While skiing can feel like a talent reserved only for Olympic athletes and extreme sports fans, the sport is far more accessible than you may believe. Nearly every resort has slopes for all experience levels, and you can easily find lessons for beginners. Ski resorts are the perfect vacation destination for anyone who wants to experience breathtaking views, charming mountain locations, and the chance to cross something off their bucket list. If you want to know how to plan a Colorado ski trip, check out these tips below.
Make a Budget
Before you begin to plan, one thing you need to keep in mind is your budget. Take some time to figure out your plan for every step of the journey, from which lodge or resort you want to stay at to where you will eat. Don’t forget to factor in specifics such as ski lift tickets and equipment rentals. Figuring out these details early on will make planning easier, and once you’re there, you’ll know the cost won’t get too high.
Determine When to Go
Ski season varies on who you ask and where you go, but for the most part, November through May is the most popular time. Find a date that works for you and everyone you will travel with, but don’t forget to consider things such as crowds, traffic, and weather. April and May bring the risk of melting snow and slush, while going too early in the season could run the risk of less snow on the slopes. No matter when you go, though, remember to book your trip early to make sure you get a reservation in the perfect spot.
Find out Where to Go
There are many ski mountains to choose form in Colorado, so selecting a destination can overwhelm some. Simplify the decision by first figuring out what you want to experience on your trip. Are you looking for a large resort with plenty of accommodations, or a smaller one with less crowds? Make sure the one you choose has something for everyone in your group, no matter their experience level, and check out other things you can do around the resort. Once you pick a location, make sure to find a place to stay nearby. A shorter commute from your hotel to the resort means less time on the road and more time on the slopes.
Know How to Get There
It’s important to consider your options for transportation. If you drive there, make sure your vehicle is prepared for winter weather and mountain roads, and don’t forget to factor in how traffic will affect your drive times. If you plan to fly, keep in mind how much you’ll have to take with you, and try to book your flight far in advance to get the best prices. You should also find out if your resort has shuttles you can take to get around, or if you’ll have to rent a car.
An important (and easy) way to prepare for your ski trip is to make sure you’re ready for the amount of physical activity skiing requires. Getting into shape will increase your endurance and help you last longer out on the hills. Even smaller workouts ahead of time—such as joining a weekly class or going on the occasional run—will help your body adjust and prepare for the trip. When the time comes to hit the slopes, your muscles will thank you.
Pack the Essentials
Now the fun part begins: getting the right apparel and equipment. Pack plenty of layers, and make sure you have insulated and water-resistant clothes. Warm, absorbent socks are important, but don’t double up—it’ll mess with the fit of your boots and cause you unnecessary troubles. You can also keep you head warm with your favorite Colorado beanie or hat. Sun protection is vital, especially for your eyes, so pack sunscreen and goggles or sunglasses. It’s also a good idea to bring a backpack onto the slopes, that way you can carry plenty of water and snacks with you. You’ll also have a place to put any layers you shed while out on the mountain.
Take Ski Lessons
Whether you’re a total beginner or a seasoned skier looking to brush up, invest the time and money into learning from a pro. Even if it’s just a half-day lesson, learning the basics can make the rest of your trip much more enjoyable. Once you get out on your own, you’ll be grateful for the knowledge and the reduced number of falls. Lessons are also a good way to get everyone in your group on the same page, which makes it easier for you to keep up with each other.
Be Aware of Altitude Sickness
The high elevation on most mountains means less oxygen, which makes altitude sickness a possibility. No one wants to lose time on the slopes, but if you start to feel less than great—symptoms can include nausea, fatigue, and headaches—it’s important not to push yourself. Overdoing it can result in more severe injuries that will seriously derail your vacation. If you rest up, use sunscreen, and stay hydrated, you should be back at it within a day or two.
Try Other Things
While you’re there, don’t forget to take full advantage of the area, and venture beyond skiing. You can try your hand at tubing or snowboarding, or take in more of the scenery with snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Make sure to visit nearby tourist towns with endless shops and restaurants to enjoy—you won’t regret setting aside some time and money for experiences like these.
The most important tip for how to plan your Colorado ski trip is to remember one thing: it’s a vacation. Don’t go too hard or worry about what you look like out on the slopes. Stick to your comfort level, and take breaks whenever you need to. You don’t want to spend the trip sore, or even injured, because you pushed too hard on your first day. The point is to have fun, and maybe even try something new. If you’ve done that, then you can call the trip a success.