A-Z directory of North America’s most family friendly ski slopes
The long-range, completely accurate and guaranteed weather forecasts are for — Fun in the Snow!
Some mountain resorts already were getting snow before Halloween and were scheduled to open in early November, touting everything from new lifts to more off the slope activities for everyone, including the non-skiers and riders in the crowd.
Go snowmobiling, snowboarding, or snowshoeing on local trails. Have fun in the snow on a tubing run, watching wildlife at a national park like Yellowstone, dogsledding, or ice fishing. Enjoy gourmet eats after a day outdoors.
Choose a ski and snow family vacation at one of North America’s top mountain resorts or a smaller local one.
In partnership with The Family Travel Forum we present our annual guide to “Fun in the Snow.”
Trends in the World of Snowsports
Think Big, Ski Local. 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) and kids ski free.
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 or IKON Pass valid for just a few days or a week. For those who want to ski some of the most iconic slopes, The Mountain Collective gives you two days at each resort and unlimited half-price days after that from Alta to Aspen to Jackson Hole, Revelstoke in Canada and Chamonix in France for $650 ($210 for kids 12 and under.) 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 $48 on the Northeast Value Tot Pass. Also consider a pass for just one resort.
Kids Free or nearly free. Many states including California, Utah, New Hampshire, 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. a Kids’ Ski Passport for those in grades 3-6 80 days on the slopes (4 days at 20 different ski areas) for just $65Typically, you need to apply in advance.
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 programs for those with physical and mental challenges.
There is an Affordable Mountain Resort for your Family
Book midweek at the more affordable ski and snow family vacations 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. If you can, let the snow be your guide!
Some of The Top Family Ski and Snow Vacation Resorts A to Z
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 season! — 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. Taking the Kids visited in 2021.
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 unveiled 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 2024 Stifel Aspen Winternational scheduled for March 1-3, 2024. International racers will compete in slalom and giant slalom on Aspen Mountain, and Aspen Snowmass will host spectating, ceremonies and events surrounding the races as part of the Winternational celebration. Aspen Snowmass has hosted more than 100 World Cup races for both men and women over the years, including the World Cup Finals in 2017 and the Stifel America’s Downhill and super-G races last season.
ATTITASH MOUNTAIN located in the heart of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, just outside the historic village of North Conway, offers 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 60+ acres of hand-cleared tree skiing, progressive skiing and terrain parks, and a vibrant and active ski racing culture. This year, Attitash will open The Mountaineer, a brand-new high-speed quad replacing the Summit Triple. Named to honor the historic railway that travels through the Mount Washington Valley, The Mountaineer is a high-speed 4-passenger Leitner-Poma chairlift that will reduce ride time to the Attitash summit by more than half, increase uphill capacity and improve the flow of the Attitash base area.
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 third 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 complimenting the amazing culinary experience across the resort, as evidenced by the destination’s inclusion in the illustrious MICHELIN Guide Colorado. Beaver Creek offers incredible terrain for all types of adventurers, from the Signature Parks collection to the renowned Birds of Prey World Cup racecourse. 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 the 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 terrain (of which about 1,000 are above tree line). From its Five Peaks to the charming 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 Peak 8 base area continues its evolution with an upgrade of the Five SuperChair to a high-speed quad, a new and improved learning area, and last season’s upgrade of the family-favorite Rip’s Ride to a quad lift. Spring skiing is one of the best times of the year and Breck plans to operate into 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.
BRIAN HEAD SKI RESORT, near Cedar City, Utah is ensuring that the newest skiers and snowboarders on their slopes have the ultimate introduction. Check out their “Free On-Snow Experience”, a step-by-step, self-guided clinic to better prepare first-timers on their big day. Learning stations staffed by instructors will provide tips and information along the way and will speed up the acquisition of basic skills and fundamentals. This program is open to all ages and introduces basic mountain safety and relevant tips for a successful first-time skiing or snowboarding. New gladed terrain will debut at Brian Head in the 2023-24 season for guests of all experience levels. The trees underneath the Wildflower Lift and the area around the Shotgun Trail will all boast enjoyable tree skiing while cutting down on fire danger in collaboration with the United States Forest Service.
