Native Secrets: Inside Scoop on Skiing in Colorado

The best value at Winter Park is undeniably the Galloping Goose, a slow-moving lift for beginners located at the base of Mary Jane. For just a few dollars, the lift provides all-day access to a gentle-sloping hill just perfect for learning to ski or board. Ages five and under are free.

Accommodations are easy to find in Winter Park and in the nearby towns of Granby and Fraser, where the rates are even better. If you tire of skiing, there is a lot to do here. Try snow tubing at Fraser Tubing Hill or go to Grand Adventures, which offers dog sledding, snow mobiling and horse-drawn sleigh rides. Cross-country skiing is available at Latigo Ranch, a western dude ranch in nearby Kremmling. Latigo is also open to the public for hearty lunches. Here is perhaps the biggest insider secret: You don’t have to pay the listed retail price for ski lift tickets. Instead, buy discount lift tickets for many resorts in Denver at grocers like King Soopers or ski outfitter Christy Sports.

Discounts vary, depending on the time of year. Children are less expensive, of course. And during the spring months of March and April, children sometimes ski free. Check the website of each resort for details.

There are numerous other ski resorts within two hours of Denver, but if you’re willing to drive a bit, head for Steamboat Springs, another local favorite. Tucked away in the secluded Yampa Valley 160 miles (257 km) from Denver, this laid-back town of 10,000 treasures its western heritage, so don’t be surprised to see skiers in cowboy hats. Skiing is in the blood here; Steamboat Springs has produced 54 Olympic skiing champions.

If budget is your chief concern, try Ski Cooper or Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort. Ski Cooper bills itself as the “friendliest” and the most “affordable family ski resort.” Located 100 miles (160 km) from Denver in the San Isabel National Forest, Ski Cooper is a good option for those who want to escape the crowds. You can stay in the nearby former mining town of Leadville, which is a unique experience all its own.

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