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Start Of Skiing Season In Colorado: What You Need To Know


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Leann Rosado



Welcome to the beautiful state of Colorado, where adventure seekers and winter enthusiasts eagerly await the start of the skiing season. Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado offers breathtaking landscapes, pristine snow conditions, and world-class ski resorts that attract visitors from all around the globe.


Whether you’re a seasoned skier or a beginner looking to hit the slopes for the first time, Colorado has something for everyone. From gentle groomed trails to challenging backcountry terrain, the state’s diverse ski areas cater to all skill levels and preferences.


As the winter season approaches, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the key aspects of planning a skiing trip to Colorado. This article will provide you with all the information you need to make the most of your adventure. From weather conditions and opening dates to safety measures and apres-ski activities, we’ll cover it all.


So, grab your skis or snowboard, bundle up in your warmest gear, and get ready to experience the thrill of gliding down the slopes in one of the top ski destinations in the world. Let’s dive into the essential details that will ensure a memorable skiing trip in Colorado.


Weather and Snow Conditions

The weather and snow conditions play a crucial role in determining the quality of your skiing experience. Colorado is renowned for its bluebird skies and abundant snowfall, making it a haven for skiers and snowboarders.


Throughout the winter season, the weather in Colorado can vary significantly. In the early months of December and January, temperatures can be quite cold, with average highs ranging from 20°F to 35°F (-7°C to 2°C). However, as spring approaches, temperatures gradually rise, offering more pleasant skiing conditions.


Snowfall in Colorado is typically at its peak between December and March. The state sees an average annual snowfall of around 300 inches (762 cm), providing ample opportunities for fresh powder days and optimal skiing conditions. However, it’s essential to keep track of snowfall patterns and weather forecasts, as conditions can vary from one ski resort to another.


For the most up-to-date information on weather and snow conditions, check the websites and social media channels of the ski resorts you plan to visit. They often provide real-time reports on snowfall accumulation, base depths, and grooming updates. Additionally, you can find numerous weather forecasting websites and mobile apps that offer detailed forecasts specifically tailored to mountain regions.


Remember to dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Layering is key to staying comfortable on the slopes, as it allows you to adjust your clothing to accommodate changing temperatures throughout the day. Don’t forget to wear a waterproof and insulated jacket, pants, gloves, and a hat or helmet to keep yourself warm and protected from the elements.


By staying informed about the weather and snow conditions, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your skiing adventures in Colorado. Whether you prefer carving down freshly groomed runs or seeking out untouched powder in the backcountry, understanding the weather patterns will help you plan your skiing days and maximize your enjoyment on the slopes.


Opening Dates of Ski Resorts

One of the most anticipated moments for skiers and snowboarders is the opening of the ski resorts in Colorado. The exact opening dates may vary from year to year and depend on weather conditions and the readiness of the resorts. However, most ski resorts in Colorado typically aim to open their slopes sometime between late November and early December.


Some of the well-known ski resorts in Colorado, such as Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge, and Steamboat, have a reputation for being among the first to open each season. These resorts often invest in snowmaking infrastructure, allowing them to offer consistent ski conditions even when natural snowfall is limited.


It’s important to check the websites or contact the ski resorts directly for the most accurate and up-to-date information on their opening dates. They typically announce their opening plans well in advance, giving you time to plan your trip accordingly.


Keep in mind that the opening of certain terrain and lifts within the ski resorts may vary. In the early season, only a portion of the mountain may be accessible, with limited beginner trails and intermediate runs available. As snow conditions improve and more terrain is deemed safe, additional trails and lifts will gradually open.


If you have specific ski resorts in mind for your trip, consider subscribing to their newsletters or following them on social media. This way, you’ll receive timely updates on the opening dates, lift ticket deals, and any special events or promotions they may be offering.


Planning your trip to coincide with the opening of the ski resorts ensures that you’ll have a wide range of slopes to explore and enjoy. It’s also worth noting that early-season skiing can often come with discounted lift ticket prices and fewer crowds, allowing you to make the most of your time on the mountain.


Be sure to research and understand the opening dates and conditions of the ski resorts you plan to visit to ensure a smooth and enjoyable skiing experience in Colorado.


