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

Category: Ski Conditions (page 1 of 2)

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!

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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
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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
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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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Ski Chat with Travel Journalist Heather Burke

Heather is an award winning editor of  TheLuxuryVacationGuide.com, FamilySkiTrips.com, contributor to travel magazines and sites. She travels the globe, reports on the top ski resorts you should put on your ski bucket list,  from the East to the West, The Canadian Rockies to The Alps.

But more importantly Heather rips on skis, she has huge enthusiasm for skiing, and passion for sampling new ski fashion and ski gear, skiing new resorts, and encouraging women to join in and enjoy our favorite sport.

Heather was a spokesperson on ski travel tips at  the She Shed – Her Turn at the Boston Ski & Snowboard Expo, where she also received an award for “Excellence in Snow Sport Coverage” from ski industry peers.

Exploring new resorts? Heather skis 10-20 new ski resorts each season with her husband ski photographer Greg Burke. She’s already skied over 224 ski areas (okay she started skiing and traveling at age 3)! This ski gal knows how to look stylish skiing first chair and heading to après ski after accumulating 30k vertical.

So Heather, what are you wearing this ski season?
I’m rockin’ Rossignol. I love high performance ski apparel that’s also stylish. You shouldn’t have to choose performance or fashion! Rossi has been making ski gear since 1907, its French-designed, well-tailored, fashion-forward and fun, but the technical aspects are uncompromising. The colors are classic this season, a return to ski glamour with gorgeous blues and bold red, and of course white which I find so chic on the snow …as long as you don’t spill your hot cocoa… lol!

And what are you skiing on?
Rossignol head to toe so that includes my ski boots and skis. I love the Rossi Experience fleet for front side skiing, the 98s and 88s and the Ladies Rossi Temptation skis are all fun, grippy, love to carve, but can handle mixed snow and light pow. This season I finally stepped up to a true powder skis, Rossignol Soul 7 HDW, its 106 under foot, versus most “East Coast” traditional skis that are much more narrow, under 90- millimeters wide. My travel plans have me skiing out west at Vail and Breck, and in The Alps in Austria’s Arlberg – think St Anton & Lech, and Switzerland at Lenzerheide. These versatile fat skis are just the ticket.

How long have you loved Rossignol?
The first pair of skis I ever purchased, not hand-me-downs from mom or my brothers, were Rossi FP’s. I was 17 and teaching skiing at Smugglers Notch. Oh my how I loved those teal skis, 200 centimeters – yes that was the 80’s when the longer the ski – the better you must be..


Heather, do ski apparel companies ever ask for your input?

Fortunately, I am asked on occasion to product-test, or to provide gear feedback. Such a cool opportunities, right? I’m a pocket freak. My number one request is more pockets please! I love a sleeve pocket exclusively for a lift ticket, Now that so many resort use RFID technology, Vail Resorts, The Alps, its perfect to have a small pocket away for your cell phone and credit cards that won’t interfere with the ticket scanning. I also adore a good hood, and a detachable fur collar – faux or no.

Heather, what are your ski mantras:
Yes, ready…

Life is not a dress rehearsal,
Dress like a lady but ski with the boyz.
There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing, to quote my ski friend Wes.
Every ski day is a good ski day, rain is just premature snow, cold is refreshing.
And then there’s my family motto:
If you’re not first you’re last – it’s a competitive ski crowd.

You travel a bunch, how do you pack for ski trips?
I’m a little OCD when it comes to organization, ask my kids. When we go on family ski trips, I have a checklist for everyone. Every member of the family has their own ski bag, covering the list of gear, (see Heather’s ski packing tips  and I wash and dry everything immediately when we return from skiing, and its promptly packed so we are always ready to go to the snow.


Heather, tips on going from skiing to après ski in style?

The après ski skirt is my essential. Strip off your bulky ski pants, slip a quilted skirt (SKEA makes super cute ski skirts) over your base layer leggings, add a furry neck scarf and après ski boots, and you’re comfy but sophisticated and ready to relax, dance, drink. I love my Rossignol Megève boots, they have a super grippy sole, fur cuffs and sassy red laces… I get so many compliments on these super cute boots. See tips on looking stylish from First Tracks to Après Ski.

