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

Category: Ski Conditions (page 2 of 2)

How was your ski season?

big-sky-moonlightHow was your ski season? Did you ski your age in # days? That’s always a goal of mine, it’s exponentially more challenging each winter. I like to envision my 80 ski days when I am retired at 80, and (hopefully) still fit and carving fabulously. Klaus Obermeyer, Aspen-based famous ski clothes designer from Germany, had the goal of skiing as fast as his age, he’s now 95. I think my approach is safer but you go Klaus!

big-sky-heather-moonlightAs an East Coaster, I could be completely disappointed with this season. Let’s see – it rained Christmas, was 60 degrees New Years, with
abysmally low snow totals all season long. Mad River Glen was only open 45 days. New England ski resorts struggled, many didn’t make it to Easter weekend which was super early – still March. A few kept making snow into April, Sunday River and Killington, way over snow budget. Sunday River, Sugarloaf and Sugarbush made it to May Day, Killington keeps spinning.

Back in December when I saw the El Nino
6kitzbuhel-hrb-markus-pow2weather writing on the wall, I hashtagged this winter #GoToTheSnow. And that’s what I did. I skied pow from start to finish, soft snow at Vail and Aspen-Snowmass in mid-December, to my finale at Big Sky Montana on Easter in a foot of fresh. I ventured to Austria in January, skiing Kitzbuhel, Innsbruck, Zillertal, SkiWelt and Alpbach, then flew back to Colorado in February for more white gold at Copper and Steamboat.

aspen-heatherI ended with 49 ski days (I don’t turn 50 till July this year – so I legally accomplished my goal). Of those 49 days, only 7 where bagged in balmy New England. I hit 30 different resorts, a stat I find pretty cool, from East to West to Europe.

My best ski day? There was the stellar sunny day in Kitzbühel Austria when I skied the Hahnenkamm course the week before the world’s best downhill skiers hit this hairy race course.

1aspen-highlands-bowlIn Aspen, we had powder days at Ajax, Aspen Highlands and Snowmass – so we certainly hit that jackpot. First tracks in 9 inches of fresh snow at Steamboat was pretty sweet too.

My favorite ski run was probably a moonlight ski down at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont on an unpredicted 8-inches of powder that fell during our mountaintop beer pairing dinner in mid-February – cheers!

big-sky-aspen-heather-moonlight2The best ski trip was Big Sky Montana, because our family of four was reunited on the snow. We hadn’t shared a family ski trip in four years (while the kids were in college). Staying in a cozy mountainside cabin, we could put our skis on for first tracks from our Cowboy Heaven deck, and do laps on the Lone Peak Tram, and the Six Shooter high speed six-pack chair, skiing all of Big Sky’s amazing 5,800 acres. We had fresh snow almost daily, except for the gloriously sunny Saturday prior to Easter. Skiing the Dictators steep and deep with our son, and cruising cord on Tippy’s and Silver Knife with our daughter were the stuff ski dreams are made of.

big-sky-family2016Of course, we had the inevitable family fits, travel hassles, planning our canned family ski photos, and bickering about which Big Sky trails to ski, but that’s what gives downhill skiing its uphills.

It’s time to tune my skis and set my sights on next ski season. I’m shopping next Season’s Pass deals too. The Epic Pass is super tempting with unlimited skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Park City, and three ski resorts in Lake Tahoe… to name a few.

big-sky-ianThe Max Pass  is another multi mountain deal including Big Sky, Bachelor, Solitude, Steamboat, Copper and Winter Park and my East Coast favorites Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Loon, Killington/Pico, Stratton and Tremblant. I will let you know which ski pass I purchase to #GoToTheSnow.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Colorado’s got the snow!

If you are tired of waiting for Eastern temperatures to drop and natural snow to dump, you 1heather-powdershould jump on a flight West where the snow is. The Rocky Mountains have great early season snow this season.

We took off from balmy Boston, landed in a Denver snowstorm, drove two hours up I-70, rode 3 lifts to the 12,500’ summit at Copper Mountain, and we were skiing deep natural snow. Our first ski run of the ski season, almost 3,000’ vertical on Copper’s front face, was breathtaking – from high-alpine down through heavenly snow-caked towering pines, long sweeping trails were covered in fresh powdery snow. We could have easily stayed at Copper for a week.  But our Colorado ski safari included four ski resort destination,  Vail, Beaver Creek, Aspen Snowmass, and Winter Park– lots more skiing.

