Get there: Go to Colorado because it couldn’t be easier

Back by popular demand, Colorado’s mountains are filled in and ready for you this season after last year’s lackluster campaign. 

Better yet, it’s cheaper and easier to get to Colorado than ever. It’s by far the easiest place to get to from the Midwest thanks to the Chicago and Minneapolis airports. 

The Highlands Bowl – Aspen Highlands

Midwest Ski Journal just returned from a very quick, 48-hour trip to fulfill two days of the Mountain Collective pass in Aspen/Snowmass. While the fresh snow eluded me, the mountains were in mid-season form, save for a few shrubs and stones to be expected this time of year. 

There, I skied Snowmass, Highlands and Ajax in two days, when combined with my two Welch Village days this year means I’ve skied four areas in four logged days so far this year, which is surely a first for me.

Here’s how to get yourself into the Colorado Rockies (mountains, not baseball) this winter.

Fly

If you prefer to fly the friendly skies, tickets to Denver and into the mountains are cheap. 

When I went, I took advantage of a $106 Delta deal (that’s roundtrip and nonstop) from Minneapolis. According to our friends at Thrifty Traveler, that deal is now down to $96 through March. If you aren’t a Delta credit card holder, you’ll have to pay for your ski bag, but that price is very low. 

Southwest has a great, $82 roundtrip deal going right now, too. Southwest is uniquely skier-friendly too because of their baggage policy. As long as you don’t mind the seat-finding rat race when boarding, Southwest is a great option. 

Denver deals: (roundtrip, select days only, check Google Flights for prices)

  • Minneapolis to Denver – $67 on Frontier (no bags)
  • Minneapolis to Denver – $97 on United (no bags)
  • Minneapolis to Denver – $97 on Delta
  • Minneapolis to Denver – $82 on Southwest (2 bags fly free)
  • Chicago to Denver – $83 on Spirit (Don’t do it…it’s a trap)
  • Chicago to Denver – $101 on Frontier (no bags)
  • Chicago to Denver – $101 on United (no bags)
  • Chicago (Midway) to Denver – $92 on Southwest (2 bags fly free)
  • Milwaukee to Denver – $235 on United (no bags)

Other deals: (roundtrip, select days only, check Google Flights for prices)

  • Minneapolis to Vail – $526 (stop in Chicago) on American
  • Minneapolis to Aspen – $236 (stop in Chicago) on American
  • Minneapolis to Aspen – $236 (stop in Chicago) on United (no bags)
  • Minneapolis to Durango – $460 (stop in Denver) on United (no bags)
  • Minneapolis to Durango – $460 (stop in Phoenix) on American
  • Minneapolis to Steamboat – $236 (stop in Chicago) on American
  • Chicago to Steamboat – $449 on American
  • Chicago to Vail – $481 on American
  • Chicago to Vail – $481 on United (no bags)
  • Chicago to Aspen – $497 on United (no bags)
  • Chicago to Aspen – $507 on American
  • Chicago to Durango – $498 (stop in Denver) on United (no bags)
  • Chicago to Durango – $498 (stop in Dallas) on American 
The Exhibition chair at Aspen Highlands.

Drive

The drive to Colorado isn’t terrible either, especially considering it’s flat and straight until I-70 west of Denver. 

That said, don’t do it without 4-wheel drive, because I-70 is no joke, especially if you play your cards right and find the snow. 

Here are some possible drive times to Summit County, Colorado. 

  • From Minneapolis – 14 hours
  • From Milwaukee – 16 hours 
  • From Chicago – 15.5 hours

For reference, here are some drive times from Summit County (Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper, Loveland) to other areas. 

  • To Aspen – 2.5 hours
  • To Vail – 45 mins
  • To Crested Butte – 3.5 hours
  • To Steamboat – 2 hours
  • To Wolf Creek – 4.5 hours (from Denver)
  • To Telluride – 5 hours

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