Finally, a year when families need our annual ski and snow family vacations guide! After several winters of meager natural snowfall, ski and snowsports resorts all over the West and Northeast have been opening early thanks to above-average storms. In fact, AccuWeather meteorologists recently issued their annual ski season forecast, highlighting that this winter could be “very interesting” for skiers in one of the most populated regions of the country – the Pacific Northwest.
“The best ski conditions this winter are probably going to end up being of course across the Northwest,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok explained. Good skiing conditions are also predicted across the Rocky Mountains from Canada down through Colorado. Forecasters say that it will not be a great winter for skiing across California, Utah and Arizona, but it won’t be a bad season either. Storms will occasionally track over this region of the Western U.S., laying down blankets of snow over mountain resorts. Spells of dry weather between the snowstorms, however, could impact the slopes.
No matter the weather, winter is a great time to get outdoors with the kids. Choose a ski and snow family vacation at one of North America’s top mountain resorts. Go snowmobiling, snowboarding or snowshoeing on local trails. Have fun in the snow on a tubing run or watching wildlife at a national park. Most importantly, head outdoors and enjoy snowsports.
In partnership with Taking the Kids we present our annual guide to “Fun in the Snow.”
Trends in the World of Snowsports
There’s always news in the highly competitive world of snowsports. Some trends:
Passes. Whether for the season or for a week, passes are the way to go this season for the best value. To ski or snowboard only a few days, get an Epic Day Pass valid from one to seven days. This year Vail Resorts has actually lowered its Epic Pass prices by 20 %.?If you plan a ski and snow vacation regionally, a pass such as the Northeast Value Pass offers access to all eight Vail resorts in the Northeast including Stowe, Okemo, Mt. Snow and Hunter.?Plus, kids under age 4 ski free at Vail owned properties and kids ages 5-6 ski for just $39 on the Northeast Value Tot Pass.
Off the Traditional Slopes. Why not head to Yellowstone to snowshoe or snowmobile? One of America’s snowiest cities, Marquette, Michigan, is the place to try fat tire snow biking. Try a dude ranch like Vista Verde in Colorado and ride horses in the snow. Backcountry ski a place like the YMCA of the Rockies where you might also be able to snowshoe or dog sled. There are many options for fun in the snow beyond traditional slopes.
Disabilities Overcome. Include every family member on your ski and snow vacation. Many ski areas around the country offer special adaptive program for those with physical and mental challenges.
There is an Affordable Mountain Resort for your Family
Saving money on your ski and snow family vacation is trending too. Families can think big but stay local for real savings. Many believe that smaller resorts — those in the Midwest and Pennsylvania, for example — will continue to attract families who prefer to stay closer to home. Smaller, cheaper but higher altitude mountain resorts in the West also are gaining in popularity. Check out affordable options with programs such as the Colorado Gems (below).
Many states including Colorado, Utah, Maine and New York have kids’ ski free deals for certain grades to promote a lifelong love of the sport. Each program is slightly different. Typically, you need to apply in advance.
In general, book midweek at the more affordable ski and snow family vacation resorts to save big. With more families driving rather than flying, stay regional and save on airfare. Explore remote work and school options so you aren’t as tied to traditional school vacation weeks.
There are many lodging options in condos and houses with kitchens and room to spread out. Inquire about resort deals, especially if you opt to stay longer, at places like at The Antlers at Vail. Don’t head to the mountains when the resorts are most crowded and expensive, regardless of snow conditions. This year, you might actually be able to let the snow be your guide!
The Top Family Ski and Snow Vacation Resorts A to Z: Alta to Attitash
ALTA SKI AREA is adjacent to the contemporary, upscale Snowbird which is celebrating 50 years by putting in glass floors on its iconic red gondola. At quieter Alta, celebrating its 85th year of skiing, the vibe is a little more natural. Go and discover that the experience offered is all about skiing (no snowboarding at Alta) and community. The resort’s Discover Winter program has committed to introducing skiing to more people of color. Purchase a combined Alta-Snowbird ticket to ski more than 4,700 acres in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon. Stay in the traditional, European style Alta Lodge, hosting guests since 1940. The semi-inclusive Alta offers yoga to start your day, a complimentary kids-club, kid escorts to and from the slopes, breakfast and dinner daily so kids can eat early with their pals.
APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CLUB in the White Mountains of New Hampshire provides hundreds of miles of trails to hike or snowshoe, plus guided custom adventures at both AMC’s Joe Dodge Lodge at Pinkham Notch and Highland Center Lodge at Crawford Notch. The AMC’s 100-square-mile wilderness in Maine can be toured via groomed, backcountry ski trails on day trips. Many families enjoy trying to ski between rustic lodges and private cabins, where home-cooked meals are served to overnight guests. Read about a weekend getaway to an AMC club.
ASPEN SNOWMASS has a full events lineup and unveils a $23 million renovation at Buttermilk. Check out the transformed base area complete with a new 9,000+ square-foot fully electric skier services building with ski school, rentals and ticketing all in one location. Look for a renovated Buttermilk Mountain Lodge restaurant and an expanded bar and outdoor patio. Aspen Snowmass welcomes the Audi FIS Ski World Cup, scheduled for March 3-5, 2023. The top men in the in the world will compete on America’s Downhill course on Aspen Mountain, an iconic World Cup venue. Aspen hosted the first World Championships held outside of Europe in 1950 and the mountain has hosted innumerable ski racing legends since that time. At the family-favorite Snowmass, look for many new capital improvement projects, lodging offerings, World Cup ski racing events, enhanced transportation options locally and to airpots, cool retail shops, specialty shops and much more. Read about the recent Snowmass Mastodon discovery here.
ATTITASH MOUNTAIN RESORT is located in the heart of White Mountains of New Hampshire, just outside the historic village of North Conway. Offering up 68 trails across two mountain peaks, Attitash is known for steep and winding trails that deliver beautiful views of Mount Washington and the neighboring Presidential Mountain Range. Other amenities include 100 acres of hand-cleared tree skiing, three progressive terrain parks, and a vibrant and active ski racing culture. New fire pits in the Bear Peak base area are the perfect spot for a toasty après. Attitash Terrain Parks are more tricked-out than ever thanks to a dozen new features.
The Top Family Mountain Resorts – Beaver Creek to Breckenridge
BEAVER CREEK, smaller than Vail, offers unparalleled service, a terrific ski school, and experiences geared towards families. The new McCoy Park is in its sophomore season, offering beginner and intermediate natural, groomed and gladed runs for all adventurers. The beloved Cookie Time is a decades-old tradition in the intimate, luxury base village. Allie’s, Zach’s, and Beano’s fine dining cabins on the mountain offer snowcat-drawn sleigh rides to elevated epicurean escapes. Beaver Creek offers incredible terrain for all types of adventurers, from the Signature Parks collection to the renowned Birds of Prey World Cup race course. Consider a stay at the Westin Riverfront Resort, a good bet with or without kids.
BIG SKY RESORT is home to the “Biggest Skiing in America,” offering 5,850 skiable acres, 300 acres of skiing off Lone Peak, and 4,350 feet of vertical drop with rarely another skier in sight. Expect runs up to 6 miles long, glades and bowls and seven terrain parks covered in 400+” of annual snowfall. Off slope adventures suited to teens include a giant swing, bungee trampoline, climbing wall, guided snowshoes tours, and two zipline tours. Not too far from the resort, families can snowmobile or snow coach through Yellowstone National Park (read about our visit to Yellowstone in Winter). Try Nordic skiing or horse-drawn sleigh rides through Lone Mountain Ranch. Go dogsledding in nearby Moonlight Basin. Families also test their skills at winter fly fishing or rock and ice climbing throughout the Gallatin Valley. This season, skiers can explore Big Sky’s slopes in an all new way with Headlamp Night Skiing, or a stroll through the Enchanted Forest.
BRECKENRIDGE SKI RESORT and its hometown are affectionately known as ‘Breck’ to locals and visitors alike. Breck serves up big mountain views and 3,000 skiable acres of high alpine terrain. From its Five Peaks to the charmingly Western Main Street, this vintage village is practically ski-in, ski-out. Where else in the world can you ski from the top of North America’s highest chairlift and directly into town for après? This season, the family-favorite Rip’s Ride double lift has been replaced with a new high-speed quad lift. Spring skiing is one of the best times of the year and Breck plans to operate through May or as long as the snow lasts. On top of skiing and riding, you can hit Breck’s vibrant après scene or check out one of the numerous community events and festivals including Ullr Fest, the Breckenridge Snow Sculpture Championships and much more. Read more about Breck on or off the slopes here.
