Colorado Ski and Soak Adventure Road Trip Advice Please
January 30, 2022 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Have about a week free for a Roadtrip around Colorado, with a couple days in Denver on both sides for family stuff. Traveling party includes two adults: one experienced ski enthusiast and one total novice. Everyone loves hot springs. Where should we go? snowflakes inside

We're prepared for a decent ammt of scenic driving and happy to make stops along the way if there are cool ones.
Trip is mid feb, avoiding weekends on the slopes
Novice skiier is just as interested interested in cross country as the bunny slopes, but also sprained their ankle last week, so is slightly nervous about skiing at all. Don't want them to be totally stuck in a hotel room if the ankle takes skiing off the table.

Looking at this map of Hot Springs in Colorado
it seems like Telluride+Ouray or Wolf Creek + Pagosa could be good, but having a hard time discerning which might be better. We've both been to Steamboat/strawberry park hot springs and loved it, but seeking a bit of variety. That said please tell me if steamboat is truly "the champagne of snow"

Any thoughts on destinations/tradeoffs/things we haven't thought of would be great. Our original plan was Taos, but sounds like the snow there is a bit of a bust this year.

Thank you metafilter!
posted by wowenthusiast to Travel & Transportation around Colorado (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Telluride and Ouray are seriously far away from Denver, and I've only gone there in the summer. I would think mid feb would present a lot of "winter driving". Carrying chains strongly advised. The road to Ouray was narrow, windey, and a bit spooky in late June, even with dry and bare pavement. On preview and some google mapping, I might be thinking of the road from Silverton to Ouray, Can't remember...
posted by Windopaene at 10:51 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]

Agreeing with Windopaene on driving distance to Telluride and Wolf Creek. It’s not just the distance, but conditions as well. February/March tend to be the snowiest months in Colorado.
Have a look at Glenwood Springs - they’ve got a huge pool fed by hot springs, there’s good XC and snowshoeing nearby, and Aspen is a reasonable drive. Not cheap once you’re there, but what is?
Best of luck.
posted by dbmcd at 11:15 AM on January 30 [3 favorites]

I’ve done both those as combinations… for me …Telluride is pretty swish and also is quite a nice town to just hang in if the novice skier wants to take time out (art galleries, some nice shops, it’s not a cheap place though). Ouray i think of more for the ice climbing, which is amazing and it’s maybe something to try…maybe not with sprained ankles though . I agree it is an extremely hairy and intimidating road … you need a good 4wd and a backup plan in case of bad weather.

Wolf Creek I found a touch redneck I must say, and not in a good way. We went there after a great friendly week in Taos and it was a bit of a culture shock. Pagosa Springs was very charming and the springs are lots of fun, lots of little pools down to the river.

My favourite place in Colorado is Arapaho Basin but I don’t think it would suit your plans… Glenwood Springs could be good, or Beaver Creeek
posted by tardigrade at 11:29 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]

Do you hail from a non mountainous region? If so, you might want to consider the potential impacts of elevation.

Anecdata-- I have felt crummy after spending the night at the Telluride ski resort, but I've been fine if it's a day trip.
posted by oceano at 11:44 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]

concur, terrible time of year to be driving through the san juans. quite a gamble.

if you like glenwood, you could take the train from denver.
posted by j_curiouser at 1:18 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]

Do you hail from a non mountainous region? If so, you might want to consider the potential impacts of elevation.

I was going to bring up that same point. When we did a multi-family ski trip a few years ago we picked Steamboat for that reason. The elevation there is considerably lower than at a lot of the other major ski areas in Colorado.
posted by Redstart at 1:52 PM on January 30

Response by poster: see this is why i love metafilter y'all can absolutely be counted upon to talk good sense into people, especially me. Much Much MUCH apprecieated!!!

now we are thinking we will stay in a much closer ring around Denver. Any thoughts still welcome. Thanks again!!

Winter Park
Copper Mtn
Arapahoe Basin
posted by wowenthusiast at 3:18 PM on January 30

A Basin is great - but at very high altitude (the base is 10,500’, and the top is 13,050), so don’t go there your first day. This also means it can be very cold. The top is all above tree line, so factor in wind as well.
I’d suggest you look at the trail maps of the various resorts on your list and see what suits your abilities.
I’ll also add that getting to Winter Park (a great place to ski) means driving over Berthoud Pass, which can be hairy/time consuming.
Loveland (like A Basin) is a ski area, not a full on resort. When I lived in Denver, I loved it, because it was so close. It’s also pretty high elevation - base at 10,800’, and the top right around 13,000.
Breckinridge and Copper Mountain are significantly lower base elevations, and offer good variety, with good lodging options nearby.
Wherever you go, have fun!
posted by dbmcd at 7:20 PM on January 30

Summit County, (Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin), present a lot of varied skiing. As others have mentioned, ELEVATION, (especially A-basin). Lots of non ski-stuff to do in Dillion and Breckenridge as well.

Aspen is Aspen. Expensive. Vail is also insanely expensive, and not sure how much other stuff there is to do there. Winter Park is a bit further away, nice skiing, but only went there as a kid to ski, so again, not sure on other stuff. Loveland is just a couple of ski areas on the Denver side of the tunnel. A couple of "quaint" towns on the way there.

EDIT: what dbmcb said :)
posted by Windopaene at 7:24 PM on January 30

I'm a lifelong fan of Steamboat, which is about the same distance from Denver as Vail. It's a fantastic mountain with terrain from stuff that suits my elderly parents, to cliffs/trees/backcountry. There's a hot springs in town that's got a few different pools and a couple of waterslides, and another one a close by.
posted by Kreiger at 11:58 AM on January 31

Estes Park is gorgeous, and has some colorful history.
posted by gottabefunky at 2:48 PM on January 31

Speaking as a skiier, I think Steamboat presents the most interesting terrain for the novice skiier while also having enough of a challenge for the enthusiast. In addition to the typical green slopes, there is an abundance of very mellow, shallow, nicely spaced out tree runs. Normally tree runs are a lot steeper and tighter and aren't accessible by people without a lot of skills.

Winter Park is a great place that fits in between the more bare bones ski areas (Loveland, A-Basin) and the glitzier resorts (Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek).
posted by mmascolino at 9:03 PM on February 9

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