Vibe: Low-key, fun-focused opportunity for kids to catch the skiing and snowboarding bug
Travel time: Just over 7 hours from Denver (including bathroom breaks); you’ll want to plan your trips ahead of time.
TIP: If you regularly ski Purgatory and you have a tiny tot who will need supervision at the lodge, opt for the Parent Share Pass. The season pass allows two parents with a child age three or younger to hand off one single pass rather than buy two separate ones.
Offering a bit of adventure, a whole lot of outdoor time, and options for novices and experts alike, ski trips have long been considered a quintessential family vacation. Yet after factoring in the expense of gear, lessons, and lift tickets, a family outing to the slopes might be fun in theory, but cost-prohibitive in reality. Purgatory Ski Resort offers the Power Kids Pass to change that.
The updated season pass grants free, unlimited skiing and riding to all kids age 12 and under, with no blackout days and no deadline for purchase—it’s the only season pass in North America like it. For adults, Purgatory does demand-based pricing with discounts during the slower days, and for buying your tickets in advance online, starting at $49. “At the end of the day, we want to remove barriers for families to make sure that kids can get on the slopes,” says Amanda Anderson, Purgatory’s director of marketing.
Situated just over 30 minutes north of Durango, Purgatory Resort features 12 lifts and 105 trails across 1,635 skiable acres—more than half of it beginner- and intermediate-friendly terrain. Given the ski destination’s off-the-beaten-path location, lift lines are rarely an issue.
Purgatory’s centrally located base area makes it easy for families to collect their tickets, pick up the kids’ rental equipment, hit the bathroom, and then jump on a lift. The Twilight, Columbine, or Graduate lifts take you to a bevy of beginner-friendly options. When the family is ready for après-ski, grab a beverage from the Bear Bar & Grill and enjoy some afternoon rays in one of the Adirondack chairs on Purgatory Beach, the expanse between Purgatory Express and Twilight lifts.