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Family ski vacation guide with the best ski resorts for family skiing

Author: Family Ski Trips (page 1 of 7)

Are you skiing next winter?

92% of Polled Skiers Say YES
Despite coronavirus, the majority of older skiers plan to be on the slopes next season, and they expect ski areas to take measures to minimize spread of the virus.

Of  almost 3,500, or 21%, of SeniorsSkiing.com’s 16,500 subscribers surveyed in early June, 92% indicate they definitively or probably will go ski next winter!

Ski Travel Plans?
41% surveyed plan to ski locally
31% plan to take one or more long distance ski trips plus skiing locally
25% plan one or more long distance trips
42% indicate planning a ski trip to the US Rockies
15% planning a ski trip to the Eastern US
14% plan to visit the Canadian Rockies
10% will consider planning a ski trip Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, or South America.

Rating the importance of preventive measures ski resorts can take to control the virus:
88% say continuous sanitizing in public areas ( dining, lodge, restrooms) is extremely important. 
74% indicate social distancing in dining areas, lift lines and other public spaces is very important. 
59% said requiring facemasks on lifts and in public spaces is considered extremely or very important.
50% favored daily limits on numbers of skiers and boarders at an area as very important.

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What Skiers Spent Last Season – When asked what they spent on skiing 2019-20 season including ski gear, clothing, lodging, food, and lifts?
51% spent  under $2500
29% spent  $2500 -$5000
20% spent $7,500 or more. 

The survey respondents of SeniorsSkiing.com Survey Monkey June 2020 poll are 73% male; 27% female.

So the question is… if Seniors are brave and bold enough to plan to ski the 2020-21 ski season, are YOU?

Copyright and photos property of Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury Vacation Guide

Vail Resorts open for Summer Fun

Vail Resorts has summer opening dates and plans for its North American ski resorts with a commitment to safety amid the COVID-19. The first set of resorts will open June 26, including Keystone, Crested Butte, Okemo and Mount Snow. More resorts to open shortly thereafter, including Whistler Blackcomb, Vail and Beaver Creek, Park City, Heavenly, and Breckenridge. The resorts will open with a limited summer on mountain access and scenic lift rides. Lodging, restaurants, retail, biking and other activities will vary by location. See details at www.VailResorts.com

As a part of Vail Resorts’ commitment to safety, guidelines across all of its resorts and properties in North America. Like the Skier Responsibility Code, Vail Resorts asks guests and employees to take on a new level of personal accountability to ensure the safety of its mountain communities.

“Summer is a special time in the mountains and we are excited to welcome guests back to the outdoors to have fun, refresh and recharge,” said Pat Campbell, president of Vail Resorts’ mountain division. “While we are offering limited summer activities, we are lucky that our beautiful outdoor settings provide a landscape to experience nature and to easily practice physical distancing so we all can safely return to the mountains we love. It is our expectation that guests help us ensure the experience is safe for them and for our employees by following our new guidelines. As summer progresses, we look forward to opening more activities and adventures at our resorts.”

Vail Resorts scheduled opening dates and activities:
Weekly operating days vary by resort; Additional activities may open as summer progresses and restrictions ease.
• Attitash (July 18): Scenic chairlift rides; hiking; alpine slide; grab ‘n go food.
• Beaver Creek (July 1): Scenic chairlift and gondola rides; hiking; bike haul; Spruce Saddle to offer grab ‘n go food.
• Breckenridge (July 4): BreckConnect Gondola; scenic chairlift rides; hiking; alpine slide and alpine coaster; Ski Hill Grill to offer grab ‘n go food.
• Crested Butte (June 26): Scenic chairlift rides; hiking; Butte 66 to offer grab ‘n go food.
• Heavenly (July 3): Scenic gondola rides; hiking; Tamarack Lodge and Café Blue to offer grab ‘n go food. Mountain coaster opening date to be determined.
• Hunter (July 4): Scenic chairlift rides and hiking.
• Keystone (June 26): River Run Gondola; hiking; Summit House to offer grab ‘n go food. Golf opened June 5 at the River Course.
• Liberty (June 17): Golf
• Mount Snow (June 26): Scenic chairlift rides; hiking; Bullwheel to offer grab ‘n go food. Golf and Fairways (grab ‘n go) opened June 17.
• Northstar (July 15): Golf to open July 15. Additional activities to be announced by early July.
• Okemo (June 26): Scenic chairlift rides; hiking; mountain coaster; golf and disc golf.
• Park City (July 2): Scenic chairlift rides; hiking; bike haul; alpine slide and mountain coaster; Jupiter Java to offer grab ‘n go food. Canyons Golf is scheduled to open June 26.
• Stowe (June 27): Auto Toll Road opens June 27. Scenic gondola rides and Waffle to offer grab ‘n go food on July 18.
• Vail (July 1): Gondola One scenic rides; hiking; grab ‘n go food at Mid-Vail. Mid-July, Gondola 19 is scheduled to open with hiking, Epic Discovery interpretive trails, mountain coaster and grab ‘n go food at Eagle’s Nest.
• Wildcat (August 1): Wildcat Express scenic chairlift rides; hiking; cafeteria to offer grab ‘n go food.
• Whistler Blackcomb (June 29, subject to provincial alignment): Whistler Village Gondola, PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola and Blackcomb Gondola scenic rides; hiking; bike park (Fitz Zone and Garbanzo chair). Rendezvous, Garbanzo Bike and Bean, Roundhouse to offer grab ‘n go food.
• Whitetail (June 17): Golf

Get outside, recreate, have fun, stay in shape, ski season is coming!

