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How to Get to the Ski Slopes from Denver

January 17, 2023
Colorado Winter Driving

Vail and I-70 - safely getting to the slopes in the winter

It’s Tuesday morning, after a long, three-day weekend, and I am recovering from I-70. My family and I headed to Frisco for the weekend where we skied, played games, read books, watched TV… and dreaded the drive home. Like everyone on the Front Range (it seems), we braved I-70 to head West, and then we braved it again to head East.

So, this morning, I am writing a story about the alternate ways we can all get to our ski weekends. I need to learn new ways to travel into the mountains, so what better way to learn than to write a story for all of us?

I won’t complain (too much) about traffic because, as the old saying goes, I AM traffic. If I’m sitting in a giant line of cars, I am among the offenders. Instead, I’m going to look for ways to get from my Denver door to my mountain door without using my car. Let’s see if I can do it…

Book a Shuttle to the Ski Slopes

OK, yes, this still puts me in the traffic (unless we go at odd hours), but at least I’m not driving. AND, we can share the ride with another family or two, taking at least one car off the road. Many shuttles will take you door-to-door, like a taxi service. Here are a few of the services I found:

A quick scan of the prices proved that shuttles can be a costly way to travel on a regular basis. This might be a good option, though, if you have family in from out of town and you’re trying to get everyone to the hills at the same time.

Ride a Bus to the Mountains

I have a confession to make: I find buses a very relaxing way to travel. Usually the seats are comfortable, the cabin temperature is perfect, the outside sounds are muffled, and I can read, work, nap, and generally ignore the outside world until I reach my destination. Best of all, if I’m sharing the road with an entire bus full of skiers and their families, then we have taken multiple cars off the road.

Here are the two services I’ve found:

The best part about taking the bus is that it’s probably the most affordable way to get to your destination, and if you have a family with you, that is important!

Take the Ski Train to Winter Park

This transportation option does not go to my town-of-preference, which is Frisco. But everyone talks about taking the Winter Park Ski Train at least once in their lives. And I know a lot of Winter Park fanatics who take it regularly. It is reliable, skiers don’t have to worry about parking, and they don’t have to fight traffic. And it’s a beautiful ride! And with fares starting at $34, this seems like a must-ride opportunity.

  • Winter Park Express: “Pack your skis as a carry-on for no additional charge. During boarding, skis will be placed in a dedicated baggage storage. While onboard, you’ll enjoy a trip in Coach class — featuring wide, reclining seats with a big picture window, ample legroom and no middle seat. Be sure to visit the bi-level Sightseer Lounge — offering panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains and Moffat Tunnel from upstairs and café service with snacks and drinks for sale downstairs.”

The train departs Denver’s Union Station at 7 am and arrives in Winter Park at 9 am. The return trip departs Winter Park at 4:30 pm and arrives in Denver at 6:40 pm.

Drive in the Express Lanes on I-70

OK, back to the roads. Sigh. If none of the options above give you the timing, flexibility, spontaneity that you need, you will probably have to drive. Now that we have Express Lanes on I-70, you should probably learn the rules of use. Here you go:

Share the Road – I-70 Gets Crowded!

Finally, a plea to everyone to share the road responsibly. When you lose sight of the fact that you, too, ARE traffic, and you feel like everyone else is “in your way,” you run the risk of behaving badly. If you’ve looked at your phone’s map, and you can see your ETA, is it really worth risking an accident on I-70 to make up 5 minutes by being a road jockey? Settle in, listen to a book, and accept the fact that this journey is part of your ski weekend.

Stay safe!







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