The Top Family Mountain Resorts – Club Med to Crested Butte
CLUB MED QUÉBEC is Club Med’s newest ski resort and the brand’s first resort in Canada. For the second season, take a stress-free, all-inclusive ski and snowsports vacation while also experiencing Canadian culture. There is Unlimited ski-in/ski-out access, lift tickets and group ski and snowboard lessons at no added cost. Sign up for ski workshops that adventure through the wonderous ski domains of Le Massif de Charlevoix. The family restaurant Terroir & Co encourages kids and parents to prepare fondue, raclette and other dishes. Sample the apres-ski including a spa and day and night entertainment including kids’ clubs for children ages 4-17.
COLORADO GEMS are 11 smaller Colorado snow resorts that are less expensive and less crowded than the big resorts and, for younger families, easier to navigate. They include Cooper (Eileen Ogintz said this about a visit); Echo Mountain, Denver’s closest ski area less than an hour away; Granby Ranch; Hesperus, 11 miles west of Durango; Monarch Mountain, near Salida; Kendall Mountain Ski Area, within walking distance from historic downtown Silverton; Loveland; Powderhorn in the heart of the Grand Mesa; Sunlight in Glenwood Springs where you can enjoy the world’s biggest hot springs pool. For just $39, the GEMS Card provides your choice of either two 2-for-1 lift tickets or two 30% off lift tickets. It can be used twice at each ski area for 22 total uses and pays for itself after one use.
CRESTED BUTTE (a longtime favorite of our family) challenges skiers and riders with untouched powder, towering peaks, heart-pounding terrain and a vibrant town with a mountain culture all its own. With 561 acres of double-black-diamond terrain, CBMR is known as the North American birthplace of inbounds extreme skiing and riding. That doesn’t mean it’s not for beginners. Now entering its second season, the three-person, fixed-grip Peachtree lift serves beginner terrain at the base of the resort. Choose your challenge and test your skills at the untamed destination at the end of the road.
The Top Family Mountain Resorts – Deer Valley to Grand Targhee
DEER VALLEY in Park City is known for plenty of great terrain, ski valets, perfect service and gourmet meals. This season, there’s a new Burns Express quad chairlift, other enhanced lifts and regraded terrain that offer expanded beginner area access. The 2023 Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International Ski World Cup arrives Feb. 2-4, 2023 with mogul, dual moguls and aerial events. If possible, Deer Valley has upped its culinary experience with Cast & Cut, a new high-end seafood and steak restaurant. More Taste of Luxury events welcome celebrity chefs throughout the year. Owned by Alterra Mountain Company, skiers can access the mountain (among 47 resorts) via their Ikon Pass and Ikon Base Pass (seven and five days respectively). The legendary five-star Stein Eriksen Lodge is a multigenerational favorite with extra Murphy beds, many family amenties and a celebrated spa. They’ve added 40 glamorous, one-to five-bedroom residences to their rental pool. Don’t miss a visit to Park City’s Historic Main Street with its great shops and restaurants; you can even ask your kids to hunt for the Banksy mural on the side of an ice cream shop. NOTE: Deer Valley is one of the very last ski areas to say ”NO” to snowboarders. Read about it here.
ELDORA is a small ski area near Boulder with value access using the GEMS Card. It is popular with locals from the front range for a day trip or beginner lessons. Just 21 miles from Boulder and less than 50 from Denver, Eldora has “naturally progressive” terrain popular with beginners and more advanced skiers and boarders. Its team of seasoned instructors are ready to help anyone learn the basics or up their game. It offers day passes, season passes and four-packs.
GRAND TARGHEE in Alta, Wyoming is only 50 miles from Jackson Hole but it’s worlds away in style and ease of access. Families love the moderate rates, friendly staff and tender childcare, again open (by reservation) for infants and toddlers 2 months to 5 years. If your little one is ready to learn to love skiing you book child care + alpine skiing (ages 3-5) or book a private Mini Moose lesson. It’s hard to get lost in the compact base village no matter your age. On-mountain lodging like the just renovated Teewinot Lodge is very casual and reasonably priced. Not so small, Targhee boasts 2,602 acres of fine terrain and a whopping 500” annually of fresh powder. This winter, Targhee will be opening the new Colter Lift, providing 30% more terrain previously only open to Cat Ski guests. Note that under-5s always ski free and they sell half and full-day lift tickets. See our review of Grand Targhee Resort.