BRIGHTON RESORT in Utah will look a bit different for die-hard fans this winter! In a much-anticipated upgrade, the new Crest6 Chairlift will swiftly whisk passengers up to the saddle beneath Pioneer Ridge from the base area near Molly Green’s pub. This high-speed, 6-passenger marvel will keep lines shorter and will be sure to allow night skiing aficionados a higher volume of laps under the lights. The new Crest6 will be Doppelmayr’s first ever 6-person D-line lift in Utah! one massive 100-foot rail. Park rats will rejoice at this new spectacular challenge slated for Brighton Parks. Terrain park lovers can also expect a handful of new features to explore that will cater to beginners up to pros.
The Top Family Mountain Resorts – Club Med to Grand Targhee
CLUB MED QUÉBEC is Club Med’s is the brand’s first resort in Canada. For the third season, take a stress-free, all-inclusive ski and snow sports 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 Arapahoe Basin, 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; Purgatory, Sunlight in Glenwood Springs where you can enjoy the world’s biggest hot springs pool. For just $48, 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. There is a new Gems Teen Pass (2 full day tickets to 11 different resorts for $199) and a Kids’ Ski Passport for those in grades 3-6 80 days on the slopes (4 days at 20 different ski areas) for just $65. The new Gems parent pass (one per household with a purchase of a Kids Ski Passport or Gems Teen Pass) gives you two days each at 11 Gems ski areas for $299.
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 third season, the three-person, fixed-grip Peachtree lift serves beginner terrain at the base of the resort. Newly-widened sections of some of the most popular beginner trails will give guests more space to make turns while learning. Choose your challenge and test your skills at the untamed destination at the end of the road. Read about our visit in 2019.
CROTCHED MOUNTAIN in southern New Hampshire will be celebrating 60 years on Earth this season! Crotched Mountain is a ski area with more heart than many mountains twice its size. Crotched skiers and riders are 100 percent passionate about every inch of the mountain’s 1,000-foot vertical drop. With more than 100 energy-efficient fan guns, Crotched proudly covers 100 percent of its trails with snowmaking, and is one of the few U.S. ski resorts that can boast the greatest per-acre snow production capability. Crotched lights 100 percent of its trails for night skiing and runs lifts well into the evening on many nights during the winter season.
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 Jackson Hole
HEAVENLY MOUNTAIN RESORT tops the Sierra Nevada, straddling two states and providing a one-of-a-kind skiing experience with iconic views of Lake Tahoe’s sapphire-blue 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 Heavenly’s top instructors and coaches. Whether you come to ski and ride from sunrise to sunset, or to explore all that Heavenly Village and South Lake Tahoe have to offer, or to simply unwind with the people you care about most, we’ve got you – Heavenly is all about a better way of being together.
HOLIDAY VALLEY provides one of the best value family ski and snow sports 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. Newly announced, Hunter plans to replace the 4-person fixed-grip Broadway lift with a new 6-person high-speed lift. In addition, the existing Broadway lift will be relocated to replace the 2-person fixed-grip E lift. These investments, subject to approvals, will provide a meaningful increase in uphill capacity and improved access to terrain that is key to the progressive learning experience for guests. The investment, planned for the 2024/25 season, is part of the company’s Epic Lift Upgrade initiative, which each year introduces new chairlifts, new lift-served terrain, and exciting new guest experiences. The Epic Lift Upgrade capital improvement projects are designed to help guests make the most out of every minute on the mountain by reducing lift line wait times, and giving guests more time to learn new skills, explore new terrain, and discover new peaks.
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.
The Top Family Ski and Snow Vacation Mountains – Keystone to Mount Sunapee
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, for the first time ever, over 550 acres of newly lift-serviced high alpine terrain with the addition of the Bergman Express, opening this winter season. Additionally, Keystone is bringing back the World’s Largest Mountaintop Snow Fort along with non-stop activities including high-speed snow tubing, scenic horse-drawn sleigh rides and an unparalleled ice-skating experience on the beautiful 5-acre Keystone Lake. and doubling the fun with a second Snow Fort experience at the Mountain House Base Area. Timber Ridge Lodge, expanded for the 2022/23 season, is the place for guests to rest and refuel before hitting North Peak, or hopping on Bergman Express to access one of Keystone’s spectacular bowls. 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 MOUNTAIN RESORT is a Lake Tahoe area resort for adrenaline seekers. Where the steep and deep produces hair-raising cliff drops, and bumps and open bowls ensure your legs feel like Jell-O when lifts close. Every day at Kirkwood is a chance to choose your own adventure. With 2,300 acres of terrain and over 2,000 feet of vertical, Kirkwood is truly an outdoor playground packed with thrills. The rugged terrain and prolific deep snowpack beckons shredders for steep lines they won’t soon forget. The skiing and riding in the Timber Creek base area offers an ideal place to progress your skills and enjoy perfect groomers, moderately pitched tree runs, and small gullies. The Kirkwood community revels in a ski culture that persists through a close-knit group of dedicated big mountain skiers and riders.
