Skiing for the first time can be intimidating. The ski gear and equipment, alone, is overwhelming, and the chair lifts and mountains can look scary. And somehow, skiing can seem even more challenging in Colorado, where avid skiers come to conquer some of the gnarliest ski runs in the world.
For kids and parents who are new to skiing in Colorado—or for kids who fearlessly hop into their bindings while parents anxiously wonder if they even remember how to ski—finding a ski resort that caters to beginners isn’t just important—it’s necessary. Luckily, Colorado has plenty of ski resorts for beginners. And once you’ve mastered your shushing skills (no matter how slowly) down the sparkling crystal-like snowy trails and see the breathtaking snowcapped mountains from new peaks, you’ll be hooked on skiing in Colorado.
Helpful and patient ski instructors, lesson flexibility, easy trails and things to do off-mountain make these the best Colorado ski resorts for beginners.
1. Keystone Resort – Keystone, CO
About two hours from Denver, Keystone Resort features three different peaks across more than 3,100 acres of terrain, and chair lifts, gondolas and magic carpet lifts are used to teach beginners. The green- and blue-level runs are scattered throughout the mountains here, so beginners aren’t sectioned off to one designated area. This makes it convenient to ski together as a family, even if everyone is at different skill levels. It’s easy to split off and come back to together for lunch or breaks when there are a variety of difficulty levels available in one place. The longest run at Keystone is 3.5 miles and it also happens to be a green run, so all skill levels can enjoy this run together.
Lessons at Keystone: Keystone Resort is ideal for beginner ski and snowboard instruction, with a variety of lesson options. The ski instructors have plenty of patience, no matter how much help your child (or you) needs. The lessons are always kept fun, lighthearted and stress-free at Keystone.
First-time skiers will take a gondola up to the teaching area, where they’ll learn how to put skis on and move around on a slightly inclined surface. After some detailed instruction and practicing how to stop and fall properly, it’s time for a ride on the magic carpet. This is a rubber conveyor belt-type people mover that takes beginner skiers up a small incline. Once at the top of the small bunny hill, it’s time to master those beginner skiing skills as you slide down side-by-side with your instructor.
There are private, semi-private, group and family (or small group) lessons available. Bonus: Several of the instructors are multilingual and can teach you how to shred in any language!
Non-Skiing Things to Do at Keystone: Keystone offers a ton of off-mountain activities, including snowcat vehicle tours, snowshoeing, snow tubing, and ice skating. Keystone is also known for its Kidtopia programming, with snow forts, crafts, movies, games, milkshake socials, face painting and even fireworks on Saturday nights.
Recommended Hotel: Keystone Lodge and Spa
Related: Best Ski and Snow Suits for Kids
2. Telluride Ski Resort – Telluride, CO
Telluride dedicates more than half of its mountain to beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. The beginner terrain features a newly constructed 320-foot covered magic carpet lift, which is nice on extra windy or snowy days on the slopes. Most of the beginner terrain is set apart from the advanced and expert terrain, so everyone skiing or boarding alongside you will likely be at the same level. For beginner snowboarders, there’s the Ute Park Beginner Terrain Park. This area is the perfect spot for new boarders to be introduced to jumps and tricks. And a nice feature for intermediate skiers is that blue trails are accessible from all lifts at the resort. So no matter who you’re skiing with or what skill level each person is at, you can all ski together.
Lessons at Telluride: Private and children’s lessons are available at Telluride. Private lessons can include up to five students if you prefer your family to be instructed as a group. Children’s lessons can be group, a small group of four or private. The ratio of instructor to students varies by age for group lessons. It’s 5:1 for ages 3 to 4; 7:1 for ages 5 to 6; and 9:1 for ages 7 to 14 years old. Multilingual instructors are available, too.
Non-Skiing Things to Do at Telluride: After perfecting your stops and turns down the Telluride slopes, try a guided ice climbing, snowmobiling or snowshoeing tour. Downtown Telluride and its postcard-worthy Main Street is also a must.
Recommended Hotel: Peaks Resort & Spa
3. Copper Mountain– Frisco, CO
Copper Mountain, located in a former gold mining town, promotes nearly half of its mountain to new skiers, with 21 percent of trails for beginners and 25 percent for intermediate-level skiiers. Green Acres is the ideal ski location at this Colorado ski resort for beginners, as it’s situated between the East and Center Villages and features a beginner chairlift and a magic carpet. This short and quieter learning area is a great place for beginners to practice their skills.
Lessons at Copper Mountain: Youth group lessons are kept to a minimum class size of five students for ages 3 to 5, and to eight students for ages 6 to 17. Adult and private lessons are also available. A GPS-tracking device is also featured with the Youth Group Lessons so you can re-live your child’s day on the slopes while you cozy up to a fire with hot cocoa at the end of your ski day.
Non-Skiing Things to Do at Copper Mountain: Ice skating, snow tubing, snowshoeing and an alpine coaster are all offered at Copper Mountain. The alpine coaster, which runs in the winter and summer, is a great way to zip downhill without having to wear ski boots! Copper Mountain is also home to The Barn, a 19,400-square-foot indoor action sports playground filled with foam pit jumps, spring floors, trampolines and more.
