Colorado is a skier’s paradise! With dozens of ski resorts, many of which are ranked among the best in the world, Colorado stands out among other states as the ideal winter destination for those looking to plan a ski trip.
For beginners eager for their first foray into the sport of skiing, the state’s slopes present an ideal starting point. From gentle green runs that encourage confidence-building to beginner-friendly amenities, we’ve laid out the best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners.
This guide ranks the best beginner ski resorts in Colorado based on mountain stats, and our personal experience skiing in Colorado as a family.
Our experience skiing in Colorado as a family
Colorado is one of our favorite states to ski in, not only because it is convenient to get to by air, but because it has so many world-class ski resorts that are kid friendly for our family.
We have personally skied at most of the best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners and have ranked them according to our personal experience and the amount of beginner terrain available for novice skiers excited to carve their first tracks in the powdery Colorado snow.
Map of the best Colorado ski resorts for beginners
One of the first things you’ll want to consider when planning your first ski trip to Colorado is the ease of access. While there are small airports in Vail, Aspen, and near Steamboat, for many of the resorts located in Summit County, you may need to fly into Denver and rent a car and drive or hire a private transfer.
To access the resort of Telluride, you will likely fly into Montrose and drive or book a shuttle from there.
NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE TRAIL RATING SYSTEM? BRUSH UP ON YOUR SKIER LINGO AND COMMON SKI EXPRESSIONS.
The Best Ski Resorts in Colorado for Beginners and Families
After many years of skiing in Colorado and teaching our daughter to ski there, here are our rankings for the best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners and families.
One of the easiest of the large resorts to get to, Keystone is one of the best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners who don’t want to travel too far from Denver for their ski trip.
A popular resort for families, Keystone has over 3,000 acres of skiable terrain and is renowned for its wide variety of runs, ranging from gentle beginner greens to challenging trails that cater to seasoned skiers and snowboarders.
At first glance when you look at the trail map, it doesn’t seem like Keystone would be a beginner’s mountain. Of its 135 runs only about 15 of them are rated green runs, which are considered the easiest ski runs on a mountain. But the resort has its benefits.
For beginners looking to step up to the intermediate level, there are a lot of short blues that shoot off greens where you can try out your skills on a bit steeper terrain without feeling trapped on a long run you aren’t ready for.
Apart from its skiing, the resort offers other family-friendly winter activities, including snow tubing, ice skating, and scenic sleigh rides, ensuring there’s plenty to do when you get off the mountain in the afternoon.
With a charming village at the base, visitors can indulge in a lively après-ski scene, with cozy restaurants, shops, and entertainment, making Keystone a well-rounded destination for families.
Why Keystone is one of the Best Ski Resorts in Colorado for Beginners: Keystone offers a lot of activities besides skiing to keep families entertained and is also a great mountain to try out a short blue run for the first time when you are ready to level up in skiing.
Percent of mountain that is beginner terrain: 12%
Best runs for beginners: Schoolmarm, SilverSpoon, Scout
Where to stay in Keystone for families: Arapahoe Lodge
The largest ski resort in the San Juan Mountains, Telluride is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts year round. Renowned for its challenging terrain and stunning alpine vistas, this world-class ski resort in southwest Colorado caters to both seasoned skiers and snowboarders as well as beginners looking to hone their skills.
With over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain, visitors can explore a diverse range of slopes, from gentle groomed trails to nerve wracking chutes and glade runs. The mountain boasts 19 chair lifts and 148 named runs. Almost 25% of those runs are considered beginner trails, so whether you are teaching a toddler to ski or learning to ski as an adult, you’ll have plenty of terrain to explore without getting bored.
Beyond its exceptional skiing and snowboarding offerings, Telluride is one of the best Christmas destinations in the United States, and has a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. With locally owned shops and restaurants, and cozy lodges both in the town and on the mountain, Telluride is a renowned winter escape.
Why Telluride is one of the Best Colorado Ski Resorts for Beginners: Telluride’s off-the-beaten-path location makes it far less crowded than some of the other great ski resorts in Colorado, which is a good thing for beginners who don’t have to worry about navigating runs that are packed with a lot of other skiers and snowboarders.
Percent of mountain that is beginner terrain: 25%
Best runs for beginners: Double Cabin, Meadows, Galloping Goose
Where to stay in Telluride for families: Hotel Columbia
Loveland Ski Area is a great place to visit near Denver with toddlers or young children who are just learning to ski.
Located near the town of Georgetown, just east of the Eisenhower Tunnel, this ski resort is actually renowned for its abundant natural snowfall – receiving an average of 326 inches of snow each year.
