A Denver, Colorado vacation delivers the best of both worlds. Enjoy big-city offerings, like great restaurants, museums, theaters, nightclubs, and a booming craft beer scene. Then, escape to the mountains for wintertime adventures, whether it's skiing, snowboarding, or trying your hand at snowkiting or fat biking, before sidling up to a fireplace inside a cozy lodge.
Thankfully, numerous transportation options help ease the logistics of your city-mountain stay, whisking you off to the slopes for a day trip, and then back down to Denver après ski. These shuttles and trams alleviate the stress of driving in traffic along the notoriously unpredictable I-70 corridor, and take away the pressure of navigating snowy roads as an out-of-towner.
CDOT'S Bustang and Snowstang
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has a fleet of purple buses (Bustang) that operate between Denver and several mountain towns. The Bustang’s western route has 10 stops in total, including stops in Frisco, Vail, and Glenwood Springs. Ride fares along the West Line vary depending on how far you’re traveling. The Bustang buses come equipped with Wi-Fi, as well as bathrooms and bike racks (for summertime use).
For non-stop travel, the Snowstang shuttle takes you directly to Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, Steamboat Springs, and Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs. This ski-specific full-service bus line cuts your time to the slopes in half (or more) allowing for more time spent slopeside.
Private Mountain Shuttles
Private shuttle companies, like the Peak 1 Express, offer shuttle and SUV service from Denver International Airport or a designated pick-up location. You can also arrange a private shuttle for a group.
From Denver, Peak 1 Express services popular Summit County resorts like Breckenridge, Keystone, Silverthorne, and Copper Mountain. The Peak 1 Express also has routes to Eagle County, about two hours from Denver, but still feasible for a day trip to Vail or Beaver Creek. Rates depend on the time of year you are booking and what type of shuttle you prefer.
Similarly, Summit Express has scheduled shuttles and private charters that go from Denver to Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek, and other ski areas. You can book one-way or round-trip transportation.
Lastly, the Epic Mountain Express gets you from the Denver International Airport to Aspen, Snowmass, Vail, Beaver, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, and other mountain towns and resorts. It also services the Eagle (Vail) County Regional Airport.
The Ski-N-Ride bus offers a local shuttle to Eldora Mountain Ski Resort (just outside of Boulder) and runs every day of the week during the ski season. The bus departs from Downtown Boulder Station, but can be accessed from Denver by taking Route FF1 (the Denver to Boulder route) to Boulder Station. This bus has luggage bays to accommodate ski and snowboarding equipment, but the line requires riders to place all equipment in a ski or board bag before boarding. Additionally, each bus is limited to 20 passengers on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Uber's newer service, UberSKI, allows you to request a ride from a pickup location in Denver that will shuttle you and your skis or snowboard up to the mountains. This Uber feature guarantees that your driver's car will come equipped with adequate cargo space or a roof rack to hold up to four pairs of skis and two snowboards. There's a small upcharge (similar to the UberX) for the service, but the non-stop ease of getting to the mountain and avoiding a parking headache makes it worth it. Make sure to tip your driver for the service, especially if they load and unload your gear.
Amtrak's Winter Park Express
The historic Winter Park Express train runs from Union Station in Denver to the base of Winter Park Resort, dropping off passengers at the slopeside village amidst its shops and restaurants. The train runs on a regular weekend schedule from January through March and conveniently picks you up in the heart of downtown. If you're staying on the outskirts of the city, hop on a connecting light rail train to Union Station first.
Turn your ski vacation into a weekend or week-long trip by booking one-way tickets, instead of a same-day roundtrip. And, if you’re traveling with a group, purchase a bundle package that includes a train ride, lift ticket, and lodging.
Once you arrive back at Union Station, round out the day by enjoying a cocktail at the swanky upstairs Cooper Lounge, or go low-key and grab a burger and fries from the New York-style ACME delicatessen.
Amtrak's Winter Park Express closed for the 2020-2021 winter season.