Colorado Vacations 
Family Travel Colorado 
Your Guide to Visiting Colorado with the Kids
Skiing at Beaver Creek with the Kids


Beaver Creek Ski Resort treats families on vacation in Colorado.

They can choose from  several mountains for skiing, and three villages for hot chocolate at the end of the day.

 




Photo: Snowboard instructors wrangle young riders
at the base of the
Buckaroo Express Gondola
at Beaver Creek Ski Resort.














Did You Know?


The average  snowfall for the 26 major Colorado ski resorts is 295 inches per year.

Some areas (Loveland, Wolf Creek) recorded an average of 400
inches or more per year.

Photo
: Kids ski in a
major snowstorm at Winter Park






Add a touch of nineteenth century elegance when you travel in Colorado with the kids.

Read our article:Colorado's Historic Luxury Hotels












Christmas in Colorado


Holiday magic swirls through the air in Colorado.



With adorable resort towns, whispering pine forests, and sparkling snow-covered peaks, Colorado enchants families on winter vacation in the Rocky Mountains.

Read our series of articles about a Colorado Christmas!

 




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Photo: Learning area at the Beaver Creek Village base area of Beaver Creek Ski Resort, Colorado. 









Beaver Creek Ski Resort is home to the Golden Eagle ski run.

Kids who ski this alpine World Cup race way earn their bragging rights.  

 

















  Wondering where to take the kids for a good meal in the Vail Valley?

Here's our short list of quick reviews to help you decide.

Vail Valley
Family Restaurants


Bon appétit!











At the Westin Riverfront Resort at Beaver Creek Mountain, the lobby wears an understated and elegant look during the day.



By night it fills with guests - families who come downstairs to socialize and relax.

In short, for a luxury family ski lodge experience, the Westin Riverfront strikes the perfect tone.  


Read our review:
Kids at the Westin Riverfront Resort at Beaver Creek Mountain in Colorado












Beaver Creek Village


Photo: Families enjoy the ice skating rink in the heart of Beaver Creek Village.

Whether you are on a family ski trip or visiting Colorado in the summer with the kids, Beaver Creek Village offers a story-book-pretty place to set up base camp. 

Read our page about A Family Vacation in Beaver Creek Village.












Colorado Hotels have come a long way.



Canvas tents and drafty log buildings have been
replaced by
elegant inns
and plush accommodations.


Photo: Colorado hotels like The Little Nell in Aspen, offer vacationing families posh quarters close to blue-ribbon outdoor recreation.

 

Read our
articles about
Colorado's Luxurious Lodges.





Photo: Beaver Creek Village lies at the bottom
of mountain swells with long, undulating runs. 

Lumpy isn’t a word that usually comes to mind when you are talking about Colorado’s best ski areas. But when our family ventured into the Colorado Rockies to ski Beaver Creek, lumpy is what we found - in a good way.

Let me explain: Although Colorado brags of 300 days of sunshine per year, when we first explored the slopes of Beaver Creek, heavy clouds rolled over the mountain tops and opened up. 

It was kind of like when kids above the stage sprinkle soap flakes on the Christmas pageant and they accidentally spill the whole box. Or as if a giant hand had shaken the magical snow globe of our world, and left us in a swirl of white, soft as down.

In the time it took us to ride a ski lift from the bottom to the top, a half inch of cold, white fluff piled up on my son’s helmet. When I blew on it, flakes danced into space like so much fairy dust. 

All of which is to say, powder piled beneath our skis, but we were having trouble orienting ourselves on the mountain. We rode ski lifts that faded up into a gauzy forests. We followed ski runs that dropped into the brink, disappearing into  flurries. Timbered ski lodges and elfin warming huts, soft around the edges, loomed suddenly out of the clouds.



Photo: The Ritz Carlton at Bachelor Gulch
emerges from the snowy air. 

It was a magical, almost spooky feeling. And then there was that lumpiness. 