Finally Heather, do you have a favorite ski resort?
So many … in the East, I love Stowe for its classic ski town and beautiful views, and Sunday River for its extensive terrain and top snow quality. Out West, Vail is amazing, so is sister Beaver Creek. Big Sky Montana has a big place in my hear too. In Europe, St Anton in The Arlberg, also Kitzbühel Austria, and Courchevel France in Les Trois Vallees are all fantastically charming alpine villages with so much skiing …its jaw dropping. It’s magical skiing to a quaint chalet on the side of the mountain for a homemade meals of soup, bread and cheese farmed from these alpine pastures in summer. The après ski in The Alps is mind-blowing as well, they invented “apres ski” after all.

See you on the slopes ski friends!

Best Ski Resorts in The East
Best Western Ski Resorts
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts

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

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Stay in ski shape all summer!

If you are snow lover and ski fan like me, (I count my ski days, and the number of ski resorts I have skied – 225 and still going) you think winter just doesn’t last long enough. That was certainly the case winter 2020 when ski resorts closed way too soon!

Let’s stay healthy, stay well, and stay fit, during this down time from downhill skiing, in anticipation of next ski season and resorts re-opening! Until then, here are some of my favorite spring, summer and fall activities, call them ski substitutes:

HB_waterski09H2O Skiing – water skiing is a second cousins to snow skiing. The quad muscles, core strength and isometric movement is the same skiing on water as on snow. Water skiing is a great work out, explosive energy and fitness is required to get up and stay up for a 15-30 minute ski. A good waterski workout equates to much as 10 ski runs. Like downhill skiing, it’s not for the timid or the faint of wallet – let’s see you need a ski, or two, a ski boat, pfd, tow line, gas for the boat, a driver and spotter, and then you pray for calm crystal waters. Water skiing on early morning “glass” conditions are akin to untracked powder or perfectly groomed snow. The speed and centrifugal force of an arcing water ski turn is as close as you are going to get to the thrill and gravitational pull of carving on snow till winter returns.

Wakeboarding – the summer bro to snowboarding, wakeboarding also works your quads, core and upper body in great pre-ski or après ski season conditioning. If you like to hit 2015-bri-wakeboard1the terrain park in winter on your board, then wakeboarding is just your speed in summer sine you can perform tricks, turns and jumps on a wakeboard.

SUP and Boating –  stand up paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing, while not as physically strenuous as skiing, offers a similar great outdoorsy escape as snow sports. Paddleboading engages your core, glutes and your leg muscles in a fun fitness workout afloat, which you can take to the next level with SUP yoga or SUP surfing in the waves. Being on a paddleboard, personal watercraft, or boat, provides a feeling of oneness with nature, and the opportunity to escape from the concrete heather-aspen-supjungle, the computer keyboard, the day to day, and test your survival skills with outdoor adventure. Many skiers spend their summers boating for the beauty of being on the water, not unlike being on a mountain. Boating is also very social, like minded individuals gravitate toward the water – which is melted snow after all, to party, swim, raft and tell fish tales and yachting stories in lieu of powder day brags.

Cycling – road cycling or mountain biking are great exercise for skiers and riders. You work your quads, gluteus, hamstrings,  and calves while exploring the great outdoors. Whether you are big on hill climbs or prefer touring the meandering coast on your road bike, cycling is a fun fitness activity. Peloton and spin classes are fantastic for HIIT riding- high intensity interval training.
Biking outdoors, heads up and helmets on – bike accidents are more prevalent than ski injuries, and particularly bike head trauma is much higher than the low incident rate on the ski slopes. So ride with care, watch for cars, and seek out bike paths, trails and quieter, less trafficked places to ride whenever possible.

Cross Fit – Boot Camp – offer great dry land exercise, typically mixing up your work-out, working various muscles groups, hopefully in a fun social format with other motivated peers. Nothing like accountability to raise your fitness game.