COVID-19 Safety Measures

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ski resorts in Colorado have implemented a range of safety measures to protect the health and well-being of guests and staff. These measures aim to ensure a safe and enjoyable skiing experience for everyone.


One of the most significant changes you’ll notice is the emphasis on physical distancing. Ski resorts have implemented measures to minimize crowding in lift lines, on chairlifts, and in indoor areas such as lodges, restaurants, and rental shops. This may include reduced capacity, increased spacing between individuals or groups, and the use of markers or signage to remind guests to maintain distance.


Face coverings or masks are typically required in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, including lift lines and on chairlifts. Ski resorts have implemented strict mask policies to help prevent the spread of the virus. It’s important to come prepared with your own mask and comply with the resort’s guidelines.


Enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols have been implemented throughout the ski resorts. High-touch surfaces such as handrails, doorknobs, and restroom facilities are regularly disinfected. Hand sanitizing stations are also readily available for guests to use throughout the resort.


Many resorts have adjusted their ticketing systems to minimize contact and encourage online or advance ticket purchases. This helps reduce lines and interaction at ticket windows. Additionally, some resorts have implemented reservation systems or time-slot allocations to manage capacity and ensure physical distancing on the slopes.


It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific COVID-19 safety guidelines and protocols in place at the ski resorts you plan to visit. These measures may vary from resort to resort, so be sure to check their websites or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information.


By adhering to these safety measures and guidelines, you can enjoy a safe and worry-free skiing experience in Colorado. Remember to stay informed, follow the regulations in place, and do your part to protect yourself and others while enjoying the slopes.


Lift Tickets and Passes

When planning a skiing trip to Colorado, one of the key considerations is obtaining lift tickets or passes to access the ski resort’s slopes. Lift tickets grant you access to the chairlifts and gondolas that take you up the mountain, allowing you to enjoy multiple runs and explore the terrain.


It’s important to note that lift ticket prices can vary depending on the ski resort, the time of year, and whether you purchase them in advance or on the day of your visit. Ski resorts often offer discounted rates for multi-day tickets, off-peak periods, or bundled packages that include other amenities such as equipment rentals or lessons.


Many ski resorts in Colorado encourage online or advance ticket purchases, especially during peak periods or holiday seasons. This not only ensures a smoother check-in process but can sometimes come with discounted rates or other benefits. Purchasing your lift tickets in advance also allows you to secure your spot on the mountain, particularly during times of limited capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions.


If you plan to ski in Colorado multiple times throughout the season, it may be worth considering a season pass. Season passes offer unlimited access to the ski resort for the entire winter season and often come with additional perks, such as discounted lift tickets for friends or family, access to other affiliated resorts, or priority lift line access.


It’s important to research the different types of passes available and determine which option best suits your skiing needs. Popular season passes in Colorado include the Epic Pass, Ikon Pass, and Rocky Mountain Super Pass, which provide access to multiple ski resorts within the state and even some international destinations.


Keep in mind that some ski resorts may have restrictions or blackout dates for certain passes, so be sure to review the terms and conditions before making your purchase.


Lastly, be aware of refund or cancellation policies. While lift tickets are typically non-refundable, ski resorts may offer options to change your date or receive a credit in case of unforeseen circumstances or resort closures due to weather or COVID-19 restrictions.


By planning ahead and understanding the options available, you can secure your lift tickets or season pass, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable skiing experience in Colorado.


Skiing Equipment Rental

If you don’t own your own skiing equipment or prefer not to travel with it, renting equipment from a ski shop is a convenient and practical option. Thankfully, Colorado is home to numerous rental shops that offer a wide range of high-quality skis, snowboards, boots, helmets, and other essential gear.


When choosing a rental shop, it’s important to consider factors such as location, reputation, and the quality of their equipment. Many ski resorts have rental shops conveniently located at the base area, making it easy to pick up and return your equipment before and after your day on the slopes.


It’s recommended to book your equipment rental in advance, especially during busy periods. This ensures that the shop will have the proper sizes and equipment available when you arrive. Many rental shops also offer online reservation systems, allowing you to browse their inventory and select your preferred equipment in advance.


