Mom’s Guide to the Best Colorado Ski Resorts for Families

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ice skating in Keystone, one of the best family ski resorts in Colorado
Photo courtesy Keystone Resort/ Jack Affleck

Colorado, nestled within majestic mountains, offers some of the nation’s finest family-friendly ski resorts. With an impressive blend of 300 inches of annual snowfall and 300 days of sunshine in the stunning Rocky Mountains, the state provides an unparalleled skiing experience. Crafting a list of the top Colorado ski resorts for families is a challenging endeavor, given the remarkable options available. To make the list a ski resort must:

  • Have accommodations available either slope side or in a base village convenient to the mountain or a ski valet or other service that makes schlepping gear easier.
  • Offer family-friendly amenities, events and winter activities like sleigh rides, ice skating, snow 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 your skill level, we have you covered!

Planning Your Family Ski Vacations for 2024

Our advice for planning your ski trip is not much different than everything we’ve been recommending over the years: Plan to be flexible. Have a plan A, B, and maybe even C. Buy travel insurance and know your cancellation policies. Make your lodging reservations and rent your ski gear and book your ski lessons as far in advance as possible.

Finally, pack your patience. Ski trips are super fun but can be a lot of work, especially with young kids until you finally get them settled in their ski lessons.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Did you know that you can rent your ski gear? The Ski KITs are rented at 90% off of the retail cost and shipped directly to your destination with free shipping and returns. This is a great option for families with kids who grow out of their ski gear each season. Kit’s include jackets, pants, goggles, gloves, and optional snow boots. See all rental options here.

Here’s where to go for your Colorado ski vacation. And, don’t forget to download our ski trip packing list too!

child learning to ski in powder at Aspen/Snowmass, one of the best family ski resorts in Colorado
A child learns to ski in powder at Aspen Snowmass. Photo courtesy: Aspen Snowmass/ Frank Shine.

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 number of days as their rental (with lodging booked through Stay Aspen Snowmass).

The first phase of the $600 million Snowmass base village redevelopment introduced the 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 makes for a convenient village with everything you need from easy access to ski slopes to fun family activities.

The Collective Snowmass features an artsy game lounge, and a pop up Selfie Lounge. It is also home to MixSix, a unique, healthy and delicious restaurant concept.

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.

Two winters ago 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 nearly panoramic mountain views.

SheBuysTravel 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.

Family of skiers eating cookies in Beaver Creek, one of the best family ski resorts in Colorado
Family enjoying cookies on ski trip in Beaver Creek, CO. Photo courtesy: Vail Resorts/ Brooks Freehill.

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.

The new McCoy Park has an open bowl feel. But with mostly green and blue runs. It is fun for all ages and abilities.

Our 11-year-old always hits Jack Rabbit Alley and Ghost Town, the resort’s fun kids’ terrain parks, on his tour of the mountain. And, any chance he 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.

Read More: What to Buy and What to Rent for a Family Ski Vacation

family skiing at Vail, one of the best family ski resorts in Colorado
Photo courtesy: Vail Resorts/ Andrew Maguire.

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 numerous 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 probably enjoy Vail the most.

SheBuysTravel Tip: You will want to check out our ski trip packing list before you go!

The world's largest snow fort at Keystone Resort, one of the best family ski resorts in Colorado
The world’s largest snow fort at Keystone Resort is fun for the kiddos. Photo courtesy: Keystone Resort/ Jack Affleck

4. Keystone Ski Resort

Keystone has 3,148 skiable acres, 128 runs, and 20 lifts. In addition, there are plenty of off-slope things to do in Keystone. This Colorado ski resort is one of the closest ski areas to Denver. It is home to one of the largest snow forts 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 a minimum of two nights lodging at the resort.

The resort also offers winter 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 on the snow. Sounds like the perfect way to spend the day to me!

A family skiing at Copper Mountain, one of the best family ski resorts in Colorado
A family taking in the expansive views at Copper Mountain, Colorado. Photo courtesy: Copper Mountain.

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 diverse options for all skiing and riding ability levels.

An excellent ski school and a large area of beginner terrain make it ideal for families. Skiers can explore 273 acres of expert terrain on Tucker Mountain via the Three Bears chairlift that provides access to terrain previously accessible by snowcat 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.

Sunset in Winter Park, one of the best family ski resorts in Colorado
Sunrise over Winter Park Resort. Photo courtesy: Alterra Mountain Resorts.

7. Winter Park

Winter Park has 3,081 total skiable acreage, including 166 runs and 25 lifts. A ski train that travels 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.

The iconic Sunnyside Lift is a high-speed, six-passenger chairlift that gives skiers and riders quick access to the wide and varied terrain of Mary Jane.

SheBuysTravel 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 many 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.

Read More: Everything You Need to Plan a Family Ski Vacation

10. Telluride

Telluride is a historic mining town 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

Although Sunlight Mountain Resort doesn’t offer the on-site accommodations and activities of other ski resorts, we love that it’s an uncrowded Colorado family ski resort. Another perk is that it’s located near Glenwood Springs, known for its natural hot springs and kid-friendly activities such as the Glenwood Cavers and Adventure Park. The resort is also a great place for younger kids to learn to ski or ride. Lessons are more affordable here than almost anywhere else in Colorado.

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!

Liana Moore lived overseas growing up, attending British public school for kindergarten in London. She then moved to Stavanger, Norway for nine years until age 15, growing up with friends of different cultures. Summers involved camps in Switzerland and Wales, plus USA time in East Texas and Minnesota. Liana sees things from others’ viewpoints, believing those experiences shaped the woman she is today. She’s instilling that empathy in her children, having fun along the way. Currently based in the mountains of Colorado, much of her time is spent exploring the Rocky Mountains. When she’s not marketing a resort property professionally, or traveling and writing, find her trying out new sports with her kids, like BMX biking, or debating with her teenager (and occasionally winning). Follow Liana’s adventures at Insider Families.
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2 responses

  1. We visited Steamboat at Christmas last year and absolutely loved it. Not only did we get fresh powder but there were different things for the whole family to do. You’ve convinced me that Vail should be next on our list 🙂

    1. Ah ha, Steamboat is another good one! You know I’ve been there a couple of times in the fall. Guess I’d better get over there this winter and experience the ski mountain. Vail should definitely be on your list. The terrain is expansive and has something for everyone.

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