Sometimes, you just want to chill.
I love jamming through the bumps and dodging trees when I go skiing, but when I visited the new McCoy Park terrain at Beaver Creek Resort last month, it reminded me that taking things down a notch and communing with nature are just as important.
Family-friendly terrain at McCoy Park
The resort, known for its super fine “corduroy,” as those frozen ripples of freshly groomed snow are called, added 250 gently rolling, widely gladed skiable acres, plus two lifts and a new on-mountain warming hut this year. And unlike the beginner and intermediate terrain at most mountains, it feels ever so slightly wild and wooly. The 17 new runs in McCoy Park twist and turn through trees and undulate like a magic carpet. But they’re not bumped up with moguls, because the resort designed the new section so snow cats could get between the trees to lay down that trademark corduroy. As a result, parts of McCoy Park feel almost like easy bowl skiing, only without terror-inducing steeps or chutes.
When I last visited Beaver Creek in 2016, I spent a day snowshoeing at McCoy Park, looking for animal tracks and enjoying the solitude there. I liked it because while many resorts relegate snowshoe and cross country ski trails to the foot of the mountain, Beaver Creek elevated them to a mid-mountain swathe of land with gorgeous vistas. About 20 kilometers of trails in McCoy Park are still open to those users.
Other kid-friendly attractions at Beaver Creek
Other things to know about Beaver Creek? It’s located about two hours west of Denver, along Interstate 70 just past Vail. But where Vail is glitzy and known for a lively nightlife, Beaver is where those partiers go after they’ve grown up and raised families.
Kids love the Candy Cabin at the top of Strawberry Park Express lift, where they can scoop saltwater taffy from a wooden barrel or pick out hand-poured chocolates. At the Parlour at the top of Haymeadow Express Lift, they can build their own ice cream sundaes or sip a root beer float.
If they’re not in a sugar coma after that, they can ski, too. Red Buffalo Park is geared toward beginners. They’ll find snow sculptures and funky little diversions like the Wild West Trail, which whisks skiers past a covered wagon and a Native American teepee tucked in the woods.
Steeps and bumps at Beaver Creek
I don’t have kids, and I like a little adrenaline jolt now and then. Still, I found plenty to enjoy.
I spent a day skiing with private instructor Chico Thuon. He moved to Beaver Creek 33 years ago and serves on the town council in nearby Avon. He pointed me toward moguls and gave me tips, like “pretend you’re following a bowling ball down the mountain,” and “always look back up when you’ve finished a run.” I especially liked that last one, since I’m pretty sure skiing is about 80 percent mental.
We headed to the steep stuff, where the Birds of Prey World Cup Super G and downhill races unfold each year. We took the runs at a much slower pace than the pros. birds Afterward, my quads were cooked and my sea-level lungs screamed for mercy, and I retreated to the bottom of the mountain.
Every day as the lifts quit whirring, a team of employees dons white chef hats and hands out warm, freshly-baked cookies –– to everyone, for free.
Need I say more?
If You Go
Hop on a direct flight from Austin to Denver, then rent a car or grab the Epic Mountain Express shuttle to Beaver Creek.
If you’re looking for ski-in, ski-out, book The Osprey at Beaver Creek. It’s a mere 26-foot walk from the ski valet at the lodge to the Strawberry Park Express lift.
Ski, snowshoe, ice skate or just curl up with a book at this family-friendly ski resort. Single day lift tickets hover at just over $200 for adults, with discounts for multiple days. Buy online at least seven days in advance for the best prices.
Eat & Drink:
Take a 15-minute sleigh ride to Zach’s Cabin, one of three on-mountain fine dining establishments open for dinner. The menu features Alsatian cuisine like fondue, schnitzel, oysters, caviar, spätzle and poached apple strudel. Dress warmly for the ride up and down.
Keep an eye out for Willy the Mountain Safety Dog, a golden retriever rescued from an animal shelter in Pueblo. Willy is the face of mountain safety at Beaver Creek and loves to mingle with guests.