Overlooking the main village at Beaver Creek
Ski season is here and Forbes Magazine recently came out with their rankings of the Top 10 Ski Resorts in North America, and it should come as no surprise that 5 of the 10 ski resorts are in Colorado. That inspired us to highlight 3 of our favorites where we’ve have great family ski vacations. Each of these resorts is unique and special for different reasons. Read on and see if one of these might be right for your family.
Breckenridge (“Breck”) is the closest to Denver of our three and one of our favorite ski towns. Period. Its Main Street is lined with great shops and restaurants and the ski mountain framing the view. When the snow starts to fall there is no place more beautiful. Breck has a great variety of restaurants from high-end to casual burger joints to fun family-friendly pizza shops. We can spend days visiting the many shops along Main Street.
We could wake up to the morning sunrise overlooking the Breckenridge ski mountain every day
While the mountain has many fans, it is not among our favorites to ski. We don’t get the same vibe from skiing Breck that we do at other great Colorado mountains. The ends of many of the runs flatten out for quite a while making arriving back to the ski lifts a bit of a chore - and a bore - just to meet the excessively long crowds waiting to go back up. Breck is also notoriously cold with its brisk wind and the locals appropriately nickname it “BreckenFridge”. We’ve had some great spring skiing days at Breck when the weather warms and the crowds thin, but during prime season there are better options only 30-45 minutes away. For those that want to combine a phenomenal town with generally good skiing, Breck is a decent choice. It is a great resort compared to most throughout the country, but the competition to other local mountains puts it a step behind in our opinion.
Our family’s favorite skiing is split between two of the top resorts on Forbes’ Top 10 list - Beaver Creek and Vail. Beaver Creek is a delightfully untraditional ski mountain. It is untraditional because the entire top of the main mountain are all green trails. This means beginners, or those looking to refine some skills on easier trails, can do so at the top of the mountain soaking in amazing views instead of the normal set-up of most other mountains where the green trails relegated to the bottom. Beaver Creek hosts annuals events on the World Cup ski circuit (including the World Cup Championship in 2015), so there are great trails of all levels, including large patches of black and double black for those looking to go more extreme. The blacks can be intense (you can follow in Lindsay Vonn and Bode Miller’s footsteps on its championship runs) and the blues are long and awesome.
Beaver Creek isn’t so much a town as a carefully designed village with restaurants, hotels, and condos surrounding the main square and its ice skating rink. Escalators throughout the town make getting to the gondola in ski boots easy (and if you want it even easier, you can borrow slippers to wear through town and leave your ski boots behind while you explore). Every day starts and ends with chef’s carrying sliver platters stacked high with Beaver Creek’s famous (and freshly baked) chocolate chip cookies. For kids, or the kid in you, there is no better way to begin or conclude your day!
The best way to start - and end - a ski day
Vail is one of the most popular ski destinations in the world for good reason. The village is large and first rate, with a postcard-worthy photo awaiting you around each corner. There are plentiful options for restaurants and shopping throughout the town for all budgets, from moderate to uber-lux. And as you might expect, the skiing is superb. And while many tourists find themselves glued to the greatness Vail offers on its mountain’s front-side trails, the real experiences happen on the backside in Vail’s legendary bowls. Visitors come from around the world to its bowls. The powder can be deep and the views spectacular where you could spend a day or a week and feel like you landed in heaven.
Forbes hit is right in their rankings with the number of Colorado ski resorts. Stay tuned for future articles on more details for each of the ski resorts, including top places to stay, eat, and have fun when not on the slopes.
Late season (June) high altitude skiing at its finest