Planning Your Ski Trip to Colorado

ski trip

Winter is on its way for beautiful Summit County, CO, and if you’ve ever experienced it before, you know how amazing it truly is. With breathtaking views, world-class ski resorts, snowmobiling, and so much more. If you haven’t experienced it before then now is the time! Planning your ski trip to Colorado doesn’t have to be a hassle. Follow this guide for planning a successful ski trip in Summit County, Colorado.

Choosing Your Accommodation

Summit County, Colorado is home to 5 World-Class Ski Resorts including Keystone Ski Resort, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Arapahoe Basin, Loveland Basin, and Copper Mountain. Vail and Beaver Creek Resorts are also nearby, being 45 minutes to 1 hour away, and Steamboat Resort being 2 hours away. With so many options to choose from, the possibilities for your Colorado ski trip are endless!

If you are wanting to stay at the resorts to enjoy walking to the ski lifts, as well as all of the amenities that come with the resort, then Keystone, Breckenridge, or Copper Mountain are the resorts for you. Stay close to lifts, relax after a long day of skiing in a community hot tub or sauna, and enjoy being walking distance to many restaurants, shops, and bars.

If you are wanting to explore all of what Summit County has to offer then consider staying in one of the nearby towns, such as Dillon, Silverthorne, or Frisco! Renting a private home or condo is another great option for your family or group of friends. With Summit County being centrally located, staying in one of these towns gives you easy access to all the nearby ski resorts, as well as being able to explore the cute mountain towns of Colorado. You can find rentals close to restaurants, bars, shops, and any of the other activities you plan to do on your Colorado Ski Vacation.

Setting Travel Dates

While choosing your dates to travel to Summit County, there are a few things you need to consider.  First is the snow conditions! If you are planning a ski trip, you will want the snow to be just right when you arrive. The time for peak snowfall and a good base is from mid-December to mid-March. Anytime during this time frame you are bound to have some killer snow days on the mountain. However, another thing to take into consideration is peak times, and holidays. The week between Christmas and News Years, Presidents Day Weekend, and March Spring Breaks are some of the busiest times to visit Summit County.

You also want to take into consideration what the weather is going to be like. January is arguably the coldest month of them all, so you may need to pack those extra layers for the mountain. With that being said, January is also the best month for snow! We see an abundance of our annual snow totals during January, so get ready for some pow days! 

If you're someone who gets cold easily, and are wanting some more fun spring skiing days in the sun, then I’d recommend planning your ski trip for late march-early april. While the mountain is winding down from a busy winter, the sun is still shining and warm days on the mountain are in full swing during this time, not to mention the crowds have slowly started to die off.

Select your travel dates based on what is best for you and your family or group, but keep some of these things in mind when planning your trip.

Summit County Transportation

If you are planning on visiting Summit County from out of state, you will be flying into Denver International Airport. DIA is a short 2-hour ride to Summit County, entering the beautiful Rocky Mountains. There are several rental car options available at this airport, shuttle services, as well as buses to get you safely up to 9,000ft.

Choosing what type of transportation you need is also an important factor when visiting Summit County. With mountain roads and an abundance of snow, it is highly recommended that you should rent a car (if you choose this option) that is all wheel and/or 4-wheel drive. You never know when the high Rockies might throw some nasty weather your way. Book your rental car with your preferred rental car company, most are available at Denver International Airport.

Shuttles are another great option. You can schedule these shuttles in advance for yourself, 2 people, or your entire group! These shuttles will pick you up right at the Denver Airport and bring you straight to your destination. That's right, not just a bus stop, but directly to the accommodations you have prepared for your stay.

Two Shuttle Options:

Peak 1 Express

Summit Express

There are also bus services from Denver that will get you to Summit County. This option is best for those who choose to explore Denver before heading up to the mountains. Bustang or “Snowstang” has multiple routes from Denver’s Union Station to Frisco, CO, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Arapahoe Basin, and more.

Once you're in Summit County, take full advantage of the Summit Stage Bus System. These bus routes will take you all over Summit County. From Keystone/Arapahoe Basin all the way to Breckenridge, and all the towns in between, this bus system can take you anywhere you need to go. There are bus stops all over the county, at the local grocery stores, Wal-Mart, Target, and many restaurants, bars, shops, and shopping plazas. The best part about the Summit Stage is that it is FREE!

Ski Equipment

When it comes to your ski gear, it is totally up to you whether or not you want to bring your own or rent. There are options available all over Summit County to get all the gear you will need for your stay. On most airlines, it costs a small fee to have an “oversized bag” to bring your gear with you.

If you do choose to rent your gear, Pioneer Sports in Silverthorne, CO, and Frisco, CO is the best place to get rental gear for the whole family. (PMI guests receive 35% off their rentals!).

ski rentals

Other great options are:

●      Christy’s Sports (multiple locations)

●      Charter Sports (multiple locations)

●      Keystone Sports (Keystone Resort)

●      Copper Sports (3 locations at Copper Mountain)

If you are planning on taking ski lessons, the resort you choose often has lesson & rental packages available. See resort websites for more information.