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 Adventure Summit, families with young kids can build a snowman, hit the six lift-accessed, groomed tubing lanes, and try out the all-new mountain coaster.
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.
MONTREAL EN LUMIIÈRE CELEBRATES SNOW, ICE, ALL THINGS WINTER: We know that residents of Montreal and Quebec province have long embraced their winter season. What’s special this year is the 25th edition of the Montréal en Lumière Festival. During the event running Feb. 29-Mar. 10, 2024, join more than 600,000 bundled up visitors for a spectacular winter celebration of the city’s multicultural-inspired cuisine, a multitude of free outdoor activities and endless shows. During the unmissable Nuit Blanche, explore events and live performances across the entire city. Free outdoors family activities, day and night, include ice skating on the Skating Loop overlooking the Place des Festivals while immersed in a colorful light show. If you can’t get enough, there’s also free skating at the esplanade Tranquille. Enjoy hot cocoa and a spin on the night-lit Ferris wheel. Stay warm to the beat of the DJ Booth, explore more than 150 activities and discover dozens of Instagram-worthy illuminated artworks and projections. Yes, there are indoor shows as well. For more information on programming, hotel deals and entertainment schedules, visit MontrealenLumiere.com
MOUNT BACHELOR With over 4,300 acres of lift-accessible terrain, Mt. Bachelor is the 6th largest ski resort in North America, and the largest in the Pacific Northwest. Located on the eastern flanks of Oregon’s Central Cascades, Mt. Bachelor is known for its light, dry snow, diverse terrain, family-friendliness, and one of the longest seasons in the country. Skiers and snowboarders can drop 360 degrees off the summit to circumnavigate the southernmost volcano in the Cascades. Van lifers take note that RV (with hookups) and van camping are allowed in the West Village base area in winter and summer. There are 12 direct flights into the area each day from major skier markets like Denver, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and Portland. Mt. Bachelor is located just 20 min west of the thriving town of Bend, OR which is home to many of the country’s top craft breweries, tax-free shopping, and great après-adventure entertainment for all ages, plus 300 days of sunshine. 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 including its massive one-of-a-kind terrain park, efficient modern lifts, and the most powerful snowmaking system in the East make it very popular. Recent Epic Lift Upgrades made their debut last winter (2022-23 ski season) at Mount Snow, changing the dynamic of the mountain with increased uphill capacity and efficiency. The Sundance Express six-pack replaced the Tumbleweed and Sundance Triples, Sunbrook went from a fixed-grip quad to a high-speed quad, and Heavy Metal was upgraded from a double chair to a triple, maximizing guests’ access to some of their favorite terrain on the mountain. These updates and benefits have helped to spread guests out and ski/ride the mountain in a new way, utilizing more of the terrain, which creates a better guest experience for all. The Carinthia terrain park boasts more than 100 acres of features providing a virtually endless playground of progression and adventure. Part of the Vail Resorts family, expect fine dining options, upscale lodging and plenty of off-mountain attractions and activities for families.
MOUNT SUNAPEE will celebrate 75 years this ski season! One of Boston’s closest and most accessible mountains, Mount Sunapee has been a family favorite for generations. It’s a place where traditions are forged and where many young skiers and riders discover the skills that allow them to take flight on snow for the first time. Mount Sunapee’s South Peak is decisively the best learning terrain in the East. This beginners’ enclave provides easy access to the main mountain, with its great variety of lifts and terrain, but provides a protected area with multiple user-friendly magic-carpet lifts in the base area and its own overhead chairlift when new skiers are ready to stretch their wings. Mount Sunapee’s staff is as passionate about making guests feel welcomed as they are about providing the region’s best on-snow experience. New this coming ski season, Mount Sunapee will be adding New Hampshire’s only ski through lighthouse, inspired by Lake Sunapee’s three iconic lighthouses plus interactive signage which will create a photo moment to ensure guests remember their day on the mountain for years to come
The Top Family Ski and Snow Vacation Mountains – North Star to Park City
NORTHSTAR CALIFORNIA at Lake Tahoe invites you to explore the diverse terrain on Mt. Pluto, an extinct volcano that last erupted more than two million years ago. Now, it is the perfect place for exploratory cruising with its moderate pitch, sweeping views of Lake Tahoe, and wide-open runs that allow guests the chance to create an on-mountain adventure that everyone will love. With more than 3,000 acres, families can progress together in family-designated learning zones, the Kids’ Adventure Zones, progressive terrain parks off Vista, or over 400 acres of advanced terrain on Lookout Mountain and the Backside, then kick back after a fun-filled day with fireside s’mores and hot cocoa (or a specialty cocktail from Vous) in the Village. From awe-inspiring mountain views, an average of 350 inches of annual snowfall, and decades’ worth of history and traditions – all these experiences on and off the mountain add up, and they leave you with endless unforgettable memories that will have you daydreaming about this mountain getaway for years to come. This is the place for the passionate family snowboarder.
