax at one of the many restaurants and bars in downtown Aspen or dine at our favorite Cliffhouse Restaurant.
Overall, Buttermilk Ski Resort is a charming and welcoming mountain that offers something for everyone from a beginner looking to learn how to ski or an experienced pro seeking to have a fun-filled day!
5. Winter Park Resort
By Pooja Shah from Feels Like Life
STAY AT: Zephyr Mountain Lodge
Winter Park Resort is one of the best ski resorts in Colorado with approximately 3000 acres of skiable area divided as per the skill levels of the skiers. The resort was voted #1 ski resort in North America by USA Today.
Out of all the amazing lodging facilities that Winter Park Resort offers, we stayed at the Zephyr Mountain Lodge. Our one-bedroom condo was equipped with a range of modern amenities and offered mountainside views.
With the area receiving almost 30 feet of snowfall each year, the entire landscape was covered in sparkling white snow. Zephyr Mountain Lodge was the closest stay to the mountain adventure which was a plus.
Being amateur skiers, we joined their Ski + Ride school for adult ski lessons. We then went on to their guided ski tour where they took us on a ski excursion and gave us a great overview of the mountains. With the beginner slopes, we felt at ease and also had an amazing time!
Apart from skiing, there are so many fun snow activities to indulge in at Winter Park resort like the snowcat tour where we explored the mountains in the comfort of a heated vehicle, snow tubing which is super-popular with kids, gondola ride, snowmobiling, ice-skating, dog sledding, fat biking, and snowshoe twilight tour.
If you are a beginner at skiing, it’s best to stay at the entrance to the Village of Winter Park. Zephyr Mountain Lodge is the nearest lodging to the village. The Winter Park village is a foot-traffic-only village filled with quaint cafes, boutique shops, and classy restaurants that have a charm of their own.
6. Vail – Best Ski Resorts In Colorado
By Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids
STAY AT: Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa
One of the best ski resorts in Colorado is Vail. Well known for its epic skiing – and let’s be honest, it is EPIC! – Vail is also a fantastic place to bring families and for beginning skiers. For experienced skiers, the Legendary Back Bowls are legendary for a reason!
Families and novice skiers will love Vail’s top-notch ski and ride program, which is suitable for all ages.
For the kids, their own highly experienced ski instructors will get them on skis and out on the slopes to develop their skills. Our kids loved the challenging but mesmerizing ski experiences of their own.
Adult novice skiers and riders also have a variety of lessons to choose from.
With a vibrant visitor community, there is much to do to entertain outdoor lovers of all kinds.
Starting with the gorgeous Vail Village and the Lionshead base, plenty of shops and outdoor dining are available in this picturesque village that is reminiscent of an alpine ski resort in Switzerland.
In fact, home to a Swiss-style fondue restaurant and two Austrian restaurants, you could close your eyes and think you are in Europe.
Vail’s Adventure Ridge offers fun winter activities like ski biking, snow tubing, snowmobiling, and more! A mountain coaster, mountain tours, and a Nature Discovery Center round out the variety of activities in Vail. With so much to do in such a gorgeous setting, Vail is one of the must-see places to visit in Colorado.
7. Keystone Ski Resort
By Amy from The Florida Travel Girl
STAY AT: Hyatt Keystone
If you are looking for a fun and affordable ski getaway in Colorado, Keystone is one of the best options. This ski town is less than an hour away from Denver and will transport you to a Winter Wonderland!
Visiting Keystone is ideal for a skiing or snowboarding trip, as there are ski trails available for all abilities from beginner to expert. There are also tons of resorts within walking distance of the mountain with pretty low rates, especially in March.
We stayed at the Hyatt Keystone and we were able to rent gear and walk to the main peaks. This resort even offers free breakfast and free lift tickets for children!
However, you do not have to be a ski bunny to have fun here. Keystone is also home to many excellent restaurants and breweries. Our favorites include Kickapoo Tavern and Inxpot, as well as nearby Outer Range Brewing.
Breckenridge and Frisco do have more options than Keystone, but they are less than half an hour’s drive away. So we highly recommend a day trip to Breckenridge for some snowmobiling, followed by a visit to the distillery!
