Colorado – Family Vacation Guide

Home to the Rocky Mountains, Aspen, Vail, Telluride and the 300 days of sunshine a year city of Denver, Colorado’s one of America’s greatest outdoor adventures. Take the kids skiing here in winter and you have dozens of different resorts to choose from and several legendary names less than a two hour drive from Denver. Go in summer for wilderness camping in the Rockies, white water rafting on the Arkansas River and festivals all over amazing downtown Denver.

Explore Colorado


Why Go



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, but Telluride’s closer to six and driving’s the only option.

Denver

Rocky Mountain National Park

Winter Park

Copper Mountain

Denver

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 U.S. 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, acres of biking 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 centers, 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.
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Rocky Mountain National Park

Far from the biggest U.S. national park (Yosemite covers 1,880 square miles), Rocky Mountain’s 415 square miles spread is incredibly accessible and peaks of 13,000 ft and higher beat anywhere else for sheer grandeur. Add in mountain lakes, dense forest, the wildest wildlife and long experience creating unforgettable family vacations and you have mighty Colorado in miniature just over an hour’s drive from Denver city center.

  • 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 vacation.

Take Me to Rocky Mountain National Park

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Winter Park

Winter Park, just over an hour from Denver, is Colorado’s longest running ski-resort and in the state’s top-5 family favorites – officially. It’s also one of the first areas to open (middle of November every year), has an average of 30 ft of snow annually and 3,080 acres of skiable terrain including 143 runs.

  • Colorado’s most consistent snow record, 25 lifts and home to the National Sports Center for the Disabled.
  • Wide range of hotels, cabins and houses in The Village.
  • Friday and Saturday night family skiing offered.
  • Tube Park, sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling, cat skiing, Nastar racing, mountain biking, dog sledding and Nordic skiing are all possible.
  • Award-winning Ski & Ride school teaches kids from age 3.
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Copper Mountain

Just 75 miles 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 cozy hotels. The ski area covers 2,300 acres and has 140 runs, 23 lifts and altitudes of over 12,000 ft.

  • Runs include: 21% beginner, 25% intermediate, 36% advanced and 18% expert.
  • 16 miles of 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.
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What to Do

  • Downtown Aquarium, Denver

    Aquarium in Denver’s famous LoDo is big, colorful and kids can eat in the restaurant surrounded by 150,000 gallon tank filled with tropical fish and “real” mermaids.

  • Denver Art Museum

    Sensational Daniel Libeskind building is a city icon, the collection’s internationally recognized and kids have free entry. Plus, they offer an innovative year-round activity calendar.

  • Wild Animal Sactuary, Keenesburg

    740 acres of 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.

  • Georgetown Loop Railway, Rocky Mountains

    Three hours round trip on original 19th century steam train in and around the dramatic Rockies – crossing Devil’s Gate Bridge is better than any rollercoaster.

  • All-Inclusice Rocky Mountain Family Adventure

    Family-friendly, personalized short breaks in the Rockies with professional guides. Includes everything from campfire cookouts to extreme outdoor adventure. Perfect for ages six and over.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Mountain Biking, Winter Park

    Mountain bikes with hundreds of miles of snow packed wilderness trails – go it alone with kids or take a local guide.

  • Dog sledding, Rocky Mountain National Park

    Go sledding in the fabulous snowy Rockies with your own team of Siberian and Alaskan Huskies.


Educational Value for Kids

  • Colorado’s reputation for world-class skiing 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 80 miles of safe biking paths and trails in and around the city plus 200 parks and gardens – rent a city bike, get the visitors app and learn something new every five minutes.

 

Getting Around

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 rentals and public transportation are good to get around 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.

Explore More in the West

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