Best Places to Ski with Kids Near Denver


Winter in the season of adventure in the Rockies. Families from near and far eagerly embrace the snowy landscapes and thrills Colorado has to offer, seeking refuge from the city in beautiful mountain towns.

Fortunately, families in Denver have an array of options when they want to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy the splendor of an action-packed ski weekend with kids, without the commitment of a long drive. Whether you’re introducing your kids to skiing for the first time or looking for a new family tradition, the ski resorts around Denver provide the perfect backdrop for a winter wonderland experience. Here are five destinations you’ll want to consider for your next getaway. 

Best Places to Ski with Kids Near Denver

Arapahoe Basin aka A-Basin

Best for Laid Back Atmosphere, Budget-Friendly Skiing, and Families with Small Kids

A-Basin boasts a high elevation, long ski season (October – June), family friendly atmosphere, easy parking and crowd control as reasons why skiers should consider this destination for their next trip down the slopes. A give or take hour from Denver, Arapahoe prides itself on a casual, approachable atmosphere, where pretentiousness is left at the door. 

For those with first time or weary skiers, a huge draw of A-Basin is the beginner’s only area, called Molly Hagan. Unlike larger resorts, the front side of the mountain funnels to the base area, ensuring kids and first timers won’t be lost and can easily meet up. When I say affordable, I mean it. Passes start at $29, making it a smart choice when dealing with finicky kids in cold weather. Adjacent to Molly Hagan is some of the steepest terrains in the Rocky Mountains for advanced/intermediate skills or parents looking for fun while their children are in ski school. 

Priding itself on homemade food, the six different restaurants on A-basin will warm bellies without the steep price tag of nearby resorts. This makes up for the lack of on-site lodging for a weekend getaway. Its proximity, however, makes it a doable day trip. 

  • Distance from Denver: About 70 miles/1 hour and 15 minutes
  • Price: Affordable. $29 – $79 for a day pass. Tip: Purchase tickets ahead of time online, the earlier you purchase, the less you will pay!
  • Pros: One of the most affordable places to ski in Colorado. Laid back atmosphere. Molly Hagan is very close to the lodge, where kids can retreat when they need to warm up or rest their legs. 
  • Cons: For those prone to altitude sickness, this might not be the area for them. No on-site lodging, but a short drive from several close resort towns. 


Best for a Luxury Weekend Away, with the Best Restaurants and Amenities

The antithesis of A-Basin is Vail. It is luxury in every sense of the word, priding itself on high-end accommodations, world-class activities and 5-star restaurants. Being well known, and the largest in the state, means it comes with a handful of positives and negatives for families. 

With 5000+ acres to explore, there is something for everyone. Beginner and intermediate terrain will satisfy anyone’s need for ease or adventure while the Adventure Ridge is a huge draw for kids who are sick of skiing or snowboarding. It is equipped with tubing, snowshoeing, kids snowmobiling and ski biking. It is closed for the 23-24 season, but will hopefully reopen for next season. 

The town of Vail and its accompanying resort are lined with ice rinks, host restaurants on every corner, provide the finest of apres ski accommodations and offer hotels worth writing home about. There’s epic sliding hills, guides for dog sledding and just a short trip away from hot springs. It really does have it all.

With those kinds of amenities comes a steep price tag. Plan to pay a pretty penny, because you are receiving the best of what a Colorado ski town can offer. Also expect it to be crowded. Its reputation attracts tourists from all over, for good reason. 

  • Distance from Denver: About 90 miles/2 hours
  • Price: Very expensive. Day passes start at $186-$269 for a day pass. Tip: Tickets and crowd are significantly less during the week. 
  • Pros: Amenities are plentiful, scenery is beautiful. 
  • Cons: Price tag and crowds can deter a lot of budget-conscientious families. 

Keystone Resort

Best for Families Needing Lots of Kid-Centered Activities

Keystone Resort is a paradise for families seeking a mix of adventure and comfort. It has the amenities of Vail, but without the steep price tag. The Kidtopia program provides daily activities and even a weekly Ripperoo Parade featuring the area’s mascot. The resort’s gentle slopes make it an ideal starting point for young skiers, and dedicated learning areas ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Not to mention, lift tickets for kids 12 and under are free with two nights of booked lodging, with no blackout dates! If you’re looking for more of a challenge, check out the extensive A51 Terrain Park or their snowcat tours.

Other activities available for families include exploring the world’s largest snow fort (definitely worth checking out), tubing and ice skating. Lodging is on site, as are a multitude of restaurants and eateries. An extra special occasion might call for a sleigh ride to a chef prepared dinner at the Keystone homestead. 

  • Distance from Denver: About 70 miles/1 hour and 15 minutes
  • Price: $142-$210 for a day pass. Kids ski free when two or more nights of lodging are purchased.
  • Pros: On-site lodging, multitude of restaurants and activities for families to enjoy. 
  • Cons: A popular place means crowded slopes and it is more expensive than adjacent resort areas. 


Best No Frills Skiing Destination

If you’re looking for an authentic Colorado skiing experience without the crowds, Loveland Ski Area is the place to consider. Known for its affordability and family-friendly environment, Loveland provides ample opportunities for kids to learn and enjoy skiing. For beginners, there’s a specific area called Loveland Valley that gives them a separate area to learn without the pressure of better skiers flying past them. All of the terrain in the valley is designed for those who have little to no experience, making it a safe space to start. Those with more advanced skills can head to Loveland Basin for a more challenging course. 

A handful of restaurants make it easy to grab a bite, without the worry of long waits. A childcare center is on site and open for those with small kids who cannot fathom hanging outside in the cold all day. 

  • Distance from Denver: About 70 miles/1 hour and 15 minutes
  • Price: Range from $45-$149 for a day pass. 
  • Pros: Family friendly, reasonably priced and provide child care if needed.
  • Cons: Lack of on-site lodging. Georgetown is closest lodging within the area.

Monarch Mountain

Best for Those Wanting to Avoid Long Lift Lines

The furthest away from Denver on this list, Monarch Mountain is a perfect getaway for skiers and riders looking to avoid the crowds of the I-70 mega-resorts. The extra car time may be worth the scenic trip along the Continental Divide within the San Isabel National Forest. Families boast about Monarch because it’s manageable with a gaggle of kids by your side. The ease of everything feels like a breath of fresh air compared to the congested nature of places closer to Denver. A tubing park is available on-site for kids wanting to change up their terrain a little. Food options include a cafeteria, burrito food truck, coffee bar and full-menu saloon. 

The nearest lodging is in Buena Vista or Salida, both lovely places with hot springs to enjoy and an array of cute shops and restaurants. 

  • Distance from Denver: About 150 miles/2 hours and 50 minutes
  • Price: Online tickets are dynamically priced based on the day of your visit and will increase as visitation volume rises for that day. Purchase early for best pricing. Day passes start at $54-$74 and kids under 6 are free. 
  • Pros: Budget friendly, short lift lines and easy parking. 
  • Cons: It’s a no frills kind of place, with only a few restaurants and amenities. No on-site lodging.

It’s time to gear up, hit the slopes, and create lasting memories with your loved ones in the snowy paradise around Denver! What are your top ski destinations around Denver we should add to the list? 


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