You can also ice skate, snowmobile, or go tubing at multiple spots in Keystone. You will enjoy walking around the village with some hot cocoa for a little shopping like we did.
At night, you can relax at the spa or warm up in a hot tub under a starry sky for an especially unique experience.
A winter visit to Keystone is the perfect way to enjoy some time in snowy Colorado.
8. Copper Mountain
By Jarrod from Ramble Around the World
Nestled between Breckenridge and Vail Ski Resorts in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Range sits the quaint ski resort of Copper Mountain. Its location directly between two of the most visited ski resorts in the state means that many people overlook its slopes to secure fresh powder on the more well-known and more expensive ski resorts.
But Copper Mountain is just as good — if not better. With more than 140 groomed trails that traverse more than 2,450 acres across three separate mountains, Copper Mountain Ski Resort is a paradise for skiers and snowboarders of all experience levels.
From green and blue slopes to black diamonds and moguls, Copper Mountain has runs for everyone. The beginner area is situated between Center Village and East Village and can be accessed using the Gem magic carpet.
Plus its 26 lifts, including the newly added eight-person gondola, means you won’t be waiting in line very long to get to the top.
And the top of the mountain, which takes three lifts to get to, boasts a peak elevation of 12,313 feet above sea level, making it the ninth-highest groomed run in the United States.
But Copper’s diversity spans beyond its mountains covered with pristine powder. For those who prefer to take a more mellow route down the mountain, the Copper Tubing Hill can provide a thrill closer to the ground. Simply sit down on a tube from mid-December to late April and you can glide down a winding path while smiling and laughing all the way.
If a slower pace is more your thing, or you just need a break from the slopes, Copper offers free guided snowshoe tours from Friday through Sunday. Although you’ll need to pay $20 to rent the snowshoes, the three-hour, 3-mile tour gives you a unique perspective of the area.
During the cold winters at a base elevation of just over 10,000 feet, West Lake, located in the center of Copper Village, freezes over and turns into the perfect natural ice skating rink.
Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. while the lake is frozen, rental skates will only set you back $10 and will provide a great taste of ski resort living.
In the winter, you can also ride the Rocky Mountain Coaster which takes you through the alpine landscapes of the Copper Mountains. This coaster is one of the longest in North America. Highly recommend booking tickets early as they are usually sold out.
9. Arapahoe Basin
By Jessica Averett from Skiing Kids
If you’re looking for the best-kept secret in Colorado skiing, look no further than Arapahoe Basin. Known by the locals as A-Basin, this is the best low-key ski resort with some of the best terrain Colorado has to offer.
Completely the opposite of high-end resorts like Vail or Aspen, A-Basin is the place to go if you just want to ski some steeps, hang out on the patio, and then tailgate with the best of them.
Our favorite part about skiing at A-Basin is how family friendly it is and how great it is for teaching kids to ski. The beginner lift is right next to the Pallavicini lift (the steepest terrain), so it’s a perfect spot for parents to trade off runs with the little ones, and still get in some good skiing right away.
When you’re choosing a ski resort for skiing with kids, it’s always important to consider how big the crowds are as well, and Arapahoe Basin is much less crowded than nearby Keystone and Breckenridge.
The upstairs of the A-frame lodge at Arapahoe Basin is the perfect place to hang out with kids who are done for the day, and their french fries are absolutely incredible.
You’ll find lots of space for kids to spread out in the lodge, as well as giant foam building blocks for them to play with when they take a break.
When you’re done skiing, head into the town of Silverthorne 15 minutes away where you’ll find no shortage of winter activities there. You’ll find ice skating, wonderful sledding hills, sleigh rides, snowmobile tours, and our family favorite, The Ice Castles.
FAQ: Best Ski Resorts in Colorado for Beginners
Can you ski in Colorado as a beginner?
Colorado is perfect for beginner skiing. You will find lots of resort options to choose from – from Breckenridge, Crested Butte, and Steamboat to Keynote. Almost all of these ski resorts offer private or group lessons to learn skiing.
What time of year is best to ski in Colorado?