Getting to Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek Ski Resort lies in western Colorado, just about 100 road miles from Denver. It takes families about two hours to drive there, with good weather, following I-70 all the way. 

Eagle County Regional Airport is just about 30 minutes from Beaver Creek Village. During the winter, families can catch non-stop flights from Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/Kennedy, New York/La Guardia, and Newark to Eagle County Airport.   Six major car rental companies and two ground transportation companies offer visitors a variety of rides into Beaver Creek. 


Lay of the Land

The ski resort is built where the slopes of the mighty Sawatch Mountain Range slide down to meet the Eagle River. This north face of the Sawatch is riddled with creeks and streams, which have sculpted and molded the mountains into rounded, four-thousand-foot tall lumpy mounds. 


So as we skied around Beaver Creek, we found ourselves descending into these little mini-valleys, and riding chairlifts back up to gentle ridges. 


Although the kids and I were frequently a little befuddled, our day turned into a charmed exploration. Many of the chairlifts we rode have maps on the safety bars, and these kept us mostly oriented to our general whereabouts. In the end, we always knew that we would eventually funnel downhill to a lodge or village. 


Village to Village

The people who created Beaver Creek Ski Resort found three locations near the base of the mountain for villages, with services for skiers. These villages are connected with each other and the rest of the ski mountain by networks of ski lifts and runs. At every village, families will find ticket offices, places to eat, restrooms, lockers, and ski shops with rental services. 

The biggest village is Beaver Creek Village, tucked in a valley along the splashy little stream known as Beaver Creek. It lies at the base of the most extensive spread of ski trails, with beginner, intermediate, and advanced terrain all ranging up and over several of those mountainous rises.


Photo: The Promenade in Beaver Creek Village 
lies at the base of the ski runs

In Beaver Creek Village, hotels, restaurants, boutiques, flower shops, art galleries, condominiums, vacation homes, and an outdoor ice skating rink surround the Promenade area at the base of the ski trails. You can sign up for ski and ride school here, and watch your kids ride the surface lifts at the broad ski school learning area. 

Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead are the two other villages or base areas. These locations, however, seem to serve more as gateways to lodges, condominiums, and private residences. The Ritz Carlton Hotel, with its beautiful log architecture, sweeps across the base area of Bachelor Gulch. 

The Ritz Carlton Hotel at Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek Ski Resort, Colorado


At the foot of the mountain, but not directly connected to any ski trails, are the Towns of Avon and Edwards, Colorado. A shuttle bus system and the Riverfront Express Gondola in Avon transport visitors to the slopes. Avon is a real, incorporated town, with restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, and parks with playgrounds. Here, parents can find a recreation center (indoor pool, water slides, lazy river), an urgent care clinic, and fast food. The town is laid out with curving streets, roundabouts, and pretty mountain landscaping. 



Mountain Statistics
 

Beaver Creek is not a high-altitude ski area, by Colorado standards. Altitudes range from 7,400 feet at the base of the Arrow Bahn Express Lift in Arrowhead Village, although the official base altitude is 8,100 feet.  The summit at the top of the Cinch Express Lift lies at 11,440 feet above sea level.

An average annual snowfall of 310 inches blankets the ski area, which covers 1,815 skiable acres. Skiers at this ski area enjoy a vertical rise of 4,040 feet. 

Seventeen lifts take families onto the mountain, and include two gondolas, ten high speed quad lifts, three double chairs and two triple chairs. Altogether they can accommodate over 34,000 skiers per hour. It’s a good thing Beaver Creek is a big area, with 149 trails for all those people to ski. 

The difficulty of the trails is nicely balanced at Beaver Creek, with 19% of the terrain appropriate for beginning skiers, while intermediate terrain accounts for 43% of the mountain, and 38% of the runs are advanced and expert terrain.


Take Your Lumps

The rolling terrain creates distance between the ski area’s various sections and gives the place a spread-out feeling. The low, aspen-tree covered Arrowhead Mountain has mostly blue (intermediate) and green (beginner) runs, with several “Homeowner Skiways” crisscrossing the slopes and providing access to condominiums and private homes. 