When renting skis or snowboards, the rental technician will help you find the appropriate size and type based on your skill level and preferences. They will also adjust bindings to ensure proper fit and release settings for your safety. If you’re a beginner, let the technician know, as they may recommend equipment specifically designed for beginners to enhance your learning experience.


It’s important to note that rental rates can vary depending on the duration of your rental period. Most shops offer daily, multi-day, or weekly rates, so consider how many days you plan to ski when making your rental reservation. Additionally, some rental packages may include helmet rentals, so be sure to inquire about any additional safety gear you may need.


When you’re finished with your skiing adventure, return your rental equipment to the shop by the specified time. Rental shops typically have designated drop-off areas, making the return process quick and easy.


Remember to treat the rental equipment with care and return it in the same condition you received it. Any damage or loss may result in additional charges, so be mindful when using the equipment.


By renting equipment from a reputable ski shop, you can ensure that you have the necessary gear to enjoy a safe and exciting skiing experience in Colorado. Take advantage of the convenience and expertise offered by rental shops, allowing you to focus on the thrill of hitting the slopes without the hassle of traveling with your own equipment.


Skiing Lessons and Guides

Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the basics or an experienced skier wanting to improve your technique, taking ski lessons or hiring a guide can greatly enhance your skiing experience in Colorado. Skiing lessons provide valuable instruction from certified instructors, while guides offer insider knowledge and can take you to the best spots on the mountain.


Most ski resorts in Colorado offer a variety of ski lessons tailored to different skill levels and age groups. Group lessons are a popular choice for beginners, as they provide a fun and social atmosphere while learning alongside others of similar abilities. These lessons cover the fundamentals of skiing, including proper stance, turning techniques, and gaining confidence on the slopes.


If you prefer more personalized attention, private lessons are also available. Private lessons allow for one-on-one instruction and can be customized to meet your specific goals and skill level. This is a great option if you want to progress quickly or focus on specific aspects of your skiing technique.


For advanced skiers looking to tackle challenging terrain or venture into the backcountry, hiring a guide is highly recommended. Guides have extensive knowledge of the mountain and can lead you to the best powder stashes, off-piste runs, or exciting backcountry routes. They prioritize safety and can provide valuable insights into navigating unfamiliar terrain.


When booking lessons or hiring a guide, it’s important to do so in advance, especially during busy periods. Many ski resorts have online booking systems or dedicated ski school websites where you can browse available lessons, check availability, and make reservations.


Before your lesson or guided tour, it’s crucial to arrive on time and prepared. Dress appropriately for the weather conditions and wear suitable ski attire, including a helmet for safety. Bring any necessary equipment, including your own skis, boots, and poles, or arrange for rental equipment in advance.


By taking skiing lessons or hiring a guide, you can improve your skills, gain confidence on the slopes, and explore new areas of the mountain. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, investing in professional instruction or guidance enhances your skiing experience and allows for a more enjoyable time on the slopes of Colorado.


Accommodation Options

When planning your skiing trip to Colorado, it’s important to consider your accommodation options. Fortunately, the state offers a wide range of choices to suit every budget and preference, from luxurious slopeside resorts to cozy mountain lodges and vacation rentals.


Ski-in/ski-out accommodations are popular among avid skiers and snowboarders. These properties are located right on the slopes, allowing you to easily access the lifts and enjoy the convenience of stepping out of your accommodation and onto the mountain. Ski-in/ski-out accommodations vary in size and amenities, ranging from large resorts with multiple restaurants and amenities to smaller condos or cabins.


If you prefer more flexibility and the comforts of home, vacation rentals are a great option. You can find a variety of vacation rental properties throughout Colorado, including condos, townhouses, and private homes. Vacation rentals often provide fully equipped kitchens, living areas, and the convenience of multiple bedrooms, making them ideal for families or groups of friends.


For those seeking a more upscale experience, there are luxury resorts and hotels available near the ski resorts. These properties offer premium amenities such as spas, fine dining restaurants, and on-site ski valet services. Staying in a luxury resort allows you to pamper yourself and enjoy a luxurious retreat after a day spent on the slopes.


If you’re on a tighter budget, there are also affordable accommodation options available. Motels, budget hotels, and hostels can be found in and around the ski resorts, offering comfortable accommodations at a more affordable price. Keep in mind that these properties may not have all the amenities of upscale resorts but can still provide the essentials for a comfortable stay.