Hiking – what better way to enjoy the beautiful mountains in summer, without snow, than to climb to the summit. Pack a picnic, put on your hiking boots and go for the peak. Hiking is easy on the wallet and the eyes, especially when you summit and can see the panorama you earned from your ascent.  Just like skiing, your hiking regimen should start small and gradually increase your distance and mountain difficulty for the best enjoyment and conditioning. Be prepared for all weather and conditions, do your research, and pack in and pack out all your provisions (water, food, flashlight, first aid). Take only memories and leave only foot prints is the golden rule among hikers. Take care on your descent to use proper form for those ski knees of yours.  Consult your local state parks and hiking clubs for tips on the best trails, where to park and start your trip,  and to find the right hike size, length and steepness s for your level and time allowance.

These are a few of my favorite summer things… what’s your summer survival game plan till snow flies and we ski again?

Heather Burke, 2020 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Top Spring Ski Events

Update – all these fantastic Spring Ski Events have been cancelled as ski resorts are closed due to Covid-19. In fact ski season 2019-2020 ended abruptly mid-March due to the virus.

Stay turned for the return of these fun spring skiing events next season 2020-21!

Don’t you love spring skiing? Warm temperatures meet a winter’s worth of snow depths. Ski conditions soften and so do bulky dress codes at the best ski resorts. From music to moguls to general mayhem – these spring fests are super fun:

Top spring ski fests in Colorado, Utah, California, and Montana:

Taste of Vail is our favorite spring ski event – food, wine and skiing combine for an “epic” fest. What could be better than skiing spring conditions at Vail followed by après ski wine tastings and delicious cuisine prepared by Vail’s Top Chefs early April !? This year,  Taste of Vail turns 30 with the mantra “elevate your palate” – a playful reference to the high altitude setting at Vail’s 8,000′ base  and the Top Chefs, world-renowned wine-makers and master sommeliers bringing their best . The week of culinary classes, tastings, uncorking of top Roses, Chardonnays and more, includes big events like Vail Village’s Colorado Lamb Cook-Off & Apres Ski, the  Mountain Top Tasting during the day,  and the finale evening Taste of Vail’s Auction! If you love skiing, food and wine (who doesn’t?!) go to Vail Resort for this amazing foodie event in April!

Spring Back to Vail mid-April  brings live headliner bands for free concerts to Vail Village in a warmer weather celebraton. Après ski at Vail just got bigger, better and FREE which rarely happens at Vail, right?! The best bands play Free concerts at Ford Park and around town at après and in the evening at night clubs around Vail Village. Look for parties on the mountain too – like Tiki & Tunes Luau at mid-Vail – top of Gondola One. SpringBack to Vail is mid April.

Vail’s World Pond Skimming Championships is the biggest..well..in the world! April 12 at Golden Peak, enjoy the scene – a BBQ and beers overlooking the big pond where the best (and worst) dressed in crazy costumes attempt to cross the big expanse of cold water to the cheers and jeers of a big crowd. Like everything in Vail, this pond skim is massive, so is the crowd of spectators. The following April weekend at Vail is Powabunga – Vail’s closing weekend celebration, more snow and slush shenanigans!

Whistler Blackcomb World Ski & Snowboard Festival early April  is a top ski event, bringing together “epic” skiing (yes Whistler is on the Epic Pass), film, art, professional ski and snowboard competitions, plus top concerts and après ski parties that go crazy late! If you’ve watched Bravo’s Après Ski and Timber Creek Lodge- you know Whistler’s party scene is out of this world.

Park City’s Spring Grüv in Canyons Village runs March 6 – April 5 with awesome free concerts and après-ski parties, a fun fundraiser March 28 Pink Park City breast cancer awareness event. Park City’s “epic” spring fling culminates April 4 with the  Annual Pond Skimming Contest at Red Pine.