Recommended Hotel: Summit Inn
4. Granby Ranch – Granby, CO
Considered to be one of the best places to learn to ski in Colorado, Granby Ranch features two mountains, one of which is dedicated to green and blue runs for beginners. This small Colorado ski resort for beginners is family-owned and operated so they definitely keep family needs in mind. It’s a smaller ski resort with about 400 acres of skiable terrain and 41 trails on average. All of the trails on both mountains lead back to the single base area, so it’s easy to meet up with friends and family at the end of the day.
Lessons: Group, small group, private and full- or half-day lessons are available at Granby. During the group lessons, instructors make sure to give individual attention to each skill level and always ensure that fun is the top priority.
Non-Skiing Things to Do: Live music happens nearly daily at Granby, and events that take place throughout the month include face painting, bonfires and arts and crafts for the kids.
Recommended Accommodations: Vacation Rentals are the best accommodation options near Granby Ranch
5. Beaver Creek Resort – Beaver Creek, CO
Beginner skiers at Beaver Creek have access to beginner-only trails and parks. First time skiers and snowboarders take the Haymeadow Express gondola up to Haymeadow Park, where the basics of how to maneuver the slopes, stop and how to get up if you fall, are taught to all ages. The magic carpet lifts and gentle sloping terrain help first-time skiers to learn the basics. Once the basics are mastered, beginner skiers can move over to Beaver Creek’s Red Buffalo Park. This is still a beginner ski area and it offers 13 beginner trails and a kids’ adventure zone with tiny “jump” ramps and snow sculptures for the kids to explore.
Lessons at Beaver Creek: There are group or small group lessons, all of which are broken down by ages. The small groups have a maximum of four students for both kids and adults. Age groups are divided into the following: ages 3 and 4, 5 and 6 and 7 to 14. The small class size allows the instructors to give each parent a short overview after the lesson to explain the child’s progress. The larger group lessons for kids are broken down by the same ages, but include a little more off-mountain fanfare, with western-themed characters and indoor pre-ski activities (for younger kids) before the on-snow fun begins. There are also lessons geared to adults who have never skied or snowboarded before.
Non-Skiing Things to Do at Beaver Creek: There are ice cream parlors, chocolate chip cookies, and hot cocoa to be found slopeside, perfect for a break during ski lessons. Ice skating, as well as shopping and dining at the village, are fun off-mountain activities at Beaver Creek, too.
Recommended Hotel: Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa, Beaver Creek
6. Steamboat Ski Resort – Steamboat Springs, CO
With nearly 3,000 acres of terrain, Steamboat dedicates 14 percent of its trails to beginners and 42 percent to intermediates (that’s more than half the mountain, at 56 percent), making it one of the best Colorado ski resorts for beginners. It offers an American West vibe without being rustic, and more than 95 winter Olympians (and 19 medals) have come out of Steamboat. So what better place for first-time skiers and snowboarders to take to the slopes?!
Lessons at Steamboat: First timers will love the SnowSports School at Steamboat. There are kid, teen and adult lessons available in groups, small groups of five or privately. The Kids’ Ski Week Program is ideal for first timers on a week’s winter vacation. Kids can enjoy five days of learning to ski with the same instructor and group each day. This allows them to learn faster and make new ski friends while learning. There are also specific first time lesson options that come in one, two or three day lesson packages. These lessons are specifically geared for first timers to learn all of the basics for skiing and snowboarding.
Non-Skiing Things to Do: Steamboat does a great job of incorporating nature into its off-mountain activities. Families can take a hot springs tour or a photography tour, go horseback riding in the snow, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride to dinner. Snowmobiling, mountain coasters, snowshoeing and snow tubing are also available.
Recommended Hotel: Steamboat Grand
7. Winter Park Resort – Winter Park, CO
Winter Park’s trails are mostly dedicated to advanced and expert levels, with just eight percent of the terrain for beginner and 18 percent for intermediate levels. However, its outstanding ski instruction makes it a good Colorado ski resort for beginners. Instructors tailor lessons specifically to your skill level at Winter Park, which is the closest ski resort to Denver and where many locals learn to ski and snowboard. It’s also Colorado’s oldest continually operating ski resort, having opened in 1940. There are four peaks and more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain.
Lessons at Winter Park: There are both kid and adult group lesson options, and one-on-one private lessons designed specially for your needs. There’s also a kids’ four-week program that’s ideal for folks who live in the area (since consistency helps kids hone their skills faster), as well as a family of five (or 10) pack lesson option (to be used by multiple people on the same day or the same person for five days). Or, if your winter ski vacation falls over a winter holiday or spring break, you can opt for a Holiday Program, which includes two- or three-day lessons.
Non-Skiing Things to Do: Once you’ve mastered your ski or board lessons, take the family on a snowcat vehicle tour, go snow tubing or snowshoeing, or try ski bikes.
Recommended Hotel: Zephyr Mountain Lodge
Related: The Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List
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