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Colorado Livin' / Events / Family Travel / Ski

Ho, Ho and Snow: Your Guide to the Holidays at Colorado’s Mountain Resorts

You know good ol’ Santa Claus’ HO HO HO? I’m switching it up for SNOW SNOW SNOW, which is all I want for Christmas. For the first time in a few years, we are staying in Colorado for the holidays and hitting the slopes with our family is at the top of our list.

Three years ago, we skied Loveland Ski Area on Christmas Eve day. I thought my husband was crazy for even suggesting a quick trip to the mountains the day before the biggest holiday of the year but it was a great way to decompress and my kids had a blast skiing with Santa. We’re making it an annual tradition whenever we’re in town.

Here are some Christmas happenings at Colorado’s ski areas and these are only the beginning. Many are also offering firework and torchlight parades to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a bang. And if you’re planning to venture out beyond Colorado, be sure to check-out Fifty-plus Great Places to See the Holiday Lights or Fun in the snow–your family guide to winter activities in 2012-13 by syndicated columnist Eileen Oginz.

Colorado Holiday Ski Guide

Arapahoe Basin. Christmas is coming a bit early at A-Basin—Dec. 22 to be exact. Santa will be making an appearance around 11 a.m. stopping by the base area before taking a few laps on the mountain (try to keep up—he’s fast!) Complimentary cake and refreshments will be served at the base area at 12:30 p.m.

Aspen/Snowmass. The North Pole comes to the Snowmass Village Mall and Base Village Dec. 23 and 24 with Santa’s magical village. For 12 days in December, downtown Aspen transforms into a fabulous winter wonderland overflowing with holiday festivities including free ice skating, visits with Santa and his reindeer, s’more making around the fire, cookies, cocoa and holiday drink specials.

Beaver Creek. Beaver Creek Resort presents the 2nd annual Winterfest celebration Dec. 21-31, 2012 as part of the popular family program, Beaver Creek Loves Kids.  This magical holiday event will feature interactive family events and activities, daily appearances from Santa, a Kids Winter Wonder parade, Disco Skate Nights, figure skating performances, an Animals of Winter presentation by the Denver Zoo, torchlight ski downs, fireworks and more.

Breckenridge Ski Resort. From ice skating to sleigh rides to snowmobiling to just relaxing in the historic Town of Breckenridge, there is plenty to do during the holidays. From now through New Year’s Day, stop by the Breck S’Mores station at the entrance to the Gold Runner Coaster from 2-4 p.m. for free s’mores.  Guest can get pictures with Kris Kringle daily from 2-4 p.m. at one of Breck’s newest family-friendly attractions, the Gold Runner Coaster.

Copper Mountain. What could be a better way to celebrate than En Fuego, a family-friendly entertainment series featuring snowcat parades, fireworks and Woodward at Copper rail jams. On Christmas Eve, a spectacular snowcat parade will make its way down the mountain as guests enjoy bonfires, a Woodward Rail session and street performers in Center Village.

Crested Butte. Nothing celebrates winter quite like an ice carving festival and Dec. 15-22, visitors will be amazed as two of the world’s most renowned carvers create larger- than-life-sized sculptures. On Christmas Eve, guests can watch Santa come down the mountain on a sleigh pulled by a snowcat as he hands out candy canes, followed by Crested Butte Ski and Ride School performing their famous torchlight parade down the front side of the mountain.

Eldora Mountain Resort.  With its close proximity to Boulder, skiers and riders can open their presents and still take a quick trip to Eldora to see Santa on Dec. 25. If you don’t have your own feast planned, stay to celebrate Christmas with special holiday menus in Timbers Grill and Corona Bar.

Keystone Resort. Kids are the rule, not the exception at Keystone. This year, the resort announced children 12 and under will ski/snowboard for free when staying two or more nights at one of Keystone’s numerous accommodations. For the holidays, be sure to check-out their Chocolate Village at the Lodge & Spa, their popular Kidtopia Snowfort opens Dec. 22 and other events include a Holiday Magic Ice Show and Breakfast with Santa.

Loveland Ski Area. Santa will be on Loveland’s slopes Dec. 24 and 25. So will we. See you there?

