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12 Best Colorado Ski Resorts For Families

by Robert Stanley | Updated: October 27th, 2022
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Want to book your next winter break? Wondering where you could go that would keep the whole family happy, from little ones to teens to parents and grandparents? Well, you’re not short of choices amidst the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

To help you narrow it down, we’ve put together a list of the 12 best ski resorts in Colorado for families. We’ve got old school resorts and modern luxury ones. Resorts packed full of apres activities and ones that are purely about the skiing.

We’ve even got a couple of resorts that want to give your children free ski passes! So whatever style of vacation your family is looking for, we’ve got the Colorado ski resort for you.

Our Top Picks

    12. Purgatory Durango

    Purgatory
    Photo by Jon Roig licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Last on our list is Purgatory, once known as Durango, where kids under 12 ski for free! Yes, that’s right, free ski passes for under 12s with no strings attached, and summer biking included too!

    Fun for Kids

    Childcare starts at two years old, and group ski lessons begin at four. But three-year-old snowboarders can head to the Burton Riglet Park, a playground/terrain park where qualified instructors will help them tackle their first boxes and jumps.

    Purgatory also runs an adaptive ski school program for skiers and snowboarders with physical and cognitive disabilities.

    Family Skiing

    With 20% of its trails for beginners and 45% for intermediates, this resort is perfect for families. And, like Winter Park, you can book a family ski lesson where all family members can learn to ski together regardless of age.

    Off the Slopes

    After skiing, how about taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride or meeting the huskies at the Durango Sled Dog Ranch. Then there’s snowcat dining and tours, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, and the Tubing Inferno mountain coaster.

    But the family fun really picks up at Christmas, thanks to the Polar Express train. Children put on their pjs, board the train, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies as they’re transported through the snowy landscape to meet Santa. Magical.

    What We Love About Purgatory Durango:

    • The Burton Riglet park
    • Free ski passes for under 12s
    • The magical Christmas train experience.

    Purgatory Durango Stats

    Summit Elevation:10822 ft / 3299 metres
    Skiable terrain: 1635 acres
    Lifts:12
    Runs:105

    11. Winter Park Resort

    Winter Park
    Photo by Usestock B licensed under Public Domain Mark 1.0

    The fourth-largest ski resort in Colorado Winter Park is also one of the easiest to get to. Just hop on a train from Denver’s Union Station, and you’ll be in Winter Park in around two hours. Perfect for anyone who doesn’t drive or doesn’t enjoy driving on snowy roads.

    Family Skiing

    It’s also perfect for families with some learners and some expert skiers. Winter Park has beginner zones, and easy runs but also 1,212 acres of off-piste skiing, seven terrain parks, and 52% of its runs are for expert riders.

    But if you don’t want to split up, why not book a family ski lesson that lets the whole family ski together and is tailored to your abilities. The ski school is one of the best in Colorado and focuses on guest-centered learning. Kids can start from three years old and choose half-day lessons if the full day is too much.

    Off the Slopes

    The activities never stop at Winter Park. You can be on the go all day and all night with the first tracks program, sunset snowshoe tours, and moonlight ski touring. Plus, you can go tubing, snow biking, ice skating, and snowmobiling. And if it’s your first time on the mountain, take advantage of the free mountain host tours to get you oriented.

    What We Love About Winter Park Resort:

    • Easy access via train from Denver
    • Ski school from three years old
    • The sheer number of activities running from sunrise to sunset and beyond.

    Winter Park Resort Stats

    Summit Elevation:12060 ft / 3676 metres
    Skiable terrain: 3081 acres
    Lifts:23
    Runs:166

    10. Wolf Creek

    Wolf Creek
    Photo by Zach Dischner at licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The name might sound ominous, but Wolf Creek is actually a great resort that often gets overlooked. It gets the most snowfall in Colorado – a whopping 430 inches – and is brilliant for families of intermediates who want to ski all day with no lift lines!

    Fun for Kids

    The ski school doesn’t start until five years old here but does have an advanced program for adventurous children aged nine to twelve. And younger children can make the most of various privately owned, resort-sanctioned childcare companies in the area.