Squaw Valley celebrates PAIN MCSHLONKEY for Shane McConkey, posthumously and humorously – skiers are encouraged to dress up in vintage gear and pay tribute to the legendary free skier by going big March  28.

Steamboat’s Colorado Springalicious 40th annual cardboard classic is mid April  – locals recycle by creating box-cars to derby to fly downhill. The crashes are spectacular, so is the après ski scene at Steamboat.

Breckenridge’s annual Spring Fever Beer Festival early is now in its 14th year. This Colorado spring ski event is perfect for craft beer lovers and spring skiing lovers – that includes everyone right?!

Aspen Highlands Closing Day is an elevated spring ski party – the spring ski celebration above 10,000’ in the Rockies gets wild, with ridiculous retro outfits, serious drinking, even Champagne spraying! Did we mention you’re at 10,000 feet?! High times in Colorado.

Top Spring Ski Events in The East

New England skiers know the best skiing is typically in spring. Put away the facemasks and hand warmers for much welcome warmer sunnier ski days. The hard snow softens, those man made base depths turn to cream corn by mid morning and the BBQ fires up mid afternoon for sun and fun by the slopes. Spring is also a time for pond skimming, zany costumes and competitions on the ski slopes, even tailgating in muddy parking lots. No one said Eastern skiers were sane? But they are hard core! Here are some Eastern spring ski rites of passage and grand season finales full of fun and games, music and grills.

Cannon Mountain Bodefest is late March early April with Bode Miller himself.. I think he still “hates the media” so don’t bring the news crew but this is a great spring ski event and fundraiser for the Olympic skier’s Turtle Ridge Foundation. When the sun shines on Cannon Mountain in spring and Bode comes out – #boom (cannon sound) .

Killington Bear Mountain Challenge NOR’BEASTER is early April as Bump skiers go all out on Outer Limits moguls. Cheers and beers (sponsor Dos Equis) flow at the base of this spring ski party. The Beast of the East will keep skiing in to May.

Sugarloaf Reggaefest – now in year 30+ is mid April when Jamaica comes to Maine’s mountains. Top reggae bands set up on the Sugarloaf beach by day, and in the base lodge by night for some rocking island music. Wear your tie-dye and tie on a good time. Ironically few reggae fest attendees ski, so this is a great three-day weekend for spring ski conditions at the Loaf, especially when the snowfields are open.

Sunday River’s Spring Festival is the first weekend in April,  was once called Parrot Head, so expect Jimmy Buffet music, margaritas flowing, palm trees, tropical outfits and general island vibe outside the White Cap Base. April also ushers in Sunday River’s is Pond-a-palooza with pond skimming  and outdoor après ski outdoor concert series.

Loon has 80’s Day early April! Dress in your best (or worst) 1980’s outfit and get out on Loon’s soft slopes. Be totally rad for this spring weekend at North Peak, South Peak and Paul Bunyan’s for après ski! Loon Mountain’s Slushpool Party and Wet Tug-O-War is the following April weekend.

Wildcat has their Annual Cat Scratch Fever event early April as skiers compete to be the Cat’s Meow before the judges. If you’ve seen Wildcat’s Kitty Litter Box Derby in February, don’t miss this wild spring event at the Cat with live après ski entertainment in the Wildcat Pub .

Sugarbush Gelandesprung & Mt. Ellen End of Season Celebration is early April, this traditional ski jump event is a classic – to watch – even wilder to get sprung.

Sugarbush‘s Pond Skimming at Lincoln Peak early April is also a big splash, followed by the legendary Steins’ Challenge on mid April which is spring mogul mania – bring Z rubber knees and short quick skis to Sugarbush.

Okemo’s Slush Cup and Splash for Cash  early April is a wet and wild good time with a pretty good pay day for the winner. Okemo’s 80 Retro Jam is mid April  – rock your most rad 80s attire – totally awesome dude as Okemo wraps their “epic” season!

Jay Peak has Pond Skimming and their Annual Tailgate Party mid April, so bring your bikini, beer and your bbq.