February is widely regarded as the prime time for skiing in Colorado. During this month, the mountains are adorned with a deep base of snow, and an abundance of powder continues to grace the slopes.
By February, the vast expanse of the mountains is fully accessible, offering a plethora of terrain to be explored and conquered. Plus lots of snow to enjoy skiing.
February is also not very crowded, and slightly warmer (than January).
When is the ski season in Colorado?
Colorado’s ski and snowboard resorts open up in early October and close in late April.
How many ski resorts are there in Colorado?
Depending on the season, there are 28 to 32 ski resorts open during the skiing months – s0 lots of options for an amazing family vacation in Colorado!
Which month is the snowiest month in Colorado?
March and April are the snowiest months in Colorado with snowfall averaging around 10.5 inches.
What ski resorts have night skiing in Colorado?
Several ski resorts in Colorado offer night skiing, allowing visitors to take in the magic of the slopes under a starlit sky. Keystone Resort is the most prominent among them, offering the most extensive night skiing in the state with around 15 trails and a terrain park. The resort’s night skiing generally starts in late November and goes on until late March, depending on weather conditions.
Similarly, Steamboat Springs offers night skiing on five of its trails, and Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, one of the oldest ski areas in Colorado, also has a long tradition of night skiing.
Echo Mountain, located just 50 minutes from Denver, also offers night skiing making it a convenient option for those based in the city. Thus, night skiing in Colorado presents a unique and enchanting experience, extending the joy of skiing beyond daytime hours.
Where is the cheapest place to learn to ski in Colorado?
There are quite a few amazing ski resorts in Colorado where you can grab cheap lift tickets and passes such as the Sunlight Mountain, Granby Ranch, and the Hesperus Ski Area.
What is the best month to see snow in Colorado?
The best months to see snow in Colorado are typically during the winter season, which runs from November to March. February and March are usually the most ideal time to visit, as it’s when the mountains have the most consistent and deepest snowfall.
During this time of year, average temperatures range between 30-35 degrees Fahrenheit (-1.1 to 1.6 degrees Celcius), making for perfect skiing weather. The resorts also tend to be less crowded, so visitors can enjoy the slopes without having to worry about long lines or overcrowded spaces.
For those who wish to experience Colorado’s snow-covered beauty from a different perspective, snowshoeing is another great way to take in the stunning landscapes and get up close and personal with nature.
Why is Vail so popular?
Vail is one of Colorado’s most renowned ski resorts due to its unparalleled size and variety. It has the largest skiable acreage in North America, with more than 5,000 acres of terrain for skiing and snowboarding.
The resort also offers an impressive 190 trails, 7 bowls, and terrain parks, making it a paradise for adventurers of all skill levels. Off the slopes, Vail is a charming and vibrant village, with plenty of restaurants, shops, and nightlife to explore.
Additionally, it is known for its world-class service and amenities such as luxury lodging options, ski valet services, and heated chairlifts. With all these features combined, there’s no wonder why Vail remains one of Colorado’s most popular ski resorts.
Which is better for beginners Vail and Breckenridge?
Both Vail and Breckenridge offer great terrain for ski beginners. At Vail, the wide beginner trails are conveniently located near a few of the main chairlifts, making it easy to access them from anywhere in the resort.
Meanwhile, Breckenridge has a larger variety of beginner runs and is quite popular with families due to its prices and accommodation options.
Is Breckenridge or Copper Mountain better for beginners?
When it comes to skiing for beginners, Copper Mountain is slightly better. Copper Mountain has a variety of different terrain levels, but it most ideal for beginners. Approximately 46% of the designated trails at Copper Mountain are classified as easy or intermediate runs, catering to a wide range of skiing abilities.
Additionally, situated on the east side of the resort, there is a ski school that provides an ideal learning environment for beginners and first-time skiers. More information on their website here
Final Thoughts on Colorado Ski Resorts for Beginners
We hope this post has inspired you to make a trip to Colorado this winter. It is truly an epic destination that welcomes vacationers from all levels, and interests. Destination Colorado is also great for beginner-level skiers to learn this skill!
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