North America's 4 Top Family Ski Resorts - My Family Travels

Colorado, Utah, British Columbia, Idaho…which of these family-welcoming ski resorts is best for your family?

Read on to find out why contributing editor Laura Sutherland, author of “The Best Family Ski Vacations in North America” (St. Martin’s), recommends Snowmass (Colorado), Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort (Utah), Whistler Resort (British Columbia), and Sun Valley (Idaho) as the top family ski resorts in North America:

Snowmass, Colorado

Great for families with a wide span of ages and abilities!

Snowmass has excellent programs for toddlers and preschoolers and a highly regarded ski/board school for kids and teens. The ample and varied terrain is easy enough for the raw beginner, challenging enough for the fast and fearless, and offers plenty of middle-of-the-road turf in between. Your lift ticket allows you to ski four mountains – Snowmass, Aspen, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk – all connected by a free skier shuttle.

Families who want to explore the town of Aspen can head the few miles down the road for dinner, shopping, or people-watching and return to their comfortable (and more affordable) lodging in Snowmass, where there are dozens of ski-in-and-out condominiums, hotels and family-friendly restaurants.

Comments: Aspen’s laid-back neighbor is perfect for families; take the shuttle to Aspen for the glitz, then head back to Snowmass for a comfortable and convenient first-class ski experience.

Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Utah

Forty-five minutes after your plane lands in Salt Lake City you’ll be strapping on your skis or boards and thrashing your thighs on some of the best ski slopes in the United States.

Known for its dramatic glacier-cut terrain topped by mounds of light fluffy powder, Snowbird is best-suited for the family of intermediate or better skiers and boarders. A 125-passenger tram whisks riders up to the 4,450 ft. summit in just eight minutes, which means your time is spent mastering the mountain rather than riding the lifts.

The impressive Cliff Hotel, topped by a full-service spa, dominates the ski village, and there are condominiums, restaurants, and shops just steps from the slopes. A well-run daycare for children 6 weeks-12 years is in the base of the hotel, and the children’s and teens’ ski school offers classes for children ages 3 and up. This place is all about skiing; nightlife and off-slope activities are secondary.

Comments: Easy to get to, with exhilarating skiing that will leave you spent but satisfied by the end of the day.

Whistler Resort, British Columbia

Whistler is a giant. It offers more vertical (5,280 ft.), more skiing (7,000 acres) and more base lodging than any other resort in North America.

All this skiing, plus superior grooming, numerous high speed lifts, and a convenient pedestrian village has made the resort first among American and Canadian skiers for the last five years. Two different mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, connected by a gondola and a footpath, comprise the resort. Blackcomb’s base has the luxurious Chateau Whistler Hotel as its anchor, while Whistler has the majority of condominiums, hotels, restaurants, and shops.

It’s easy to stay in one area and take advantage of all that the other has to offer. Both have ski schools for children and adults, and a supervised children’s program every late afternoon or evening.

Comments: This behemoth of a resort offers maximum vertical, skiing, and value with a minimum of hassles.

Sun Valley, Idaho

Understated elegance still pervades Sun Valley Resort, once the preferred ski stop for Hollywood in the 30’s and 40’s.

World-class day lodges of rock and timber serve up some of the best food in the ski world. Luxurious long, flowing trails meander down the mountain. Most lodging is in Sun Valley Village, a few miles from the slopes, where a first-class hotel, condominiums, shops, restaurants, an ice rink and a cozy daycare center are located.

Because Sun Valley is rather isolated and is not overrun by accommodations, the slopes remain relatively uncrowded, even on the busiest weekend.

Comments: The Energizer Bunny of the ski world: The runs keep on going and going and going.

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