2020 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

See more Vacation Travel Destinations at our sister site, LuxuryVacationGuide.com

Indy Pass – 50+ ski areas for $199

So you’ve heard about the IKON Pass and Epic Pass?! Impressive conglomerate ski passes with dozens of ski resorts included in one price. Both of these season passes have offered rather generous “insurance’ for the 2020-21 season in the event of resort closures.

Well, enter The Indy Pass! Introduced last season, the 2020-21 Indy Pass includes “indy” aka: independent resort – (read: NOT owned by Vail, Aspen, Alterra, Boyne, etc). This ramped up pass now provides ski benefits at 52 “independent” smaller, lesser known ski resorts. That alone makes it attractive in a skiing future where social distancing may continue to be a focus.

The Indy Pass also now offers “pass assurance” and a lowered prices. The campaign is to drum up business and skier confidence, and to  “Get America Skiing” which you’ve gotta love! There should be a hat for that! Acronym: GAS: Get America Skiing…

The Price? $199! Or $299 with no blackout dates on The Indy+ Pass. And if you already have a pass at one of these resorts, adding on an Indy Pass will give you a chance to ski around for just a $129 add-on.

While the Indy Pass sound super cool, grass roots, and its super cheap, keep in mind those ski privileges at 52 ski areas are for only 2 days at each.

Kids Indy Passes (12 and under) are $99 or $149 for the Indy+ Pass.  A family of four could all season’s Indy passes for just $596.

Indy passholders also get 25% off Lift tickets “Rack Rates” (read: full price) for a third day skiing at each “indie” resort or if you wish to ski on a Black Out day on your Indy Pass basic.

As for the “Get America Skiing Promise, you will receive an automatic credit to your account for a 2021-22 pass if, for any reason, you use your Indy Pass less than four days – no questions asked! The “Get America Skiing Promise” goes like this: if you use your 2020-21 pass zero days – 80% credit; one day – 60%; two days- 40%; and three days – 20%. Pretty straight forward, fair and square.

Indy Passes will be available for purchase Sept. 1, 2020.

Indy Pass Western Ski Resorts –  West Indies – lol
Brundage ID
Tamarack ID
Silver ID
Lost Trail MT
Red Lodge MT
White Pass WA
49 Degrees WA
Hurricane Ridge WA
Mission Ridge WA
Mt Shasta CA
Beaver UT
Sunrise AZ
Eaglecrest AK
Hoodoo Oregon

And in Canada – Maple Leaf Indies
Apex, BC Canada
Castle AB Canada
Sasquatch, BC Canada

In The East – East Indys
Bolton Valley VT
Magic VT
Suicide Six VT
Cannon NH
Pats Peak NH
Black NH
Berkshire East MA
Mt Abram ME
Shawnee Peak ME
Mohawk CT
Catamount NY
Greek Peak NY
Massanutten VA (just love the name, is it a mass a nothin’, or something with 1,100′ vert?)
Blue Knob PA
Bryce VA
Canaan WV
Cataloochee NC

Plus Midwest ski resorts – you’ve likely never heard of….
Lutsen MN
Detroit Mountain MN
Powder MN
Spirit MN
Granite Peak WI
Little Switzerland WI (emphasis on little, 50 acres, 200′ vert)
Nordic WI
Trolhaugen WI
Tyrol Basin WI (yodelahewhoo?)
Pine Mtn MI
Crystal MI
Big Powderhorn MI
Caberfae Peaks MI
Schuss MI (great name, let’s go schuss at schuss. eh?!)
Swiss Valley MI
Terry Peak SD

Honestly when I first heard about the “Indy Pass” I thought it was promoting drag racing… The Indy 500 Formula One fun all-access and private pit pass … woohoo…anywhoo… I’m glad to see this pass at some of my favorite small but might ski mountains.

Some of my fave “Indy” ski areas:

Brundage, Tamarack and hi-ho Silver in Idaho – worth an Idaho ski Iditarod! A ski safari could also hit Montana Indy members Lost Trail and Red Lodge. Too bad it doesn’t include Lookout Pass, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, and Whitefish Montana! #SkiRoadTrip

Castle Mountain in Alberta Canada is epic, sorry – no its Indy. This humble Canadian ski area is huge, Alberta’s 2nd largest behind Lake Louise (4 hours away in Banff)! 3,500 acres, snowfields, 2,800’ vert! Nearby Fernie and Kimberley are on the Epic Pass. Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay are on the IKON.

Cannon and Black in NH – the “live free or die” Granite State where skiing is the official winter sport!

Vermont’s Magic, Bolton Valley, and Suicide Six are all wicked authentic small mountains with big heart and inspiring history!

Maine’s Shawnee Peak and Mt A (Abrams) are cool ski areas with soul, night-skiing and great après ski bars I might add – Blizzard Pub and Loose Boots Lounge respectively.

