A Colorado Ski Safari visiting all IKON pass ski areas is a fun itinerary, lots of skiing, not too much driving, flying into Denver and doing a circuit. You decide which ski resorts you want to stay at for how many nights, it depends on your skiing ability, plus the off-slope things to do in each resort or ski town. See our recommended ski tour and itinerary:
This Ikon Pass Colorado Trip includes skiing at Winter Park, Steamboat, Copper, and Arapahoe Basin.
Denver (DEN) to Winter Park – 1:35 hour drive
Winter Park to Steamboat – 1:55 hour drive
Steamboat to Copper Mountain – 1:55 hour drive
Copper Mountain to Arapahoe Basin – 35 minutes drive
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area – returning to Denver airport (DEN) – 1:30 hour drive
This Ski Safari we recommend driving, renting a car, preferably four-wheel drive or you will need chains for the snowy mountain passes. There is a ski train from Denver to Winter Park, but that only gets you back and forth to Winter Park, not all four on this tour.
We suggest you bring your own skis, snowboard, since renting ski equipment at each resort is time consuming and expensive.
Winter Park, your first ski stop, is Colorado’s oldest resort, since 1939. Winter Park Resort is so convenient from Denver – just over scenic Berthoud Pass, a 1.5-hour drive from Denver International Airport (DEN).
Winter Park has two dozen lifts and 3,081 acres of skiing, its one of the largest areas in Colorado – spanning 7 territories, like unique ski areas within one big resort. Winter Park has two separate base areas, Mary Jane and Winter Park, but all the terrain is interconnected via the 25 lifts. Winter Park Village is extensive with slope-side lodging, a Mountain Adventure Center, Children’s Programs, ski shops and slope view dining at Doc’s.
Winter Park’s Panoramic Lift, the highest six-pack lift in North America, takes you to 12,060’ where you will find above-tree line snowfields in Parsenn Bowl. Otherwise, there is nothing scary steep at Winter Park, in fact there are plateaus and very gently pitched terrain throughout the resort, especially Vasquez Ridge, Olympia and Pioneer. The Front Side, the original Winter Park since 1939, has well-groomed fun trails descending toward the village – served by another six-passenger high speed lift. Legendary Mary Jane area is known for its bumps, big moguls form here.
Lodging at Winter Park, The Village at Winter Park was built by Intrawest so it has a heated pedestrian plaza, restaurants, ski shops and services plus super convenient ski in ski out lodging at The Zephyr Mountain Lodge, Fraser Crossing and Founders Pointe. Or stay downtown Winter Park 3-miles away. See more on Winter Park skiing
Steamboat is just 2 hours from Winter Park. The western frontier town of Steamboat Springs is great fun. Steamboat offers 3,000 acres of ski terrain, from the highest Storm Peak to nearby Pony Express, to Sunshine and Rendezvous Saddle, and Morningside Park on the backside. The ‘Boat (locals term) is particularly busy on weekends, especially at the base to mid-mountain gondola. Our review of Steamboat skiing.
Steamboat has beautiful aspen glades, and lots of terrain for the whole family, with spectacular Yampa Valley views. More Olympic skiers have been raised on these slopes – its nicknamed Ski Town USA!
Lodging at Steamboat – the Steamboat Grand Hotel is right in the skier’s village – a short walk to the lifts, with a great outdoor pool. Or you can stay in a condo or a chain hotel in Steamboat’s downtown and walk to all the fun shops, bars and restaurants.
Don’t miss Steamboat Springs Strawberry Park Hot Springs for a fun apres-ski soak!
Copper Mountain is under two-hours drive from Steamboat, driving back towards the I-70 ski corridor.
Copper is a fun big ski mountain, 2,501 acres of skiable terrain with a great base village – an Intrawest design with rocky mountain style village. Lodge at one of the many slope-side condos at Copper for the ultimate convenience, walk to everything. Our Copper Mountain ski review.
Copper is high elevation, the super scenic summit is 12,441′, the base village is at 9,000′. The lower mountain has great groomed cruisers reached by high-speed, high-capacity lifts. Copper’s upper mountain features Copper Bowl, Spaulding, Enchanted Forest and Union Bowl and Meadows. Tucker Mountain’s Three Bears triple chair brings expert skiers to untouched, steep (double-black diamond) snowfields down into the trees back to the Black Jack lift. It’s a big adventure, not groomed and not for the timid.
Arapahoe Basin is just 35 minutes from Copper near Loveland Pass, and under two hours back to Denver. A-Basin is great for your last stop on this IKON ski safari, as it has some of the most-challenging terrain. Its also noted for the longest ski season, due to its high elevation and great snow – often open from October to June! Our Arapahoe Basin skiing review.
A-Basin offers 1,428 acres of skiing and scenic above tree-line skiing at 12,472’ with amazing 360-degree views of the Colorado Rockies. Arapahoe has steep snowy terrain from its summit while the front side offers a nice mix of groomed blues off the modern Black Mountain Express quad and the upper mountain Lenawee 6-pack chair. On Arapahoe’s Backside is Montezuma Bowl with a mix of challenging terrain.
A-Basin is in National Forest, so there’s no on-mountain lodging, just a parking lot and “beach” for après ski. This can be your last skiing before heading back to Denver (1:30 hours’ drive) for your departing (DEN) flight, or stay in nearby Dillon, Keystone, or Georgetown for affordable lodging if you need a night’s lodging before flying out of Denver in the morning.
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