Skiing in our area of Colorado has increasingly become an exercise in patience and economics. When I first moved here in 2002, driving to the ski resorts was a bit busy but never difficult. Now it’s become that and then some. I always aim to make my ski day as hassle-free as possible, as I did when I went to Keystone.
For those going up to the mountains on a Saturday morning, it’s guaranteed that you’ll spend at least two or three hours on the road when it normally takes 90 minutes. Leaving early (before 6 AM) doesn’t always mean avoiding traffic. I check out an Instagram page called I-70 Things, and most of the feed is about traffic on Interstate 70 and how people slog through it all to get to their destinations.
And then there’s the cost part. Lift tickets, hotel rooms, rentals and restaurants have all shot up in price. A four-day lift pass from Copper Mountain used to cost $99 twenty years ago. Now, you can’t get a one-day pass for that cheap unless you go to one of the smaller resorts like Eldora.
If you should come to Colorado to ski, here are my quick tips for making your travel experience more pleasant.
1.) Never go up on a weekend or holiday
If you follow nothing else, always adhere to this one. And I get it – most people don’t have a choice but to go between Friday and Sunday or during a national holiday. But the way up on I-70 has become so congested and arduous that it isn’t worth the hassle of waiting in interminable traffic lines or at the resort lifts. So, if possible, head up between Tuesday and Thursday, even if it means you spend some weekend days.
2.) Stay for a few days, especially during the week
One thing I always loved about living close to the mountains is doing the day trip. We would drive early to the slopes, ski until closing, then go home. But refer to tip #1 – the last thing anyone wants to do is drive in 2-3 minimum hours. So, I always try to spend two nights in Breck or Frisco, just so we can relax a little and enjoy a good leisurely meal, either at our rental or going out to a favorite place. Plus, it’s less expensive if you go between Monday and Friday.
3.) Find ways to save on lift tickets
This isn’t always a guarantee that you’ll find super-cheap day passes, but it’s always worth looking into, as single-day ticket prices have become exponentially more expensive. One of the best ways is to bundle your lodging and passes together. Sites like Epic are great for this. Look for vacation bundles and packages on these sites. If you don’t need lodging, consider getting a multi-day pass, saving you money.
4.) Eat early at local restaurants, do takeout or cook
With all the people who show up on the mountain, they need to go somewhere for “après ski,” which means after your day has ended. Most will head to the lodge, while others will go to restaurants or bars. If you want to go for après, go to your preferred establishment early. If the wait is too long, consider getting takeout and bring it back to your place. Love to cook (like me) and have a kitchen? Then make something quick or simple and relax.
5.) Hit the slopes with care
I am not sure why there are some people who still want to zoom down the ski runs like they’re in an Olympic downhill event. Thankfully, I haven’t witnessed a massive collision on the slopes, but I have seen my share of near-misses…and have been on the receiving end of those. If you ski recklessly, you’ll be a hazard to yourself and others and could be criminally liable. Please…ski on the mountain like your grandma was with you.