So ski friends, much to consider for next ski season, with Covid potentially still in play. But we MUST PLAY outdoors regardless. We must ski… Skiing is an “essential service” for my health and sanity… yours? See you on the slopes in 2020. Till then, get your season pass, at a discount with pass assurance (or insurance if you’d prefer to call it that ) and stay in ski shape this summer!

2020 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

See more Vacation Travel Destinations at our sister site, LuxuryVacationGuide.com

The Future of Skiing

We are all eager to ski again, especially since our 2019-20 ski season ended abruptly with Covid closures mid-March. All Corona puns aside, our ski experience will change for the foreseeable future. What will never change is the joy of skiing, the freedom on being outside on a glorious snow-covered mountainside, the rush of flying downhill, the pull of gravity and the g-force of well-arced turn. Arriving at your ski resort next season though… will feel different…

So what does skiing look like next season? Some thoughts on crushing cord and cruising pow in pandemic times.

PPE? Skiers and snowboarders are already pretty accustomed to wearing goggles, gloves, facemasks, so that’s not a big shift for skiers. We can adapt our alpine ensembles accordingly.

“Ride with your party” may well be the new protocol. No that’s not party as in “hey nice to meet you, let’s party!” conversations on the chairlift. New social distancing while skiing could mean you only ride the chair or load the gondola with your family members that you arrived with. I loved (yes past tense) meeting new peeps on the chairlift, a behavior that is likely benched for now. I suppose Six and Eight passenger chairs might be able to allow two singles or two couples seated on opposite ends. Is that 6’ of separation (liftees please chime in)? Do you put the Big Sky or Okemo bubble down during your ascent or keep the air flowing? I do love the bubble on cold, windy, wet snow days, but I am willing to make concessions – fresh air for freshies.

Singles line! No more. This one makes me sad, as it’s a great way to meet peeps when you’re skiing alone, with the added benefit of circumventing a potentially long lift line.

Ski-Times” like golf Tee-Times are being considered for gondolas, even trams. Imagine reserving your Gondi or Tram time. Your 9:15am car is ready and sanitized for you, and you are instructed to “please proceed and ride only with your party.”

Trams are admittedly a tricky situation.  I am picturing last season’s Snowbird and Jackson Hole’s tram lines and tram cars absolutely packed on a powder morning. A thing of the past?  Ski resorts may have to configure capacity with appropriate distancing and only load that number of skiers and riders, with X marks where you are to stand on the tram floor. I do love the window spot… will there be a premium for that? Kidding, I hope. Maybe trams are on hold for next season, or by reservation only. You may have to work harder to get that big vert at the ‘Bird then. Stay tuned.

Pomas can make a strong come back, naturally distanced and isolated with a disc between your legs – oh the retro fun! Mad River Glen should thrive with their Single Chair, naturally quarantined on your one-seater for your long lonesome ride up!

T-Bars you’ll be paired only with your partner, otherwise you ride solo and do the balancing act with an L under your butt. Skilled snowboarders have been mastering this for years.

Speaking of lift lines, will corrals need to be bigger to keep skiers and riders 6 feet apart in the queue? I’m pondering a few resort that already have limited space for their lift line corrals without interrupting skier flow out onto the trail or into the resort base space.

Limited Skier Visits? Will ski resorts need to limit the number of skiers on the mountain for the day to avoid long lines and over-crowding? Powder Mountain in Utah has been limiting to 1,500 ski tickets sold each day for years, making for a genuinely unique experience on their vast 7,000+ acres. Deer Valley limits ticket sales to assure everyone has a seat at lunch, they’ll have to reduce and reconfigure that seating now.

Mountain Lodges serving food, and ski area restrooms, will have to mandate greater spacing and more strict cleaning policies (well, I’m sure I’m not alone in welcoming that at certain ski area bathrooms – lol). Buffets are likely bye-bye. I did enjoy Vail’s Two Elk salad bar, The Summit at Snowbird’s central self-serve too. As a safer template, Snowbasin has a well-designed “Servery” in the palatial Earl’s Lodge at the base of the slopes with an excellent cafeteria style service . Thinking about Snowbasin’s Turkey Pot Pie right now! Mmmm.

As for Passes, many ski resorts are offering very forgiving season pass promises  to encourage you to commit to next season. Vail’s Epic Pass has Epic Coverage – offering 2020-21 pass purchasers free insurance with refunds available in the event of resort closures (e.g. COVID-19), job loss, illness, even injury, a full or prorated refund. Also EpicPass buyers this past season can receive a credit on next year’s purchase of 20 to 80% depending upon their usage last winter. Since Vail Resorts tracks your every move on their mountains, they are able to calculate your usage, and contact you directly with their tabulation. So all those metrics and data collected can help you – or hurt you – if you hit big mountain milestones on Vail Resort’s EpicMix leaderboard – they know.

IKON pass holders are offered a $200 credit ($100 for the IKON Base Pass) toward next season’s pass, and IKON has added Adventure Assurance giving the flexibility to defer your pass to 2021-22. So there’s some compensation from IKON Pass at their 43 ski resorts combined on one pass.

