Follow Samantha Tillotson and her family on their epic Hertz road trip through Colorado
Colorado is one of the USA’s best outdoors adventures for families and one of the best road trip destinations in the country. The highest State in the USA, it stretches from the Southern Rocky Mountains to the Western edge of the Great Plains and is home to a diverse range of stunning landscapes from snow-capped mountains to canyons and deserts.
Here the Coloradan’s passion for the great outdoors, which combines some of the best winter sports resorts in the USA and the rich Native American and cowboy heritage, makes for an incredible road trip adventure for families of all ages.
With over 20 different ski resorts to choose from, many of which are in close proximity, Colorado offers everything a snow loving family could imagine and much more. Famous for blue sky days and some of the best powder in the world, its spacious tree lined trails, with varied terrain is perfect for beginners right through to experts. The well organised and efficient lift systems mean quick and easy access to the slopes. While the resorts offer a wide range of facilities and friendly service to ensure everyone, both young and old, is catered for.
To help provide inspiration when planning your Colorado road trip Hertz has created the Hertz USA Road Trip Planner – Colorado route, with ideas for routes and pit-stops to explore along the way.
The Tillotson family recently explored Colorado for first time, swapping their annual European ski holiday for an all-American, cowboy themed snowy adventure.
Experiencing two very different resorts, enjoying the glorious mountain panoramas, trying a freestyle lesson and getting a taste of the slightly bonkers frontier spirit.
Touchdown in Denver, after a 10hour direct flight from London consider staying overnight to acclimatise. Collect your car from Hertz Denver International Airport or City Centre branches. First stop Steamboat Springs (177 miles from Denver, 3hour 15min drive).
This quintessential cowboy town combines an old west feel with 50s Americana and is famous for its Winter Carnival. Started as a way to help residents cope with cabin fever during the winter, it’s now a five day-long celebration of winter and local heritage.
With a packed schedule of family mogul competitions, cross country obstacle races, jumping, big air sessions, skate skiing, on-snow mountain biking, snow sculpting, live music, bonfires and S’mores eating, you can join in some of the activities, while others are best just watched in awe.
There are two unmissable highlights of the Carnival – the street racing events where crazy kids are pulled on skis and snowboards down the town’s main street, Lincoln Avenue, by horses in street slalom, ski-joring and donkey jump events.
While the grand finale is the incredible Night Extravaganza, a winter sports exhibition on Howelsen Hill with local athletes zigzagging down the mountain in a torch lit parade, Nordic jumpers soaring through fiery hoops and the mind-boggling ‘Lighted Man’ shooting fireworks from his pyrotechnic suit.
The night culminates in a spectacular firework display over the mountain, which features one of the biggest single fireworks in the country.
Just three miles down the road is the Steamboat Ski resort – known as Ski Town USA, it is considered one of the best family ski resorts in the country. With 165 runs and 16 lifts, the mountain caters for all skill levels.
The Sunshine trails in particular are great for families, with wide open runs and trails through the trees children love to weave in and out.
The resort offers a Kids Ski Free Programme with free lift passes and equipment for more than five days stay and a Mountain Watch tracking system for kids in lessons, so you can log on to find out where they’ve been that day.
Meanwhile join one of the free Mountain Tours, where friendly guides help you get your bearings tell you about Steamboat’s history. Families will love Lil’ Rodeo, an entry level terrain park for beginners (of all ages) featuring mini jumps, wide rails and a mini half pipe and the Rough Rider Basin, a wild west theme play area, with log cabins children can ski through.
After a busy day on the slopes take a relaxing soak in one of the local geothermal hot springs, the nearest is the Old Town Hot Springs, in Steamboat Springs, which offers both rejuvenating and recreation, with waterslides, rock-climbing wall and children’s pool.
Moving on to part two of your Colorado road trip, take a drive along the 1:70 Highway to Summit County, enjoying the wide open roads and panoramic scenery. Stop along the way to learn about the Wild West at the Buffalo Bill Museum or pan for gold in the old mining town of Idaho Springs.
This National Forest area has a varied choice of ski resorts, from Breckenridge, Beavercreek and Aspen, to Copper Mountain.
Copper Mountain is the most intimate and compact of the resorts, offering 140 runs and 23 lifts.
It is split into three villages marking the naturally divided terrain with gentle beginner slopes on the West and getting progressively steeper as you head east to suit the experts.
Copper is also known for is its six terrain parks, from beginner playgrounds to an exhilarating 22ft Superpipe.
They love their mogul fields on the black runs here, so if you’re looking for challenging runs that are not quite as hard on the knees check out the daily grooming reports. They will tell you where the bumps have been ironed out, on the Copper App.
Two highlights families love about Copper Mountain is Tubing Hill in the East Village, jump in your own tube or link with your family and friends to spin, bounce and laugh your socks off all the way down the curved tracks (only suitable for those above 26inches tall).
Woodward Barn is a world class indoor action sports training centre which offers families the chance learn to some freestyle skills. Great for those who want to hone their skills or just have a bit of fun bouncing around on trampolines and jumping into sponge pits. The more adventurous freestylers can progress on to ramps and jumps with skis and boards on wheels.
To get a feel for local life take a five minute drive to Frisco, a small, former mining town, with quaint colourful houses, boutiques, bars, restaurants and a historic park and museum.
Best car for families: Midsized SUV suitable for up to five persons & NeverLost SatNav
Pick up from: Denver International Airport
Price of hire for 8 days: Starts from £358, in November.