    You’ll find simple dining and shopping options available at base camp and lodgings for all budgets in the surrounding area.

    Family Skiing

    Wolf Creek is a small-scale ski resort that lacks many of the upmarket touches of Colorado’s more famous resorts. As a result, you won’t find many apres activities or adventure parks here. But for families who are just about skiing – and those whose budget doesn’t allow for dog sledding or ice skating, it’s perfect.

    Off the Slopes

    Advanced skiers might be concerned that the ski area is noticeably smaller than other resorts on our list. But Wolf Creek is home to some awesome bowls and epic backcountry hiking aided by snowcats.

    Beginners and intermediates will find 55% of the trails dedicated to them, and all runs lead back to base camp. So don’t be afraid to split up and catch up with each other later.

    What We Love About Wolf Creek:

    • Quieter and cheaper than most other Colorado ski resorts
    • It gets the most snow in Colorado!
    • A great mountain for intermediate skiers to progress on.

    Wolf Creek Stats

    Summit Elevation:11904 ft / 3628 metres
    Skiable terrain: 1600 acres
    Lifts:10
    Runs:45

    9. Steamboat

    steamboat
    Photo by Murray Foubister at licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    The cowboy town of Steamboat prides itself on its old-fashioned, small-town charm and has won awards for being one of the best ski resorts for families in Colorado.

    Fun for Kids

    Like Keystone, it goes out of its way to make life easier for parents. One example of this is the popular red wagon system, which helps you tote kids and equipment around the resort is an easy and fun way.

    They also have a Kids Ski Free program for under 12s with accommodation packages. And perhaps the most slope-side accommodation of all the resorts on our list.

    On the mountain, you’ll find kids-only magic carpets, terrain parks designed with little ones in mind, plenty of beginner runs, and fun features dotted around the resort. But there’s plenty of advanced terrains too, some seriously lengthy runs plus night skiing until 8.30 pm.

    Kids can join group lessons from five years or two and a half through the Happy Camp Childcare program, which also takes babies as young as 12 months.

    Family Skiing

    The mountain is packed with apres activities to keep the whole family happy. There’s dog sledding, ice skating, horse-drawn sleigh rides, a mountain coaster, tubing, and horse riding. And when it’s all been too much, head to the geothermal hot springs to soak those aching ski muscles.

    What We Love About Steamboat:

    • Ski lessons from 2.5 years
    • Beginner terrain park and fun slopes
    • Natural hot springs for soaking weary ski muscles!

    Steamboat Stats

    Summit Elevation:10568 ft / 3221 metres
    Skiable terrain: 2965 acres
    Lifts:17
    Runs:170

    8. Keystone

    keystone
    Photo by Des Runyan at licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Keystone is a resort designed by someone who knows what families need. They make life easy from the moment you get there with elements like free family parking and sleds that help you get your kids and gear to the snow.

    Fun for Kids

    There is childcare from six months old and babysitting services which will come to your accommodation. Plus, the Kids Ski Free program gives free lift passes to under 12s when you book more than two nights at the onsite accommodation.

    Family Skiing

    The apres activities couldn’t be more family-friendly and include ice skating, snowcat tours, tubing, and sleigh rides. Check out Kidtopia, a fantastic facility for kids with daily and weekly events, including fireworks, face painting, movie nights, and cookie bakes.

    Off the Slopes

    Plus, Keystone is home to the largest snow fort in North America, complete with a maze, tunnels, and slides. And it’s free to enter!

    On the mountain, you’ll find something for everyone, including three beginner zones with a magic carpet and child-friendly chairlifts, and a 3.5-mile green run. In addition, the ski school is available from three years old and runs an adaptive ski program.

    For more advanced riders, Keystone is known for its five powder bowls and is home to one of North America’s best terrain parks. Plus, if you’re a fan of a long ski day, Keystone has a night skiing program that runs till 8 pm on weekends and holidays!