OKEMO MOUNTAIN RESORT, located in southern Vermont with easy access from Boston, New York, and other East Coast points, is an upscale family-focused mountain resort choice. Okemo can cover 98 percent of its trails with snowmaking. Advanced, energy-efficient tower-gun technology and a fleet of modern snow groomers ensure quick snow-surface recovery when action is needed. With 122 trails and glades, and 20 lifts, Okemo offers six express lifts, two of which access the summit and are outfitted with retractable, transparent domes to keep passengers comfortable and protected from the elements. Okemo offers plenty of alternative activities too, like ice skating, the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster, Gore Snowground, and signature events. Most of all, though, Okemo is known for its staff friendliness and warm welcome to all. Another Vail Resorts property, Okemo uses the Epic Pass to keep visitors current, track your stats and provide discounts on food and drink, rentals, lodging and more through Epic Mountain Rewards
PALISADES TAHOE is Lake Tahoe’s largest premier resort destination spanning 6,000 skiable acres across eight peaks, now linked by the new Base to Base Gondola. Hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics and home mountain to esteemed Olympic and World Cup athletes, the 74-year-old resort enjoys an average annual snowfall of 400 inches, offering Lake Tahoe’s longest winter season. Referred to as the Spring Skiing Capital®, the resort offers skiing and riding through Memorial Day and frequently continues into the summer months, sometimes even stretching until the 4th of July. The Village at Palisades Tahoe hosts year-round events, entertainment, and a plethora of bars, restaurants, boutiques, and slope side lodging. Palisades Tahoe will make its return to the Men’s World Cup circuit, eagerly welcoming back the Stifel Palisades Tahoe Cup for the second consecutive year on February 23-25, 2024. Ski at Palisades Tahoe like never before with the Ikon Pass, granting access to 50+ top destinations worldwide.
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 the terrain features — including six terrain parks — your riders and free skiers could want. Parents love its two dedicated beginner learning areas at both base areas and the family-friendly Red Tail Grill at the Canyons base area. This winter Park City Mountain celebrates its 60th anniversary with special events and activations. 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 is one of the easiest-to-reach and best Western ski areas with several mountain resorts in close proximity. Parents love the dedicated beginner learning area at the Canyons Village and the family-friendly Red Tail Grill at the Canyons base area. Read about our visit here in 2022.
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 action sports park 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. We stayed in the popular and convenient Chateaux last summer. Snow tubing is Woodward’s most popular attraction. Try an authentic Olympic bobsled run at the Utah Olympic Park and stroll through the free Alf Engen Ski Museum. Park City also is a fun Western town (check out the silver mining history exhibits at Park City Museum) 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 2024. Stroll Main Street between Thanksgiving and New Year’s to pose with a life-sized snow globe installation.
POWDER MOUNTAIN Utah is for folks who might not be looking to ski or snowboard! A new network of trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing will debut near the Village Lift. Guests can also look to the Launch Pad Yurt which will open in December near the top of the Village Chair for more activities and fun. Here folks can jump start adventures in cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, moonbike tours, snowmobile tours, and more. Families and those prone to chilly toes will be delighted to learn about a new on-slope warming hut with delicious hot chocolate and snacks. The biggest news this season at Powder is a pending terrain expansion of over 500 acres of steep terrain. Stay tuned to Powder Mountain’s social channels for updates and announcements. The new backcountry terrain will only be available via a guided experience and is sure to deliver incredible memories in the future.