Uphill skiing has already been trending upwards in recent years. This no-lift ski approach to alpine should continue to thrive as skiers seek out back-country experiences and true distancing. Hopefully uphill skiers will access remote terrain with appropriate snow safety and avalanche awareness, versus just skinning up groomed slopes and skiing down resort trails (poaching) without paying their share by buying lift tickets or a pass, or paying only $10 bucks. Ok, its a pet peeve of mine.

Après Ski? Say goodbye for now to the packed party scene at the Matterhorn, Foggy Goggle, Red Lion, Trap Bar, Grizzly… all of our favorite après ski bars …the list goes on…  Some ski regions were hot spots for “sharing” the virus last ski season. Après ski at Ischgl come to mind. We’ve skied this Austrian resort and can report the Alps-style après ski is huge, lots of hugging, and chugging, dancing, sharing drinks and super close contact included! Yeah, that’s no longer the scene ski friends (insert sad face here).

Ok, so we have more questions than answers about next season’s ski experience. Travel to the Alps, I doubt it? Japan, um no. Big events, probably not? It’s a curious time, unprecedented.

But if there is a will, there is a way. I know the ski industry and our community of skiers are resourceful passionate people and there will be a plan to SKI! I will not even contemplate ski resorts NOT opening next winter, call me naïve, I prefer optimistic and hopeful …

Stay well, stay safe, stay in ski shape –  winter is coming!

Heather –  Travel Writer, Skier since 1969

Copyright and photos by Greg Burke property of Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury Vacation Guide
  Follow @FamilySkitrips  

Vail Epic Pass is more epic

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass just became more epic, with the latest news that 2019/20 season pass holders will receive credits of at least 20% and up to 80%, if they weren’t able to use their pass at all. Additionally, Vail introduces free ‘Epic Coverage’ for the 2020/21 season as insurance, and the price stays amazingly affordable for all this skiing, under $1,000, with early pass pricing deadline extended to Labor day! This is big news and a very comprehensive, a significant customer relief offer during Covid… should play well to retain their many (million) passholders.

The Epic Pass is priced at $979 for unlimited skiing at 37 Vail owned ski resorts and 7 days each at many more, plus ski pass benefits in the Alps, for a grand total of 65+ resorts.  Vail Resorts now include:  Colorado’s Vail, Beaver Creek,  Breckenridge,  Keystone,  Crested Butte in Colorado, Park City in Utah,  Whistler Blackcomb in Canada, California’s Heavenly,  Northstar,  and Kirkwood,  Washington’s Stevens Pass, Vermont’s Stowe,  Okemo, Mount Snow, NH’s Wildcat, Attitash, Mount Sunapee, the Midwest’s Wilmot,  Mt Brighton,  Afton Alps,  and Perisher Australia.

Additional ski benefits to Epic Passholders  include Telluride, Sun Valley & Snowbasin, and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies!  Plus Hakuba Japan. Discounts on Food & Bev at  Vail Resorts, free ski tunes, and more have been added to the 2020 Epic Pass holder perks.

In Europe, the Epic Pass also allows for ski tickets in the French Alps – Les 3 Vallees in  (think Courchevel, Val Thorens and Meribel), Paradiski – Les Arcs and La Plagne, and Val D’Isere Tignes, plus Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta in Italy, 4 Vallees in Switzerland – which encompasses Verbier, and The Arlberg in Austria – 3 days at Lech Zurs, Stuben, St Christoph and St Anton. Some of these free ski tickets require lodging purchases in The Alps.

Well, skiers are the winners in this big mountain pass blow up, with great choices at significant savings versus the old-school one-mountain season pass at over $1,000!

You should strongly consider buying the Epic Pass, with full insurance- “Epic Coverage” as protection for next season – at no extra charge. Then download Vail’s Epic Mix app and start dreaming of skiing next season, locally, out west, airfare will be a deal too.

IKON pass is the other big mega-mountain pass, which combines Aspen’s ski resorts (the newly formed Alterra Mountain Company) with Boyne, Powdr and Intrawest Resorts plus some indies for a total of 41 – its another extremely versatile pass valid at  Aspen’s 4 mountains, Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort, Squaw Alpine Meadows, Mammoth, Big Bear, June, Stratton, Snowshoe, Tremblant, and Blue Mountain.  Plus limited skiing at Deer Valley, Snowbird/Alta, Brighton, Solitude, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Killington, Revelstoke, and Sugarbush, Canada’s  Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay, and Loon, Sunday River and Sugarloaf.

Where are you skiing next ski season? Yes, we will be skiing next season – thought it will be different with social distancing, especially gondola rides & trams(?). Facemasks and gloves are already ski protocol, right?!

See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and our Guide to Skiing the Alps to plan your winter!

Copyright & Photos 2020, by Heather & Greg Burke of   FamilySkiTrips.com and Luxury Vacation Guide

Social isolation – oxymoron?!

I love to travel, to ski, and I am a very social person ( I hear some of you chuckling- understatement)… therefore “social isolation”, travel bans and ski resorts closing for the season in mid-March have me in quite a quandary (okay – totally bummed out)! Did I mention that late March early April is my favorite time to spring ski and travel to fun events like Taste of Vail in the snowy sunny mountains? I love Sunrise Service via chairlift and skiing with my family on Easter. Cancelled…all of it.

