How To Plan an Affordable Ski Trip to Colorado

Colorado is a fantastic winter sport destination and if you're thinking about visiting from overseas for a week or two here are a few tips to make it a little bit more affordable and fun.

Step 1

If you are planning the trip in advance then I suggest you check out the different season passes available for the resorts in Colorado. Two of the best values are the Colorado pass and the Epic pass. Both get you in to all of Vail ski resorts in Colorado including Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Vail and Beaver Creek. Starting in the $300 USD range you can't go wrong with this option if you are planning to stay more than 5 days. Normal day passes start at around $80 USD with Vail and Beaver Creek getting close to $100 per day. The passes also provide for some mountain discounts at select vendors. Check out the Vail resort website for more details. Usually they allow $49 USD down in the spring and the balance to be paid by the end of October.

Step 2

Affordable accommodations can be tricky. Like most ski resorts a large number of the accommodations available are controlled by a centralized booking service. You also have to choose whether to stay in one of the resorts or in one of the towns just outside of the resorts like Avon (Vail/Beaver Creek), Dillon, Silverthorne or Frisco (Breckenridge/Keystone/Arapaho Basin). If you're renting a car then one of the towns outside of the actual resorts may be your best bet. Frisco gives you easy access to nearly all five resorts and considering that it can snow 10 inches in Vail or Beaver Creek (further west) and no new snow will fall in Breckenridge, it's handy to be able to choose your destination based on the morning's snow report.

Step 3

A very important part to a skier and snowboarder's day is meal time. Affordable food is even better! If you're in Breckenridge, check out the Brewery from Monday to Thursday for their $6 lunches (including a beer!), Kava Cafe for their melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon rolls and great coffee (if you can't be bothered to line up at the Starbucks, or just generally like a stronger coffee) and Giampietro's for very fresh, very well priced Italian food and take out pizza. Frisco offers a variety of fast food and take away stores on the larger road leading to Breckenridge, but the "Main Street" is where the better food is found. In Avon, if you are in the mood for Mexican you can try a little store tucked away called Taqueria. It's like a fast food joint, but not like any Taco Bell you've been to. Apparently the beef tongue Burrito is great, but I wasn't tempted to try it. Silverthorne, on the way to Keystone, has a great breakfast place called the Sunshine Cafe. On slope food, as per usual, is very expensive but at Beaver Creek they give out freshly baked chocolate chip cookies for free every day at around 3pm.

Step 4

There are some hidden gems on each mountain if you don't mind getting off the piste. At Keystone you can pay $5 and catch a Snow Cat up to the back bowls for some fresh powder (or even hike it if you can stand the altitude). Breckenridge has some great powder and bowl skiing and riding from the top of the Imperial Express chair. At 12,500 feet be prepared for your lungs to burn and you hike about 50 more feet to the top to access the ridge where you can drop in to bowls below, or hike to the right of the chair a couple of yards to ride the back of Peak 7 for some lovely powder. Peak 7 trees at the bottom provide some rollercoaster fun trails, with Ore Bucket providing trees, powder and slightly out of bounds riding. Beaver Creek is deceptive in the fact that it seems like a small resort but the mountain is big and contains some of the best varied terrain and trees available on the 1-70 corridor. When Arapaho opens its east wall you can try your hand and some of the best double blacks in Summit County.

These are just a few tips on how to make your trip to Colorado's main ski area a little different and more affordable. If you have comments or questions I'd be happy to expand.


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