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Colorado ski areas

2017 Opening Days and Activities for Colorado Ski Areas

All the information you need to know before bringing your kids to the slopes this year. Plus, activities for the whole family.

Bringing kids to the slopes sounds challenging, but thanks to kid-friendly resorts complete with ski programs and activities for the whole family, it’s never been easier to take your kids skiing here in Colorado. Read on for a full list of Colorado ski area opening days, events, and activities for the whole family this ski season.

Arapahoe Basin

Opening Day: October 13

Register your kids for A-Basin’s Kids Free 2 Ski program by December 18 and your kids (ages six to 12) can enjoy two free days on the mountain this season. First-time skiers or riders also receive 50 percent off a half-day morning lesson, which includes a full-day lift ticket—that’s three free days on the slopes. Little ones can partake in the snow fun too; kids age five and under ski free every day. The Kid’s Center, designed around Ace, Arapahoe’s mountain goat mascot, is available for kids lessons.

Aspen Highlands

Opening Day: December 9

With fewer crowds than Aspen Mountain, locals flock to Aspen Highlands, where you’ll find adventurous skiers and riders hiking the ridge to Highland Bowl. With intermediate to expert terrain, ski families can tackle the mountain’s various trails before heading to downtown Aspen or Snowmass Village for après ski fun.

Aspen Mountain

Opening Day: November 23

Aspen Mountain is more difficult than its neighbors, and there are no beginner runs, but it’s a family-favorite place to shred once kids advance in the sport. Located in the heart of downtown Aspen, there’s plenty to explore off the slopes. Check out Yoga for Skiers, snowshoe tours, and more at this picturesque resort.

Beaver Creek

Opening Day: November 22

In addition to world-class skiing terrain, Beaver Creek offers an abundance of family-friendly, off-mountain activities all season long. Families can go ice skating in Beaver Creek Village, or enjoy one of the resorts signature events—like a chocolate chip cookie competition and tree lighting ceremony on opening day or a photo op with the mountain’s mascot, Ripperoo, in December. This year, Beaver Creek is debuting Red Buffalo Park, a 200-acre mountaintop family learning area designated as a family adventure zone. New to Beaver Creek is Allie’s Cabin Family Dinners, a three-course buffet dinner in one of the resort’s private restaurants.


Opening Day: November 10

Breckenridge boasts five skiable peaks with trails suitable for every skill level, plus terrain parks for little ones and beginners, a ski and ride school, and childcare. Activities for kids are plentiful, with ice skating and sledding. For younger children, the Mountain Top Children’s Museum provides crafts, dress-up, and building activities in a colorful museum.


Opening Day: December 9

Perfect for beginners and families, Buttermilk is home to the Winter X Games and The Red Bull Double Pipe Event. It also offers easy-going terrain for kids to learn on, plus The Hideout, a play-and-learning area at the base of the mountain where young skiers can learn new skills.


Opening Day: December 9

Cooper offers affordable skiing for the whole family, with 39 varied runs, uncrowded slopes, ski school programs for all ability levels, a terrain park, free parking, and a cozy base lodge. Cooper boasts no lift lines and all runs lead to the lodge, so you don’t have to worry about your kids getting lost. When you need a break from the slopes, hop on one of their passenger snowcats for a two-hour scenic tour up Chicago Ridge.

Copper Mountain

Opening Day: November 10

Copper’s terrain is fit for skiers and riders of all ages and abilities, and families can even practice their skills indoors at the Woodward Copper Barn, open seven days a week, before heading to the slopes. As one of the largest ski resorts in Colorado, Copper receives an average of 302 inches of snow per year. Family-friendly mountain activities include a tubing hill with five lanes and ice skating. Don’t forget to try Sugar Lips Mini Donuts, made to order donuts that are the perfect treat after a long day on the slopes.