With 1,800 acres of skiable terrain the ski area may be smaller than some of the other resorts in Summit County, but being only 53 miles from Denver, it makes for an easy day trip for those who want to ski for just one day.
Loveland has 9 lifts, accessing 94 runs. Of those runs 13% are rated for beginners – making it one of the best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners who aren’t ready to spend more than a day or two on the mountain.
Why Loveland is one of the Best Colorado Ski Resorts for Beginners: Its proximity to Denver makes Loveland one of the easiest ski areas to visit in Colorado. Green runs are also accessible from 6 of the 9 lifts at the ski area.
Percent of mountain that is beginner terrain: 13%
Best runs for beginners: Take Off, All Smiles, Tango Road, Zig Zag
Where to stay in Loveland for families: Homewood Suites by Hilton
6: Aspen Snowmass
Aspen is one of the world’s best winter wonderlands, and it is known across the globe as a premier ski destination.
The area is home to four different ski mountains that range from mostly easy terrain geared toward beginner skiers at Buttermilk to mostly black diamond runs at AJAX.
Renowned not only for its glitzy après-ski scene but also for its remarkable appeal to families seeking a memorable winter vacation in Aspen with kids.
Beginner skiers should venture to Buttermilk or Snowmass.
Buttermilk is the easiest of the 4 mountains, with 35 percent of the resort accessible for beginners.
However, Snowmass is the largest of the resorts and the most popular for families due to the greater variety in terrain. It’s larger than the other three mountains combined, but only 5 percent of the 98 trails are considered beginner level greens.
Off the slopes, Snowmass also offers great family friendly activities, like free ice skating and even free skate rentals, free S’mores every afternoon, plus snow tubing and a mountain coaster that kids and parents will love.
Why Aspen-Snowmass is one of the Best Colorado Ski Resorts for Beginners: Aspen is a huge name in the skiing industry. Everyone has heard of it. And rightfully so. It’s a fantastic mountain.
While the mountain of Aspen is huge, it’s not exactly a great place to start skiing. While they do have some intermediate runs, Snowmass or Buttermilk are better known for their long intermediate runs and easier greens.
Buttermilk is the ideal mountain for starting out. Long greens for the beginner and not a lot of difficulty. Look at Snowmass as a place you go after conquering the greens.
Percent of mountain that is beginner terrain: 35% at Buttermilk
Best runs for beginners: Homestead Road (Buttermilk), Fanny Hill, Lunchline (Snowmass)
Where to stay in Aspen for families: Limelight Hotel (Snowmass Village)
Vail is the largest ski resort in Colorado and skiing here is a Colorado Bucket List item for many winter enthusiasts.
Located in the White River National Forest, Vail is excellent for beginners venturing into the realm of skiing in Colorado simply because of how big the resort is and the variety it offers.
The resort spans 5,317 acres of terrain, nearly double some of the smaller resorts on our list. There are 32 lists, 195 trails – 18% of which are good for first timers and novice skiers.
Often called the Disneyland of ski resorts, Vail is a great place for a family ski trip – with dedicated learning zones, plenty of gentle slopes, top-notch instructional programs, and a great après scene that will keep families entertained after the mountain closes.
Families will enjoy the exhilarating alpine coaster, tubing lanes, ice skating or simply wandering through the charming village in the evening.
Why Vail is one of the Best Colorado Ski Resorts for Beginners: Vail has it all. There’s a saying that if you don’t like Vail, then try golf. Vail really is the Disneyland of ski resorts. There are some great spots on the mountain for beginners, and you have plenty of options.
One thing to keep in mind is that because Vail is so large, it can feel intimidating trying to traverse the mountain from 1 green to the other. Fortunately, Vail has a great ski school that can cater to your level.
Percent of mountain that is beginner terrain: 18%
Best runs for beginners: Cub’s Way, Flap Jack, The Meadows
Where to stay in Vail for families: Tivoli Lodge
4: Copper Mountain
Copper Mountain is a popular ski resort among those who live in Denver and want to spend the day on the slopes without too much effort.
Right off I70, and just 75 miles from Denver, Copper has 2,538 acres of skiable terrain and 24 chair lifts. Almost a quarter of the mountain (25%) is considered beginner terrain, giving first timers plenty of unintimidating and well-groomed slopes to try to conquer.
It isn’t just the mountain’s stats that make Copper one of the best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners, the village at the base has a cozy neighborhood atmosphere, and great amenities like an ice skating rink and a tubing hill for families.