This is our new reality. So, we must keep perspective, keep positive, and be socially responsible till we flatten the Covid curve.

Returning safely from our recent  “epic” ski trip to Canada, I am so exhilarated.  Epic – since it included Epic Pass partner resorts Fernie, Kimberly and Kicking Horse, and Ikon-ic Sunshine Village and Norquay in Banff.

I love traveling, but I am always equally grateful to come home. This return trip, passing through ghostly vacant airports with passengers donned in facemasks and gloves – avoiding even eye contact with each other, I felt the pandemic, panic, paranoia and our ominous new reality. … We are as fragile and susceptible as we are free and strong.

Seeing our big U.S. flag as I crossed the border, I was teary eyed, thinking of my love of home. Turns out I’ll be spending a lot of time – literally “at home.” Fortunately I can walk to a beautiful beach and breathe fresh air by the sea in my special town of Kennebunkport – I am blessed. We should never take for granted our independence, our opportunities to explore, and also our responsibilities as American citizens to respect one another and do the right thing for everyone’s benefit – not just our own.

So I will self-quarantine, with my ski partner and husband Greg. I don’t like it, but it’s the socially responsible thing to do. I miss my friends already (Day 36) …. But studies show this is the best way to reduce the spread of this powerful Covid 19. By the way, I don’t care for Corona, but can we please stop using that nomenclature? It’s not fair to the fun beer company best with lime!

Let’s be mindful of others – students who may not get to graduate with their class, of elders denied visits from their families, of medical personnel at risk caring for others who will be more overwhelmed if we don’t practice social distancing, of those who are ill. The sooner we do it, the sooner its done!

My spring ski trip to Vail seems trivial… still disappointed though 😉 I won’t achieve my goal ski days – just sayin’. Only 40 ski days this season, versus 60 last…

I respect ski resorts’ decisions to close for the safety of their people, both staff and guests. Businesses will feel the pinch, we all will in respective ways – except Charmin apparently – who’s hoarding all the TP?!

“Social distancing” saddens me, just typing the oxymoron feels wrong, as I like nothing more than to see friends and family following a travel adventure. Not this time… because I love them – I will not socialize with them right now. I’ll be posting travel stories – we are all armchair travelers for the time being. I may even post some amazing ski pictures – not to be annoying (lol), but as a promise of future adventures.

Airlines and most travel companies have been generous with their cancellation policies, so that we may all resume travel when it is deemed safe.

I look forward to emerging from isolation/quarantine and seeing you all – healthy, happy. We will all look back on 2020 with 20/20 and a renewed appreciation of our health, our opportunities, and each other. Until then virtual hug and love to your & yours,

Heather –  Travel Writer, Friend, Grown-up

Copyright and photos property of Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury Vacation Guide
  Follow @FamilySkitrips  

Aspen’s IKON Pass or Vail’s Epic Pass

After an abrupt end to 2019-2020 ski season, already it is time to consider which season pass to invest in for next season. Aren’t we all ready to ski again, and hoping to have a better, longer ski season? Social distancing – fine… let’s just get skiing!

The two major season pass conglomerates are back for ski season 2020-2021! EPIC or IKON! With mergers of more mountain resorts this year by both Vail Resorts – and competitor Aspen and Alterra Mountain Company, skiers have a big choice between the Epic Pass or the “IKON” pass – both for similar expenditure, under $1,000. The IKON Pass unites 43 top ski destinations, while  Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is valid at over 90 ski resorts across the US, Canada and the globe.

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is priced at $979 for unlimited skiing at 37 ski resorts, plus 5-7 days each at many more.  Vail resorts include:  Colorado’s Vail, Beaver Creek,  Breckenridge,  Keystone,  Crested Butte, Park City in Utah,  Whistler Blackcomb, Washington’s Stevens Pass, California’s Heavenly,  Northstar,  Kirkwood,  Vermont’s Stowe, Mount Snow and Okemo, Attitash, Wildcat, Crotched and Mount Sunapee in NH,  Wilmot,  Hunter in NY, several in the Poconos, The Mid Atlantic and Michigan,  and Perisher Australia, Hotham and Falls Creek, plus 7 days skiing at Telluride, Snowbasin and Sun Valley, and the Canadian Rockies Resorts – Fernie Alpine Resort, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort, Nakiska, Mont Sainte Anne, and Stoneham!  The Epic Pass also has great free ski benefits with in the Alps, The Arlberg, Verbier, Les Trois Vallees, and Hakuba Japan – so many ski resorts. New is free season pass insurance- “Epic Protection”! Bonus also, Epic Pass holders get 20% off food and bev, lodging, lessons and rentals, and their Mountain Express airport transportation,  Some resorts even offer 1 free wax, plus 50% off a ski or board tune. Child’s Epic Pass is $499.  The EPIC LOCAL with some restrictions is $729. See the Epic Pass on sale now. 2019 purchasers of the Epic Pass get a Covid discount on their 2020 pass and Epic Protection pass insurance at no charge.

