The 4 Best Ski Resorts in Colorado for Beginners
Skiing can be intimidating when you first start out. When you are a beginner, you’ve barely conquered how to carry your skis to the lift, let alone fling yourself down a mountain. Luckily, Colorado knows a thing or two about skiing, and they have resorts that make it simple to ease into this fun filled hobby.
The best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners all have expert ski instructors, plenty of easy trails, and easy navigation to get you well on your way to having fun and improving your skills. Let’s take a look at our favorite ones!
Best Ski Resorts in Colorado for Beginners
Beaver Creek is a magical, almost 2,000 acre ski resort just 10-15 minutes down the road from Vail. Because of this proximity, Beaver Creek is often overshadowed. People familiar with the area know better than to overlook this high-end, diverse resort.
Upon arriving at the resort, you will immediately recognize the commitment to customer service and a top-notch experience that Beaver Creek provides. Their ski instructors are happy, helpful, and patient as you can find. Everyday at 3 p.m., fresh baked chocolate chip cookies are handed out in the village for free. At 9,840 elevation sits the on-mountain Candy Cabin where you can satisfy your sweet tooth without cutting your ski day short.
Transportation is easy when you download the Village Connect app that tracks the bus routes and times. There are buses and shuttles running to almost every hotel in the area, or at least one nearby.
So, why is Beaver Creek so good for beginners?
In our opinion, Beaver Creek boasts some of the BEST green runs for beginners there is. If you are just learning to put your skis on, the dedicated Haymeadow Park right at the base is an exclusive learning area perfect for stringing together your first turns.
However, Red Buffalo Park is where Beaver Creek sets itself apart from anywhere else for beginners. Located at the very top of the mountain at 11,440 feet, the Red Buffalo area provides sweeping vistas and stunning views that usually you could only experience by accessing advanced terrain. In this case, there are a multitude of wide, gentle greens runs where you can both hone your skills and gaze into the distance in wonderment of the setting around you. Not to mention the high elevation keeps snow soft and smooth. The furthest run to skier’s right, Red Buffalo trail, will have you coming back over and over again.
Is it easy to get there and safe to get back if Red Buffalo Park is at the top of the mountain? YES!
Just take the primary lift at the base, the Centennial Express (there are gondola cars every several chairs so you can take the fairly long lift up in comfort), and once you get off, you can walk to the Cinch Express lift just a few yards to your left. Cinch express takes you to the top, where you can lap a dozen fantastic green runs all day long using the Red Buffalo Express lift. When you are ready to leave, simply take the Cinch run either back to the Centennial lift, where you can load a gondola car back to the base, or you can continue to take Cinch all the way down the mountain – it remains a green, beginner run the entire time. Just remember to make it down in time for the free cookies!
If you want an A+ experience, expansive vistas, wide sweeping runs, and the feeling like you’re on top of the world even though you’re still just a beginner skier – Beaver Creek can’t be beat.
Copper Mountain sits just 5 miles further down the highway than where you normally exit to go to Keystone or Breckenridge, making this 2,500 acre ski resort one of the closest drives to Denver (as short as 1hr 15 mins if you don’t hit traffic or poor conditions). The mountain is directly off the highway, with a large free parking lot where shuttles buses take you to the villages. Copper’s terrain is naturally divided on the mountain, with the advanced runs to the east (ie East Village), intermediate runs in the center (Center Village), and beginner terrain on the west (West Village).
While most of the beginner runs are accessed from West Village, the Green Acres area is situated between East and Center village. Here, the Gem and Pitchforks lifts service the bunny hills which are ideal for first time riders.
Once wedge turns and the chair lift become less scary, the Kokomo lift in West Village services some really low-key beginner runs. What makes Copper such a great option for beginners is that you can naturally progress from a specific area or lift to another and slowly work up the mountain. When beginners start getting comfortable with their turns, the American Flyer, Woodward Express, and lumberjack chairs provide a plethora of green run options to keep most beginner skiers busy for at least several days.
