snowboarding on a run at Copper Mountain, one of the best family ski resorts in Colorado

The 7 Best Family-Friendly Ski Resorts in Colorado

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It’s not quite the end of September here in Colorado and the snow is already falling in the mountains. That means it’s time to think about ski season!

Spending a day on the slopes is one of our favorite outdoor activities to do as a family and Colorado is the perfect place to do it. The state is filled will well-known ski resorts and has some of the best skiing conditions in the US. For families with children, however, it can be difficult to distinguish the best family-friendly ski resorts in Colorado from the rest.

To help you plan your next ski vacation, we’ve pulled together all the information you need to choose from 7 family-friendly ski resorts found around the state.

About the Best Family Ski Resorts in Colorado

As the western half of the famous Rocky Mountains, Colorado has a lot to offer in terms of skiable terrain. With over 300 days of sunshine each year and world-famous resorts such as Vail and Aspen, it is no wonder that so many people flock to Colorado for skiing and snowboarding every season.

When choosing from the family-friendly ski resorts in Colorado, there are a few key things that can really make a difference in making it a perfect family ski vacation.

Distance from Denver

When you’re visiting from out of state, you might not want to spend any more time traveling than you need to. All of the ski resorts are found west of Denver, and most are a 2- to 4-hour drive from the Denver International Airport. If you want to spend more time skiing and less time on the road, choose from the closer ski resorts.

Pro Tip: Traffic can get really backed up on the weekends heading into the mountains from Denver. If possible, plan arrival for weekdays or afternoons. The same goes for leaving the mountains. After the lifts start shutting down, typically around 3-4 pm, everyone starts heading back to Denver all at the same time.

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Skiable Acres / Number of Trails

This will tell you how large the ski area is. Larger ski areas tend to have more trails and can be a draw to the resort because there are many different trails to try out. These can have a big range from resort to resort and generally, the larger the ski area, the busier the resort.

Easy & Intermediate Runs

For skiers and snowboarders who are just getting started (find tips for your first days on the slopes here), this number is important. Ski areas with high percentages of expert runs will have fewer runs where beginners will feel comfortable. Skiing on the same runs over and over can get a little boring after a while.

Base Elevation

Knowing the elevation at the base of the mountain will give those who are coming from lower elevations what they might expect for potential altitude sickness. The higher the elevation, the higher the risk and intensity. Plan to give yourself a little time to acclimate to the higher elevations in case you experience symptoms.

On-Site Activities

One of the most important things that family-friendly ski resorts in Colorado have is activities for the kids when they are not skiing or boarding. Some have extensive programs for kids and more winter activities and events to break up time on the slopes. Others are close to town for shopping and restaurants.

Parent Company / Passes

Many of the ski resorts belong to parent companies with ski resorts around the country, or even around the world. You may choose a pass to save on lift tickets if you have access to other resorts. Or you could plan on visiting a few different Colorado ski resorts.

Price of Lift Tickets

When traveling with the family, the amount you’ll spend on lift tickets adds up quickly, so the price is important for many of us. The prices listed for each resort are for a single-day lift ticket on a non-peak day purchased at the resort. Kid’s tickets are usually cheaper, and you can also save by purchasing lift tickets online and for multiple days.

1. Winter Park

This ski resort has 2 distinct mountains for skiing and snowboarding: Winter Park and Mary Jane. Families tend to spend more time in Winter Park, where most of the beginner and intermediate runs are found.

Winter Park is one of the many family-friendly ski resorts in Colorado that is self-contained. Without a nearby downtown area, everything you need is right in the village. There are plenty of restaurants, shops, and lodging options that are within walking distance to the lifts. There is also a convenience store in the village, but you can get to grocery and liquor stores just 20-minutes away in Fraser, CO.

With so many on-site activities to give skiers and boarders a break from the slopes, this ski resort is a favorite for families.

  • Drive time from Denver International Airport (DIA): about 2 hours
  • Skiable Acres / Number of Trails: over 3,000 acres / 166 designated trails
  • Beginner & Intermediate Runs: 8% beginner; 18% intermediate
  • Base Elevation: 9,000 ft
  • On-site Activities: Coca-Cola tube park, fat biking, snowmobiling, nordic skiing, ice bumper cars, ice skating, and more
  • Parent Company / Passes: Alterra / Ikon
  • Price of Lift Tickets: $93

2. Copper Mountain Resort

After 5 seasons of skiing in Colorado, Copper Mountain is our top pick and where we now get season passes every year. The mountain is big enough to have a variety of trails but small enough that it is easy to navigate.

Copper Mountain is conveniently located right off the highway, making it super easy to get to. The village isn’t as big as resorts like Vail, but it has everything you’ll need for your stay there. Shops, restaurants, and a small convenience store for those last-minute items.

The kids love spending afternoons taking a break from the cold at Woodward Copper where they bounce on the trampolines, jump into foam pits, and practice their boarding skills indoors.