The IKON Pass offers 43 ski resorts acres across the continent, yes Canada & Japan too,  on one season pass, with varying access at each destination, with a price of $999 , a strong competitor to Vail’s Epic Pass. The IKON Pass brings together Alterra Mountain Company, Aspen Skiing Company,  Boyne Resorts, POWDR, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Alta/Snowbird and Canada’s Ski Big 3 – Lake Louise, Sunshine and Banff, plus some Indies like Mt Bachelor Oregon, Revelstoke BC and Tremblant in Quebec! A spin off from previous The  Max Pass, this iconic pass has some pretty epic ski resorts – Aspen, Steamboat, Arapahoe Basin, Winter Park and Copper in Colorado, to Deer Valley, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird in Utah, Squaw, Mammoth and Big Bear in California, Crystal Mountain in Washington, Big Sky in Montana, Jackson Hole Wyoming, plus Loon, Sunday River , Sugarloaf in Maine, Stratton, Sugarbush and Killington in Vermont, Wyndham NY in The East.

The Ikon Pass is on sale now, see details at www.ikonpass.com. Alterra’s IKON Pass is $949, returning pass holders get $200 off. There’s also an IKON Kids pass with $200 savings when added to the parents purchase. For a lower price point, there’s a slightly more restricted IKON Base pass at $699 (with black out dates and a few caveats).

Well, skiers are the winners in this big mountain pass play off, with great choices at significant savings versus the old-school one-mountain season pass that was often well over $1,000!

Where are you skiing this season? See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and our Guide to Skiing the Alps to plan your winter!

Copyright 2020, by Heather & Greg Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com 

 

How to pack for family ski trips

#1 Question we get at Family Ski Trips? Where to go on family ski vacation?
See our favorite ski resorts for families:
Top 10 New England Ski Resorts for Families
Top 10 Western Ski Resorts for Families
Top Family Ski Resortsin Colorado
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts for Families

#2 Question, How to pack for a Family Ski Trip? Packing shouldn’t fill you with dread, you and your family should be stoked to go ski. Having systems in place is the key to making packing easy breezy… so you are ready to go at the word “snow.”

Here are our tried and true ski packing tips:

Ski Bag: Every skier in the family should have their own snowboard/ski boot bag, labeled with name, address and cell. We love KULKEA boot bag backpack, its roomy easy to carry, and carryon the plane, has ideal compartments…and it comes in cool colors and patterns for every person in your ski clan.

Snowboards and Skis with poles should be stored clean and dry in one place – the garage or basement and ready to be packed in a ski bag, in the car or on the ski rack, ski coffin or Thule. If you are flying overseas or out west, consider renting skis from Ski Butlers, or a destination rental shop to save on the cost of checking skis, and the bonus of getting freshly tuned, new skis perfect for the day’s conditions.

Ski Bag Checklist:
ski or snowboard boots
quality ski socks
helmet/hat mittens/gloves
goggles/sunglasses in their protective case
neck warmer or balaclava
base layer –thermal long undies, and a fleece layer
wind/waterproof ski pants and jacket (wear the jacket to reduce bulk in your bag)
season pass or lift ticket coupons
hand/toe warmers
lip balm
sunscreen
energy bar

Bonus items:
Cell phone with downloaded ski app – with trail map and vertical tracker
Phone chargers – cold zaps battery power
Après ski clothes
A swimsuit (can you say hot tub?)
Portable boot dryers

Check each ski bag before and after each ski trip to be sure everyone’s inner and outerwear is clean, dry, and ready to go. With young skiers, pack extra undies, base layers, socks and mittens, with ziplock bags to contain wet stuff.

If you are traveling for a week ski trip, you’ll need an additional checked bag with clothing and toiletries (travel size please)…the key is not to over-pack, overpay for luggage, and over haul stuff you don’t need. So plan your wardrobe, and your outfits.

Ski Tips:
Don’t over pack
bulky bathrobes, sweatshirts, extra pairs of jeans.
Wear your one pair of boots/shoes with insulation and traction soles.
One pair of slacks that coordinate with everything is plenty for après.
2-3 base layers and midlayers serve as evening wear tops, hand wash when needed.
Ladies, pack a cute aprés ski skirt to slip on over your base layer/leggings for après ski activities.
Bring disposable Tide packets to launder ski soxs and undergarments on the fly, overnight they’ll dry!

Enjoy your family ski trip! See more on where to go with your family on ski vacation.

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Top Reasons to Ski Utah

#1 Pow – Utah has the snow! Ski resorts Snowbird and Alta typically get over 500’ of snow annually, and this year – they are getting dumped on, storm after storm – 27 feet by February! Their patented “greatest snow on earth” couldn’t be truer this season – its copious, light and dry, no heavy wet stuff here, and as a bonus – its often bluebird when the sun shines on these high-elevation Rocky Mountains.

#2 ConvenienceUtah’s big ski resorts are easy to reach. From Salt Lake City, you are a just 40-minutes to Park City, Deer Valley, Snowbird and Alta, under an hour to Powder Mountain and Snowbasin. You can easily be skiing fresh snow by noon of your arrival day. In a week, you can ski eight major resorts, all with their unique character, an easy drive to each other.

