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Old 03-01-2011, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Sunrise, FL
23 posts, read 86,680 times
Reputation: 33

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We are a young family that lives in Florida and have the beach almost year round,
and I thought this year I'd rather take a real, week long Christmas vacation and enjoy
some snow and the season. My husband wants a true Aspen/Vail ski vacation, but I'm afraid
our son might be a bit too young, and our pocket book a little too tight for that.

Our son will be 3 1/2 at the time so I was hoping for more of a relaxing cabin-esque type stay,
take in the scenery with some outdoor activities, festivals, events, and hit up a smaller resort to soothe my hubby.

Anyone have any ideas where I should be looking for our Winter Wonderland dream?
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Old 03-01-2011, 02:30 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,091,437 times
Reputation: 9065
I will give my often-repeated advice: Christmastime in Colorado is the absolutely highest price time to visit anyplace that has the word "ski" associated with it. In addition, December tends to be the driest month in much of Colorado, so you may or may not have decent snowcover for skiing. That is why so many of the resorts have invested in snowmaking equipment, but if a pristine snowcovered winter wonderland experience is what you want, you may or may not get that in December. No, the Chamber of Commerce won't tell you that. The northern resorts (Steamboat, etc.) tend to get more reliable snowpack early in the winter, while the southern areas are far less likely to. That can vary from year to year, but that is the general pattern. The best time for reliable, decent snowcover in the mountains of Colorado is from mid-January through early March. Colorado's heaviest snows often come from late February through April, though most of the ski areas are closed by mid-April or so.

And, yes, if you are on a budget, Aspen, Vail, Telluride, and the more well-known fancy resorts may be beyond what you are willing and able to pay. The smaller resorts are often cheaper and more pleasant in many ways, but often lack much in the way of activities other than skiing itself.

My other firm opinion is that skyrocketing fuel costs and inflation will likely make long-distance travel horrifically expensive before 2011 is over, so--unless you can lock in prices on your travel plans soon--expect to pay plenty more, and I do mean plenty more, by December of this year. Just my prediction.
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Old 03-01-2011, 02:57 PM
 
9,816 posts, read 19,014,998 times
Reputation: 7537
There are some other good Christmas vacation threads on this Colorado forum, so check them out, lots of good info there.

Christmas is pretty much the #1 week of ski season and all costs will be high season. If you book some distance out, that helps rather than doing it at the last minute.

The other Colorado mountain towns that don't cater to skiing are rather quiet and don't have a lot going on.
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Old 03-01-2011, 10:20 PM
 
2,253 posts, read 5,834,746 times
Reputation: 2615
Wink All but the fast life

Save for the downhill skiing, Estes Park might suit your family quite well. It has scenery is spades, and come Christmas will have some activities, festivals and events. The Chamber of Commerce is quite keen on such things, as it is very much a town based on tourism.

The primary draw not only the many shops, services and rentals which cater specifically to tourists, but also adjacent Rocky Mountain National Park. A very beautiful place. At one time RMNP offered limited downhill skiing, but no more. However cross country skiing is possible if sufficient snow. The higher elevations of RMNP receive appreciably more snow than Estes Park, which tends to fall within the rain shadow of the high peaks just to the west. But at an elevation of about 7,500 feet, this town certainly does receive snow throughout the winter. During Christmas there will probably be some snow somewhere, almost certainly higher in the Park, but one can never exactly know. There could be enough to say there was, or a good foot or more on the ground in town. Other towns in the mountains, more usually at a higher elevation, have a better chance of snow then. They do reliably have lovely Christmas lights strung the length of Elkhorn Avenue, the main street. During or just after a snow storm the town and its surrounding mountains can seem the very picture of a Winter Wonderland.

One advantage of not being a ski area per se is that the price of lodging should prove decidedly more reasonable; winter is high season for the ski resorts, while summer is for Estes Park. Special occasions such as Christmas will see an increase in tourism, make no mistake, but overall winter is a quiet and subdued season, nothing like summer. Some lodging, shops and restaurants will be closed during winter, but there remain plenty of good options. In lodging, there are lots of motels, as well as realtors who can provide the condo or private cabin if so desired. There are sport shops, souvenir shops, etc., more than a few of those. Of the many restaurants, they range from fast food to rather elegant with superb views at times.

