The College Kid’s Guide to Getting to the Mountains Without a Car

on December 5 | in Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Eldora, Loveland, Sunlight, Uncategorized, Winter Park | by | with No Comments

The Winter Park Express. Photo by Carl Frey courtesy of Winter Park Resort.

The Winter Park Express. Photo by Carl Frey courtesy of Winter Park Resort.

No Car? No Problem.

With the rise of services like Über, Zipcar, and Lyft, getting around without owning a vehicle has never been easier. Punch a few buttons, and “ta-da,” your ride rolls up – a blessing for carless college kids and millennials alike. As useful as these programs might be in the city, they would not be my first choice for trying to get to the mountains. Thankfully, there are many cost effective transportation options that can be bundled with lift ticket discounts or that work great for season pass holders. Additionally, many transportation options take you to Colorado Ski Country’s Gems Resorts, making the trip even more affordable for Gems Card holders.

Take a look at these options, and try one out next time you need a lift to the hill.

From Denver:

Front Range Ski Bus is a perfect day trip ride, departing from Union Station at 7:00 am and making a second pickup at the Wooly Mammoth Park and Ride a half hour later. The bus then shoots out to Copper or Loveland for the day, leaving at 3:30 pm from Copper and 3:45 from Loveland. They offer a $45 round trip, a $41 one-way, and discounted lift tickets if you book through them.

Bustang would be my go to for overnight trips. It leaves the Denver Bus Center at 5:15 pm or Union Station at 5:40 pm, making it a great alternative if you are hopping on right after work or class to ski the next day. The bus stops along the way, taking longer to get out there, but makes up for it by being wallet-friendly. You can get a one way ticket to Frisco, Glenwood Springs and a few other destinations for under $25. From Frisco you can get to Arapahoe Basin on the free Summit County bus. From Glenwood Springs, you can get to Sunlight in 25 minutes via one of Sunlight Mountain shuttles for just $5.00 one-way, or catch the VelociRFTA bus which will take you to any of the four mountains at Aspen for a small fare.

The University Ski Bus is a great option for DU, CU Denver, and Metro State students. Take advantage of reclining seats, TV’s, an onboard bathroom, and included breakfast on this ride. It leaves from various campuses in the city and hits different mountains, so make sure to check their Facebook page to keep up. Tickets go for $5 on a day trip.

If driving isn’t your style, take a scenic cruise through the mountains on the recently revived Winter Park Express Train. The train will leave Union Station at 7:00 am, and arrive to the base at 9:00 am. Ski to your heart’s content at Winter Park, and maybe even go for some Aprés, as you have a designated conductor to get you back aboard the Winter Park Express, leaving at 4:30 pm, and arriving back at Union Station at 6:40 pm. The train will begin operating on January 7th, open Saturday and Sundays, and round-trip tickets will go for $49.

The Rocky Mountain Ride (via Facebook).

The Rocky Mountain Ride (via Facebook).

Colorado Springs:

Rocky Mountain Ride is the most customizable option on this list. Choose where you’ll be picked up, where you want to ski, and when you’ll leave. Simply call the owner, Nicholas Merchant, who’s a pretty rad dude and fantastic snow driver. If you don’t feel like planning these things, hop on the daily shuttle to Monarch, leaving the Woodmen/I-25 Park and Ride at 6:00 am or the Tejon/I 25 Park and Ride at 6:30. One-way tickets are $49, a round trip is $79, and a fully customizable ride costs an addition of $129 per trip to your total, but they do offer a bunch of discounts that can be bundled together to slash the price for any ticket.

The Colorado College Ski Bus is an easy option for students who want to get out and ski even with the school’s notorious block plan. Kids on the bus get to vote for whichever mountain they feel like riding that day (always the one with the most snow). It leaves the Worner Campus Center on Saturdays at 7:00 am, and is back on campus by 6:30 pm that night. The best part: it only costs students $5 to ride both ways.

University of Colorado Colorado Springs has a similar bus for students, although it has no set schedule. Keep up with their ski club’s Facebook page for special events, or catch a ride with the multiple people posting to carpool.

Anyone with a Department of Defense ID can get a ride for them and three family members through the Fort Carson Adventure and Education Program. Check their schedule for the details on one of their many holiday/weekend daytrips to Loveland, Copper, Arapahoe Basin, and more. Tickets go at $30 per group for transportation only, or you can bundle it with a lift ticket, equipment rentals, and even lessons for about $40 more.

There's nothing quite like hitting open road with friends. Photo courtesy of Silverton Mountain.

There’s nothing quite like hitting open road with friends. Photo courtesy of Silverton Mountain.

Boulder:

RTD’s Ski-N-Ride runs every day of the week during ski season directly to Eldora from Downtown Boulder Station. You can also connect through different RTD routes from Lafayette, Louisville, Broomfield, Longmont, and Denver as shown on their site. One way on this bus will cost a whopping $4.50 from Boulder, and roughly $9 more from any of the aforementioned places.

CU Boulder’s ski bus, unlike the other collegiate services, is open to the public. It leaves from campus, and goes straight to whatever mountain is picked for that day. Purchase $5 tickets for HERD members, or $15 tickets for the general public. Their official schedule is already up, so buy now.

Carpooling:

Another way to get to the mountain is good old carpooling, with the modern twist of an app. Skicarpool is an easy to use message board where you post your intended route for others to see. It shows what days the driver is willing to go, where they want to go, what they ride (skis, board, blades, tele, etc.), and how far they are from your current location. Click on the post to find out contact information about about your soon-to-be best pow-buddy.

Hopefully you take advantage of one of these methods for your next trip, whether you’re a millennial without a ride, or someone who just wants a designated driver for Aprés ski.

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