One of my favorite places in the Rockies is Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Beaver Creek is my home away from home in many ways. My family has owned a condo there since the resort was just beginning back in the 1980s. This charming ski town close to Vail offers many of the same activities as Vail just on a smaller scale, which is fine by me. Fewer people, more charm…
And you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from Vail — and only about an hour and a half from Aspen — should you want more action!
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All About Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek sees an average of more than 300 inches of snow each season and sits at an elevation of 8,100 feet with the top of its mountain at 11,440 feet. Skiers will find fewer crowds amid the 1,800 skiable acres, featuring 150 conventional trails. The resort’s longest trail is Centennial at 2.75 miles.
While it’s a bit chilly in winter with average temperatures in the 20s and 30s during the daytime, the area has 275 days of sunshine every year, which can make that chill feel not so bad!
My family usually visits Beaver Creek, Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains in summer, because we love to hike, kayak and enjoy the outdoor mountain scenery in the warmth. However, I’ve been skiing a few times and I did love it. It’s on our list to return in wintertime soon.
Here are my tips for visiting this lovely ski resort during the magical winter months when slow blankets the village, fresh powder fills the mountains and cozy fires are blazing in every home and condo in the area :).
Tips for Winter Travel to Beaver Creek, Colorado
1. Fly Direct
While it’s less of a big deal in summer to fly into Denver (about two hours away) and drive into the mountains, you’ll be cursing in winter in the midst of a snow storm as you attempt to navigate crazy curves and steep inclines with kids in tow.
You can fly directly into the Vail/Eagle County Regional Airport and be to Beaver Creek in about 15-20 minutes. American Airlines often includes this Vail airport on their Reduced Mileage Awards Destinations, which can be a great way to get there on fewer miles. Delta and United also fly to the airport.
2. Fly Into Denver
If it doesn’t work for you to fly directly into Vail, you can, of course, fly into Denver, and plenty of people do it all winter long. Southwest flies into Denver if you want to use Southwest points and your Southwest Companion Pass for ultra cheap fares, but plan to add a day coming and going to your trip for the two-hour drive in the snow.
If you don’t want to drive, hop a ride on the Colorado Mountain Express, which is a shuttle that takes you from the Denver Airport to the ski resort areas, including Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain, Vail, Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch, Aspen and Snowmass Village. Rates are $85-$104 per person one-way and kids 12 and younger are $35-$41. If you’re traveling with three or more people, you can save 20% on your tickets.
Additionally, car rentals can be expensive from Denver. I’d advise booking as far in advance as you can and consider picking up the rental somewhere besides the airport, which is much less expensive. You’ll need to Uber there, however, which adds extra time, and they are often only open during business hours. You can also try Priceline, entering in a lower bid.
Tip: If you show your same-day boarding pass at the Beaver Creek ticket window, they’ll let you ski FREE all afternoon!
3. Choose Ski-in/Ski-out Vacation Rentals & Hotels
At many Beaver Creek resorts, you can literally pop out the door of your condo or room on skis, which is one less hassle to take time out of the best part of Beaver Creek in winter: skiing. Plus, you get immediate warmth so you can begin thawing out. When searching for a vacation rental, sort here by “Distance to Lift.”
The alternative is waiting for a free Beaver Creek Resort shuttle, which is fine, but not the ideal after a long day skiing with some very tired — and cranky — kiddos :).
4. Bring Your Beginner Skiers
In 2017, Beaver Creek is debuting a brand new 200-acre area dedicated to beginners and families. Red Buffalo Park is located at the summit of Beaver Creek Mountain (which means spectacular Rocky Mountain views), has its own lift, 13 family trails, Kids Adventure Zones, snow sculptures and the Cookie Cabin, where you can enjoy cookie time, which is explained below (Hint: It involves FREE cookies!).
In the Kids Adventure Zones, new skiers can enjoy runs designed just for kids with features like a ski-through covered wagon, teepees and mazes. There’s also a beginner terrain park with small jumps, boxes, rails and stall features. Intermediate skiers can check out the Zoom Room with similar features but designed for more advanced skiers.
5. Ski With a Ranger
Take a free hour-long ski tour of Beaver Creek Mountain with staff from Walking Mountains Science Center and the United States Forest Service to learn about wildlife, plants, history and the mountain ecosystem in winter. The tours take place every Monday at 1:30 p.m. at the top of Red Buffalo Park. The tour is recommended for Level 3 skiers and higher.
6. Enjoy Ice Skating
Be sure to head to Beaver Creek’s ice skating rink located right in the middle of the village for a break from skiing and some fun family time. It’s a bucket list item at Beaver Creek for sure. Rent skates right in the village and cruise around the rink to popular music. When you need a break, relax in some of the village’s super comfy seating and warm up by the outdoor fire pits.
7. Cookie Time!
This has to be my favorite. Every day at 3 p.m. through the winter season, chefs serve warm, freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies throughout the village. They say they serve almost 500,000 cookies every year! You can also enjoy Cookie Time at the Cookie Cabin at Red Buffalo Park if you are enrolled in ski school. They serve the cookies all day… Now that’s my kind of wintertime activity…
8. Dine on the Mountain
One of my best memories of Beaver Creek is taking a sleigh ride through the snow to arrive at an utterly-charming cabin on the mountain for a lovely meal with my family. This tradition is still alive at either Beano’s Cabin or Allie’s Cabin, both located on the mountain, requiring you to take special transportation to access them.
Allie Cabin offers family meals, where groups arrive by open-air sleigh and then enjoy a kid-friendy three-course buffet meal while the floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace crackles with a cozy fire.
9. Indulge in Artisan Chocolate
At the top of the Strawberry Express Lift is Beaver Creek’s popular Candy Cabin where you can snag one-of-a-kind artisan craft chocolate within the atmosphere of a vintage candy store. Each chocolate bar comes in its own gold box or you can choose from chocolate snowflakes, snow men or ski boots. It’s open from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily. What a treat at the top of the lift!
10. Get Social
Beaver Creeks Women’s Social Tour invites visiting women to improve their ski skills while making new friends — free! Drop off the kids at ski school or head over after morning exercise to meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday through Friday at the Beaver Creek Ski School for a tour led by a female Ski School ambassador.
11. See a Show
The village offers a world-class arts venue at the Vilar Performing Arts Center newly renovated in 2017 where famous performers of all types visit. We were able to catch Bruce Hornsby for a fantastic performance during the summer, but other performances have included David Spade, Diana Krall, Bela Fleck, Jim Gaffigan, the Wailers, Broadway shows and more.
12. Visit Nearby Vail
While you’re in the area, head east to Vail Mountain, which is just a 15 minute drive. Vail has two large villages, Vail Village and Lionshead, with lots more shopping, dining, apre ski bars and entertainment. Skate on their ice skating rink, enjoy some different slopes and go mushing. Check out more things to do in Vail.
What’s your favorite family activity at Beaver Creek? Have fun out there!
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