Native Secrets: Inside Scoop on Skiing in Colorado

Colorado is a top ski destination for families.
Colorado is a top ski destination for families.

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.

What to Do in Winter Park

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.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado, at an elevation of 7,000 feet, has a strong skiing tradition and a Western heritage that stretches back a century.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

There are numerous other ski resorts within two hours of Denver, but if you’re willing to drive a bit, head for Steamboat, 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 more than 50 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.

Sunlight Mountain Resort

Sunlight Mountain Resort may not be huge, but it’s one of the most affordable resorts in the state. Best of all, it’s near the town of Glenwood Springs. Coloradans flock to this mountain town year-round to soak in the large natural hot springs. The accommodation options in Glenwood are not on the high-end, but the hot springs make up for the lack of luxury. There is something wonderful about sitting in a steaming spring in the quiet night, watching the snowflakes fall. What better way to relax after a hard day of skiing?

Now that you know these things, go enjoy the real Colorado – my compliments. Just remember, if any of the locals asks how you learned these insider secrets, please don’t mention my name. And remember, you never read this article.

If You Ski in Colorado

Colorado Ski Resort Guide

Information on Colorado

Daily ski conditions

How to avoid high-altitude sickness

* Take time to acclimate at lower elevations before heading to the high country.

* Drink lots of water (dehydration occurs quickly at high elevations).

* Eat foods high in carbohydrates.

* Take it easy the first few days.

* If you still encounter symptoms of high altitude sickness, such as headaches, nausea, or dizziness, go down to lower elevation for several days to acclimate.

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