#3 Little Cottonwood Canyon is a must, skiing at the legendary 1938 Alta – first and foremost. Alta is loaded with snow, and with alpine accolades – a venerable skier’s only mountain, with a hearty wholesome ski crowd (no snowboarders ever), and a lot of steep and deep terrain. Heading out High Traverse, you can drop in No Name Chutes, the legendary High Rustler, dozens of precipitous powdery chutes, and big snowy bowls. Only thing Alta doesn’t have is many long intermediate groomers. Don’t miss lunch at mid-mountain Collins Grill, grab a scenic table top floor at  Watson’s Shelter.
The Snowpine Lodge, Alta’s beautiful boutique hotel, offers a room with a view, a steamy outdoor Jacuzzi and pool, and aprés ski fireside at Gulch’s Pub. Your boots will be toasty dry in your private locker next to the lovely fireplace living room. Maybe you’ll get snowed-in at Snowpine if Little Cottonwood Canyon closes for too much snow!

#4 Snowbird, Alta’s neighbor, is interconnected encompassing 4,700-acres. Ride the ‘Bird’s amazing base to summit Tram, (2,900’ pure vert) to 11,000’ Hidden Peak and you have bounteous ski options in all directions. Snowbird is a snow cone for skiers and boarders. Charge out to The Cirque for a dramatic drop in under the Tram, or make Mineral Basin your first powder tracks when patrol drops rope to this vast snowy back bowl. Snowbird has so many steep gems, wide open powder fields, it’s a skiers’ playground. Sure there’s white carpet groomed runs too – like Chip’s 2.5 mile trail that winds its way to Snowbird Village. Have lunch at the spectacular glass Summit Lodge, enjoying the panoramic views as far as the Great Salt Lake. Stay at Cliff Lodge – all the rooms have views in this grand 10-story concrete and glass tower hotel originally built in 1971 to withstand avalanches. The rooftop Cliff Spa is a must for a scenic soak, maybe a massage. Après ski at Aerie on the top floor – the place to be for cocktails and dinner, often live entertainment, before you sleep, and repeat! Odds are good it will be another powder day tomorrow!

You can also lodge very affordably in Salt Lake City, we stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriott in suite lodging at the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon, 20-minutes to Solitude, Brighton, Snowbird and Alta.

#5 Park City Mountain is Utah’s largest lift-served ski resort – 7,300 acres spread across 17 peaks, since Vail Resorts merged Park City with Canyons. It’s huge, and it’s on the Epic Pass. You’ve got all this ski terrain, and a stylish western miners’ town below the slopes. You need a plan to conquer Park City’s 330 trails, but with 41 swift lifts – six packs, quads and gondis – there’s no wrong or right way. If you love wide open cruisers – Park City’s Motherlode, Silverlode and King Con lifts serve beautiful long Blues. Want it steep and deep? Head all the way out to McConkey’s and Jupiter! Lost? Take the Silver to Slopes two-hour ski tour, learn the PC mining history while getting a lay of the land. Take the Quicksilver gondola to Canyons side for great glades, steeps off 9990, long roomed cruisers and powder fields off Super Condor. Lunch at Lookout Cabin atop the Orange Bubble Express for views and yummy victuals, or The Farm at the base for locally-inspired cuisine overlooking the slopes. Après ski, explore downtown Park City – Main Street has lively pubs, distilleries, local shops and people watching galore – many don’t ski which is totally PC with me.

#6 Deer Valley is another skiers’ only resort that sets a high standard for white carpet grooming, stellar lodges, smooth service, with some very worthy ski terrain amid its 2,026-acres. Bald, Flagtsaff and Empire all peak out over 9,000’ with beautiful long groomers, some gorgeous aspen-tree stashes, and venerable steep cornices and chutes in Daly Bowl. Everything is posh at Deer Valley, especially the day lodges and the 4 and 5-star hotels like Stein Eriksen’s, Goldener Hirsch, Montage and St Regis – where aprés ski is Champagne Sabering by outdoor firepits! Deer Valley limits ticket sales, so buy ahead, and don’t bring your snowboard – not allowed at this “ski” resort!

#7 Snowbasin is a Utah gem, this stunning ski resort is just under an hour from Salt Lake and Park City, but it’s not on most skiers’ radar, even though Snowbasin hosted the 2002 Olympic ski downhill. With its impressive vertical, almost 3,000’ on many runs like Wildflower and Grizzly downhill courses, Snowbasin is a super fun playful mountain. Gorgeous gondolas flank Snowbasin’s east and western bowls – with well-pitched groomed runs and exciting double black diamond steeps peppered around the 9,000’ peaks. Ride the summit Allen Peak Tram to the Downhill start huts, and ski non-stop to the finish to gain serious respect for ski racers. Don’t miss the spectacular view of four states and the Great Salt Lake from atop Strawberry Gondi. Snowbasin’s day lodges are jaw-dropping too – Needles and Jean Paul Lodge up on mountain, and Earl’s at the base are all gorgeous with giant chandeliers, leather seating, huge stone fireplaces – you’ll be glad you stopped for lunch. Cinnabar at Earl’s is our fave for table service and a view in alpine elegance.

