advice for short ski trip to Colorado

Old Aug 23rd, 2002, 12:09 PM
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advice for short ski trip to Colorado

Hi. My friend (So. Carolina) and I (So. California) are planning to get together this winter to do a few days of skiing in Colorado. We are intermediate skiers on New England snow, though it's been a few years. Can anyone recommend a ski area within driving distance of Denver that might offer reasonably-priced (under $200/night) slopeside lodging at a mountain that we can handle? Also, we are pretty flexible on when to go but we want to go by the end of February. Is early December ski-able? I would imagine that late January crowds would be smaller than February crowds, but I'd like to hear from folks who may have some ideas on that.

Also, do we need to get a car or can we get transportation to/from DIA? Is that something readily available at the airport or would we be advised to make arrangements in advance for that sort of transportation?

Thanks in advance.
Old Aug 23rd, 2002, 12:30 PM
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Look at Breckenridge/Keystone areas. You can get a van from the airport. You'll love the skiing--no ice!!
Old Aug 23rd, 2002, 12:31 PM
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I can't answer your questions on slopeside accommodations for under $200 as I stayed with a friend, but as a former New England skier who skied CO for the first time this year, I can tell you, YOU ARE IN FOR A TREAT! I absolutely couldn't get over the snow conditions, and they weren't even that good this past winter...but sooo much better than even the best of our days in New England! You'll think you've died and gone to heaven. Hang the price, find a way, and go for it.

I skied Copper, and yes there was a shuttle leaving Denver airport for that area, and it was quite reasonable. Copper itself is nicely divided according to ability, and true novices can have an area to themselves, as can blues and blacks. There is no confusion as to what's what. I was a decent skier looong ago, skiing for the UMass ski team, but I had not skied in 37 years before this trip. It took a day to get my sea legs back, but then it was fine and just spectacularly beautiful skiing. The slopes are so well groomed--you can ski moguls if you want them or choose slopes that are free of them--not an option I had in New England. And yes, I'm hooked all over again.

Hope you can put the trip together. CO skiing is such a treat for those of us who cut our teeth on New England slopes.
Old Aug 23rd, 2002, 12:43 PM
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Look into a Keystone Condo. You can book right on their website. Resort Shuttle takes you from DIA to Keystone. Shuttles take you everywhere within the resort that you don't walk to.
Old Aug 23rd, 2002, 12:54 PM
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Closest and usually cheapest is Winter Park. It now has slopeside lodging, but no village at the base. The town is a mile or two away. Otheres are further, but Breckenridge has a large town at base. Keystone has village at base. Each has a range of slopes for all abilities.

You can rent direct from condo owners via such sites as and others.

December is iffy for quantity and quality of snow. We went the week before Christmas a couple of years ago and only part of the resorts were open with lots of exposed rock and ice. January and February tend to have more snow, colder temps, and smaller crowds except MLK holiday and Presidents Day holiday.

Several private van services run from the Denver airport to the resorts. Once you pick a resort you will want to contact them for prices and hours. Some run at specific times and do not run very early or late. You will want a reservation. We have always found the price for two riding shuttle is more than renting car, but it depends on how many days, size of vehicle, etc. as well as your comfort level for driving in snow versus waiting for buses.
Old Aug 23rd, 2002, 01:23 PM
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Thanks so much for your responses so far. You've given me some direction for further research. I'm really looking forward to the trip. I'll keep checking the responses here in case any more of you would like to chime in with your thoughts. Thanks again!
Old Aug 26th, 2002, 06:40 AM
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Mlhk, yes both Keystone and Breck will be fine. Breck is typically more crowded than Keystone though. If your flexible 200.00 is doable, check out
for some prices. Its anyones guess how the snow will be in early Dec.
Some years Great some not so good.
Old Aug 26th, 2002, 06:45 AM
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Just a reminder...

NH/VT skiing is at the 4000 foot level, give or take.

In the Colorado rockies, you're on the continental divide, with some summits over 10,000 feet.

Make sure you get into shape before you go, or you'll have a very high cost per run.