Why Copper is one of the Best Ski Resorts in Colorado for Beginners: A local favorite. Copper Mountain does the best job with separating the beginner skirts from the hard core, fast skier types.
Each part of the mountain caters to a specific type. One side is just for beginners, another part is for intermediates and another is for advanced. Copper offers very long runs that are gentle to those just getting started.
Percent of mountain that is beginner terrain: 24%
Best runs for beginners: Roundabout, High Point, Easy Feelin’
Where to stay in Copper for families: Cambria Hotel
Nestled in Yampa Valley in Northwest Colorado, Steamboat is known as “Ski Town USA”. This Colorado ski resort holds a well-deserved reputation for its welcoming atmosphere and great snow – coined champagne snow because it’s so smooth.
Of its 170 named runs, 14% are considered suitable for beginner skiing.
Steamboat also has a reputation for producing more Olympians than any other US town.
The resort has a great Ski and Ride School where you or your kids can take private or group lessons, making the learning process both enjoyable and safe.
Aside from skiing at the 2,965 acre-sized resort, there are so many other things to do in Steamboat in winter, from ice skating to festivals, snowshoeing, and hot springs that further enrich the overall experience for families, solidifying Steamboat’s status as one of the best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners.
Why Steamboat is one of the Best Ski Resorts in Colorado for Beginners: This mountain is one of the more “gentle mountains” in Colorado. There’s not a lot of exposure which makes it less scary. Plus, long and gentle blues on the east side allow you to take your little one or new skier up top and away from the busy base area.
With the new gondola that takes you to the far east side now, you can go up and if it looks too intimidating, then you can easily ride back down safely.
Percent of mountain that is beginner terrain: 14%
Best runs for beginners: Stampede, Preview, Boulevard, Short Cut
Where to stay in Steamboat for families: Steamboat Grand
2: Winter Park
Winter Park, located in Fraser Valley earns its place as one of the best Colorado ski resorts for beginners for both its convenience and its terrain.
The only resort accessible by train from Denver, Winter Park is one of the easiest mountains to get if you don’t want to rent a car and drive.
With 3,081 skiable acres, it is also one of the largest resorts on our list.
Although only 8% of the 171 runs are green runs, Winter Park offers a welcoming environment for novices wanting to hone their skills.
Many of the green runs are clustered together, so for the first time skier, you can ski with confidence knowing you aren’t going to end up on a run that you aren’t prepared for.
Why Winter Park is one of the Best Colorado Ski Resorts for Beginners: Close to Denver and easy to get to on a sunny day. Winter Park is a good mountain that offers a lot of variability in terrain.
The beginner area is right at the base but also midway up the mountain. What makes this nice is that it pulls the beginners into a different part of the mountain that feels more like skiing. You’re away from the crowds and higher up, which gives you bigger views.
Most ski resorts have the beginners at the base and so you’re always looking up at the mountain. Winter Park lets you see all the terrain below while still learning on the greens.
Percent of mountain that is beginner terrain: 8%
Best runs for beginners: Marmot Flats, Porcupine, Village Way
Where to stay in Winter Park for families: Fraser Crossing
Rounding out our list of the best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners, Breckenridge and its 5 mountain peaks, 2,908 skiable acres, and 187 trails – is a great ski resort and mountain town in Colorado.
It stands as an exceptional choice for beginners thanks to its gentle slope that isn’t as steep or pitchy as many other ski resorts in the state.
Beginner skiing is mostly centered near the bottom of Peak 9. You’ll find 6 lifts and a couple of magic carpets servicing this peak, giving you plenty of variety to practice your new sport.
Moreover, if visiting Breckenridge with kids, the town provides a range of family-friendly amenities, including picturesque sleigh rides, dog sledding, a mountain coaster, and snow cat tours.
Additionally, you’ll want to spend some time simply exploring this fun town filled with great shops and restaurants along historic Main Street.
Just be sure to bundle up and make sure you pack all the essentials for going skiing the first time – With a base elevation at 9,600 feet, winters in Breckenridge are definitely cold.
Why Breckenridge is one of the Best Ski Resorts in Colorado for Beginners: A mountain loved by families. The runs are long and gentle and offer your family the ability to ski long runs together with little exposure.
The crowds can be big on weekends so try to plan your trip during the weekday. The terrain is fantastic for beginners with wide open greens that are easy to get to.
Percent of mountain that is beginner terrain: 11%
Best runs for beginners: Frontier, Silverthorne, Lower Lehman
Where to stay in Breckenridge for families: Antlers Lodge
Do you have a question or comment about any of these best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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