A great winter Rocky Mountain vacation includes a ski trip to one of the fabulous resorts in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Skiing began as a necessary means of transportation during the gold rush of the 1830s. Deep snow made roads and trails impassable, so immigrants from the Scandinavian countries showed the miners how to use skis and snowshoes to get around in the mountains. Even the postman delivered on skis!
Some of the more exclusive ski resorts include Aspen, Vail, Beaver Creek, and Telluride. The rich and famous from all over the world come here to ski and to enjoy a Rocky Mountain vacation in the spectacular scenery. Five-star hotels and gourmet meals are readily available at any of these resorts.
Other resorts that offer some of the best skiing in Colorado make up The Gems. These somewhat lesser known ski areas can offer you a great ski experience at family prices. The Gems include ski areas at Arapahoe Basin, Eldora, Loveland, Monarch Mountain, Ski Cooper, Echo Mountain, Powderhorn Resort, SolVista Basin, and Sunlight Mountain.
At the Gems you can get more Rocky Mountain vacation than you expect. Because these areas tend to be less crowded, you have less wait time for a lift to the top and more trails to ski. Each of these ski areas has its own character, so do a little research first and select the one fits your style best.
Where to stay on your Rocky Mountain vacation can be a tough decision. You can choose from five-star hotels, chain hotels, bed and breakfast inns, condos, and lodges in all price ranges. If you stay at one of the ski resort areas you might choose one with easy mountain access. A variety of rooms and suites is available at many locations. Some have in-house restaurants and all are near a wide variety of dining options, from romantic dinners for two to family dining that everyone will enjoy.
Some ski areas offer special ski packages that include transportation, room, lift tickets, and lessons. Some also offer free activities like snowshoeing and ice skating with room rental. You can enjoy Alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports on your Rocky Mountain vacation. Try one or try them all!
Another consideration when planning your Rocky Mountain vacation is transportation. If you fly into Denver International Airport, do you want to rent a car, or ride one of the resort shuttles? If you want to spend more time vacationing and less time driving, or if you want to avoid driving snow packed mountain roads, you might want to fly into one of the seven regional airports that serve these mountain communities.
With more than 11.5 million skiers hitting the slopes each year, you might also want to think about when to come for your Rocky Mountain vacation. Ski season begins as early as October in places like Loveland Ski Area, Arapahoe Basin, and Silverton. The higher elevation, early snow storms, and snow making equipment help skiers get an early start in these areas.
The early season at other ski areas runs from November through most of December. The skiing is generally good, but the crowds are larger for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. If you want to find a ski bargain, wait until January. Many resorts offer discounted packages to attract post-holiday skiers. You can get a lot more Rocky Mountain vacation for your money if you shop around.
February and March are generally the stormiest months in the mountains. The snow falls fast and deep. The slopes are packed with skiers looking for fresh powder. Mid-March and most of April bring spring break crowds, but again, most resorts offer bargains on ski packages, so you might want to consider planning your Rocky Mountain vacation this time of year.
The real beauty of a Rocky Mountain vacation is that you can ski almost all year round. Many resorts are often open until late June or early July, depending on the spring storms. You could have two vacations at once, skiing at the higher elevations and whitewater rafting farther down the valley.
Packing for your Rocky Mountain vacation any time of the year should include layers of clothing. It might be 85 degrees and sunny in Denver, but it can be 30 and snowing along the Continental Divide. Sunscreen and lip balm with 25 SPF or higher is a must. The sun is intense in the higher elevations, even when it is cloudy. Sunglasses that provide UV protection are also a necessity. The glare from the snow can be blinding, and you really do want to see where you are going.
Winter is a great time to enjoy a Rocky Mountain vacation. There are many resorts to choose from that will fit your personal style and budget. Many offer special packages that can help you stretch your vacation dollars. A little thought and planning can help you create a perfect ski experience for yourself and your family. Come and ski Colorado!