If downhill skiing is definitely on your list then Estes Park is too removed from much of it to be an ideal location. But possible. The closest major resorts are in Summit County, via I-70 west from Denver. From Estes the best route there would probably be via US 36 to Lyon, thence south through Boulder to meet I-70; the drive there in one direction, without inclement weather, would be a solid 2-3 hours. One closer option, which might really work, would be the smaller family ski area of Eldora, just outside Nederland. This mountain town resides about 20 miles west of Boulder, and could be reached using CO 7 if driving south from Estes past Allenspark. It is a nice ski area, if certainly not on the scale of a Vail. But if really desiring that then Estes should probably be skipped.

In apres ski, in the general ambience and activities, the ski resorts have an atmosphere all their own. But if a lovely family vacation in one of the most beautiful areas of the Rocky Mountains seems tempting, then look to Estes. You might well see any number of elk as well.
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Old 03-02-2011, 05:45 AM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 26,246,015 times
Reputation: 6815
Here's a map that shows the probability of a white Christmas (at least one inch of snow on the ground) in all parts of CO:

White Christmas Probability West Central U.S.

My recommendation for a place to consider:

Durango Mountain Resort - Skiing, lodging and vacation deals in the beautiful Colorado Rockies

There's a ton of stuff in Durango that a younger family would find fun and interesting besides snow oriented activities. I'm sure your son would probably enjoy a ride on the narrow gauge steam train:

Home | Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train

Here's info. on other things to do around there:

Colorado Activities: Things to do in Colorado - Durango Tourism Office
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Old 03-02-2011, 06:24 AM
 
1,181 posts, read 2,456,224 times
Reputation: 1776
Quote:
Originally Posted by Torrential_Downpours View Post
We are a young family that lives in Florida and have the beach almost year round,
and I thought this year I'd rather take a real, week long Christmas vacation and enjoy
some snow and the season. My husband wants a true Aspen/Vail ski vacation, but I'm afraid
our son might be a bit too young, and our pocket book a little too tight for that.


Our son will be 3 1/2 at the time so I was hoping for more of a relaxing cabin-esque type stay,
take in the scenery with some outdoor activities, festivals, events, and hit up a smaller resort to soothe my hubby.
Anyone have any ideas where I should be looking for our Winter Wonderland dream?

Copper Mountain Ski Resort:

Young Children Group Lessons
A one-day group lesson is offered for children ages 3 to 5 who are potty trained and able to handle separation from their parents. The lesson includes age-appropriate ski instruction, lift ticket, lunch and real-time GPS tracking. Groups are arranged by age and level of skiing ability. Nonskiing interactive outdoor and indoor activities are also included in this package. You have the option of picking your child up at 1 p.m., but you will not receive a refund for the unused time.

Additional options at Kid Friendly Resorts in CO: Kid-Friendly Ski Resorts in Colorado | eHow.com

Btw, My nephews and niece live in Colorado and were roughly your son's age when they started learning to ski. Have fun this winter but you should make reservations way ahead of time (6-9 months ahead is not too soon)if you're planning to go Christmas week.
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Old 03-02-2011, 08:19 AM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,091,437 times
Reputation: 9065
Durango can be a good choice--IF the early winter has better than average snowfall AND temperatures are cold enough. However, Durango is far enough south that those two circumstances can be fairly unreliable. I've seen winters there with 2 feet of snow on the ground in town at Christmas, and others where the lower slopes of the ski area at Durango Mountain (sorry, it will always be Purgatory for me) were bare at Christmastime. It justs depends on the year. Colorado, in general, and the southwestern part of the state, in particular, has very fickle climatic and weather variation from year to year.

Durango is probably more reasonable than many areas as far as cost goes, but it won't be cheap at Christmastime, either.
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:34 AM
 
Location: Ned CO @ 8300'
1,993 posts, read 4,181,957 times
Reputation: 2762
If skiing is not a priority I'd suggest Estes Park. The probability of snow at Christmas time is good, there are many cabins to choose from, it's not too busy that time of year so there are always deals to be found. You could take the little one snowshoeing or sledding in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Check out Estes Park Colorado gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park Colorado Hotels, Things to Do - Visit Estes Park Colo
Rocky Mountain National Park: Come in Winter
Rocky Mountain National Park - Winter Recreation (U.S. National Park Service)
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