Easter Sunday at East Coast ski resorts  brings sunrise services at Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Killington, Stowe and Jay Peak….. Most ski resorts have Easter Egg Hunts on the ski slopes for kids, and costume parades, even a visit by the Easter Bunny. Look for a few snow bunnies on the beginner slopes too! Easter weekend is the season finale Sunday for most New England ski resorts.

Best Spring Ski Resorts in The East

Best Spring Skiing Out West

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke, Copyright Family Ski  Trips 2020

For luxury resort reviews visit: www.theluxuryvacationguide.com

CNL, EPR, Vail Resorts- Who owns what ski resorts?

1sunrise-express-baseAre you ready for the latest in mountain mergers and alpine acquisitions? Vail, Aspen, CNL, Boyne… who owns what? Here is our ski merger and acquisition guide!

Vail Resorts now owns or at least operates 34 ski resorts, and half of the 10 busiest ski areas on the continent, the top three being Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, and Breckenridge. All these ski resorts are on the Epic Pass, plus Telluride Colorado!

Vail, Colorado
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Breckenridge, Colorado
Keystone, Colorado
Crested Butte, Colorado
Park City (and Canyons) in Utah
Heavenly, Lake Tahoe, California
Northstar (management contract only, purchased by EPR)
Kirkwood, Lake Tahoe, California
Whistler Blackcomb, BC Canada
Stowe Mountain, Vermont
Okemo in Vermont
Mount Snow Vermont
Mount Sunapee, Wildcat, Crotched and Attitash in NH
Hunter NY
Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin
Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan
Perisher in Australia

Vail Resorts also holds the RockResorts brand, with luxury ski lodging properties including The Lodge at Vail, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, The Pines Lodge and The Osprey at Beaver Creek , One Ski Hill Place at Breckenridge, and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

big-sky-ianMeanwhile Aspen Skiing Company formed Alterra Mountain Company – which now  operates 14 destinations:
Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk, plus Steamboat and Winter Park Resort in Colorado
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain and Big Bear Mountain Resort in California
Stratton and Sugarbush in Vermont
Snowshoe in West Virginia
Tremblant in Quebec and Blue Mountain in Ontario
Solitude and  Deer Valley in Utah
CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures in British Columbia

The Ikon Pass includes all these Alterra Aspen ski resorts, plus Boyne resorts:  Big Sky Montana, Snoqualmie Washington, Loon in NH, Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine, and Powdr Resorts: Killington Vermont, Crotched Mountain in NH. Ski Las Vegas, Mount Bachelor Oregon, and independent resorts   Alta Ski Area and Snowbird in Utah,  and Jackson Hole Wyoming.

Finally, EPR Properties of Kansas City recently bought up a dozen ski resorts from CNL Lifestyle Properties, for $830 million.

The EPN/CNL ski resorts includes:

2-ski-timberline2Brighton Ski Resort, Utah (Boyne Resorts)
Cypress Mountain, B.C., Canada (Boyne Resorts)
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Mass. (Fairbank Group)
Loon Mountain Resort, N.H. (Boyne Resorts)
Northstar, Tahoe CA, managed by Vail Resorts
Mountain High Resort, Calif. (Mountain High Holdings LLC)
Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, Calif. (Booth Creek)
Stevens Pass, Wash. (Stevens Pass Mountain Resort LLC)
Sugarloaf Mountain Resort, Maine (Boyne Resorts)
Summit-at-Snoqualmie Resort, Wash. (Boyne Resorts)
Sunday River Resort, Maine (Boyne Resorts)
Gatlinburg Sky Lift, Tenn. (Boyne Resorts)

 

Winter is coming ski friends…see you on the slopes soon!

Heather Burke, 2019 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips and  The LuxuryVacationGuide.com

 

Norway Glacier Skiing at Fonna

A ski resort that’s only open in summer? In the northern hemisphere? Yes, that’s Fonna in Norway. And you can arrive by boat…  it’s just a half hour from a magnificent fjord. Fonna Glacier Ski Resorts is very cool, literally – located on the northernmost of four glaciers in Foglefonna National Park in western Norway along the Hardanger Fjord. Folgefonna is the most southerly Norway glacier- and the 3rd largest largest.