    What We Love About Keystone:

    • Free priority parking for families, with wagons to help get kids and equipment to the snow.
    • Free ski passes for kids under 12.
    • The snow fort and Kidtopia fun zones

    Keystone Stats

    Summit Elevation:12408 ft / 3782 metres
    Skiable terrain: 3419 acres
    Lifts:20
    Runs:130

    7. Crested Butte

    Crested Butte
    Photo by michael.stockton licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Crested Butte is a lot of families’ top pick for the best ski resort in Colorado. This resort really puts the effort into providing fun and facilities for kids of all age groups and parents too.

    Fun for Kids

    Of the 121 runs on the mountain, 18% are suitable for beginners and 29% for intermediates, and there are several dedicated kids runs. Little ones will love skiing through the bear cave and down a miniature Elk Street designed just for them.

    If they’re not quite up to that yet, pop them into the award-winning ski school from three years old and let them learn from an Olympian. If they’re too young for that, try childcare from six months upwards.

    Off the Slopes

    Then when adults want a little time alone, drop the kids into ​​The Adventure Park and let them run wild on bungee tramps and rock climbing walls while you explore Elk Street, a quaint, colorful reminder of the resort’s mining-town history.

    What We Love About Crested Butte:

    • Taking lessons from an olympian at an award-winning ski school
    • The fun trails are designed and decorated just for kids
    • The atmospheric strip of Elk Street.

    Crested Butte Stats

    Summit Elevation:12162 ft / 3710 metres
    Skiable terrain: 1547 acres
    Lifts:15
    Runs:121

    6. Breckenridge

    breckenridge
    Photo by Jonathan Fox at licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    Breckenridge is one of the best-known ski resorts in Colorado, but it still manages to have fewer crowds and lower prices than Vail and Beaver Creek. Don’t worry though, you still get a whole lot of mountains for your money.

    A high-altitude resort, it’s made up of five mountain peaks, each helpfully geared towards different levels of skiers. Beginners will love the gentle terrain at the base of Peaks 8 and 9 and can then progress to the endless blues covering Peak 7. Advanced skiers should head to Peak 10 for some tricky terrain!

    Fun for Kids

    Ski and snowboard lessons start from three years old, and class sizes are capped to ensure kids get enough individual attention. In addition, there’s an adaptive ski program, a girls-only program, and the Breck Club for a season’s worth of instruction.

    Family Skiing

    If you’re concerned about the family splitting up and not knowing what your teens are getting up to, download the EpicMix app. The app is linked to their lift pass and tracks and records their progress across the mountain.

    Off the Slopes

    For apres-ski, enjoy ice skating, the alpine slide, or sledding. Or, for something a little different try art classes, at the children’s museum, or take a historic tour of Breckenridge.

    This resort is well known for its quaint town, and the atmospheric main street area is packed with shopping and dining options that will satisfy the whole family.

    What We Love About Breckenridge:

    • The five peaks split into different ski levels
    • The huge ski area
    • The quaint main street is packed with family-friendly eateries.

    Breckenridge Stats

    Summit Elevation:12998 ft / 3962 metres
    Skiable terrain: 2908 acres
    Lifts:35
    Runs:187

    5. Snowmass

    snowmass
    Photo by Jonathan Fox at licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    Aspen/Snowmass comprises four mountains: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass. The mountains are connected by lifts and shuttles and cover an incredible 5,300 acres of skiable terrain.

    Fun for Kids

    The treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center in Snowmass Village combines childcare with ski school in a fun environment. Kids from eight weeks old can enjoy the Colorado-themed playrooms and start group ski lessons from two years old!

    Family Skiing

    Each mountain has its own distinct character, but Snowmass is the largest and is known for being the most family-friendly. It has pedestrianized streets in its pretty village and a wealth of child-friendly amenities.

    Aspen Snowmass commits to making its mountains as accessible as possible and offers adaptive ski and snowboard lessons for ages four and up. Volunteer helpers are on hand should anyone need them, and Ascendigo provides ski and snowboard lessons for adults and children on the autism spectrum.

