Having had only a light dusting of snow (Pikes Peak isn’t even covered yet), it’s hard to believe some of the ski resorts have been open for a few weeks already. The Springs area doesn’t consistently get enough snow to support a ski resort of its own – Pikes Peak had a “ski area” until 1984 when it closed because of lack of snow – but there are several resorts close enough to make a day trip for some winter recreation.
Loveland: 2 hours 2 minutes
Arapahoe Basin: 2 hours 6 minutes
Keystone: 2 hours 15 minutes
Breckenridge: 2 hours 29 minutes
Vail: 2 hours 36 minutes
(All times estimated from Google Maps.)
Jeremy’s preference is for Loveland, for its few crowds, long runs, and great prices ($44-56 lift tickets). The above travel time for Loveland is pretty accurate, as long as you strategize around Denver rush hour traffic. Plan to leave Colorado Springs in time to get through the city before traffic gets heavy, which means you want to leave the Springs area around 6:30. The catch-22 to that is that Loveland (and most of the other ski resorts) doesn’t open until 9, so if you leave Colorado Springs in time to completely miss Denver rush hour, it’s possible you could have a few minutes to wait before the lifts start running. But, if you don’t get through Denver in time, you could be sitting in traffic thinking about the fact that you could have gotten five runs in already.
If you have plans in the Springs for the evening, plan to leave the ski area before 5. Or, stick around the resort long enough to wait until after Denver rush hour is over – a great option if the resort offers night skiing, like Keystone.
Naturally, the travel times listed above don’t count for weather delays, either. Interstate 70 and Interstate 25 in the Palmer Divide area (the stretch between Monument and Castle Rock) can bottleneck and sometimes close during winter storms, and there’s no good way to go around unless you go all the way around, so just keep an eye on the weather. (You can check road conditions here.)