Direct flights from London to Denver all-year-round. Flying time just under 10 hours.
Four national parks: Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes and Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
Denver’s 1600m above sea level, less than two hours from Rocky Mountain National Park and within easy travelling distance of several iconic ski resorts.
Denver’s LoDo is one of the largest downtown areas in the US.
Many of Colorado’s historic mining towns are now characterful family ski resorts.
Colorado is the state for road trips and home to Mount Evans, the highest paved highway in the US at just over 4328m.
Where to go
Summer camping in Colorado’s national parks is well-managed and inexpensive (there are guided camps too). There isn’t a ski area without luxury residences, spacious lodges, family cabins and award-winning hotels. Resorts like Aspen are very expensive, but it’s the après-ski rather than the skiing which bumps up the price. Unless you’re determined to be on the slopes with celebrities, there are much more family-friendly areas which are better value with great snow, kids activities, historic charm and more easy going après-ski than you’ll ever need.
If you’re skiing in Colorado, take travelling times from Denver to the resorts into consideration. Copper Mountain and Winter Park are just over an hour from the city, Telluride’s closer to six and driving’s the only option.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Kids are destined to fall in love with Denver from the moment they touch down at the city airport and spot the cowboy hat wearing greeters. Could it get better? Yes and it does. One of the highest cities in the US and in view of the Rockies, Denver’s spirit of adventure runs naturally high. It’s an incredibly friendly, relaxed city, easy to get around and very outdoorsy with over 90 golf courses, hectares of cycle paths and hundreds of parks and playgrounds to prove it. And if it’s not one of the 300 annual days of sunshine, there are indoor science centres, museums, art galleries and events all over the city designed just for kids.
Don’t miss: Denver’s buzzing Downtown AKA DoLo, First Friday Art Walks, kids’ shows at Denver Performing Arts, the Black American West Museum, Colorado Avalanche and Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Far from the biggest US national park (Yosemite covers 3027km²), Rocky Mountain’s 667km² spread is brilliantly accessible and peaks of 4000m and higher beat anywhere else for sheer grandeur. Add in mountain lakes, dense forest, the wildest wildlife and long experience creating unforgettable family holidays and you have mighty Colorado in miniature just over an hour’s drive from Denver city centre.
Visit in winter for sledding, snowshoe walking, cross-country skiing, free ranger-guided ‘Ski the Wilderness’ tours and wildlife watching – best time of year for moose, elk and deer.
Go in summer for camping, hiking, walking, driving, bird watching, fishing and rock climbing.
Estes Park is a good base for a Rocky Mountain family summer or winter sports’ holidays.
Winter Park, just over an hour from Denver, is Colorado’s longest running ski-resort and in the state’s top-5 family favourites – officially. It’s also one of the first areas to open (middle of November every year), has an average of 8.8m of snow annually and 1246 hectare of skiable terrain including 143 runs and 490 hectares off-piste.
Colorado’s most consistent snow record, 25 lifts and home to the National Sports Centre for the Disabled.
Wide range of hotel and self-catering accommodation in The Village.
Friday and Saturday night family skiing programme.
Tube Park, sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling, snow-cat skiing, Nastar racing, fat biking, dog sledding, Nordic skiing.
Award-winning Ski & Ride school teaches kids from age 3.
120km from Denver, Copper Mountain’s another very accessible, family-friendly resort with outstanding skiing, a long season (early November to mid-April) and the cutest resort village known for spacious apartments and cosy hotels. The ski area covers 985 hectares and has 140 runs, 23 lifts and altitudes of over 3700m.
25km cross country trails through White River National Forest.
Best for long runs, high altitude, stunning forests and snowboarding.
Good choice of ski-schools and childcare.
What to do
Downtown Aquarium, Denver
Aquarium in Denver’s famous LoDo is big, colourful and kids can eat in the restaurant surrounded by 150,000 gallon tank filled with tropical fish and ‘real’ mermaids. Downtown Aquarium
Denver Art Museum
Sensational Daniel Libeskind building is a city icon, the collection’s internationally recognised and kids have free entry and innovative year-round activity programme. Denver Art Museum
Wild Animal Sactuary, Keenesburg
300 hectare open parkland with ‘Mile into the Wild’ elevated walkways for an aerial view of 400 plus large carnivores roaming – pride of lions is worth a visit alone. Wild Animal Sanctuary
Georgetown Loop Railway, Rocky Mountains
Three hour round trip on original 19th century steam train in and around the dramatic Rockies – crossing Devil’s Gate Bridge is better than any rollercoaster. Georgetown Loop
All-Inclusice Rocky Mountain Family Adventure
Family-friendly, personalised short breaks in the Rockies with professional guides. Includes everything from campfire cookouts to extreme outdoor adventure. Perfect for ages 6 and over. World Outdoors
Rock Ledge Ranch, Colorado Springs
Spend a day discovering your pioneer spirit at this historic ranch where anything from sheep shearing to traditional barn dances can happen – depending on when you visit. Rock Ledge Ranch
Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs
Close as possible to amazing red sandstone crags and giant rock formations against the snow-capped Pike Peaks. Lots of outdoor activities (from gentle to extreme) for kids too. Garden of the Gods
Backcountry Ski Safaris, Telluride
A guided ski family ski expedition into the untamed Telluride backcountry is the kind of unforgettable experience you expected in big, beautiful Colorado. Ski Safaris
Fat Biking, Winter Park
Fat bikes, big tyres and hundreds of kilometres of snow packed wilderness trails – go it alone with kids or take a local guide. Fat Bikes
Dog sledding, Rocky Mountain National Park
Go sledding in the fabulous snowy Rockies with your own team of Siberian and Alaskan Huskies. Rocky Mountain Dog Sledding
Educational value for kids
Colorado’s reputation for world-class skiing starts begins with outstanding ski-schools. Iconic destination for kids to take their first steps.
Park Ranger Family Days in Rocky Mountain National Park are free and mix learning with practical skill-building.
Denver has dozens of museums and art galleries and many give free entry to under 18s.
Historic mining town ski-resorts are as packed with history as winter sports in Colorado.
Catch one of the Rocky Mountain’s vintage steam trains through spectacular countryside – several come with downloadable guide apps and just as many with real, live talking guides on-board.
Learn everything from log splitting to fence building and traditional local customs at dozens of heritage ranches and towns in Colorado.
Denver has over 128km of safe cycle paths and trails in and around the city plus 200 parks and gardens – hire a city bike, get the visitors app and learn something new every five minutes.
Getting around with kids in Colorado
Unless you’re staying in one ski-resort and sticking to the slopes, you need a car in Colorado. It’s an astonishing state to drive around and travelling is as much of an adventure as arriving. Bike hire schemes and public transport are good to get about in cities and the resorts here pride themselves on superb lifts and gondolas summer and winter. The Telluride Gondola is known as one of the prettiest commutes in the US and it’s free.