    Off the Slopes

    After skiing, how about boarding a snowcat to be chauffeured up the mountain for dinner at a high-altitude restaurant? And don’t miss celebrating the Norse god of snow, Ullr, at the party nights held at the famous Elk Camp. Enjoy kids’ snow bikes, riding the alpine coaster, watching fire dancers, and eating your body weight in s’mores.

    What We Love About Snowmass:

    • Ski school lessons start from two years old!
    • The adaptive ski school program.
    • Ullr Nights at Camp Elk.

    Snowmass Stats

    Summit Elevation:12510 ft / 3813 metres
    Skiable terrain: 3342 acres
    Lifts:22
    Runs:98

    4. Copper Mountain

    Copper Mountain
    Photo by W.G. Dayton at licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    Another laid-back resort now. Located only 75 miles from Denver and known for being one of the most chilled out and budget-friendly resorts in the vicinity is Copper Mountain.

    Fun for Kids

    This resort is an excellent option for families whose children are little adventurers. There’s no end of activities for them to get up to, like tubing, ice skating, snowshoeing, exploring the snow maze, Alpine Rush Zip Line, or Rocky Mountain Coaster.

    Family Skiing

    When you’ve had enough family time, take advantage of the Kids Night Out program. A three-hour free childcare program where kids aged eight weeks to twelve years can hang out, eat pizza, and play games while you enjoy some alone time.

    But there’s also the incredible Woodward Center, a year-round indoor training facility for bikers, skaters, skiers, snowboarders, and gymnasts. This facility has tumble tracks, trampolines, foam pits, and more to help your kids level up in their chosen sport. Or they can just have a whole heap of fun.

    They can then take their new skills back to the snow to play in no less than ten terrain parks with features ranging from beginner to expert.

    Off the Slopes

    The resort’s 140 runs are evenly split across ski levels, and there are an additional 25 kilometers of cross-country trails through the beautiful White River National Forest.

    What We Love About Copper Mountain:

    • Woodward Barn indoor training and play center.
    • The Kids’ Night Out program gives parents a night off.
    • It’s a laid-back, small-town Colorado vibe.

    Copper Mountain Stats

    Summit Elevation:12441 ft / 3792 metres
    Skiable terrain: 2507 acres
    Lifts:24
    Runs:142

    3. Arapahoe Basin

    Photo by bixentro at licensed under CC BY 2.0

    One of our favorite resorts in Colorado is often overlooked by people heading straight for the more well-known slopes of Vail and Breckenridge. But if you’re looking for a laid-back resort that’s a bit more budget-friendly, Arapahoe Basin (or A-Basin as the locals call it) might be the resort for you.

    Fun for Kids

    Kids will love the Ace Ventura-themed park where they can play, learn and hang out with Ace, the mountain goat resort mascot. Then they can start ski and snowboard group lessons start from seven years old and private lessons from three.

    Family Skiing

    Besides, the main lodge is a beginner area with a magic carpet and a mini terrain park perfect for families. Once you progress from there, you’ll find that this resort has some fantastic terrain and one of the longest runs in Colorado.

    Off the Slopes

    It’s smaller and has a far more old-school feel to it than the bigger, more modern resorts. You’ll find one main ski lodge here and no on-site accommodation. Instead, skiers stay nearby in Silverthorne or Dillon or drive from Denver, about an hour away.

    Arapahoe Basin is not one of the fanciest resorts in Colorado, but it is one of the most laid back, budget-friendly, and relaxed. Oh, and it has one of the longest seasons too. Fancy skiing in June? Head to A-basin!

    What We Love About Arapahoe Basin:

    • The laid-back, unpretentious vibe
    • The Ace Ventura kids playground complete with mountain goat
    • It’s budget-friendly

    Arapahoe Basin Stats

    Summit Elevation:13050 ft / 3978 metres
    Skiable terrain: 1428 acres
    Lifts:9
    Runs:145

    2. Beaver Creek

    beaver-creek
    Photo by Dave Herholz at licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    What could make a family ski day even better? Freshly baked cookies as you come off the mountain, that’s what! Beaver Creek’s famous 3 pm cookie program delivers just that.

    But we’re not just in it for the free food. Beaver Creek has a whole lot more going for it. It is something of a luxury resort, and it goes out of its way to meet the needs of children and beginners and is easily one of the best ski resorts for families in Colorado.

