It is not as easy as you would think to get the mountains from Denver. It’s kind of annoying because there are a lot of people who don’t have access to transportation who would enjoy an epic day in the mountains. Fortunately, it has gotten so much better than before and I thought I would share some of the options you can explore…to get up to the mountains to-ahem-explore!
How to Get to the Mountains
Is a surprisingly annoyingly process if you don’t know the ins and outs of mountain travel…without a car. If you are a tourist, a student, a person living a car-free lifestyle, or newly arrived to Colorado-you can enjoy the mountains without a car. You just need to have some information and a plan. In this post I share a number of options that will get you to the mountains easily and affordably and without a ton of hassle.
Ok, no list would be complete without this option. If you are living in Colorado you typically will have at least one friend who is up for going to the mountains a couple of times a month. Typical carpool rules apply: pay for gas, buy your person some lunch, and of course be on time.
Denver Parks and Recreation Events
I am embarrassed to admit that I just discovered that the Recreation center offers trips to the mountains. They are day trips where you can go hiking (Summer/Fall) or snowshoeing (Winter). The Denver Recreation Center also has a shockingly affordable kids’ ski program which includes: transportation, lift tickets, and equipment. Kids are currently taken to Winter Park for lessons and the cost? Thirty Freaking bucks!!! That’s it. I was SHOCKED at how affordable it was. Click HERE for information on all of these programs.
There are TONS of Meetup groups in Colorado centered around doing outdoor activities in the mountains. It is very, very unusual to find a group that does not have a carpool option. The only tricky part is that a lot of these trips will meet at the Wooly Mammoth Park n Ride which is basically impossible to get to without a car depending on the time that the Meetup is happening. If you decide to participate in a Meetup that’s going to the mountains ask the leader if it’s possible to be picked up at a alternative location.
I’ve taken the Greyhound to the mountains before and to Las Vegas so I can say that both trips were…memorable. Fortunately, if you take the Greyhound it will take less than 2 hours to get Frisco Bus station and then take the free bus to:
- Breckenridge-Also has a free shuttle as well. Here is the link. If you are heading towards the Bivvi Hostel take the brown line. Breckenridge happens to be one of my favorite mountain towns as well.
- Copper Mountain-Ski Resort
- A Basin (Arapahoe Basin)-Ski Resort
The free Summit Stage Shuttle runs pretty frequently and is comfortable to ride. If you’re bringing ski equipment the buses are equipped for that as well. I will admit that out of the bus options the Greyhound isn’t my favorite but what it does have in its favor is the fact that it runs throughout the day. Basically, you’re able to arrive at a decent time and navigate your way to which ever ski resort you’re hoping to get to.
Ok, I’m in love with Bustang. Maybe it’s the name? The purple and black color or the cool Mustang decal? Whatever the case, I am so happy to have this additional bus service added to the Front Range. The great thing about Bustang is that it serves the following communities:
- Colorado Springs
- Fort Collins
The only negatives that I can think of with Bustang is that I find the schedule to be a bit…weird. It runs on a commuting hours schedule. So, you will get service early in the morning and later in the afternoon…but nothing in between. If you take the Bustang it’s the type of service that you should take when you want to spend some time in the place that you’re going.
The Zephyr is the specific train that has a route running West from Denver’s Union Station to San Francisco. You can also take it going East to Chicago. I’ve taken the train going to Chicago and it’s truly a fantastic experience if you have time and a blanket. This train stops at Glenwood Springs which is a gorgeous mountain town with an olympic sized hot spring pool. Everyone should take the Zephyr (or similar train) across the country at least once!
Fresh Tracks Transportation
This is a great service to use from Denver International Airport. I have also used this service when a group of my friends flew in from Europe. We met at the airport and then took the shuttle to Breckenridge. The driver was professional, drove safely, and funny. I never felt nervous or concerned about the quality of the driving. If you are in Denver and don’t have a car this is an option for you. When you make the reservation you can just mark that you don’t have a flight.
The great thing with this service is the direct drop offs at which hotel or hostel you will be staying at. If you’re not confident about getting yourself around or have a lot of luggage with you this more than makes up for the cost.
The only negative with this service is the following : you have to go to the airport and this type of shuttle is more expensive than the bus. One great thing is that’s happened is Fast Tracks-the train that will go directly from downtown Denver to DIA. It costs $9 and will take about 45 minutes to get to the airport. Click HERE for reservation information.
The N Bus to Nederland (from Boulder)
I grew up in Boulder and sometimes you just want to get away and not go all the way to Frisco or Vail. If you go to Nederland it has fairly frequent service from Boulder and the cost is around $5. The N Bus also ends at Eldora Ski Resort which has really nice steep runs but can be a little bit windy.