Most rental packages include skis/snowboards, bindings, boots, and poles (if needed). Helmets are an additional cost. If you have your own and can bring it, bring it!

You WILL need to bring your own (or buy it when you get here, just make sure you have it for the mountain!):

●      Ski Pants

●      Winter Jacket

●      Base Layers/Onesies

●      Sweatshirts

●      Gloves

●      Snow Goggles

●      Hats/Earmuffs

●      Wool Socks 

Ski Lessons

Ski Lessons are the best way to learn to ski or ride if you are just starting out. All resorts offer ski lessons, and have a trained staff to help you make your first turns! You can book your ski or ride lessons in advance. There are usually options for ½ day or full-day lessons. You can also choose from doing a group lesson, a family lesson, or even a private lesson! See your preferred resort’s website for all ski/snowboard lesson options.

Lift Tickets and Passes

There are so many types of lift tickets, passes, and packages you can choose from when it comes to purchasing your lift tickets for your Colorado ski trip.

The first option is to just go up to the ticket window the morning of to purchase your passes for the day, or multiple days. Most resorts will offer a discount when purchasing multiple-day passes.

The next option is to purchase your lift tickets online! Most resorts have an online store where you can log in, choose your ticket option (single or multi-day), and pay right there online in advance. Usually, buying online and in advance is cheaper than waiting until the last minute.

Let's talk briefly about RFID cards. Most resorts these days use an RFID card that will be linked to your tickets, each person will get their own, and they allow you to easily be scanned by the ticket scanners to get on the lifts. No need to pull it out of your pocket! The scanners will scan it through your snow gear, just make sure not to put it next to a cell phone or other RFID card. You will have to physically pick up the pass at a ticket window on the day of your arrival, and there is usually a small fee associated with the card. Keep in mind that the cards can be reloaded throughout the season, so if you plan on coming back, save the RFID card!

Next up are season passes. If you are planning a long ski trip around Colorado, then buying a season pass is probably the best option for you. Season passes are usually around $500-$1000 for the base pass (Compared to day passes which can be up to $279 at certain resorts)! Not only will a season pass work for your entire vacation, but most passes (Epic & Ikon being the two major ones) have so many locations you can use them at. When you take a smaller ski trip or a day trip to your local mountain, you could be able to use it there! Visit or for more information on pass packages and destinations.

Packing Essentials

We already talked about what kind of gear and outerwear you will need for the mountain, but let's talk about your everyday clothes here in the mountains. In the winter, it is cold! Yes, Colorado does boast 300 days of sunshine each year, but just because the sun is shining, doesn't mean you will be warm. It can feel like a beautiful spring day at 2 PM and you're only wearing a long-sleeved shirt, but then 4 PM rolls around and the sun goes down, you're gonna want that sweatshirt or big fluffy winter jacket. Here in the high country, it's important to pack for all kinds of weather situations.

ski gear

Here is a list of some basics you should bring with you to Summit County:

●      Warm Pants (Jeans/Leggings)

●      Long Sleeve Shirts

●      Sweatshirts/Sweaters

●      Thick/Warm Socks

●      Hats/Earmuffs

●      Thin Gloves (Not ski gloves)

●      Thin Winter Jacket

●      Thick Winter Jacket

●      WINTER BOOTS (Sorry ladies, your uggs will not cut it here, they WILL get ruined with the amount of snow and moisture on the ground.)

●      Sneakers

●      Slippers (for the house)

And anything else you like that will keep you warm and cozy!

As for toiletry items, bring everything you normally would, and add extra lotion and extra chapstick! It is very dry here in Colorado, and it'll suck every bit of moisture right out of your body and skin. Be nice to your skin, and pack some lotion as well as chapstick for those lips!

SUNSCREEN! Sunscreen is a must on the hill. In Summit County, you are almost 2 miles closer to the sun than if you were at sea level. Even though it is cold, the sun is still extremely strong, and even being outside for a short amount of time in the cold can give you a pretty gnarly sunburn. Stay protected and use sunscreen while out playing in the mountains.

Summit County is the place to be for winter activities. With so many ski resorts, towns, accommodations, and attractions, there’s no shortage of fun here in the Rocky Mountains.

We hope this guide to planning your Colorado ski trip has helped! Book your preferred Summit County vacation rental today and figure out your travel plans and transportation, and make your way to some of the most beautiful mountain ranges you’ve ever seen!

Here are some of the featured properties we have here at PMI Summit Colorado:


Location: Keystone Resort


Property: ES8636


Walk to Ski Lifts, 2 bedroom/2 bath


Location: Copper Mountain


Property: MP310


Walk to Ski Lifts, 1 bedroom/2 bath


Location: Frisco


Property: FBC101


Centrally Located, 2 bedroom/2 bath


Location: Silverthorne


Property: 1746RHR


Beautiful Mountain Views Private Hot Tub, 4 bedroom/4bath


Location: Dillon


Property: SY47


Lake & Mountain Views, 3 bedroom/2 bath


Location: Breckenridge


Poperty: HG87


Private Hot Tub, 2 bedroom/2bath