Photo: The Arrow Bahn Express chairlift climbs
Arrowhead Mountain from its base area in Arrowhead Village.
 


 
On the other side of the hill from Arrowhead Mountain is Bachelor Gulch Mountain, with long green and blue cruising runs that rise up from the Ritz Carlton Hotel. At the top of the Bachelor Gulch Express Lift, the deck at Mamie’s Grill offers outdoor dining with views of the McCoy Park cross-country ski and snowshoe area. 

Red Tail Camp, a lodge named for an indigenous Colorado hawk, sits in a valley at the bottom of three different rises, each with its own trail complex. Three lifts start near Red Tail Camp and take skiers to the tops of the complexes: Larkspur Bowl, Grouse Mountain, and the Birds of Prey complex. 

These three areas are where kids can really get their heart beating on intermediate and expert (black diamond) runs and stare with dry mouths down the double black diamond trails, until their mom calls them away. (“I coulda done that, easy!” they brag, while their big brother laughs and throws snow at their head.)

For families inclined towards a mellower ski vacation at Beaver Creek, a lovely complex of kid-friendly ski runs lace through the woods near the very summit of the ski resort. Here, everyone can enjoy spectacular views even if they are just learning to ski.  

Every ski trail under and around the Cinch Express and Drink of  Water lifts is designated a family zone. Kids can explore Kids’ Adventure Zones, and experiment with the features at Park 101 terrain park

Ske-cology signs offer folks an excuse to stop and catch their breath while learning something about the local plants and animals. And kids get to follow secret forest paths on fun trails like Jack Rabbit Alley, that meander through the trees. 



Progressing down the mountain towards Beaver Creek Village, long green runs wind through the steeper areas, offering points for tired kids to bail from the harder trails if they feel the need. This also makes it nice for families of varying skiing abilities to all ski the same section of mountain. 

At the end of the day, I heard high praise for trails Piney, Cinch, and Latigo from my husband who had great fun there with our eleven-year-old. 

The best places to ski at Beaver Creek? 

For families, that depends on many factors: ages and abilities of the skiers, snow conditions, and how good a night’s sleep everyone had. Fortunately, the variety and interest of this undulating terrain gives families plenty of choice. 

In addition, where you ski at Beaver Creek may also depend on the activities you want to enjoy while you are there. 

Activities for Kids on the Ski Hill

Every day, all season long, Beaver Creek has fun things planned to keep kids jazzed about their vacation. For example, you can start each day with Cocoa and Corduroy - 9:30am hot chocolate followed by cruising down the freshly groomed runs from the top of the Centennial Express lift. 

Begin the week with a Monday Forest Ranger hike... er, ski. Meet at the top of the Cinch Express chairlift for a free 45 minute ski tour on the beginner and intermediate trails at the top of the mountain. 

Or join an afternoon parade with fuzzy, flop-eared Riperoo, the ski and snowboard school mascot, from the top of the Buckaroo Express Gondola. 

For a spin on the old slide-down-the-mountain routine, check out Beaver Creek’s tubing hill. Get your tickets at the Ranch, a warming hut at the top of the Buckaroo Express Gondola, just where the tubing hill starts.


The strong young men at the top of the tubing hill are quick with a grin and a joke. If you ask for it, they’ll give your tube a wicked spin as they send you down the chutes. Sometimes you get a straight, fast shot to the bottom, sometimes you careen wildly up the sloped sides of the chutes, but always you glide gently to the stop at the bottom. There, you can climb on a surface lift, which brings you, protected from the wind by a tunnel, to the top of the tubing hill again. 




Don’t miss the FFAC (Family Friday Afternoon Club). When we were there, the ski patrol was demonstrating the skills of their avalanche rescue dogs. Patrollers buried kids in a snowdrift and then let the pooches discover and “rescue” the young “victims”.