The Top Family Ski and Snow Vacation Mountains – Heavenly to Hunter
HEAVENLY tops the Sierra Nevada range in two states, providing a one-of-a-kind skiing experience with its iconic views of Lake Tahoe’s deep blue, high alpine water. With nearly 5,000 acres of skiable terrain and 97 trails ranging from groomers to chutes, you won’t get bored exploring the mountain. Treat the kids to unbelievable panoramic views of Lake Tahoe on the California side, and the Carson on the Nevada side as they learn the sport from Vail’s top coaches.
HOLIDAY VALLEY provides one of the best value family ski and snowsports vacations in tiny Ellicottville, New York. Since it’s almost equidistant to Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, it can get crowded weekends as it has since 1938. On mountain, there are friendly instructors and cool trails marked with “treasures” from the local Seneca Nation that highlight the history of Native Americans in the region. Discounts include half-priced learn to ski or snowboard packages every weekday in January plus four housing deals. Check out the dedicated website, ISkiNY.com, to learn about this historic small town where strolling past antique shops and cafes is the favorite apres-ski pastime.
HOODOO SKI AREA is one of only two resorts in Oregon that participate in the Indy Pass program. For only $299, winter sports enthusiasts get two lift tickets at each of 75+ resorts in the US, Canada, and Japan. In addition, Hoodoo has announced that all lift tickets are valid until the 9pm closing and will be priced for three time blocks, full day, afternoon or evening. And since Hoodoo is the only Central Oregon ski resort to offer night skiing, it’s great value to those who want to ski and ride under the stars. Gear up and hit the slopes at Hoodoo Ski Area with FivePine’s Stay & Ski Free Package. The package includes breakfast and passes to Hoodoo by day, and a wine and beer reception in the main lodge by night.
HUNTER MOUNTAIN is just a 2.5-hour drive through the northern Catskills from Manhattan and appeals to metro area travelers. With a history marked by wild downhill racers and weekend party-goers that began in 1960, the resort has matured with a state-of-the-art learning center, consistent snowmaking and grooming, and dedicated children’s areas. At The Kaatskill Mountain Club, enjoy luxury, your own cooking facilities, a heated pool and easy access to the slopes and base village. Hunter Mountain is one of five Vail Resorts properties in the Northeast that will provide special access to youth groups from the National Brotherhood of Skiers.
The Top Family Ski and Snow Vacation Mountains – Jackson Hole to Kirkwood
JACKSON HOLE in Wyoming, operating for over 50 years, is more popular than ever. There’s non-stop airlift from 12 major cities, and special family deals including Kids 14 and Under Ski and Rent Free. The Kids Ranch offers age-appropriate activities and lessons for ages 3 to 7-years for all ability levels. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s 2,500 acres of inbound terrain (there’s 3,000 acres of backcountry) offer groomers, deep fresh powder and four Burton Stash Parks with natural terrain-like features from the Teton Village base. Families love the authentically cowboy town of Jackson, National Elk Refuge, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks nearby, which offer unparalleled opportunities to see wildlife in the winter. Snow King is Jackson’s hometown hill just blocks from Town Square – and a great bet with fewer people and value rates. The new Cowboy Coaster and Treetop Adventure are can’t-miss activities for visitors and locals. King Tubes is Jackson Hole’s only Snow Tubing Park.
KEYSTONE RESORT brings out the kid in all of us. This winter wonderland has over 3,000 acres of skiable terrain including three peaks, five above-tree-line bowls, night skiing and in-bounds cat skiing. This year, Keystone is bringing back the World’s Largest Mountaintop Snow Fort with new on-snow experiences, and doubling the fun with a second Snow Fort experience at the Mountain House Base Area. Timber Ridge Lodge, newly expanded for the 2022/23 season, is the place for guests to rest and refuel before hitting North Peak or starting a hike to one of Keystone’s spectacular bowls. Non-stop activities include high-speed snow tubing, scenic horse-drawn sleigh rides and an unparalleled ice-skating experience on the beautiful 5-acre Keystone Lake. Ask about the resort’s Kids Ski Free Program, free designated family parking and complimentary red wagons that help parents tote gear (and excited kiddos) to and from the slopes.
KIRKWOOD CA is a Lake Tahoe area resort for adrenaline seekers with cliff drops, bumps and open bowls. A favorite among powder afficionados, expect to find more than 2,300 acres with over 2,000 feet of vertical. But there’s also Timber Creek Family Learning Zone with a kids adventure area, slow zones and dedicated chair lift with uncrowded runs. Generations of locals have learned here and reveled in the deepest powder around the lake. Kirkwood is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season.
