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With single-day lift tickets routinely cresting $200, 80 days of skiing or riding at 20 resorts for $59 sounds like a scam—but that’s exactly what Colorado Ski Country USA is offering with its Ski Passport, which grants four days per mountain. The catch? You have to be in the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth grade to get it.
That’s a larger group of eligible mini shredders than in the past, because the nonprofit trade association, which represents resorts across the state, expanded the program to include third graders this season. And that, of course, means even more stoked parents. To help such elder shredders choose where to point their ski-rack-equipped third-rows, we rounded up a variety of Ski Passport resorts with fresh solutions for classic kid-related quandaries.
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Sunlight Mountain Resort, Glenwood Springs
Best for: Stress-free on-mountain dining
Because: Even as an adult, navigating a busy base-area cafeteria in snow gear without upending your tray can be a challenge. If you’re a foot-plus shorter than everyone else? Forget it. This year, the whole fam can grab classic, crowd-pleasing lunch grub such as burgers and hot dogs from Sunlight’s new outdoor food station—without ever setting a ski-boot-clad-foot indoors.
Steamboat, Steamboat Springs
Best for: Safe beginner terrain to cruise with the groms
Because: Ski Town, U.S.A. has produced more Olympians than any other city in America (it sent 13 to the 2022 Games)—so where better to get your budding Mikaela Shiffrin or Red Gerard started making turns? Going into its 60th year, Steamboat is in the midst of $200 million of improvements that include Greenhorn Ranch, a brand-new beginner area served by a dedicated lift, Wild Blue Gondola. With four magic carpets and slopes graded at 15 percent or less, its 14 acres are designed to facilitate terrain-based learning up and away from the base area.
Purgatory Resort, Durango
Best for: Runs that will challenge but not discourage your developing shredder
Because: Nearly half of Purgatory’s 105 trails are rated intermediate. Lap Lift 3’s blues—including Chet’s, Dead Spike, Boogie, and Peace—to practice natural terrain features like rollers and banks, or navigate the Old West–inspired facades and tunnel in the kitschy but fun Animas City Adventure Park. (Psst: After the exit, look for a not-too-steep, wide tree run at skier’s right.) Oh, and no worries if you go over the Ski Passport’s usual four-day-per-resort allotment: Children can actually ski and ride free all season (yep, you read that right: completely free, no blackout dates) through the resort’s Power Kids program, which expanded from 10 and under to 12 and under this past season.
Monarch Mountain, Salida
Best for: Reasonably priced care for your younger children (ages three to six)
Because: After two seasons of pandemic closures, Monarch is reopening its Children’s Center, where background-checked, American Red Cross–certified caregivers are on hand to read books, do crafts, and have lunch with your tinier tots (from $69 for a half-day). If your littles decide they’re ready to try the slopes themselves, you can add on small-group lessons with certified instructors.
Winter Park Resort, Winter Park
Best for: Other recreation activities in case it turns out your kids hate skiing
Because: Neon-lit, after-dark cosmic tubing is just the latest addition to a host of fun, nondownhill ways to enjoy this winter wonderland less than an hour and a half west of Denver. Located in the Village at Winter Park, Adventure & Supply Co. offers guided, nature-focused snowshoe walks, ice skate rentals for the Village Pond, scenic snowcat rides, SnoGo ski bike tours, and even stargazing sessions.
Powderhorn Mountain Resort, Mesa
Best for: Affordable ski-in, ski-out lodging
Because: Nestled at the base of Powderhorn’s 1,600 acres on western Colorado’s Grand Mesa are the beginnings of a tiny home village with six adorable rental dwellings that sleep four to eight and have stoves or cooktops and full bathrooms. Starting at $189 per night, they’re a steal for the walk-out-your-door-to-the-lift access they provide for families who don’t mind getting a little cozy.