Summer skiing on a glacier is amazing, at this high alpine winter wonderland with brilliant sea views of Norway.

Fonna is not a big ski area, especially by Europe’s Alps standards, it’s just one T-Bar serving four wide trails and several terrain parks. Fonna’s ski slopes are not particularly steep either – its intermediate terrain.

The most black diamond aspect of Fonna is the road up to the glacier. Its a 16-km bus ride to Fonna Glacier ski resort, a one lane road with crazy hairpins turns, climbing swiftly from sea level up 3,900 vertical feet.

Take the ski bus from Jondal, which makes one trip a day from the ferry docks at 9:50am ( so you can boat and ski in the same day). Let the expert bus drivers steer while you enjoy the scenery of rivers and waterfalls, pastoral farms with grazing sheep, then massive boulders and cairns balancing on huge granite slabs. Fonna is closed in winter because of this precarious road and the 30+ feet of snow pack received during the cold dark winter in Norway.

Fonna Ski Resort opens mid-June through mid-August – that’s when the best glacier skiing occurs and it also allow the town of Jondal to share the same bus for skiing as for the school kids September to June (a quite luxurious bus for children, with panoramic windows).

Fonna’s spectacular mountain road ends in a small parking lot by the glacier, where you find Fonna’s humble facilities – two 1970’s vintage chalet buildings. The first hut sells lift tickets ($390 krone for the day) and rents skis, boards, boots, poles, helmets – everything you need to ski if you arrived by boat. Fonna’s modest lodge serves home cooked food cafeteria style and restrooms. Picnic tables outside are the best seat in the house on a clear day.

Visit Fonna on a blue sky day – it’s all about the view, and a picnic outside to truly savor the setting. We had a perfect blue-sky ski day at Fonna in late June, with a fresh dusting of sparkling snow on top of perfect groomed corduroy.

Fonna’s T-Bar is the only lift – intentional to withstand the ice movement on the glacier, it climbs efficiently up 800’ vertical. Fonna’s trails are very wide, moderately pitched, and well-groomed, even salted to harden the snow from melting on warm summer days.

Fonna skiing can get busy with alpine race teams training from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. But the alpine racers are relegated to one big trail, training in several courses with gates side by side. The majority of other skiers and snowboarders hit Fonna’s terrain parks. That leaves the other ski routes on the wide open glacial plateau to us. Fonna also offers 5 km of Nordic groomed trails above the alpine skiing on the plateau.  We made a short climb from atop the T Bar to the cross-country terrain and scored a few beautiful off-piste turns and even better views of Hardanger Fjord and the North Sea.

Your panorama from Fonna is striking blue water below and lush green mountains in contrast to the white wintery glacier. You can see Rosendal’s towering Alps and the North Sea in the distance. For non-skiers, guided glacier tours depart from Fonna’s base lodge. Sunscreen is a must, beware the sun’s refraction from the snow at high elevation even though it feels cool on your face.

Dress in layers for glacier skiing, its winter-like and very exposed, but you can be blessed with intense sun and summer temperatures. We skied 14 laps on the glacier, with a few stops for water in the lodge and a picnic of Norwegian cheese, smoked fish and fruit. The only bus back to Jondal is 3:50pm, get a front seat as the descent is as stunning as the ride up. We were back to town, on our charter sailboat in Jondal harbor by 4:30, for drinks at Hardangerfjord Lodge overlooking the water. Don’t be surprised to see local kids jumping off the ferry dock into the “refreshing” Hardanger Fjord – after all it is summer – and you were just skiing.

Fonna Glacier Ski Resort Stats
Elevation: 1,450 meters, 4757ft
Vertical: 250 meters, 820’
Lifts: 1 T-Bar
4 Trails, 3 Terrain parks and 5 km Nordic groomed trails
Open 9 – 4pm mid June to Mid-August

Copyright & Photos 2018 FamilySkiTrips

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