The Top Family Mountains – Mammoth to Monarch
MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN is California’s highest resort, topping out at just over 11,000 feet, with more than 150 trails and 3,100 vertical feet. Use the Ikon Pass to combine a stay with play at Palisades Tahoe and Big Bear Mountain Resort; do it midweek at 20% off and weekends take 15% off. Mammoth has dedicated learning centers for kids and myriad off-slope activities including tubing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. At Woolly’s Tube Park and Snow Play, families with young kids can build a snowman, enjoy playing in the snow and hit the six lift-accessed, groomed tubing lanes. Read about a trip here in 2014.
MONARCH MOUNTAIN near Salida CO near the “College Range” is perched atop the Continental Divide on Scenic Highway 50. The ski area, part of the Colorado GEMS collection, is a hidden gem with something for everyone. Diverse terrain accommodates skiers and boards of all levels. Read about a visit in 2014.
The Top Three Mounts: Mount Bachelor, Mount Snow and Mount Sunapee
MOUNT BACHELOR is Central Oregon’s hidden gem. Perhaps not for long: there are new direct flights into Redmond from Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle. This Cascades playground offers over 4,300 acres of lift-accessible terrain just 20 miles west of Bend. The sixth largest ski and snowboard area in the US with a lift-served summit of 9,068 feet, skiers and snowboarders can drop 360 degrees off the summit to circumnavigate the southernmost volcano in the Cascades. Hike to the adjoining cinder cone, or ski plenty of trees that offer powder stashes well into the afternoon. New this winter is Mt. Bachelor’s guest experience-enhancing app which tracks your turns, has weather alerts, real-time lift and trail status, on-mountain events and more. Fans of Powdr resorts will appreciate the Woodward Mountain Parks and their progression zones for all ages and abilities. Van lifers take note that RV (with hookups) and van camping are allowed in the West Village base area in winter and summer. Read more about Mt. Bachelor and Bend Oregon here.
MOUNT SNOW is Vermont’s closest destination ski resort to Boston and New York City. Easy access to varied terrain, efficient modern lifts including the Bluebird Express bubble chair and the most powerful snowmaking system in the East make it very popular. Yes, it’s packed on weekends, however, the new Sunbird Lift is expected to reduce wait times. The Carinthia terrain park boasts more than 100 acres of features providing a virtually endless playground of progression and adventure. Part of the Vail family, expect fine dining options, upscale lodging and plenty of off-mountain attractions and activities for families.
MOUNT SUNAPEE is one of Boston’s closest and most accessible mountains, a family favorite for generations. South Peak is decisively the best learning terrain in the East because of its easy access to the main mountain and variety of lifts and terrain, within a protected area. Mount Sunapee is one of five Vail Resorts properties in the Northeast that will provide special access to youth groups from the National Brotherhood of Skiers thanks to more than $97K in youth access program grants awarded by Vail Resorts and the Katz Amsterdam Charitable Trust.
Ski and Snow Vacations from Northstar to Palisades Tahoe
NORTHSTAR CALIFORNIA at Lake Tahoe invites you to explore groomed runs on Mt. Pluto, an extinct volcano that last erupted more than two million years ago. Now there’s moderate pitch, sweeping views of Lake Tahoe and wide-open runs. Northstar’s diverse terrain and 100 trails allow families of all abilities to enjoy an on-mountain adventure with more than 3,000 acres, family learning zones, over 400 acres of advanced terrain and Logger Loop, the longest run which extends 1.4 miles. This is the place for the passionate family snowboarder.
OKEMO, located in southern Vermont with easy access from Boston, New York and other East Coast points, is an upscale family-focused mountain resort choice. Amenities include six high-speed chairlifts – two with a retractable dome and one with heated seats. This season, the Quantum lift is being upgraded from a quad to a high-speed 6-person lift and the renamed Evergreen Summit Express will speed snow sports lovers around the mountain. Another Vail Resorts property, Okemo uses the Epic Pass to keep visitors current, track your stats and promote contactless meal ordering. Okemo also has plenty of other snow fun options, such as tubing, ice skating, swimming and an amazingly fun alpine coaster, in addition to posh base camp lodging and rec facilities. Read how Okemo compares to nearby Stowe for families.
