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7 Questions to Ask Yourself as You Plan a Colorado Ski Vacation

Planning a ski trip isn’t just about picking a destination and looking for the best deals in town. With so many Colorado ski resorts in locations throughout the state, you’ll find a lot of different options. And depending on where you end up, you’ll discover that the town, the mountain, and the lodging that you choose can have a wide range of strengths and weaknesses. For some travelers, staying in a bed & breakfast in the town of Crested Butte is going to be the perfect vacation while for others, a slopeside vacation rental at Vail fits the bill. In order to truly get the most out of your Colorado ski vacation, it’s important to think about what you are hoping to experience during your stay.

Here are seven questions to help you figure out the best possible ski vacation in Colorado this winter:

1. What kind of terrain do you want to ski or snowboard?

Colorado Ski VacationWhen you’re putting together your ski plans, it’s easy to assume that all mountains are going to provide basically the same terrain. It’s true that pretty much anywhere you go you’ll find a mix of easy, moderate and expert terrain, but thinking about doing a little advance research will help you to find a ski destination that better matches your ability level and preferred skiing or snowboarding style. Planning to try skiing for the first time ever? Look for a mountain with plenty of trails marked “green”, a good ski school, and several “magic carpet” style lifts. Want some big mountain back bowls? Look for a mountain where most of the terrain is above tree line. It also never hurts to read reviews of ski resort to see what people are impressed with and what they feel a given mountain is lacking.

2. What ski conditions are ideal for your family or group?

Most Colorado ski resorts like to push the idea of getting endless powder days, and while many people crave just that, you may decide that you’re looking for different conditions. Parents with young children who are learning to ski will probably prefer the very end of the season when the days are warm and sunny, plus the crowds are thinner. Skiers who mostly stick to groomed trails may want to come early in the season when there less likelihood of fresh snow on trails that are normally groomed. While there’s no perfect prediction for when it will snow, think carefully about what kind of ski day you like best and review typically winter weather patterns before deciding when to go on a ski vacation. 

3. What’s truly the most important part of your trip?

Colorado Holiday VacationSure, you’re going skiing this vacation, but decide whether hitting the slopes is your top priority. Perhaps you’re equally excited about enjoying the nightlife in the ski town you’re going to visit. Maybe you really just want a great Christmas or spring break getaway and your focus is on the events going on while you’re there. Once you know what the most important part of your trip is, you’ll be able to narrow down where you want to stay. Diehard skiers will benefit from staying slopeside, while others may prefer to find lodging close to restaurants or local attractions.

4. What are you going to bring, and what will you need when you arrive in Colorado?

If you don’t have ski gear, you already know you’ll have to rent or buy once you arrive. If you have your own gear, you’ll have to decide whether you want to bring it with you or if you are going to rent. Be sure to make this decision before you start making any reservations, as you can often score better deals when you package rentals with lodging and lift tickets. Speaking of lift tickets, if you plan early enough, you can sometimes find deals on season passes or “four packs” for less than purchasing a full week’s worth of single day tickets.

5. How will you spend your free time?

Colorado SnowboardingEven the most hardcore skiers can only spend so many hours on the slopes before the lifts close for the day, so consider what you’ll do with the rest of your time. Do you dream of soaking in a hot tub every evening? Heading for the nearest club to catch live music? Taking a day to do a snowmobile tour or dog sledding? Deciding how you’ll spend your free time means you can research resorts with the amenities you want or that is close to the activities that you most want to do. Consider asking for recommendations on nearby activities when you book your lodging, as well.

6. How will you get to your Colorado ski destination?

Destinations like Aspen and Steamboat have airports just minutes away while other resort towns, like Winter Park and Keystone involve taking the highway from Denver. Decide if you want to fly the whole way, combine flying with driving or catching local transportation, or if you want to drive from home to Colorado. There are advantages and disadvantages to all three, but once you’ve decide what you prefer, you’ll be able to narrow down the list of possible destinations.

7. How much time can you spend in Colorado?

When planning any kind of vacation, it can be tempting to create an endless list of things to see and do. Evaluate how long you can stay for, then put together a list of what you think you can reasonably accomplish in that time. You don’t want to stress yourself out trying to fill your day with too much when you’re trying to enjoy a relaxing getaway. If try not to schedule more than one or two activities per day, then you’ll find it much easier to truly appreciate them.

Now that you’ve narrowed down exactly what you want in a ski vacation, you’ll find it much easier to finalize your vacation plans. And once you get into town, you’ll discover you’ve planned the perfect Colorado ski trip.

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