Crested Butte

Opening Day: November 23

Crested Butte is great for first timers and families of different abilities, and with just one base area, parents can easily meet up with their kids at the end of the day. For lessons, check out Camp CB, where kids age three to 14 get a full-day lesson, lunch, and a lift ticket. The fun continues off the mountain in the Adventure Park (complete with mini golf, bungee trampoline, and rock climbing wall). Families can also enjoy winter zip lining, snowshoe tours, and winter trail rides on horse or snowmobile.

Echo Mountain

Opening Day: November 21

Travel time to this ski resort is only 40 minutes from Denver, which makes it the closest resort to the metro area, an easy day trip for families new to skiing. Although small, it’s a favorite among Denver families thanks to their learning area for beginners, gear and apparel rentals, beginner and intermediate lessons, and a family season pass option. Echo Mountain’s lodge provides a comfortable fireplace where parents can watch their children in the beginners area. Kids age five and under ski free every day, too.


Opening Day: November 17

Only 21 miles from Boulder, Eldora is a nearby resort perfect for learning to ski or introducing youngsters (age four to 14) to the sport. The resort offers learn to ride programs for all ages, and two multi-week children’s programs (Eldorables and TREK), as well as a Nordic center perfect for beginner skiers, and skate skiing and snowshoeing. Slow Zones are available on some of Eldora’s runs to ensure the safety of younger children.

Granby Ranch

Opening Day: December 15

Family owned and operated, Granby Ranch is only 90 miles from Denver, neighbored by Winter Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Granby is suitable for all abilities; plus all trails lead to the base so everyone in the family can ski at their own level without getting lost. At the end of the day, check out the fully lit night skiing and boarding facility for all ages. Granby promises all the amenities of a large ski resort, but without the crowds and hunting for parking. Parents can visit 8350, Granby’s “bar in the sky” after a long day on the slopes.

Howelsen Hill

Opening Day: November 25

Howelsen is home to one of the oldest ski jumping complexes in North America, having been open since 1915, and is often the training ground for Olympians. Families can ski and ride on alpine trails for all abilities, or spend a day exploring the mountain’s Nordic trails. Kids can also visit the ice arena, the only one in Colorado that offers bumper cars on ice.

Kendall Mountain

Opening Day: December 1

Kendall Mountain offers affordable family fun with 240 feet of vertical drop, 4 trails, a small terrain park, and one double chair lift. Concessions are offered when the lift is running and the ice skating rink is open as conditions permit. Skating, sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are allowed anytime. Kids six and under ski free.


Opening Day: November 10

Family comfort is abundant at this resort where families can reminisce about the day over fondue or on a Mountain Top Snowcat Tour. Family night skiing is available at Keystone, as well as a Family Ski Trail, and a snowball launch, where families compete for the longest launch and best aim. Kids can also visit Santa at the resort throughout the month of December, and families can enjoy snow tubing and scenic sleigh rides.


Opening Day: October 20

Front Range families looking to spend less time in the car and more time on the slopes can head to Loveland, just a quick hour-long drive (depending on traffic) from Denver. The mountain offers affordable lift tickets and season passes, plus free parking, on-site rentals, ski and ride school programs, and private family lessons. There are many events for families and children throughout the year including: free family race days, free child entertainment at Loveland Valley, and childcare for ages one and up, seven days a week.


Opening Day: November 22

Nestled under Colorado’s Continental Divide, just three hours from Denver, you’ll find 1,162 vertical feet of terrain on 100 percent natural snow. Getting there is hassle free—no need to deal with the congested I-70 corridor. Visitors can enjoy free parking and a unique family program where parents are taught skills to help their child learn to ski.


Opening Day: December 15

Powderhorn is offering discounted season passes through November 12, as part of an initiative to bring skiing to more people. Western Colorado’s lowest priced season pass program, Powderhorn’s season passes for individuals and families also include 50 free days at partnering resorts. Featuring over 1600 acres of terrain for all skill sets, this family-friendly resort offers scenic chair rides where you can hike the West Bench trail, hike down the mountain, or take a ride on the tubing hill on the weekend.