Favorite run – make sure you don’t miss Soliloquy, which can be accessed off the Timberline Express lift. This trail is excellent and often uncrowded. Hugging the western boundary of the resorts, you will be delighted with the west facing views of the surrounding mountain range. The wide, curving trail is easy to find a rhythm on and one of those runs where you get to the bottom and say “wow, this skiing thing is just amazing”.
Granby Ranch is Colorado’s little secret. This small ski area is just over 400 acres of skiable terrain, mostly for beginners and light intermediates. Why would you go to a small ski resort to ski rather than the ultra well known resorts further down the highway? Well, lets face it. Paying $200 a day for a lift ticket when you spend half the day learning how to get your boots on can be hard to stomach.
Granby Ranch offers extremely affordable ticket packages. Kids 5 and under are always free, while Juniors (ages 6-12) can ski for as little as $28/day and Adults (ages 13+) for as little as $46/day. These prices are for midweek packages, while the weekends are about double that price (but still cheap compared to major resorts). If you’re on vacation, try planning your days at Granby during the middle of the week to take advantage of such a good price.
Also, if somebody in your party wants the big resort feel, Winter Park is just 30 minutes down the road so it is easy to split time at both. Take a few days to learn at Granby Ranch and get the basics down, then transfer that knowledge over to Winter Park and tackle some bigger runs. You get the best of both worlds for the best price. But don’t be fooled by the price and small specs – these are legitimate ski runs, not your local sledding hill. With that said, all the runs to lead back to the same base area, so it is easy to keep your group together or meet up.
The additional benefits of skiing Granby are that there are far fewer crowds so you can learn in peace, parking is free, and you might be able to find more affordable accommodations in the town of Granby.
Despite being a world renowned ski resort boasting a massive area of terrain (approx 5,300 acres) and the legendary back bowls, Vail actually has quite a few fantastic spots for beginners. If you avoid the holidays, these areas are also usually not very crowded as the masses flock to the back bowls and various intermediate terrain. The size of the mountain disperses the crowds quite effectively.
For first timers, start in Lionshead village and take the Eagle Bahn Gondola to the top, where the Eagles Nest area (to your left when you exit the gondola) is perfect for beginners. Several moving walkways and short lifts service a small area where you can learn your wedge turns, how to get off the lift, and other basics.
From there, you can take very gentle greens like Practice Parkway or Coyote Crossing all the way down to the Avanti Express. From the top of Avanti, turn right onto Eagles Nest Ridge, which brings you back to where you started and you can do the whole loop over again, working in minor variations like taking Pika, Minnie HaHa or Ledges. This is an excellent loop to get comfortable with skiing and gain confidence.
On the other side of the mountain is the Sourdough Express, which you can access by taking only beginner runs, but will take a few minutes and a few lift rides to travel over that way. Sourdough is fantastic for progressing beginners. The lift is short, while the runs it services – Sourdough, Tin Pants, Boomer, and Flap Jack – are all alot of fun and usually completely empty to go practice on. The snow is usually is great condition being closer to the top of the mountain.
For beginners wondering if they should advance to intermediate runs, we recommend heading over to Game Creek Bowl and trying your hand on the furthest run to the west called Lost Boy. Not only do you get a STUNNING view from the top of Lost Boy, but the run starts off with a little bit of a steeper hill to help you gauge just how prepared you are to take the next step. Lost Boy is a fan favorite beginner run and worth heading all the way over to try at least once!
Well, there you have it! If you’re a beginner looking to ski some Colorado slopes, these are our favorites. Beaver Creek is a fantastic experience with some of the best quality beginner runs out there. Granby is quaint, quiet, and a great value for the money (making it wonderful to learn at). While Copper Mountain and Vail provide the more typical resort experiences while offering solid beginner areas for varying levels of progression.