You live in Denver to take advantage of the city’s incredible access to the Rocky Mountains, alleged emphasis on work-life balance, and unmatched opportunities for outdoor recreation, right? But come winter (OK, summer too) do you find yourself spending more time on the interstate than you do on the slopes?
Here are eight ways to get from the Front Range to the mountains without driving yourself (bonus: you can simultaneously reduce congestion along the I-70 corridor) this winter.
Ski-n-Ride to Eldora Mountain Resort
Reap the benefits of your company or college RTD pass (or purchase tickets a la carte) with RTD’s only bus service to a ski resort via the Ski-n-Ride NB bus to Eldora. Hand over $10.50 for a roundtrip pass from Boulder, with the option to connect from Denver, Broomfield, Lafayette, Louisville, or Longmont at no additional cost. Bonus: Parking is free on the weekends at three Park-n-Rides in Boulder and one in Nederland.
Bustang to the High Country
Skiers and riders can catch Bustang, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s statewide bus service, from several Front Range pickup points, including Union Station, Denver Federal Center, and Denver’s Greyhound station (with options to connect from Fort Collins and Colorado Springs). The service stops at mountain towns along the I-70 corridor, including Frisco ($12), Vail ($17), Eagle ($22), and Glenwood Springs ($28). Once you’ve made it to the mountains, you can easily transfer to resort-bound buses, such as the free Summit Stage, with connections to Copper, A-Basin, Keystone, and Breckenridge.
Snowstang to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Loveland Ski Area, and Steamboat Ski Resort
On December 14th, CDOT launched Bustang’s sister concept—Snowstang—with the promise of 40 weekend days (plus Martin Luther King Jr. and Presidents’ days) of service to three Colorado mountain resorts. For $25 roundtrip, shredders can ride direct from Denver’s Union Station or Federal Center to A-Basin and Loveland. To get the most out of your season pass, take advantage of Snowstang’s three weekends of service in December to head to Steamboat for $40, where a bus ticket allows you to ski for free on Sundays at the historic Howelsen Hill.
Amtrak Winter Park Express to Winter Park Resort
In 2009, after 69 years of service, this historic train took an eight-year hiatus before reopening in 2017. Luckily for Denverites, the Winter Park Express’ comeback continues with its third season. Depart from Union Station any Friday, Saturday, or Sunday starting January 10 and continuing through March 29 (with special Monday service on Martin Luther King Jr. and Presidents’ days) on a nostalgic and, best of all, traffic-free, two-hour ride to the base of Winter Park Resort. Discount tickets start at $29 one-way.
Epic Mountain Express to Summit and Eagle Counties
Are you flying to Colorado for the holidays, but the thought of navigating I-70 in a rental car with your snow-less driving skills (ahem, Texans) gives you the shivers? This airport to mountain shuttle is for you. Starting at $39 one-way, the Epic Mountain Express will pick you up at Denver International Airport and take you directly to a slew of ski resorts in Summit and Eagle counties, including Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek, and Copper. Riders won’t feel the need to have a car, as they can take advantage of the resort towns’ public transportation, with ample buses and shuttles between the hotel, slopes, and happy hour.
University of Colorado Ski Bus to the High Country
If you’re one of University of Colorado Boulder’s more than 30,000 students, faculty, or staff, you can catch a ride to several Epic Pass and Ikon Pass resorts throughout the season. For $20 ($10 if you’re a HERD—CU’s outdoor program—member), you will get a roundtrip bus ticket between Boulder’s campus and a rotating cast of resorts, including Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper, Winter Park, Beaver Creek, and Vail. And you can gift a ride to someone: CU affiliates are able to purchase one guest ticket per ride for non-university friends. The CU Ski Bus runs Saturdays and Sundays from January 18 through March 14.
Gondola to the High Country
In an effort to foster community among skiers and riders, reduce congestion along I-70, and minimize the heavy carbon footprint associated with Colorado’s illustrious ski industry, Boulder-based skiers, engineers, and marketers Jordan Eskenazi and Adam Cotner founded Gondola, which launches later this month. The skier-targeted rideshare app, which will be available first for Android users (iPhone to follow), allows drivers heading from the Denver-Golden-Boulder area to ski resorts in Summit and Eagle counties, including Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Winter Park, Breckenridge, Copper, Vail, and Beaver Creek, to sell empty seats in their vehicles to fellow mountain-bound travelers. Rides are estimated to cost between $10 and $22 one way. So, should you find yourself in a powder-day pinch, there’s no shame in bringing your urban transportation habits with you to the mountains.
If you don’t own a car and one of the aforementioned options don’t work for you, Uber is launching a new service this month across the country. Prices vary (there’s an $8 surcharge), but the new feature in the app will guarantee a ride in a vehicle with cargo space or a roof rack to hold your equipment.