When choosing your accommodation, consider factors such as proximity to the ski resort, transportation options, and the amenities that are important to you. It’s also important to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak skiing seasons, to secure your preferred location and guarantee availability.


Many ski resorts offer package deals that include lift tickets and accommodations, so be sure to check for any available promotions or discounted rates. These packages can often save you money and provide additional perks during your stay.


By carefully selecting your accommodation, you can enhance your skiing trip by having a comfortable and convenient base for your adventures in the beautiful Colorado mountains.


Transportation to Ski Resorts

Getting to the ski resorts in Colorado is an important aspect of planning your skiing trip. Fortunately, there are various transportation options available to suit your needs, whether you’re traveling from within the state or from out of town.


If you’re flying to Colorado, the nearest airport to your chosen ski resort will likely be your best option. Denver International Airport (DEN) is the primary airport serving the region and offers numerous domestic and international flights. From the airport, you can rent a car, take a shuttle, or utilize public transportation to reach your destination. Many ski resorts also have convenient airport transfer services, making it easy to get from the airport to your accommodation.


For those who prefer not to drive, shuttle services provide a convenient and hassle-free mode of transportation. Several shuttle companies operate routes between major airports, such as Denver International Airport, and popular ski resorts in Colorado. These shuttles typically offer scheduled departures and pickups, making it easy to coordinate with your travel plans.


If you’re staying in a ski resort town, such as Aspen or Vail, public transportation within the town may be sufficient for getting around. Many ski resorts have free shuttle systems that can transport you from your accommodation to the slopes or other points of interest within the resort community.


Some travelers may choose to drive their own vehicle to the ski resorts. Colorado’s mountainous terrain means that roads can be steep and potentially hazardous during winter months. It’s important to be prepared for snowy and icy conditions and have appropriate snow tires or chains, especially if you’re driving in the mountains.


Additionally, carpooling with friends or using ride-sharing services can be a convenient and cost-effective way to reach the ski resorts. Some ski resorts even offer designated carpool parking areas and incentives to encourage environmentally friendly transportation.


When planning your transportation to the ski resorts, consider factors such as convenience, cost, and your comfort level with driving in winter conditions. Be sure to check the resort’s website or contact them directly for any specific transportation recommendations or options available at your chosen destination.


By choosing the right transportation method, you can ensure a smooth and stress-free journey to the ski resorts, allowing you to focus on enjoying your time on the slopes.


Apres-ski Activities

After a thrilling day on the slopes, it’s time to unwind and relax with some apres-ski activities. Apres-ski, a French term meaning “after skiing,” refers to the socializing and entertainment that takes place after a day of skiing or snowboarding. Colorado’s ski resorts offer a range of options to suit different tastes and preferences.


One of the most popular apres-ski activities is enjoying a drink or two at a slopeside bar or lounge. Many ski resorts have lively establishments where you can gather with friends, listen to live music, and exchange tales of your ski adventures. Sip on a hot mulled wine, indulge in a locally brewed craft beer, or relax with a signature cocktail while soaking in the mountain views.


If you’re looking for a more relaxed apres-ski experience, consider heading to a spa or wellness center. Treat yourself to a massage, rejuvenating spa treatment, or a soak in a hot tub or steam room. This is a perfect way to soothe your muscles and unwind after a day of skiing.


For the food enthusiasts, indulge in the local culinary offerings. Many ski resorts boast an array of dining options, ranging from casual cafes and food carts to upscale restaurants. Savor regional specialties, indulge in gourmet cuisine, or grab a quick bite to refuel for your next day on the slopes.


For those seeking adventure beyond the slopes, consider exploring other winter activities. Many ski resorts offer additional recreational options, such as snowshoeing, ice skating, snowmobiling, or even riding a scenic gondola to take in the panoramic views of the mountains.


If you’re traveling with family or non-skiers, there are often plenty of activities designed to entertain all ages. From indoor arcades and ice cream shops to snow tubing parks and children’s play areas, ski resorts endeavor to provide a fun and memorable experience for everyone in the family.


