Crested Butte Mountain Resort's Kids Night Out lets mom and dad hit the town while the kids visit the resort's Adventure Park with a Zero Gravity BagJump, rock-climbing wall and bungee tramps, as well as enjoy dinner and games. The resort also has trails especially for kids, including one that winds through the trees, as well as its own mini Elk Avenue (Crested Butte’s Main Street) with façades along the trails for kids to ski through and play in. Kids can also ski through a bear cave, Forest Service lodge and gold-mining building.
Friday nights during ski season, bring your family to Elk Camp, Snowmass' on-mountain restaurant, which transforms on Ullr Nights into a nighttime winter wonderland with events Ullr’s Ghost Ship made of snow with lights and a slide, a Viking sledding hill, snowshoe tours as well as s’mores and hot chocolate by the bonfire. Snowmass Village is also home to the Treehouse Kids Adventure Center, which offers child care with themed playrooms, as well as ski and snowboard lessons. Many evenings, kids can gather 'round the campfire for Old West storytelling and marshmallow roasting.
We can't mention Beaver Creek without giving a shout-out to its innovative 3pm cookie program: Warm cookies served at the end of the ski day as you leave the slopes and head to apres activities. In addition to this delight, there's also on-hill story time, Thursday-night lights (a glow-stick ski procession followed by fireworks), a tubing hill, ice-skating and the Marmot Maze. For those who are distinctly NOT KIDS, the Beaver Creek Loves Teens Too! program has evening activities only for teens — a twilight snowshoe and pizza party, night tubing at Vail's Adventure Ridge and a Teen Trick Class at The Anti-Gravity Center in nearby Edwards.
Keystone Resort's Kids Ski Free program for families gets the little one on the slopes when their families stay two or more nights in Keystone. While there, the fam must be sure to take advantage of all the Kidtopia activies — face painting, fort building, scavenger hunts, cookie hour, disco tubing, and more. There's also a Sunday Pajama Brunch throughout the season at Bighorn Bistro. For unparalleled ease, there's also the Free Family Front-Row Parking, just steps from the gondola. Other family amenities include wagons/gear chauffeurs to help guests transport gear to and from the lifts and the Family Ski Trail, where kids can ski with Keystone's beloved mascot, Riperoo, and might see an appearance by the resort's avalanche rescue dogs.
Winter Park's Family Easy Start program lets whole families take ski or snowboard lessons together at the Private Lessons Center. Packages include rentals, lift tickets and half- or full-day instruction, as well as the ability to spend the day together in the same class. At the end of the day, head to the Coca-Cola Tubing park, which is open into the evening, for hot chocolate, four tubing lanes with a conveyer lift (perfect for tired ski legs!) and a warming hut.
Many of Vail's offerings for the little ones center around Adventure Ridge, a mountain-top snow park reach by gondola with activities from ski biking and tubing to a mini-snowmobile course, zipline, bungee tramp and Bistro 14, a kid-friendly place to grab a meal. Adventure Ridge is open well into the evening, so it's the perfect add-on to the end of the ski day. As part of Vail's Curious Critters Ski School, Walking Mountains Science Center Naturalists give kids slope-side nature lessons about the Rocky Mountains that surround them.
Copper also has an excellent Kids Night Out program, with three hours of free child care with games, crafts and movies while parents hang in the resort. At the base of the resort's tubing hill, you'll find Critterland, home to a tubing carousel and mini tubing hill, a snow den with tunnels to scamper through and other pint-sized activities. Woodward at Copper’s Barn, an indoor playground with year-round ski, skate and bike programs offers ramps, foam pits and fly-bed tramps for those of all skill levels to practice tricks for their next trip down the mountain. For some friendly competition, Copper Mountain also offers Alpine Rush Zip Line where two riders can soar side-by-side 30 feet above the West Lake ice skating rink up to 30 miles per hour.
Known as Ski Town U.S.A., Steamboat Springs has become one of the best family ski resorts in North America with options on and off the slopes for kids. Steamboat provides the perfect environment for kids and families learning how to ski with kids-only magic carpet lifts, private full- and half-day lessons for the whole family, and Sunshine Family Trail's Snow Monsters, Steamboat Olympians and other characters along the way. Their Red Wagon program is a way to help families loaded down with gear get to and from the slopes without any cryin'. And once you get your brood back to your lodging and settled, there's no need to put the boots back on — have your groceries delivered and sit down to family dinner without any fuss.
Purgatory (formerly Durango Mountain Resort) also has a Kids Ski Free package, which kicks in when parents book three nights and purchase lift tickets for themselves. The resort recently opened Burton Riglet Park, a snowboard terrain park perfect for learning how to board in a playground-like setting. The Polar Express returns to the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a Christmasy ride where kids get into their PJs for hot cocoa and cookies and a reading of the Polar Express before a visit to the “North Pole” where they are greeted by Santa and his helpers, Christmas carols and a Sleigh Bell gift. Durango Mountain Resort offers hour-long dog sledding with Durango Dog Ranch, where riders speed along the Old Flume Trail pulled by Siberian and Alaskan huskies.
With oodles of wide, gentle trails at the base of Peak 8 and Peak 9, there's plenty of room for new skiers to get things off to the right start at a relaxed pace. Off the slopes, there's ice-skating, an Alpine slide, a mountain-top children's museum, lots of family-friendly dining spots and other activities. For the competitive family, Breckenridge participates in EpicMix (as do Vail, Beaver Creek and Keystone), a mobile app that keeps track of the vertical feet your family has covered, lessons completed, lift rides taken and many other ski-vacation stats to boast about when you return home. For older kids skiing without their parents, it'll tell you where on the mountain they last checked in — all they need to do is wear their EpicPass.
A few miles south of Glenwood Springs, Sunlight Mountain Resort covers 680 acres of skiable terrain, including one of the longest runs in the state. Friendly and affordable, it's a spacious place to hone ski skills. Starting at $99, their Ski Swim Stay package offers a lift ticket, admission to the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, slopeside or in-town lodging and free skiing for kids 12 and under with a paying adult. Sunlight also hosts a Family Snowmobile Tour short enough (one to one and a half hours) to keep everyone interested. Learn more about Colorado's smaller ski areas >>