2heather-pow-treeVail is the king of Colorado skiing
, and already this season this legendary ski resort has 100” of snow and 4,500 acres open including the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin. Arriving in Vail Village, the pine trees were twinkling with lights and fresh sparkly snow, chalets roofs were loaded in white, like an Alps snowglobe. We found winter, and brilliant western blue sky, skiing 30,000’ vertical mid-December according to Vail’s “Epic Mix” app.

If you are looking for the snow, you will find it in Colorado.

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Heather Burke, 2015 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Where to ski now!

The west is getting their rewards this November – and we East coasters are happy for them. Check out these early season openings!

blizzard-heatherIn Colorado, Wolf Creek is 100% open, Steamboat has received 3.5-feet of snow already. Winter Park, Eldora, Monarch and Vail all opened  on Nov. 20, followed by Aspen, Snowmass, Purgatory, and Steamboat on Nov. 21.

In California, Mammoth has a four foot base depth, Kirkwood,  Heavenly, Squaw, Mountain High,  Siera at Tahoe, and Snow Summit are all open, as is Bear Mountain in central Cal.

In Utah, Brighton, Alta, Snowbird and Solitude are open. The new Park City openeds Nov 21 –  which encompasses the Canyons, all under the Park City name now, as the largest ski area in the US eclipsing Vail and Big Sky.

Grand Targhee is open in Wydaho, Big Sky opened last Sunday in Montana.

In Canada, Whistler Blackcomb opened Nov 19, Lake Louise Sunshine and Norquay are open, as is Quebec’s Mont Sainte Saveur, and Mont Sainte Anne – celebrating 50 years this season.

okemo-skiing-sceneIn New England, perennial early season ski resorts,  Killington & Sunday River both opened October 19 with a cold jump start, but closed as weather warmed, they are both back open now, along with Bretton Woods which opened for one day Nov 18. Before Thanksgiving, Loon and Stowe opened. It has been mild in the East, but its early my eager ski friends – anything before December is a bonus.

So to quote John Snow, #winteriscoming, and we should all #thinksnow.

As for me, I’m not breaking out the boards to ski just yet, I’m a wait til it gets good kinda girl, at least a dozen trails please, then I keep skiing when everyone quits in April & May. But soon I will see you on the slopes.

Top Early Season Ski Resorts – East
Top Early Season Ski Resorts – West
Best Spring Ski Resorts in New England for Families


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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Killington, Sunday River Open for Skiing October 19

1sunday-river-jordanSunday River and Killington vie for – and tie for – first to open for skiing once again. Killington opened Sunday October 18 for pass-holders only and Monday for the skiing public. Sunday River opens  upper T2 on Locke Mountain Monday October 19, with $29 tickets. Cool temps and avid snowmaking crews allowed the Beast of the East and Maine’s Sunday River to make snow, and even get a boots from Mother Nature after an unseasonably mild September and early October.

This is a super early opening for these eastern ski resorts, ahead of Loveland and Arapahoe Basin – opening October 29 out west even. Sunday River and Killington opened November 3, 2014. Both snowmaking power houses race to be the first to open for skiing in the East, often in time for Halloween skiing. Dress in a costume Halloween and ski for free at Sunday River, a fun tradition.

More ski dates I am stoked about this season:
Saddleback Maine’s announcement about their opening status is due soon. In August, the Maine ski resort near Rangeley Lake announced they would not open without a significant investor.

whitefish-inspirationNovember 2, Bravo TV reveals a new “reality” ski series, “Après Ski” filmed at Whistler Blackcomb Resort. The premise: a ski resort concierge service caters to the ridiculous demands of rich skiers whether their whim is heli-skiing in deep powder or decadent dining in Whistler’s Peak to Peak Gondola at the Canadian ski resort. Could be trashy like the not-so-real housewives, with lots of bickering like the crew of “Below Deck” only in the high alpine, but I will be tuning in just to see if there is any actual skiing.

boston-ski-show-glen-plakeNovember 12-15 is the 33rd Annual Ski and Snowboard Expo. I love the ski show – seeing what’s new in ski gear, at ski resorts, watching the ski fashion show, and reconnecting with ski friends and ski industry peeps.

I’m grabbing my gear out of the basement, making sure everything is tuned up and ready to go at first snow. See my review of the latest new skis, Top Men’s Skis Review 2016 and Top Women’s Skis Review 2016 if you are in the market for new gear this year.