Monarch. Located on 800 acres along the Continental Divide in the Sawatch Range, Monarch is a fantastically affordable ski area for families that is renowned for its affordability and powder. Bring the little ones up to Monarch on Dec. 24 to visit with Santa as he skis or snowboards around the resort spreading Christmas cheer. Photo opportunities will also be available.

 Powderhorn Mountain Resort. If you’re celebrating the holidays near Grand Junction, be sure to swing by the Colorado’s westernmost ski resort. Their 1,600 acres, five ski lifts and three terrain parks spell memorable holiday fun for the whole family. Santa will be visiting on Dec. 23 and 24. Anyone else want to see Santa catch some air?

Ski Cooper. Santa Claus will make a pre-holiday visit to the Ski Cooper Lodge near Leadville on Dec. 22. Kids will have a chance to tell Santa their holiday wishes, and he will be bringing his sled for the perfect holiday family photo. My wish? To try their Chicago Ridge Snowcat Skiing. Ski Cooper’s ski and stay package includes snowcat skiing, the Tennessee Pass cookhouse and luxury sleep yurts.

Steamboat Springs. Steamboat’s winter fantasyland just got better with the one-of-a-kind Ice Castle with tiers of frozen towers and tunnels creating an ever-evolving turquoise labyrinth landscape complete with a castle throne (through April, weather permitting). On Dec. 22 from 2-5 p.m.,  the resort will celebrate with a kid’s decorating center, live reindeer meet-up and a Santa parade that will have The Man in Red make his way down the Promenade on horseback accompanied by Nordic Skiers. Santa will then be on the Steamboat Stage for almost two hours taking children’s last-minute present requests and pictures. The evening closes with a special torchlight parade and tree lighting.

Sunlight Mountain Resort. Here’s a little secret: I’d love to someday hit Sunlight and then have an après-ski soak in nearby Glenwood Hot Springs for the holidays. Sunlight has some killer Ski Swim Stay Packages and on Dec. 22 and 23 will host Demo Days with Santa. In addition to getting pictures taken with Santa, various ski and snowboard equipment brands will be at the resort encouraging guests to try new skis, boards and bindings. Be sure to bundle up and check-out Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park that features Colorado’s longest alpine coaster, cave tours, laser tag and more.

Vail Ski Resort. Family Holidaze returns to Vail Dec. 16-25, 31, 2012 with snowman decorating, après ski holiday treat and candy cane handouts at the base areas, kids after dark parties with music, games, giveaways and glow sticks and “Winter Solstice on Ice,” two free performances on ice with world-class ice skaters like two-time and current World Silver Medalist Patrick Chan in the heart of Vail Village.

Winter Park Resort. Activities abound at Winter Park, starting with Breakfast with Santa from 8-10 a.m. at Doc’s Roadhouse on Dec. 24. That afternoon, visit with Santa and his reindeer at the Village Gazebo, followed by storytime with Santa.  Don’t miss Christmas carols around the bonfire at the base of Winter Park Resort at 4 p.m. At 5:30pm, a procession of torch-bearing skiers and riders begin their way down Lower Hughes trail, followed by Santa Claus and his merry helpers. A spectacular fireworks display and snowcats adorned with Christmas colors light up the slopes in a Christmas tree formation to conclude the festivities. Immediately following the show at 6 p.m., visitors are welcome to attend Christmas Eve interdenominational services

Wolf Creek Ski Area. Me thinks Santa would have a great time playing with the little skiers and riders in the Wolf Pups building Dec. 24 and 25. After all, Wolf Creek in southwest Colorado is renowned for having the most snow in the state and isn’t our favorite North Pole-dwelling guy all about deep pow?

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.


  1. Wow, I’m not a skier but this is quite the list. Make me realize I can still enjoy the mountain in the wintertime.

  2. I think that’s what a lot of people don’t realize, Lana. You don’t have to be a skier to enjoy the mountains. Between sleigh rides, alpine coasters, hot tubbing, Santa, ziplines, snowshoeing, really the ski is the limit in the winter.

  3. Weren’t the ice castles at Silverthorne? Confused.

  4. They were at Silverthorne last year. I was bummed I never got out there to check them out and was excited to hear they’re at Steamboat because I’m heading there this winter. Website:

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