The Top Family Ski and Snow Vacation Mountains – Ski Cooper to Sugarbush
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 starting January 11 and ending February 29 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 steep tree skiing of the Tennessee Creek Basin area. 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.
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 the 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.
SNOWBIRD in Utah will launch a Kids Freeloader Pass meant to reduce the barrier of entry to new and young skiers and snowboarders. Anyone under the age of 18 will qualify for a FREE Snowbird season pass when linked to an Adult, Military, or Senior Snowbird Summit Pass. This 1:1 free pass program means any Snowbird Summit Passholder can give their Kids Freeloader Pass to a dependent, a family member, or a friend at no cost with zero restrictions. Snowbird aims to provide progressive access to those who many not otherwise have the opportunity or option to spend a day on the mountain. Families and support systems come in all forms, so the Kids Freeloader Pass is meant to be inclusive while fostering the future generations of skiers and shredders. Visit the new Mountain Center on the Snowbird Plaza for your one-stop zone to make dinner reservations, book snowcat or helicopter skiing with Snowbird Mountain Guides, schedule lessons with the Snowbird Mountain School, buy lift tickets or grab information about the mountain.
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.
STEVENS PASS is home to a community of full-time, part-time, and first-time winter crusaders enjoying the very best of the Cascades in Washington State – from numerous bowls, glades and faces to extensive lighted terrain for skiing and riding well into the evening. With an annual snowfall averaging 460″ each year and 1,125 acres of diverse skiable terrain, it’s no wonder everyone keeps coming back for more. Whether you are looking for an outdoor adventure, family-friendly fun, or a chance to relax in one of Washington’s most scenic mountains, we’ve got something for everyone. While each person experiences Stevens Pass uniquely, we do have one thing in common: we are all part of the snow-centric Stevens Pass family. The passion for what we do is palpable and shared amongst all visitors at this unique mountain that somehow always feels like home. Families have learned here, and children have grown here and come back with children of their own to pass on the sheer joy of skiing and riding at the crest of the Cascades.
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. Celebrating 90 years of service, the Mount Mansfield Ski Patrol (MMSP) will be sharing its storied history this winter with educational events on health and safety all season long. In 2022/23, Stowe’s Epic Lift Upgrade saw the Mountain Triple replaced with the Sunrise, a high-speed, detachable six-passenger lift that originates in the Mansfield Base Lodge parking lot – allowing guests unbeatable, direct access to the mountain. The Sunrise is the first-ever six-passenger chairlift for Stowe, which has been home to many lift innovations and firsts throughout its rich, 86-year history. This upgrade significantly increases access to some of Stowe’s best intermediate terrain and also directly services our expanded Adventure Zones, which are becoming more and more popular as an introduction to tree skiing for families and first-timers.
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 focuses on culinary, with locally sourced meats, dairy, breads, and vegetables featured on menus. After a day on the mountain, settle into the slope side family apartments.
The Top Family Ski and Snow Vacation Mountains – 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 slope side 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 115-room & suites hotel, The Blake, at the base area, with larger family-sized condos in the adjacent building. 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 last year – the resort is fully certified Carbon Neutral, and on track to be net zero by 2030.
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 YMCA of the Rockies
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.
WILMOT MOUNTAIN in Wisconsin, just a short drive 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.
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 on weekends. Winter Park is also home to the National Sports Center for the Disabled with many programs for those with physical and mental challenges,
WHISTLER BLACKCOMB in British Columbia offers big mountain skiing and riding for all ages and skill levels. Powder hounds, glade lovers and groomer aficionados won’t want to miss the unmatched variety of terrain at North America’s largest ski resort. 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 kids and adults 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.
WOODWARD PARK CITY is like no other resort in Utah with its 66,000-square foot Adventure Hub and its outdoor wonderland of jumps, rails, halfpipes, and progressive features. This summer Woodward Park City acquired a new PistenBully Park Pro Snow Cat to keep their terrain park in tip top shape. The Big Air feature will return, and guests can expect additional upgrades to the High-Performance Terrain Zone. Tubing guests will enjoy an improved lighting system under the night sky and all can take advantage of a resurfaced parking lot. Visit Woodward’s website to learn about various Winter Camp training opportunities that include training with US Ski & Snowboard team athletes as guest coaches.
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 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.
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. Snow Mountain Ranch is very dog-friendly, so the whole family can join in on the fun.