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How to get the most out of ski season: Denver edition
December 15, 2022

How to get the most out of ski season: Denver edition

Skiing combines fun and adventure with beautiful landscapes and fresh winter air. And it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels, from beginners to experts. Whether you're a daring jumper or a cautious glider, we've rounded up some of the best ski resorts near Denver that you can reach in just under two hours. Some are perfect for day trips, while others may beckon you to spend the night, or two.

We know a Denver ski vacation on a budget is not easy to pull off, especially with a family, so we've included a few affordable options as well as money-saving tips to help you make the most of your Denver ski getaway.

The best ski resorts near Denver 

Echo Mountain Resort: 36 miles (50 min.)

Echo Mountain Resort is Denver's closest ski resort, making it an ideal choice for a quick day trip from the city. As a small operation, it's also one of the cheapest places to ski near Denver. Echo Mountain is geared toward beginners, families and those with a little more experience under their belt, as the mountain is mostly intermediate terrain. If you’re just starting out, stick to the beginner’s area and, instead of paid lessons, “Echo Mountain Ambassadors" will offer practical advice and pointers at no extra cost. You can also ski at night there.

Loveland Ski Area: 56 miles (1 hr.)

Operating for more than 75 years, Loveland is best described as a no-frills ski resort, and as such, you can expect deals on passes, plus free snowcat lifts. The resort gets as much as 35 feet of snow per year, which is much more than any of the surrounding resorts. But don't expect fancy amenities, such as lodgings at the base. Instead, you’ll find restaurants and locals exchanging ski stories over beer and hot chocolate. The 1,800 acres of varied terrain cater to beginners and families (Loveland Valley), as well as to intermediate and advanced skiers (Loveland Basin). 

Eldora Mountain Resort: 48 miles (1 hr. 10 min.)

Unpretentious and friendly, Eldora is another excellent choice for those looking for skiing resorts near Denver. Although relatively small, it still challenges intermediate and expert skiers with advanced trails on Challenge Mountain through the Indian Peaks, Corona Bowl and West Ridge trails. Beginner-friendly trails are also available, as well as more than 20 miles of cross-country skiing.   

Arapahoe Basin: 64 miles (1 hr. and 10 min.)

If you are looking for advanced skiing terrain near Denver, make A-Basin, as the locals call it, your top choice. Thanks to elevations reaching 13,050 feet, it has one of the longest ski seasons, starting in October and ending in June. There are no accommodations here, so you'll have to stay in neighboring towns like Keystone, Silverthorne or Frisco.

Winter Park Resort: 66 miles (1 hr. and 15 min.)

Winter Park Resort is not only one of Denver's closest ski resorts, but also one of its biggest, with more than 3,000 acres of slopes and terrain parks. The resort has recently undergone structural updates, including new, faster chairlifts and renovations on the Sunspot Mountain Lodge. As an added bonus, you can reach the resort via a train that departs from Denver Union Station, saving you money on transportation and parking. 

Keystone Ski Resort: 69 miles (1 hr. and 20 min.)

Keystone stands out with many family-friendly programs and a Kidtopia play area. It also boasts one of the best terrain parks, featuring a dedicated lift. Family members who have yet to catch the skiing bug can pass the time skating, tubing and riding sleighs. Keystone Village is likewise lively and where you'll find an array of accommodations and dining options to turn your ski trip into a true Denver ski vacation. 

Copper Mountain Resort: 78 miles (1 hr. and 20 min.)

For some, skiing is as much a sport as a lifestyle. If you want the complete package, Copper Mountain Resort is up there with the best. It boasts a booming base area with lots of restaurants, shops, ample hotel choices and a packed events calendar that will keep you busy long after you finish on the trails. On the mountain itself, there are plenty of terrains and trails to choose from for both beginners and expert skiers. 

Breckenridge Ski Resort: 81 miles (1 hr. and 35 min.)

This resort spans five mountains and, at 12,840 feet, has the highest chairlift in North America. With 35 lifts and 187 trails, you likely won't encounter lines here. However, as an extremely popular destination, the resort sets a limit on day lift tickets to prevent overcrowding. Breckenridge itself is a big draw, with Victorian buildings housing restaurants, shops and lovely hotels. Definitely make a long weekend out of your trip here.

Granby Ranch: 86 miles (1 hr. and 40 min.)

This family-owned ski resort is another spot well suited for families whose members have varying skill levels. A local favorite, the resort has easy, intermediate and advanced trails across its East and West Mountains. And when the sun sets, the lights go on for night skiing. You'll find plenty of local hotels to spend the night, though you won't find an abundance of post-skiing nightlife.

Money-saving tips 

Book fast: Many resorts offer discounts on advance online purchases. If you're flexible, ski during the week for off-peak prices. Or save money buying resort bundle packages.

Rent local: Although renting gear at ski resorts is convenient, it usually includes a higher cost. You can get cheap ski clothes by renting from local outfitters in Denver, or buy used gear if you plan to ski through the season.

Pack your lunch: Bring your own meals, drinks and snacks to avoid expensive food at the base. 

Want to save even more while skiing near Denver?

Even the closest ski resorts to Denver require a car. And unexpected car rental expenses can put a dent in your budget. When you borrow a vehicle from Avail, however, our affordable and upfront pricing already includes insurance coverage from Allstate, as well as 24/7 roadside and customer assistance. Our express check-in will get you on your way fast when you’re picking up a car from one of our many neighborhood locations throughout Denver. Skip the long rental counter line this ski season by booking with Avail and you’ll be on the road to hit the slopes in no time.