One of the prettiest special events is Thursday Night Lights. Families watch as skiers carrying glow sticks ski down the face of the mountain after dusk. You and your kids can ski along if you are of intermediate skiing level or above. Otherwise, it is just beautiful to watch from below. The event is finished off by fireworks lighting up the snow. 


Amenities for Families at Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek takes special care to make sure that all its guests, even the smallest ones, are well cared for. 


Small World Child Care

While Mom and Dad and older sibling are on the slopes, little visitors ages 2 months to 6 years old can have their own fun at the Small World Play School in Beaver Creek Village.   Caregiver ratios are high, with one caregiver for three babies up to 15 months old, one caregiver for five toddlers up to 29 months old, and one caregiver for every eight children 30 months to 6 years old. Lunch and snacks are provided as well as age appropriate arts and crafts, music, rest time, and outside play time.


Children’s Ski and Snowboard Lessons

Kids as young as 3-years-old can sign up for ski lessons, as long as they are potty trained and willing to be separated from their parents for the day. Ski instructors are chosen for their ability to work with children as well as their skiing skills. Participants are grouped according to age and ability, and have fun skiing with kids their own age. A kid-friendly lunch is included, or half-day lessons for 3 to 6-year-olds are available.

Beaver Creek ski instructor and kids enter the Bear Cave Kids' Adventure Zone

Lockers and Overnight Storage 

Families can store after-ski boots, extra mittens, and water bottles in lockers at the three base villages: Beaver Creek Village, Bachelor Gulch, and Arrowhead. Also, look for lockers at Spruce Saddle Lodge, at the top of the Centennial Express chairlift. 

Additionally, an overnight locker can make life much easier for multi-day vacations or for families who have season passes. These lockers, big enough for storing skis, snowboards, helmets, and clothing for a family of four, are located near the base of the Centennial Express lift in Beaver Creek Village. 

Environmental Learning Center

Meanwhile, at the top of Beaver Creek Ski Mountain, a cozy timber building invites chilly skiers into a warming room. Inside, signs decorate the walls with pictures and stories of Beaver Creek’s history and wildlife. Interpretive stations ask kids, “Why do Elk Migrate?” and show how to tell different animal tracks apart. Don’t be scared by the stuffed bear lurking around the corner.  



Meals on the Mountain

Any parent knows it’s important to keep up the kids’ strength while they are schussing around all those hills. When it’s time to feed the troops, Beaver Creek Ski Resort comes through with tasty, healthy fuel for even the pickiest little skier. 

On sunny days, Mamie’s Grill offers dining outside on a deck near the top of the Bachelor Gulch lift. Here, you can grill your own burger or chicken under the wide open Colorado skies. 

If you’ve been skiing in heavy snowfall, the wood-timbered Spruce Saddle Lodge offers warm shelter as well as sustenance. A cafeteria-style restaurant lets each member of the family choose the most appealing dish. From classic ski lodge cuisine like grilled hamburgers and bowls of chili to fancy pasta dishes and prime rib sandwiches, the food is plentiful and wholesome. However, my teenage son (six inches taller this year and still growing) needed to order two meals to fill up. 

Other good on-mountain choices for families include the centrally located Red Tail Camp and the Broken Arrow restaurant at Arrowhead Mountain. 

 

Dream State

Fairy dust rained upon us all day long. The more we skied, the deeper the snow got, often hiding tracks we had made twenty minutes earlier. Without a sun to roll across the sky, with no shadows on the slopes, the day took on a timeless quality. 

Down through the trees we floated and then up a lift again, over this large lump of a mountain and that, dreamily following our whims. My ringing phone broke through my revery - my husband saying he and my son were thrashed. They’d meet us at the bottom, in Beaver Creek Village. Startled, I glanced at the clock at the top of the lift. Five minutes until it closed. 

We stood at the top of the run, putting our mittens in our ski-pole loops for the last time that day. Downy flakes covered our shoulders and we felt the satisfaction and the melancholy that comes with the last run on a magical snow-globe mountain.   




 




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