Lastly, don’t forget to take some time to simply relax and enjoy the beauty of the mountain environment. Take a quiet stroll through the resort village, marvel at the snow-covered peaks, or cozy up by a fireplace with a good book or board game.


Apres-ski activities are a special part of the skiing experience in Colorado. Whether you want to socialize, pamper yourself, indulge in delicious food and drinks, or explore other outdoor activities, there are ample options to suit your preferences and make your skiing trip truly unforgettable.


Tips for a Successful Skiing Trip

Planning a successful skiing trip requires careful preparation and consideration. Here are some essential tips to ensure your time on the slopes in Colorado is enjoyable and memorable:

  1. Check the weather and snow conditions: Stay updated on the weather forecast and snow conditions before you hit the slopes. This will help you choose the appropriate gear, plan your skiing days, and make the most of the conditions.
  2. Arrive early: To make the most of your skiing day, arrive early at the resort to beat the crowds and secure a good parking spot. This gives you ample time to get rentals, purchase lift tickets, and begin your adventure on the slopes.
  3. Dress in layers: Layering is crucial to stay comfortable on the mountain. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add insulating mid-layers, and finish with a waterproof and breathable outer layer. Don’t forget gloves, a hat or helmet, and goggles to protect against the elements.
  4. Stay hydrated and fueled: Skiing is a physically demanding activity, so be sure to drink plenty of water and eat nutritious snacks throughout the day to maintain energy levels. Pack water and snacks in your backpack, or take advantage of the on-mountain dining options.
  5. Know your limits: While it’s great to challenge yourself, it’s important to ski within your skill level and familiarity with the terrain. Respect signs and closures, and know when to take breaks to rest and recover.
  6. Practice safety measures: Follow the “Skier’s Responsibility Code” and adhere to resort guidelines and safety protocols. Be aware of other skiers around you, yield to those downhill, and keep an eye out for signage and markers.
  7. Take breaks and rest: Give yourself time to rest and recharge throughout the day. Take advantage of mountain lodges or designated rest areas to warm up, refuel, and take in the beautiful scenery.
  8. Protect yourself from the sun: Even on cloudy days, the sun’s rays can be strong at higher altitudes. Apply sunscreen to exposed skin, wear UV-protective goggles or sunglasses, and consider a neck gaiter or balaclava to protect your face from the cold and wind.
  9. Stay connected: Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and keep it in a secure pocket. It’s essential to have access to communication in case of emergencies or to stay connected with your group.
  10. Have fun and enjoy the experience: Remember, skiing is about having fun and enjoying the beauty of the mountains. Take time to savor the breathtaking views, capture memorable moments, and create unforgettable memories on and off the slopes.

By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared for a successful and enjoyable skiing trip in Colorado. Embrace the adventure, embrace the scenery, and embrace the thrill of gliding down the mountainside in one of the world’s premier skiing destinations.



Embarking on a skiing trip to Colorado is an exhilarating adventure filled with breathtaking landscapes, challenging runs, and unforgettable memories. Whether you’re a seasoned skier or a novice hitting the slopes for the first time, Colorado offers an abundance of opportunities and experiences for every skill level.


From the moment you arrive, the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and the thrill of carving through fresh powder will captivate you. The state’s renowned ski resorts provide world-class amenities, well-groomed slopes, and a variety of accommodation options to suit every taste and budget.


Planning a successful skiing trip requires attention to detail and careful consideration of factors such as weather conditions, lift tickets, equipment rental, and transportation. By staying informed, booking in advance, and following safety protocols, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience on the mountain.


However, skiing in Colorado is not just about the sport itself. It’s about embracing the apres-ski culture, unwinding with friends or family, and indulging in the culinary delights and vibrant entertainment that the ski resorts offer. From lively slopeside bars to soothing spas, there’s something for everyone to enjoy after a day on the slopes.


As you take in the panoramic views, breathe in the crisp mountain air, and feel the rush of adrenaline as you carve through the snow, you’ll understand why Colorado is a dream destination for skiers worldwide. So, gather your gear, prepare for an adventure, and let the mountains of Colorado beckon you to experience the thrill of a lifetime.


Whether it’s your first time skiing or you’re a seasoned veteran, Colorado’s majestic mountains and incredible ski resorts are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories and a desire to return again and again.