Colorado is the perfect place to experience a two-for-one vacation. In Denver, you can enjoy big-city offerings: a booming craft beer scene, great restaurants, museums, a theater district and nightclubs. Then, you can escape to the mountains for winter-time adventures, whether that’s schussing down a mountain on skis or a snowboard, or giving snowkiting or fat biking a try before sidling up to a fireplace inside a cozy lodge. (Plus, many of the resorts have opened up new, year-round mountain coasters, which are worth adding to your itinerary).
Thankfully, you’ve got transportation options to help with the logistics of a city-mountain vacation. Plus, these shuttles and trams alleviate the stress of sitting in traffic along the notoriously unpredictable I-70 corridor that leads to the resorts. Also many out-of-towners aren’t quite comfortable driving along snowy mountain roads, so a ski train or tram can take that stress away.
Here’s a few transportation options that are capable of shuttling you from Denver to the ski resorts, and then back in a day.
Amtrack’s Winter Park Express ski train
The historic Winter Park Express train runs from Union Station in downtown Denver to the base of Winter Park Resort, dropping off passengers at the slopeside village, which has shops and restaurants. It runs Saturdays and Sundays between Jan. 5, 2018 and March 25, 2018. Plus, new for the 2018 season, it will run the first Friday of the month (Jan. 5, 2018, Feb. 2, 2018 and March 2, 2018). The train operates on a regular schedule. It departs Union Station in Denver at 7 a.m., arrives in Winter Park at 9 a.m. It departs Winter Park at 4:30 p.m. and arrives back at Union Station at 6:40 p.m. Union Station is conveniently located in the heart of downtown, but if you’re staying in the outskirts of town, you may be able to hop on a connecting LightRail tram.
You can book early, discounted tickets for $29 each direction along the Winter Park Express. Other tickets range from $39 to $59 in each direction. Children ages 2 through 12 get half off the fare so long as they’re traveling with an adult.
You are able to book one-way tickets on Saturday and Sunday trips if you’d like to turn your ski vacation into a weekend or week-long trip.
If you’re traveling with a group, you can purchase bundle packages that include train rides, lift tickets and lodging by calling 1-800-USA-1GRP.
Each train can carry 500 passengers.
Hop on the Bustang
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has a fleet of purple buses that make runs between Denver and several mountain towns. The Bustang’s western route has eight stops total, including ones in Frisco, Vail and Glenwood Springs. Single ride fares along the West Line depend on how far you’re traveling, but range from $5 to $28. The Bustang buses come equipped with Wi-Fi, as well as bathrooms and bike racks.
In 2016, CDOT did a couple of test runs of a new “Snowstang” shuttles that departed Denver and made stops at A-Basin, Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail and Winter Park, but there’s no word yet as to whether they’ll eventually roll out full service to those resorts.
Take a Private Shuttle
A few private companies have fleets of shuttles and SUVs that travel from Denver to various ski resorts.
The Peak 1 Express offers shuttle service from Denver International Airport as well as a group shuttles that will pick you up from either your door or designated pick-up locations. You can also arrange for a private shuttle for you or your group.
Peak 1 services popular Summit County locations that you can easily get to and from within a day if you’re staying in Denver. Those resorts include Breckenridge, Keystone, Silverthorne, Dillon, Frisco and Copper Mountain. The Peak 1 Express also has routes in Eagle County. While the resorts are about two hours from Denver, it’s still feasible to make a day trip out of them. The locations they service in Eagle County include Vail, Beaver Creek, Avon and Edwards. Rate charts depend on the time of year and which kind of shuttle you’re booking.
Similarly, Summit Express has scheduled shuttles and private shuttles that go from Denver to Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek and other areas. You can book one-way or round-trip transportation.
Another shuttle option is Colorado Mountain Express, which can get you from Denver to Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Frisco, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Dillon, Silverthorne and other mountain towns and resorts.
In the summer, this bus shuttles concert-goers to the iconic Red Rocks amphitheater for concerts. Come winter, though, it becomes a popular ski shuttle known as the Front Range Ski Bus that ferries skiers and snowboarders between Union Station in downtown Denver.
The Denver to Loveland route begins on Dec. 1, 2017. You can also pick up this shuttle at the Wooly Mammoth Park and Ride in Golden. The shuttle runs Wednesdays through Sunday. The shuttle picks up at Union Station at 7:30 a.m. and Wooly Mammoth Park and Ride near I-70 and C-470 off of the Morrison exit at 8 a.m. It arrives at Loveland at approximately 9 a.m. The shuttle departs the Loveland ski area at 3:30 p.m. Adult tickets are $45 round-trip and $38 for children 12 and under. A perk? If you ride the shuttle, you’ll get a discount on your Loveland lift ticket, knocking the price down to $49.
If you’re traveling with a group and want to arrange a bus to other ski resorts, you can do so by booking a private charter bus.
Another ski bus option will shuttle you to Eldora, which is just outside of Boulder. The Ski-n-Ride bus runs every day of the week during the ski season. The regional bus departs from Boulder, but it’s just a single transfer from Denver. The bus has luggage bays to accommodate ski and snowboarding equipment, but riders do need to place all ski equipment in a ski bag when boarding the bus.