The Best Family Ski Resorts in Colorado
Ski vacations for the whole family can be difficult. There’s a lot of gear, logistics to figure out, and the need to keep different people happy. The best family ski resorts in Colorado are ones that have convenient accommodations to the mountain, a service that makes hauling gear easier, and fun activities both on and off the slopes.
Some family resorts are catered more toward beginner skiing families and younger children, while others are better for teenagers and more adventurous families. To help you decide which resort is right for you, we break down the best family ski resorts in Colorado. No matter what, you’re bound to make epic memories on the snow!
Aspen actually consists of 4 separate mountains spanning about 5,500 acres of skiable terrain and approximately 360 runs. Each mountain has something for everyone, with Aspen Mountain (Ajax) and Aspen highland being catered toward advanced skiers. Snowmass is the largest at 3,300 acres and has tons of intermediate and some beginner terrain. Buttermilk is the smallest at just 470 acres and mostly a few beginner and intermediate runs.
kids under 6 always ski for free! At the Treehouse Kids Adventure Center, Aspen provides childcare services for young toddlers as well as fun and engaging ski school for kids 6 and under. On mountain at Snowmass and Buttermilk, there are several areas with trails customized specifically for kids. Also, since Aspen is a bit further from Denver, the mountains are much less crowded than other mega resorts like Vail and Breckenridge. Less crowded slopes are easier for beginners to learn on, as they don’t constantly have to worry about colliding with others.
In addition to a plethora of intermediate skiing at Snowmass, Snowmass and Buttermilk both provide beginner terrain parks that are perfect for those young, adventurous teens to try their hand at small jumps, boxes, and rails. Additionally, the X Games is hosted at Aspen every year during January or February for teens to get a taste of adrenaline and see their favorite snowsport stars in action.
There are tons of off mountain activities for the whole family to enjoy.
- Snow tubing at Elk Camp
- Ullr Nights is celebrated every friday with live music, tubing and snow biking under the lights, and bonfires.
- Ride a Snowcat up the mountain for a comfortable and mountain feeling dinner at Lynn Britt Cabin or Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro
- Ice Skating in Snowmass village
- Indoor Rock Climbing ($10 for 30 mins) at the Limelight Hotel in the center of Snowmass Village. It is Colorado’s tallest indoor climbing wall and staff are on site to ensure safety and help any beginners get hooked in.
Bonus: Family Deals
Don’t miss out! If you book at least 2 nights of lodging through Stay Aspen Snowmass and include rentals with Four Mountain Sports, your kids aged 7 to 12 will get a FREE lift ticket for every day you rent gear. This essentially means that any of your kids under 12 can ski for free at Aspen (because kids under 6 are always free). Unfortunately for Christmas skiers, this deal is only valid from January through April, but its still a pretty awesome deal. Find more info on the Aspen Snowmass website.
For additional fun – select restaurants on the mountains provide free “powder” pancakes when it snows 8” inches or more! So fill up for a big day on powder days at no cost if you hit the good weather! Sweet!
Keystone boasts almost 3,200 acres of skiable terrain and is one of the closest major ski mountains to Denver. Keystone has a charming base village, kid friendly amenities, and is a short drive to Silverthorne, Frisco, or Breckenridge if you feel like seeing a few different towns during your stay.
Children under 4 ski free, and kids up to 12 can ski for free if you book lodging directly through Keystone. Additionally, the Keystone parking lots provide little wagons for you to throw all your families ski gear into and pull along. Its alot easier to manage kids when everyone doesnt have their hands full and gear isnt dropping all over the place. On the mountain, Keystone’s KIDTOPIA offers free activities and adventures around the mountain to kids of all ages. A large snow fort on Dercum mountain is a family favorite.
For skiing, the Schoolmarm green run starts right at the top of the gondola and travels almost 3.5 miles all the way to the bottom! This is an excellent beginner run as it seemingly lasts forever and you can get a lot of learning in without having to spend much time on lifts. The run is very wide in most areas, which gives you plenty of space (although it can get fairly crowded).