    Fun for Kids

    Beaver Creek offers professional childcare from two to six years old and ski school from three. Plus, it has the Ski Girls Rock program that lets girls learn and ride together in a supportive and encouraging environment.

    Family Skiing

    The resort recently opened McCoy Park, a new terrain area of 250 acres dedicated to beginners and intermediates. It’s the perfect family-friendly place, it has a welcoming atmosphere, two chair lifts and 17 trails, including beginner tree runs. It also has cross-country and snowshoe trails!

    Off the Slopes

    Elsewhere in the resort, check out ice skating, tubing, the marmot maze, on-snow storytime, fireworks displays, and glow stick processions. Then return to your ski in ski out accommodation or board a free shuttle bus to the many nearby suburb accommodations.

    What We Love About Beaver Creek:

    • The family-friendly, welcoming terrain of McCoy park
    • Warm cookies at 3 pm!
    • The Ski Girls Rock program.

    Beaver Creek Stats

    Summit Elevation:11440 ft / 3487 metres
    Skiable terrain: 2082 acres
    Lifts:24
    Runs:167

    1. Vail

    If you’re going on a family ski holiday, why not go with the best? Vail is one of Colorado’s oldest, and most well-known ski resorts. It’s famed for its great snow, excellent facilities, and endless activities for the whole family.

    Fun for Kids

    One of the main reasons Vail is so popular with families is the excellent Adventure Ridge fun zone. The young and the young at heart alike can have fun snow tubing, sledding, snow biking, snowmobiling, and riding the snow coaster. And don’t miss the outdoor ice rinks.

    Family Skiing

    There’s plenty for everyone in Vail, where the 195 trails are well split across all ski levels. Teens and expert skiers will love playing in the famous backcountry bowls of light, deep powder. And beginners will enjoy the many nursery zones, easy slopes, and a ski school that accepts children from three years old.

    Off the Slopes

    Don’t worry if you can’t ski yet. Adventure Ridge is accessible by gondola. And once you’ve worked up an appetite, stay up there for dinner at the child-friendly restaurants.

    What We Love About Vail:

    • Adventure Ridge fun zone.
    • Terrain for all the family.
    • The kudos for skiing in one of Colorado’s most famous resorts.

    Vail Stats

    Summit Elevation:11,570 ft / 3526.54 metres
    Skiable terrain: 5317 acres
    Lifts:31
    Runs:2

    Why Choose Colorado for Skiing

    So as you can see, the great state of Colorado is packed with excellent, family-friendly ski resorts. There’s no shortage of mountainous terrain, backcountry powder bowls, or endless, perfectly groomed trails.

    But the fun doesn’t end with skiing. Or even snowboarding. These resorts are filled with apres-ski activities, bucket-list experiences, and adrenaline-fuelled adventures. And even a few spas and hot springs for the adults!

    So, will you choose the world-famous Vail or Breckenridge? Old school Wolf Creek or Copper Mountain? Thoughtfully designed Keystone or Steamboat? Or will free ski passes tempt you to Purgatory?

    P.S If you want to know what it’s like skiing throughout the season from November to April – read our guide on the Best Month to Ski in Colorado.


    How Did We Order This List?

    To help rank our top selection of ski resorts for this list we compared the following ranking factors:

    👨‍👩‍👦 Ranking Factor📈 Power to affect Rank
    Amount of Beginner Trails (Mi) 4x
    Amount of Skiing Area (Mi) 3x
    Cost of two adult tickets + child ticket1x
    How many magic carpet lifts1x

    We gave each factor its own weighting depending on how important we feel it is for family fun across all ages. For example, a resort with more beginner trails is higher ranked than a resort with a lower-priced family ticket – with all else being equal. That’s because while cost is a factor, it’s not a primary one. We may also use our editorial judgment to remove or add resorts that we believe should make a list.

    When taking all of this into account, it gives us our awesome list above. We hope it was helpful in planning your next family ski vacation.

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    Best Ski Resorts for Families In Colorado

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