When Does Ski Season Start in Colorado? The Best Time to Go Skiing

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When does ski season start in Colorado? The state is known for its world-famous ski resorts and gorgeous powered slopes.

Many of the state’s cities have been named the best travel destinations in the world.

It’s always a big celebration when ski season finally starts.

Use this guide to plan your next ski trip in the best Colorado resorts without breaking the bank.

Read on to find out the best time to go skiing in Colorado this winter.

2023 update: The state of Colorado still recommends that masks be worn in public (check out these colorful Hoorag face masks). 

When does ski season start in Colorado?

colorado ski season secrets

Once the weather starts getting cooler, ski resorts are already opening their doors. 

In fact, Colorado ski resorts often make a mad dash to be the first one to open for the season. And many ski resorts will brag about how early they opened.

FREE EBOOK: Consider Colorado

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Ski season in Colorado usually starts in mid-October and by the beginning of November almost all the Colorado ski resorts are open for business. 

But the bulk of ski season in Colorado starts at the beginning of November and goes through April. Although sometimes the ski season can last into May or June.

Because the weather conditions are different on each mountain, every resort will open on a different day.

Keystone Resort is almost always at the front of the pack, and is known to be the first resort to open. (In 2019, they started their season on October 12th.)

Early ski season pros and cons

colorado ski gear

One thing to bear in mind about an early ski-season opening is the amount of manufactured snow that covers large portions of the slopes.

The trails and mountains are groomed with snow crawlers and plows, if not enough real snow has fallen yet.

If you’re looking for real snow, you may be disappointed. On the other hand, most (if not all) the ski runs that are open will be the easy “green” trails.

“Greens” refer to the level of difficulty for each ski trail (not golf). If you’re not a regular skier, here’s a quick rundown on the lingo!

  • Greens are easy ski routes
  • Blues are rated as medium or moderate difficulty
  • Black diamonds or double black diamonds are expert or extremely difficult routes

So, choose your ski routes accordingly! And don’t forget to pack these must-have ski essentials for your ski trip.

When is the best time to go skiing in Colorado?

snowshoeing in colorado

If you have the ability to avoid tourist times during the holidays, you’ll hit peak powder with fewer crowds on weekdays in Colorado.

If hitting the slopes is not the only appeal of a visit to these mountain resorts, consider booking your visit during “shoulder season.”

Shoulder season is very early in the season or very late in the season when snow is not guaranteed and may be more manufactured.

This can be a great time to soak up the fun these mountain towns have to offer without the crowds and the high price tag.

Choose the right time to go skiing

Colorado is the most popular state in the nation to visit for skiing and is a world renowned skiing destination.

Day or weekend trips, as well as weeklong trips are popular, so you may not be able to snag incredible deals for these packages.

But a weekday trip can still save you a ton of money.

If you’re willing to travel a bit further afield than the most popular tourist destinations, you’ll find less traffic, lower food and accommodation costs, and smaller crowds in general.

A weekday ski trip will usually have lower costs of ski or snowboard lessons too!

Avoid peak ski season and national holidays

ski trip to colorado

Peak ski season is the most popular time for skiing, which is between late December and mid-March.

During this time of year, you’ll find bigger crowds and usually higher prices. Within the peak season, some days are particularly busy.

The days between Christmas and New Years’, Martin Luther King Day (January 15, 2024), and President’s Day (February 19, 2024) are some of the busiest days on the ski slopes.

Many people from Colorado and nearby states will have these days off. Any extended weekend will be busy with people getting a long weekend of skiing in.

School spring breaks will also be popular times for families to hit the slopes. Not all schools have spring break at the same time so avoiding spring breaks can be a bit hit or miss.

If you’re an adult looking to avoid gaggles of waist-high skiers, we recommend avoiding the slopes through most of March.

You might expect that lift tickets and other expenses will be higher during peak season, but there are lots of other things that may be higher too.

Prices may be higher off the slopes for ski resort accommodations, food, or entertainment in mountain towns where peak season skiers are staying, eating, and playing.

Visit less crowded ski slopes

If you want to avoid the crowds at more popular ski destinations, here are a few things to consider.

The closer a ski resort is to a major city, the larger the crowds will usually be. Especially when people travel from out of state or out of the country to ski in Colorado, they typically don’t want to spend their vacation driving.

If you’re willing to go a little further, you can spare yourself rubbing elbows with too many other skiers.

Know off-peak seasons

Late November through the holidays in December is often considered the “early off-season”.

And the “late off-season” can run from mid- to late March through the end of the season (usually in May).

Sometimes, seasons can run extra long or rather short. In fact, in 2020 many ski resort seasons ended a bit earlier between mid to late April.

But in 2018, Breckenridge was open through the 4th of July! Basically, if it is fall or spring and NOT officially winter, consider it an off season or shoulder season.

The best places to go skiing in Colorado

Every ski resort in Colorado has something special to offer. Some have high-quality, world-famous travel destination ski runs and some are smaller, more family-friendly, and more affordable.

Fun fact: Unlike some states like Utah, all the resorts in Colorado allow snowboarders.

If you’re skiing solo for the day or making a multi-day trip with the whole crew, each ski resort will be able to offer you something different.

1. Breckenridge: Colorado local’s love it

It’s true that local Colorado natives often go to Breckenridge to ski and enjoy the winter months. 

And there’s plenty to love about Breckenridge, from the small-town feel to the amazing trails and ski slopes.

2. Vail or Aspen: Top tourist destinations

Meanwhile, out of towners may want to hit up the most iconic and internationally known resorts like Vail Ski Resort or the Aspen Snowmass to get the full Colorado experience.

The skiing is epic and the resorts are posh. But these options may be a bit more expensive because they get so many visitors.

3. Winter Park or Steamboat Springs: Family and kid-friendly

If your crew is made up of kids and you’re looking for family-friendly ski resorts, check out Winter Park Resort and Steamboat Resort.

These areas are a bit more budget-friendly and have tons of additional activities available aside from skiing or snowboarding.

Go on a ski tour

Got a lot of time and want to soak up everything Colorado has to offer? 

Many resorts are within an hours’ distance of each other, so it would be a quick trip to mountain hop from one resort to another.

If you want to really learn the ins-and-outs of skiing in Colorado, a “ski tour” can be a great way to explore lots of different slopes.

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