PALISADES TAHOE is the largest ski resort in California, boasting 6,000 skiable acres across eight peaks now seamlessly connected by the Base to Base gondola. Formerly Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, the more than 70-year-old resort celebrates a rich history as the host of the 1960 Winter Olympics and is home mountain to dozens of Olympic and World Cup athletes across multiple snow sports. This season, the resort is proud to host the Audi FIS Ski World Cup, Feb. 24-26, 2023. With an average annual snowfall of 400”, Palisades Tahoe is the definitive Spring Skiing Capital and frequently operates the region’s longest ski and snowboard season. The bustling Village at Palisades Tahoe offers year-round events and over 50 bars, restaurants and boutiques. Palisades Tahoe is also the largest resort on the Ikon Pass, which offers access to 50+ international ski destinations.
Family Ski and Snow Vacations from Park City to New Hampshire
PARK CITY, UTAH is one of the easiest-to-reach and best Western ski areas with several mountain resorts in close proximity. Since Vail Resorts opened the 7,300-skiable-acre wonderland, Park City Mountain, it’s got all of the terrain features — including a mountain coaster — your riders and free skiers could want. Parents love the new dedicated beginner learning area at the Canyons Village and the family-friendly Red Tail Grill at the Canyons base area. Deer Valley is a ski-only resort that has been named #1 in the U.S. for 10 straight years in the World Ski Awards. And Woodward Park City is a new Woodward location, the first in Utah that offers all ages (especially adults) a place to enhance or learn skills in a range of sports including skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding and BMX among others. Go snow tubing or try an authentic Olympic bobsled run at the Utah Olympic Park. It’s also a fun Western town filled with chic shops and restaurants, plus condos, hotels and B&Bs where you might snag a lodging bargain. Many places issue a $300 Delta Gift Card if you book select nights through April, 2023. Stroll Main Street between Thanksgiving and New Year’s to pose with a life-sized snow globe installation. Located only 25 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport, the town offers the chance for a car-free getaway with free public buses, shuttles, taxis and ride sharing. Those with special challenges will find adaptive recreation programming at the National Ability Center in every season. Young families will find Park City a fun and romantic destination. Read about our visit here in 2022.
SKI COOPER is an authentic Colorado ski resort with uncrowded slopes and the most affordable day passes in Colorado. Just outside of high-altitude Leadville, this resort has 64 trails and five lifts spanning 480 lift-served acres. Families like it here because there are no lift lines and it is easy to navigate and keep the family together on a ski day. Day passes are as low as $30 on the famed $30 Thursdays in January and February when passes are purchased at least 48 hours in advance online. The base is at 10,500 feet; the summit at 11,700 feet blanketed with soft powder and freshly groomed slopes. Expert skiers can try out the Tennessee Creek Basin area or try a more backcountry experience with Chicago Ridge Cat Skiing at the top of the Continental Divide. Enjoy a snow cat ride up the mountain for a half day with guides on 2,600 acres of powder bowls and tree skiing. Cooper has a rich history as this is where the 10th Mountain Division trained during World War II. Since the war, the ski area has been run as a non-profit organization, which makes it different from most ski resorts. We visited Ski Cooper on a blue-sky day.
SKI NEW HAMPSHIRE represents 32 alpine and cross-country resorts. Expect to find improved snowmaking, grooming, lifts, and lodging, thanks to extensive capital investment across the state. Skiers who visit Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln will experience a quicker ride than ever on the Kancamagus 8 chairlift. Cranmore Mountain in North Conway has the Artist Falls Lodge, a new base lodge for their tubing park. The Mittersill Performance Center is a 9,000-square-foot facility where elite athletes from the Holderness School, Cannon Mountain and the Franconia Ski Club now train.
The Top Family Ski and Snow Vacation Mountains – Smugglers Notch to Sugarbush
SMUGGLERS’ NOTCH in northern Vermont is Ski Magazine’s pick for families in the Northeast. Smuggs has great childcare including infant care in a licensed nursery. Off-the-slope activities include a zip line canopy tour, snowshoeing, nightly hot cocoa by the fire, tubing and glow tubing. The Fun Zone 2.0 is open day and night with laser tag, a rock-climbing wall, a Ninja Warrior Course, large inflatables, an arcade and a separate place for younger ones to safely play. On mountain, Snow Sports University provides expert instruction for children and adults in skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing with 1,000 acres of all terrain access across three mountains. The Burton Riglet Park for young snowboarders helps ages 3-6 accelerate skills development with sculpted snow features like a 100-foot mini halfpipe, rollers, banked turns and obstacle courses. Book midweek for the Winter Carnival with fireworks on Thursdays and check out the value Club Smugglers’ ski and stay packages including lift tickets, lodging, indoor pool and hot tubs and many other extras.
