John and I both grew up in the southeastern United States and had never explored skiable mountains. When we moved to Colorado, it seemed like everyone asked us, “Do you ski or snowboard?” and “Do you have the Epic or Ikon Pass?” Resort skiing or snowboarding seemed like everyone’s favorite hobby, and it was a bit of a turnoff for us.
Resort Fun = Resort Prices
You can look into both passes and compare the two on epicorikon.com to see if they work for you!
Single day passes seemed to be the best strategy for us to ski when we wanted but not be obligated to ski for the season sake of justifying the investment in a season pass. That being said, single day lift passes range in price and can be upwards of $200 depending on the day, so we pick our days carefully.
Single-day passes on Valentine’s Day weekend 2021:
Steamboat Springs: $129-219
Loveland Ski Area: $89
To rent or to buy?
Eventually, John and I both purchased clothing, helmets, goggles, and skis secondhand on Facebook Marketplace and Offer Up. Most of our gear works great, and we even use some of the winter coats snowshoeing and camping.
In general, getting into the sport has been quite a process for us, but every time we hit the slopes, we love it more and more as we become more comfortable on skis and on the mountains. We’ve been out each of the three winters that we have lived in Colorado and have decided to write about our experiences, as total newbies, at some of the best ski resorts in the world:
Due to our skill level, we did not have a full-fledged experience of the Breckenridge mountains. We stayed on one lift at the base of Peak 8 all day, but we didn’t care. We skied until our bodies hurt then ended the day with drinks at the base with our friends! It wasn’t the best day of skiing, because we were pretty banged up at the end, but we enjoyed every minute of the ride!
Reserve your own day on the mountain on, keystoneresort.com
Howelson Hill is a famous skiing area, but we didn’t know that at first. All we knew was that it was $25 to ski for the day compared to the $180 at the resort. We quickly bought tickets, rented skis at a nearby store, and hit the lift.
Howelson is a tiny hill with its main focus being cross country trails and ramps for jumping. That being said, it was perfect for us. We spent all day on a few short runs practicing and perfecting our skiing skills. We wish we would have found this place the first time we went skiing, because it was perfect for beginners and there was hardly anyone around.
Our second year at WinterWonderGrass, we made sure to buy our tickets early to get special pricing on lift tickets with our festival passes. This year, we were determined not to miss out on the big resort!
Steamboat really changed the way we ski, and we owe a lot to these mountains and their “champagne powder” snow. We also owe a lot to our friends who pushed us to ski terrain we’d never tried.
Organize your own weekend in Steamboat at, www.steamboat.com
John and I have both been to Aspen several times, but we have never been on the Aspen mountains together. Aspen has four mountains: Snowmass, Buttermilk, Aspen Mountain, and Aspen Highlands. With our combined experience, we have been to three of the four.
You can learn more about each Aspen Snowmass Mountain on their website, aspensnowmass.com
The terrain was beautiful, though, and all of the people were very kind. They gave me tips and tricks every time I came through the lift line. I’ll stick to skiing, but I can’t wait to be back on Snowmass!
The same weekend that I went to Snowmass, I hit up Buttermilk. This time, I ventured out of the terrain parks and beginners’ areas to try to give snowboarding a second chance.
It was a difficult day on the board, but the bacon made it all worth it!
John's experience at Aspen Highlands:
New Year’s Day 2020, a group of friends and I took on Aspen Highlands. Some of the more advanced skiers in the group crushed the legendary Highlands Bowl, while my friend from Mississippi and I explored the easier trails. We couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day on the mountain.
The Aspen Highlands feature 144 trails, and a whopping 65% of those trails are expert runs called double blacks. The Highlands are also infamous for the ‘Inferno’ formally known as the Highland Bowl. Skiers and snowboarders who dare the Highland Bowl must hike from the highest ski lift up the rim of the bowl. Unfortunately for my guest and I, there aren’t any easy or many more difficult trails (known as greens and blues respectively) to balance out the expert terrain surrounding us.
We started our day by riding the ski lifts to the very top of the mountain. My friend and I weren’t as skilled as those destined for the Highland Bowl, and when they immediately dove off the edge of the blue ‘Broadway’ run onto double blacks, we stayed on the blue terrain. The two of us enjoyed a day of skiing and watching New Year’s Day football games in the mountain’s lodges.
At the end of the day, I took the lift to the top of the mountain one last time. On the ride up, I noticed the group of friends that had split off for a more difficult day on the mountain. I yelled, they stopped, and I quickly caught up to them. We bombed down the mountain together before finding a large table at the base to enjoy a bite to eat and stories of the famed Highland Bowl.
Loveland Ski Area:
We went for Valentine’s Day and got an absolutely perfect powder day. It was “Colorado blue-bird skies” all day, and we got lucky, because we have heard that Loveland gets very windy!
We finally feel like we know what we are doing on the mountain, and Loveland really helped boost our confidence.
See more Colorado Guides below!