Opening Day: November 18

Situated in the San Juan Mountains near Durango, this family-friendly resort offers both steep trails and wide-open cruisers for all skill levels. Purgatory also offers tree skiing, thanks to the 250 inches of Colorado powder they receive on average every winter. For off-the-slope fun, families can enjoy tubing, dog sledding, snowshoe tours, and snowmobile adventures. New this season at Purgatory are scenic snowcap tours and dinners fit for families.


Opening Day: December 28

This one is definitely not for beginners; in fact, it’s only for advanced and expert skiers and riders. But if you’re experienced ski parents looking for a mountain thrill (sans kids, of course), this is the place. With only one chair lift, there’s ample terrain to explore either with a guide or on your own, and even a heli ski program running from January through March.


Opening Day: November 23

Snowmass has a variety of kid-friendly trails, plus group and private lessons; and children age six and under ski free. Snowmass is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year with $6.50 lift tickets on December 15, the same price as opening day 1967, as well as the Elk Camp Retro Party.


Opening Day: November 22

Families can take a private lesson together, and enjoy activities such as tubing, ice skating, sleigh rides, and night skiing, or check out one of the many family-friendly events held throughout the season. Kids 12 and under ski and rent free with the purchase of a five-or-more day adult lift ticket. The resort also offers a Snow Sports School and a Kids Vacation Center to keep kids entertained. Check out the Little Red Wagon service, where families can pick up a red wagon, load up the kids and equipment, and head off to their destination on the slopes.


Opening Day: December 8

Sunlight is an affordable option for families new to snow sports, and boasts fewer crowds than many other resorts. Parking is free and lines are never long, so families can get geared up and on the mountain in no time. After exploring the 700 skiable acres that Sunlight offers, families can grab a bite to eat or warm up with hot cocoa before heading out for the day. The resort also offers families the chance to snowshoe, cross-country ski, or take a snowmobile tour. After a long day on the slopes, visit the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool—which is kept at 90 degrees year round and spans three city blocks.


Opening Day: November 23

Telluride has a wide variety of terrain for all abilities, and offers free, family-friendly events and off-hill programming throughout the season. After a day on the slopes, kids can jump around the bounce houses at the Kids Zone while parents enjoy a drink at the bar. The Telluride Adventure Center provides day camps for kids ages five to 12, which connect kids to their environment and the world around them. Telluride also offers a Kids’ Night Out, where children can build crafts and play games while their parents enjoy a night out. There are family movie nights and live music throughout the season, and activities such as ice skating, snowbiking, and ice climbing. Telluride offers five and under ski free deals and discounted rates for kids ages six to 12.


Opening Day: November 17

Vail’s terrain is suitable for all abilities, with intermediate-friendly terrain off every lift and two beginner areas on the mountain. There are also Kid’s Adventure Zones located around the mountain offering kids safe, fun areas to explore. Check out Vail Snow Days, the kick-off event to the season, that hosts free live music, wellness opportunities, and family-friendly happenings. During the winter season, Vail hosts free live concerts, festivals, and the Open Snowboarding Championship.

Winter Park

Opening Day: November 15

Ski families can forego the I-70 gridlock starting January 5, 2018 by heading to Denver’s Union Station to hop on the Winter Park Express, which takes you right to the base of the mountain. Once there, sign the kids (ages three to 14) up for the multi-week ski school program, which allows kids to learn with the same instructor who knows from week-to-week exactly how far each student has progressed. There are also a number of free, kid-centric activities in the village like the eighth annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and visiting with Santa, as well as dog sled rides, a tubing hill, and ice skating.

Wolf Creek

Opening Day: November 3

Take a four-hour drive southwest of Colorado Springs and you’ll find ample fresh powder, short lift lines, free parking, and affordable ski school options in the beautiful San Juan Mountains. Wolf Creek offers a ski free program for fifth graders and a reduced cost program for sixth graders. Look out for their “Free Fun Race Series” for ages three and up that run throughout the season. These races have 14 different age brackets that will compete for Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals.

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