STEAMBOAT SKI RESORT, in its 60th year in Colorado, is wrapping up the second phase of a multi-year, multi-million-dollar redevelopment project. Steamboat Resort opens the 2022/23 winter season with a reimagined base area with better crowd flow and a second gondola to a new learning facility on mountain. Alternatively, if you want to relax, ride horses, go snowshoeing or X-country skiing – plus dine on great food — check out nearby Vista Verde Ranch. Read about Taking the Kids’ visit here.
STOWE MOUNTAIN RESORT in northern Vermont has a one-of-a-kind, world class appeal that makes it a truly unique skiing destination in the Northeast. Discover experiences both on and off Mount Mansfield that range from carving alpine turns and ice skating to enjoying a cross-country outing through pristine forest. Add in fine dining and exploring Stowe, a Norman Rockwell version of the oldest ski town in the US. This season, Stowe has expanded its most accessible glade “Adventure Zone” terrain.
SUGARBUSH There’s nothing prettier than a Vermont winter to show off Sugarbush resort and its scenic, small town base village in the Mad River Valley. The Alterra-owned resort welcomes the IKON Pass to access two mountains complete with everything from beginner terrain to some of the toughest on the East coast. Lessons for all ages and abilities are offered. Beyond skiing, there are several snowshoe trails, Cabin Cat Adventures like candlelit dinners, first tracks experiences and sunset rides. This resort focus on culinary, with locally sourced meats, dairy, breads and vegetables featured on menus. After a day on the mountain, settle into the slopeside family apartments.
The Top Family Ski and Snow Vacations – Sun Valley to Telluride
SUN VALLEY, the crowning jewel of Idaho resorts since 1936, is still going strong. For its 86th season, the resort has completed a 380-acre expansion of expert terrain, added a new high-speed quad chairlift, updated dining options, snowmaking and enhanced family-friendly activities. Sun Valley’s highly regarded ski and snowboard instruction (ski classes begin at age 4, snowboarding at age 6) uses contoured terrain that helps kids learn. Posh skiers will like the jetsetters’ refreshed Sun Valley Lodge and luxury boutique hotels, such as the Limelight, in nearby Ketchum. Try the top ski resort in North America (according to SKI Magazine’s 2021/22 Annual Ski Resort Awards and Reader’s Poll) and let us know what you think. Learn more about Sun Valley from Family Travel Forum’s recent visit.
SUNDAY RIVER is located minutes from picturesque Bethel Village in western Maine’s Mahoosuc Mountains. A family-focused destination, it has eight interconnected peaks for skiing and snowboarding at all levels, a friendly ski school plus two resort hotels and an inn at the base. Sunday River, a Boyne resort on the IKON Pass, has 12-hour skiing and riding Fridays, Saturdays and select holidays, a tubing park, fireworks most weekends and holidays, and family-friendly entertainment for the little ones. Plan ahead to guarantee a slopeside room.
TAOS SKI VALLEY is home to one of North America’s highest lifts and is the best known among New Mexico’s eight alpine and three Nordic ski areas. Altitude assures it is typically blanketed with 300” of snow each season. Look for a more luxurious and intimate on-mountain experience with practically nonexistent lift lines. There’s a very upscale, stylish 80-room hotel, The Blake, at the base area. This season, Taos again provides childcare for kids up to age 3 and pre-K lessons at the Rio Hondo Learning Center for ages 3-6. The ice-skating rink is back as are the resort’s ski weeks – including the Shredders Program, which emphasizes the continued growth of local skiers and riders as they develop their skills (discounts are available with Taos Youth Season Pass). Take advantage of a snowcat-pulled sleighride to dine at The Bavarian. As the only B Corp ski resort in the world, Taos also announced another sustainability milestone this year – the resort is fully certified Carbon Neutral.
TELLURIDE, a southwestern Colorado mountain town, is a favorite snow sports destination because of its century-old architecture, free pedestrian-friendly gondola between resort and town, and striking mountain views in every direction. It’s also an easy ski resort to navigate since the ski school is right next to the gondola in the middle of the Mountain Village. More than 60% of the terrain is for beginners and intermediates, with at least one blue run from every lift, making it a perfect mountain for groups with different abilities. Repeat guests appreciate that the vast majority of instructors are veterans who remember their kids from previous visits. Backcountry fans love Black Iron Bowl, a hike-to playground set against the dramatic backdrop of Palmyra Peak, which encompasses eight runs, European-style faces, open glades and steep chutes. Skiing down the “Galloping Goose,” it hit Chris Yemma — Telluride has something for everyone, even the 1% A-listers. Read our review here.