  • Drive time from Denver International Airport (DIA): about 2 hours
  • Skiable Acres / Number of Trails: 2,490 acres / 140+ designated trails
  • Beginner & Intermediate Runs: 21% beginner, 25% intermediate
  • Base Elevation: 9,700 ft
  • On-site Activities: Ice skating, snowshoeing, tubing, alpine coaster, nordic skiing
  • Parent Company / Passes: Powdr / Ikon
  • Price of Lift Tickets: $99
snowboarding down one the beginner trails at Copper Mountain, one of the most family-friendly ski resorts in Colorado
Copper Mountain’s wide and gently sloped trails make it one of the best family ski resorts in Colorado.

3. Crested Butte

Crested Butte is another one of the best family ski resorts in Colorado – and another one of our all-time favorite family-friendly ski resorts in Colorado. The only drawback to this resort is the location: at 4.5 hours from Denver, we would definitely hit this one more often. The ski village isn’t quite as big as others on our list of best family ski resorts in Colorado, but that’s ok because the downtown area of Crested Butte has all the après ski activities you need.

The kids love this one for the terrain park built just for beginners. Take the Painter Boy lift to access the terrain park, along with a handful of easy and intermediate runs. We spent a full day playing in this area!

  • Drive time from Denver International Airport (DIA): 4 1/2 hours
  • Skiable Acres / Number of Trails: 1,550 acres / 121 designated trails
  • Beginner & Intermediate Runs: 18% beginner, 29% intermediate
  • Base Elevation: 9,375 ft
  • On-site Activities: snowshoe, fat bike, and cross country ski
  • Parent Company / Passes: Vail Resorts / epic
  • Price of Lift Tickets: $119

4. Keystone

Keystone is the perfect destination for families with seemingly endless activities for kids and families. From a giant snow fort to mountain top sleigh rides, there are enough winter adventures to fill every moment of your ski vacation. The fireworks, Friday milkshake social, and Saturday crafts make Keystone that much more epic for families.

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Over half of the trails are designated easy or intermediate, including an epic 3.5 mile run for beginners. The School Marm trail lets families spend less time on the lifts and more time on the slopes.

  • Drive time from Denver International Airport (DIA): 2 hours
  • Skiable Acres / Number of Trails: 3,150 acres / 128 designated trails
  • Beginner & Intermediate Runs: 12% beginner, 39% intermediate
  • Base Elevation: 9,280 ft
  • On-site Activities: Kidtopia, sleigh rides, nordic skiing, ice skating, tubing, snowmobile tours
  • Parent Company / Passes: Vail Resorts / epic
  • Price of Lift Tickets: $166
Keystone Resort’s ski school and other kid-friendly activities make it one of the most family-friendly ski resorts in Colorado

5. Beaver Creek

Located about 2 and a half hours west of Denver, Beaver Creek is one of the most scenic ski resorts in Colorado. This ski resort is tucked into the mountain and reminds me of a fairy tale.

The on-site performing arts center has a calendar full of concerts and shows that include some great family-friendly entertainment. Find the schedule here. But 3 pm might be the best part of the day at Beaver Creek when freshly baked cookies are served in the village.

  • Drive time from Denver International Airport (DIA): 2 1/2 hours
  • Skiable Acres / Number of Trails: 1,832 acres / 150 designated trails
  • Beginner & Intermediate Runs: not stated
  • Base Elevation: 8,100 ft
  • On-site Activities: ice bikes (hit the ice skating rink without skates!) and art installations
  • Parent Company / Passes: Vail Resorts / epic
  • Price of Lift Tickets: $191

6. Sunlight Mountain

This is the only one of the best family ski resorts in Colorado on our list that is not part of the Ikon or epic passes. It’s also the only one with fewer than 1,000 acres and 100 designated trails. But half of those trails are beginner or intermediate, so there is still plenty of terrain for new skiers and boarders. Skiing isn’t the only thing you can do at Colorado’s Sunlight Mountain Resort. This resort offers trails for both cross country skiing and snowshoeing, as well as tubing and a snow play area.

  • Drive time from Denver International Airport (DIA): 3 1/2 hours
  • Skiable Acres / Number of Trails: 730 acres / 72 designated trails
  • Beginner & Intermediate Runs: 50% beginner/intermediate
  • Base Elevation: 7,900 ft
  • On-site Activities: snowmobile tours, nordic skiing, snowshoeing
  • Parent Company / Passes: none
  • Price of Lift Tickets: $72

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7. Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs is another great skiing destination for family members of all ages and abilities. It’s also one of the most popular resorts in Colorado because it has wide-open trails that are perfect for beginners. Despite its large number of visitors, Steamboat Springs still offers a relaxing ski vacation for families by providing comfortable accommodations, shops, and restaurants.

  • Drive time from Denver International Airport (DIA): 3 1/2 hours
  • Skiable Acres / Number of Trails: 2,980 acres / 169 designated trails
  • Beginner & Intermediate Runs: 14% beginner, 42% intermediate
  • Base Elevation: 6,900 ft
  • On-site Activities: mountain coaster, night skiing, cross country, snowshoeing, tubing, ice skating, sleigh rides
  • Parent Company / Passes: Alterra / Ikon
  • Price of Lift Tickets: $119

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