Have a ball!
Old Aug 26th, 2002, 06:47 AM
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Drive 1 and 1/2 hours to Vail, the best mountain in the US or take a van. Stay at the Evergreen Lodge. Not fancy but well located and clean and reasonable.. Downtown Vail has the best dining and shopping after a great day on the mountain,.
Old Aug 26th, 2002, 07:26 AM
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copper is great, but far! about 2.5 hrs from dia...keystone is kind of tuff if you haven't ski'd for awhile...breckenridge is good for all abilities and big enough to satisfy...i would wait until at least january...check out their websites...if you book early, you can save money...have fun!
Old Aug 26th, 2002, 01:53 PM
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We've been to Winter Park many times - only 1 and 1/2 hours from Denver and we always take a shuttle. You don't need a car in Winter Park as they have a free shuttle that takes you anywhere. We have stayed at a place called Woodspur Lodge - price includes breakfast and dinner. It is not fancy, but definitely very cozy and comfortable. The people are so nice and they will drive people over to the ski area a few times a day and back - only a 10 minute ride. So nice not to have to go out for dinner when you get back from skiing! Big common area with fireplace and homemade cookies and hot chocolate when you get back from skiing in the afternoon. I think they have a website. Skiing at Winter Park - great! It is a huge area with something for any ability level. Email me if you have further questions.
Old Aug 29th, 2002, 07:14 AM
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Think I could count on snow for the Thanksgiving weekend in Co? Keystone sounds good? I am a 3rd year skiing and looking for good green and easy blue trails. Only every skied on the east coast but frequently for the past two winters.
Old Aug 29th, 2002, 07:37 AM
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Keystone has fairly extensive snowmaking, so probably okay at Thanksgiving. The front mountain (there are 3 at the area-Keystone, North Peak and the Outback)has lots and lots of greens and blues. There are blues on the other two but they are more advanced. If you don't ski North Peak, it's still worthwhile to take the gondola to the Outpost Restaurant for lunch (also open for dinner) - good food and great views!

The web site has lots and lots of Keystone rentals direct from owners listed. Also, compare renting a car with the shuttle. Shuttle should be cheaper for 2, but rental car is usually cheaper for 3 or more.
Old Aug 29th, 2002, 07:45 AM
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Thanks Plummie I will be going alone and I don't drive so I need to get around without a car. Will that be tough?
Old Aug 29th, 2002, 07:45 AM
John in Miami
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I lived in Summit County (Breckenridge/Keystone/Copper) for 6 years and drove airport shuttles to/from Denver. It's an absolute paradise in both winter and summer.

If you're going to Copper Mtn, Breckenridge or Keystone, take the "Resort Express" shuttle. Their website is For Vail, take "Colorado Mountain Express." For Winter Park, I think the company is "Home James." All will take you from the airport to the door of your hotel/condo in a 10 passenger van for a reasonable price.

As for skiing and snow conditions, early December is hit or miss. It is doubtful that any of the resorts will be 100% open at that time. Keystone usually begins snowmaking in late October and would likely have the most verticle terrain open. Copper is my personal favorite because the terrain is naturally divided. The west side is beginner area, the middle is intermediate and the east is expert. The base area is easy to get around and the atmosphere is laid back and casual. Keystone gets crowded with people from Denver and Breck is a pain with the parking and the (sometimes) necessary buses you have to take to get to your condo.

January is usually the quietest time. That's because it is also the coldest time. I've skiied many January days where the temp on the mountain was -20 F during the day. Brrr! The busiest time is March due to spring break. The BEST time to go is April. Spring break is over, the crowds are gone and the heavy snows usually come in late March & April.

Based on your ski ability, budget, lack of crowds and ease of local transportation, I'd recommend the areas in the following order:
1. Copper Mtn.
2. Keystone
3. Breckenridge
4. Winter Park
5. Vail

Regardless of where you go, they are all world class resorts. Enjoy your trip to Colorado!

John (now) in Miami
Old Aug 29th, 2002, 07:46 AM
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Sarah agree with Plummie the past 2 years we have had lots of snow in November. Nov is typically one of the snowiest months of the year. Keystone will be one of the first to open due to snowmaking. Vrbo is a good site as is for both lodging and general info.

BTW one of my fav easy runs at keystone is Spring Dipper its a blue but barely. School Marm gets to crowded so I think its harder than Spring Dipper.
Old Aug 29th, 2002, 07:50 AM
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Sarah if you stay in town at either Breck or Keystone you will not need a car. We go to Keystone allot and many times never use the car till it is time to go home. At Keystone the base at Mountain House or River Run would be best though the free shuttle runs through the entire resort.
Old Aug 29th, 2002, 07:58 AM
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thanks coskier I don't know why I was never able to get this info last winter. This is great!

Any predictions for winter I know they are predicting a dry winter in Hawaii as a result of ElNino hope this does not say anything about the winter in Co.
Old Aug 29th, 2002, 09:22 AM
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Sarah, you are welcome! Predictions have us at normal snow levels, hope that is true!
Old Aug 29th, 2002, 10:01 AM
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we've been to breckenridge a number of times at the very end of january and it is not crowded and great skiing; if you are going only for a few days, be very careful about the altitude. time difference will also complicate things. drink plenty of water and don't over do it the first day. members of our family have learned this the hard way.
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