#8 Stay at Compass Rose Lodge while skiing Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. This chic boutique ski hotel is new, beautifully decorated in vintage ski swag, with an alpine sophistication in each of 15 guest rooms, thanks to the friendly passionate owners – yes they ski. You can walk to aprés ski at Shooting Star Bar – the oldest continually operating bar in Utah. Have a burger and beer – that’s all they serve in this veritable 1879 ski museum.

#9 Powder Mountain is just plain cool – this private ski area has tons of terrain – reached by lifts, snowcats, buses, backcountry guides – you name it. Powder’s 8,464 acres is unlike any other ski area, you’ve got lifts and trails, plus in-bounds cat skiing at $25 a ride, and unlimited opportunities to hike to wild untracked “powder”. The other unique aspect to Powder is it’s a playground for tech execs and start up successes who are building their ski utopia at the Summit Village of Powder. Modular alpine homes are popping across the peak slopes, but the ski area remains open to the public despite this private club community evolving. Powder caps its ski tickets at 1,500 a day, so it doesn’t see crowds. Powder is humble and happy from the rustic base and summit lodges to the pleasant peaceful terrain. You can park and ski from the top -Hidden Lake Lodge, or Timberline near the base. Check out the Powder Keg for lunch and order the noodle bowl. Boom – you’ll love skiing Powder!

#10 Still longing to ski more powder? Cat ski with Whisper Ridge – the newest cat and heli ski operation in Utah! Whisper Ridge operates daily cat and heli ski trips near Powder Mountain, an exciting add-on to your Utah ski itinerary. With a 70,000 acres tenure of private land for their cat and heli-skiing, you’re going to be skiing some fresh powder, snowfields, in the trees, and having a totally unique remote experience playing in Utah’s snowy mountain far from lifts and lodges with your guides and a posse of strangers who end up friends.

Go ski Utah now, there’s tons of snow, you can fly and ski the same day, and you have so many choice  world-class ski resorts, lesser known snow havens, and convenient lodging within striking distance of the next great ski place to discover.

See our Top Ski Resorts Reviews:
Top 10 Western Ski Resorts for Families
Top Family Ski Resorts in Utah
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts for Families

Top Mobile Ski Apps for Skiers

Skiing is exciting – our favorite sport – but it can also be a overwhelming if you are new to the sport. Besides using the best gear and accessories, it’s also a smart to leverage technology to on your ski trip.

Mobile apps are getting more popular in our daily lives as well as snow sports. There are lots of apps developed by skiers for skiers. With the help of these awesome ski apps, you can take your winter adventure to the next level.
Ski App reviews.

  1. Trace Snow (Android/iOS, Free)

Trace Snow is a great app for both beginner and advanced skiers to keep track of different kinds of terrain. Specifically, this app can record airtime, speed, distance travel, and jumps. If you are a fitness geek, you’ll love the calories data. Trace Snow provides how many calories you have burned! You can easily access your stats on the slope and see your progress during the season, and best of all, share your awesome stats on social media like Facebook.

  1. Waze (Android/iOS, Free)

While Waze is not a dedicated skiing app, you’ll love it as a skier. Ski mountains aren’t the most accessible locations, thus you can’t always get real-time data from Google Maps or Apple Maps. That’s what makes Wave so great – you can receive updates about the best routes to drive and road conditions,  to your desired location safely, thanks to Wave’s users who also share police traps, road accidents, etc.

  1. OpenSnow (Android/iOS, Freemium)

As its name indicates, OpenSnow is an app for snow forecasts and weather . It’s created by a group of weather forecasters who are obsessed by powder. Snow forecasts allow skiers to seek the best conditions. OpenSnow is a “freemium” app available on both the iOS Store and Android Play Store, meaning its free, though the premium version cost $19 per year for ad-free and longer-range forecasts and alerts.

  1. Ski Tracks (Android/iOS, $0.99)

If you are a skier who is not so techy and prefer apps with less complicated features, Ski Tracks is a great option. The app does what it says, tracks your skiing runs by using your phone’s sensors. Another highlight about Ski Tracks app is that it synchs to your Apple Watch, Echo Fit, etc, so you don’t need your phone. Given all the useful features and ease of use, one dollar is well worth it.

  1. SkiLynx (Android/iOS, $2.99)

If you are a social person who likes to ski with other skiers, SkiLynx is one of the best apps. It allows you to easily keep in touch with your group friends on the mountain. You can quickly create a group in the app with one click, then invite friends and  to chat with them throughout the day, see exactly what run or lift each group member is riding, all in real-time.

  1. Epic Mix (Android/iOS, Free)

From the Vail folks who brought you the game-changing Epic Pass – a super savings season pass good at all Vail’s 37+ ski resorts, here is an Epic ski app that tracks your vertical skiing, gives you real time intel on ski conditions, lift line times throughout each resort, shows how your kids are progressing in ski school, and how your race time is versus Lindsey Vonn or Mikaela Shiffrin. Epic Mix even offers up photos of you and your posse captured around the mountain, thanks to RFID tech on your Epic Pass. We love the lifetime vertical accumulation! 1 million vert a season anyone?

Contributor Christine, the founder of TheSkiGirl.com, a blog where she and her team share their passion with other skiers. You can find the latest ski gear reviews and in-depth knowledge of a  variety of snowsports topics .

See more at  Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury Vacation Guide
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