The Top Family Ski and Snow Vacation Mountains – Vail to Winter Park
VAIL is the flagship Colorado mountain of a snow sports empire that reached its goal of 100% renewable electricity across its North American mountain resorts, and 96% worldwide. The original Vail Resort has more than 5,300 skiable acres including the seven legendary Back Bowls spanning across 7 miles. Add high-touch service to a terrific ski school, a new massive snowmaking upgrade and expansion project, intermediate and expert moguls, tree skiing and even some cliffs, to see how quality rules. Don’t let the size of the resort intimidate you. Vail offers a variety of complimentary mountain tours to introduce you to its expansive terrain. For those wanting to try on-mountain adventures outside of skiing and riding, the multi-lane tubing hill at Adventure Ridge is as popular as ever. Families can try the 50-foot-long, ski-through Coyote’s Den cave, checkout the teepee in Sherwood Forest and join the Nature Discovery Center at Eagle’s Nest for frequent nature walks, snowshoe tours and programs led by local naturalists. Opt in for family Private Lessons to learn and experience the mountain together. Vail is close enough to Denver to make a day trip. Read about it here.
WHISTLER BLACKCOMB in British Columbia offers big mountain skiing again with the re-opening of the Canadian-American border. Powder hounds of all abilities won’t want to miss Whistler Blackcomb after its season-long hiatus from the international ski scene. An instructor from its world-class snow school can help with tips and tweaks for your turns, while acting as your local guide to the best powder stashes among the 16 alpine bowls and 200+ runs of these dual mountains. An added value is that your guides know all the best food and drink locations. Whistler is growing its offering of ski and ride camps for women this season, while Extremely Canadian’s ski and snowboard clinics maximize what the Coast Mountains have to offer including Steeps Clinics, avalanche skills training and more.
WILMOT MOUNTAIN in Wisconsin, just a short drive away from Chicago and Milwaukee, offers affordability, less vertical and a smaller footprint to quickly build confidence – the benefits new skiers reap when visiting smaller ski hills. Additionally, the resort’s Ski and Ride school caters to newbies so you can learn to ski yourself or give your kids a gift that will last a lifetime. Vail Resorts own Kirsten Lynch (who took over the reins as CEO Nov. 1) actually learned to ski in the Matterhorn of the Midwest as a child. Bonus: Epic Pass holders received a 20% discount on group lessons.
WINTER PARK in Colorado is one of the closest large ski areas near Denver and offers terrain for all levels of skiers. Coming back this year after a pandemic hiatus is the Winter Park Express, a partnership between Amtrak and Winter Park Resort. The train leaves Denver’s Union Station early in the morning and chugs through the scenic foothills to the Continental Divide, through the historic Moffat Tunnel and to the doorstep of the ski resort. It returns the same afternoon. From Jan. 4-Apr. 23, 2023, departures are each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. With one-way fares starting as low as $29, travelers can customize their trip to ski or ride as many days as they’d like.
Ski and Snow Family Vacations at Two YMCA of the Rockies Resorts
YMCA OF THE ROCKIES – ESTES PARK CENTER is located on more than 850 acres in Estes Park, Colorado. Enjoy easy access to adjacent Rocky Mountain National Park, beautiful mountain scenery and dozens of on-site family friendly winter activities. , and cozy and affordable lodging. Try new sports, from guided winter wildlife ecology hikes and snowshoe trips to campfires, ice skating, sledding and more. Head inside for the 35-foot climbing wall, a well-appointed history museum, escape room, roller rink, craft center, gym and game room. Overnight accommodations range from comfortable hotel-style lodge rooms to multi-bedroom private cabins, and most cabins are dog-friendly.
YMCA of the Rockies – Snow Mountain Ranch is near Winter Park Ski Resort and an ideal destination for winter family outdoor activities. Explore more than 120K of groomed tracks and trails for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and winter trail adventures at the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center. Use cozy ski-in and ski-out cabins, reunion group cabins or lodge rooms as your family base for dog sledding, snow tubing, ice skating, winter sleigh rides or nearby alpine skiing. Warm up indoors at their facilities for indoor rock climbing, a variety of sports and a craft center with projects to entertain everyone in the family. There’s swimming, roller skating and so much more. Snow Mountain Ranch is very dog-friendly, so the whole family can join in on the fun.
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