That’s today’s ski news. Stay tuned to Family Ski Trips and Luxury Ski Trips  ski friends…winter is coming!

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Heather Burke, 2015 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips


Beast of the East wins again!

okemo-skiing-sceneKillington was the last ski resort spinning in the North East again, skiing and riding for 192 days from November 3, 2014 to May 31, 2015.  The Big K beat out other contenders like Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Jay Peak, Sugarbush and Wildcat – all of whom kept skiing into this first weekend of May. Killington continues to earn its resurrected moniker- Beast of the East.

It was an amazing ski season for the East Coast, with fantastic winter and spring skiing, while western ski resorts struggled with warm temps 1ski-folriaand a lack of snow.  Me, I logged 41 ski days from Idaho to Italy – and the best snow was right here in my backyard in Maine.

So we turn our thoughts to summer for now, biking, boating and water skiing. Those freezing fall temps will be here soon enough, and we will be carving a plan to carve turns on snow again.

Stay tuned for ski news, trends and what to look forward to for next ski season here at Family Ski Trips and our sister site Luxury Ski and be sure to follow us socially on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.

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Who’s Still Skiing?

cannon-ravineIt makes me sad every ski season,  skiers call it quits in April just as the sun comes out and the best skiing of the year is here. These are the same yahoos that line up in early November to ski a ribbon of manmade snow on one trail in low light and short days. Now we have the longest days of the season, sunshine and as much as 50% of the terrain open on a winter’s worth of snow at some of the top ski resorts in New England and the Best Ski Resorts Out West – the Kings of spring skiing .

Yes, you need to wear sunscreen and watch for bare spots and brown snow, aka: snirt which is snow + dirt.  And yes, the perfect corn corduroy does get squishy in the afternoon, but the ski slopes still have legit base depths, and a fun spring fever attitude. You can rock your jeans and your retro ski attire – ridiculous spring fling outfits from the closet are perfectly appropriate now.

Out west, Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, Snowbird, Winter Park, Mammoth, Squaw, Mt Bachelor and Timberline are still open for skiing.

In New England, Killington, Sugarbush and Jay Peak are still spinning, Okemo plans to reopen April 24-26.

6sugarloaf-summitSugarloaf  will keep skiing into May. Sunday River re-opens April 25-26 weekend, and finishes the season on May 2 with their free SkiMaynia tradition. Wildcat, the only NH ski resort still open,  skis through April 26, then plans to re-open May 2-3 weekend.

Get out and enjoy the spring skiing while it lasts. You will have plenty of time for biking and HB_waterski09waterskiing later.

Grab your shades, a cooler for tailgating apres ski,  SPF 30, and your Dad’s one-piece fart bag, or whatever screams out from the closet. The more outrageous the better. That lousy limited low-light November skiing is still six months away.

K, go ski! See our Top New England Ski Resorts for Spring Skiing and the Best Out West for late season skiing!

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

For the Love of Spring Skiing

Loon-Kathy-Heather-SkeaI love spring skiing. Its the best, the conditions you wait all year for – sun, soft snow, temps above freezing, a free dress code without face masks…

Its mid April and  just 14 of the best spring ski resorts are still open in New England. Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Loon, Cannon, Sunapee, Wildcat, Jay Peak, Killington, Mad River Glen, Mount Snow, Okemo, Sugarbush, Stowe, and Smugglers Notch remain open this week for skiing and riding. Bretton Woods, Magic, and Saddleback plan to re-open next weekend for skiing.

Last year, Tax Day 2014, many of the same ski resorts were still open for skiing, but with much lower trail counts – 20-50%, versus this season where Cannon, Wildcat,  and Jay Peak, even Mad River Glen are near 100%! Some of my favorite ski trails really shine come spring time.

 Western ski resorts are envying our East Coast snow pack, some California Lake Tahoe resorts closed mid March.  Its nice to feel their jealousy for a change. Its also nice to post on facebook that you are still skiing – ideally a photo in the sunshine rockin’ a headband and shades. Be sure to ski wearing high SPF, sun on the ski slopes is intense!

1ski-wildcatSunday River
, Killington, and Wildcat all pledged to keep skiing til May.  These ski areas need your support to justify spinning lifts, grilling burgers and paying their staff – so show up and ski!

See our Best New England Ski Resorts for Spring Skiing and Top Western Ski Resorts for Spring Skiing

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

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