Colorado IKON Road Trip
Ski Denver, Aspen, Copper Mountain, and Arapahoe Basin
By Ian Niklaus & Jessica Luann | March 30, 2022
Day 1: Denver to Glenwood Springs
The trip started in Denver, Colorado, where we picked our camper van up at the VanCraft Depot. We shot up I-70 and began our 5-day excursion through the beautiful Colorado Rockies. Along the way we experienced the most beautiful sunset. We planned to stop for the night at the rest stop just before Glenwood Springs. Below are some beautiful spots to stop and catch a good view or tasty bite to eat.
– Glenwood Canyon Recreation area
– Glenwood Hotel and Hot springs
– Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves
– Ming’s Café (Thai and Asian Cuisine)
Although Glenwood has many amazing restaurants, we decided to pull into the rest stop and cook dinner in the van. The cooking space was surprisingly easy to use and stocked with anything you would ever need to cook a great meal.
Day 2: Skiing Aspen Snowmass
We woke up bright and early and had ourselves a quick breakfast. We toasted some fresh bread on the stove and topped it with peanut butter, banana, and honey to fuel our morning. From the Glenwood rest stop, the Aspen-Snowmass resorts are about a 55-minute drive. There typically isn’t any traffic in this area, so we made it in just under an hour. Welcome to Aspen! The best place to park during peak season would be the Brush Creek lot with a shuttle that services each of the Aspen-Snowmass resorts. Our ski trip began at Buttermilk resort. We timed it perfectly as Winter X-games had just begun along with a fresh coat of snow. We skied a half day before having lunch. Below are our favorite spots to eat on the mountain:
– Bumps (Quick and fairly affordable)
– Home Team BBQ (our absolute favorite)
After a quick lunch we hit the slopes for the remainder of the day and nearly hit last chair! After brushing the fresh powder from our skis and boots, we boarded the shuttle back to the Brush Creek Lot where we had parked earlier in the morning. While I loaded up the convenient cargo space in the rear, my partner cooked us up some soup we had brought along. It was the perfect meal after a cold day on the slopes. Unfortunately, Aspen is not the most camping friendly area during the Winter months, so we packed up and drove about 2 hours to the CDOT Rest area on Vail Pass to rest up for Day 3. Before going to sleep, we were lucky enough to have clear skies. So I jumped out for a quick astro session. It was so dang cold so it didn’t last long, but I’d say it was worth the cold fingers! Then we crashed. Goodnight!
Day 3: Copper Mountain
The diesel heater, warm bedding, and insulating covers for the windows kept us toasty warm all night. Temperatures can get pretty low this time of year on the pass so this was a great test for the van. We planned to hit Copper Mountain for Day 3, which is just a short 10 minute drive away. So – we took our time waking up and making a delicious breakfast. Once again, the van’s kitchen proved versatile. We had a breakfast fit for a king, consisting of blueberries and bananas, muffins, eggs and avocado toast, topped off with a hot cup of coffee. After breakfast we made our way down I-70 to try and catch first chair. Welcome to Copper Mountain! We didn’t catch first chair but we were lucky enough to park in the Alpine Lot- which is the closest. Once again, we had a beautiful morning on the mountain. We spent most of it in the park, as Copper has one of the best parks in the country this time of year! For lunch we went to my all time favorite spot in Copper. Venture over to Center Village and stop into Sugar Lips. Sugar Lips makes the best “made-to-order” donuts imaginable. My favorite is the Maple Bacon and Cinnamon Sugar. They also have some really good coffee and smoothies! Below are some other amazing food options at Copper:
– Sawmill Pizza & Taphouse (Our Favorite)
Following our made-to-order sugar-high, we hit mountain once more. We sent it straight to Copper’s back-bowls, which in my opinion, offer one of the absolute best views in Colorado. We spent the rest of the day here until venturing back to the van for an early dinner. I whipped up a quick chicken and rice concoction which not only filled our bellies but also warmed us up. We enjoyed the next hour or so sitting upon the conveniently stocked folding chairs and outdoor rug. The others enjoyed a few Apres-ski cocktails before loading up for our next destination! About 20 minutes away, and just off I-70 is the Lake Dillon rest area. Although a rest area does not sound as though it offers the best amenities, this one sure does, with wide views of lake Dillon and surrounding areas for both sunset and sunrise. Goodnight Lake Dillon!
Day 4: Arapahoe Basin
Once again, we woke up with the sun. We woke to snow, which was fortunate for our skiing, but not so fortunate for our view. All complaints aside, we enjoyed a quick breakfast of fruit and oatmeal before heading to our next destination. Hello Arapahoe Basin or A-Basin as locals call it. A-Basin offers a pretty cool ski-in and ski-out parking lot, which makes van-life at this resort pretty luxurious. We skied nearly the whole day, as it was snowing most of the morning. We never stopped for lunch and had a few cliff bars and oranges instead. However, the A-basin lodge does offer food and drink options which are fairly affordable comparatively. Once again, the convenient part of A-Basin is the ski-in parking lot, or “The Beach” as they call it. After a fun morning we enjoyed the afternoon decompressing in the van. We sipped hot chocolate and watched as skiers and snowboarders made their way down the hill -with the occasional yard-sale (don’t worry no one was injured – so I believe). With A-Basin being only a short drive from the front range, we made our way back towards Denver, making a pit stop in Idaho Springs at one of our favorite restaurants – BeauJo’s, for a famous Colorado Mountain Pie and honey! There are quite a few spots to pull off for the night near here, but we chose a quiet spot off Soda Creek Road. Goodnight!
Day 5: Return to Denver
We woke up early, eager to get back to Denver, but sad to return the van. The Van Craft depot is only about a 45 minute drive from where we camped, so we packed up and headed back to Denver. Check out was extremely easy and efficient. It only took us about 15 minutes to unpack our belongings from the van and transfer them into our car which was conveniently parked at the Van Craft Depot (a perk of renting with Van Craft). As I said, we were extremely sad to call an end to our trip, but excited to book another trip with Van Craft. Until next time!
Check out the corresponding itinerary here.