Keystone is one of the few mountains that offers NIGHT skiing, which is a great way to squeeze in a few more runs while experiencing a completely different sensation of skiing. On mountain, the A51 terrain park is one of the best terrain parks around, while the Outback area has tons of intermediate, advanced, and hike-to terrain to keep your active teens occupied.
Along with various snow tubing, ice skating, scenic sleigh rides, Keystone lies in the heart of summit county where snow excursions like snowmobiling are abound. Take a day to ski, enjoy the charming base village and numerous restaurants, but be sure to visit the neighboring towns and all they have to offer. When your legs need a break from skiing, take a snowmobile tour through the winter wonderlands. Your nightly hot chocolate will be well deserved by the time your fun filled day is over.
Telluride is a winter playground far from the hustle and bustle from Denver (6-7 hour drive). The fairly remote and difficult location to get to keeps the crowds at bay so you can enjoy the 2,000 skiable acres of terrain in relative peace. The town consists of a rustic and picturesque main street, with a distinctly separate ski village up the mountain.
deposit having some gnarly terrain, Telluride also hosts a fair amount of beginner terrain. While the Meadows and Sunshine areas are designed and suited for complete newcomers, Prospect Bowl has some green runs with stunning views of the nearby towering mountain peaks. Off the slopes, nearby Firecracker Hill is a sledding hill that has entertained kids and adults of all ages for decades. The nearby Nordic Center has sleds available to rent.
as a mountain, Telluride has some of those most diverse ski terrain out there. A wide variety of blues await off of Polar Queen, Prospect, and Village Express lifts. For the more daring, Telluride sports plenty of advanced and even extreme terrain off its peaks.
additional winter activities in Telluride include dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice skating, sleigh rides, winter fly fishing, ice climbing, and more. Take your family on a bike ride (winter style!) by renting “fat” bikes that have snow tires so you can cruise on the valley floor. Or strap some snowshoes on and take a hike on any of the nearby trails, including those that start right in town like Bear Creek Trail.
For the more mature or adrenaline-needy families, go out with the Helitrax helicopter skiing guides to get a taste of remote, untouched powder skiing like you’ve never experienced before
Vail is an internationally recognized mega ski resort, with an extensive base village to match. The 5,300 acres of skiable terrain cater to all types of skiers and the legendary back bowls are world renowned. The sheer extent and size of Vail ensure that there is something for everyone.
In addition to world class ski school for kids, the Adventure Ridge area atop the Eagle Bahn Gondola offers activities like the Forest Flyer alpine coaster, snow tubing, and ski biking. For the youngest ones, Imagination Station located in the Lionshead parking structure is a well laid out space that facilitates physical and cognitive learning through a variety of fun offerings. When your day on the slopes is over, many of the Vail hotels offer complimentary hot chocolate or s’mores.
Given the extensive skiing options, it will likely be hard to get your teens to leave the slopes as the day winds down. But, if you can manage to do so, Vail and Lionshead village offer an endless amount of dining, shopping, and several unique outdoor ice skating rinks that can help round out the day.
Like the other mountains on this list, Vail offers any other winter activity you can think of. Snowshoeing, ice climbing, snowmobiling, backcountry skiing – you name it, and you can find it near Vail. However, the ambience and options provided around the base village are enough in and of themselves to keep many families entertained.
While its worth trying one of the “nicer” restaurants to get that full Vail experience (on mountain dining at Game Creek Restaurant, perhaps?), consider stopping at Blue Moose Pizza after one of your ski days for some of the most satisfying post-ski pizza you will ever have. Most hotels in the vail area offer heated pools and hot tubs, so once you’re done chowing down, finish off the day by relaxing those legs in your hotel’s hot tub while the snowflakes fall.
There are tons of options to choose from in Colorado for skiing with your family. Often the big resorts, as cliché as they can seem, are the best bet if you have many family members or several members of different ages and interests. Bigger resorts are bound to have more activities and proximity to external events and activities.
We think the resorts mentioned here strike a balanced blend of being great ski mountains and having a multitude of other activities to keep your family happy and having fun!