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

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Ski News, who has the best snow, ski resort events and new lifts, ski area openings

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 and book your next ski trip:
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 carry-on size, has ideal compartments…and it comes in cool colors and patterns for every person in your ski clan. If you are flying to your ski destination, see our tips on How to Pack for a Ski Trip Flying including airline baggae allowances.

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. Or invest in a ski bag with wheels, ideally a bag that fits two pair of skis – even a jacket/ski pants as padding.

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 ore technical fabric 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 & pass
Phone chargers & cables
Après ski clothes – plan your outfit
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 ski.
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 or Breezio strips to launder ski socks and undergarments on the fly, overnight they’ll dry!

Book your ski trip for the best accommodations at the most affordable rates!

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

Family Ski Trips content and photos copyright 2023
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What NOT to say to a ski friend

“Don’t get hurt”, “be careful”, “don’t break a leg”, “I worry about you”, “don’t let anything happen to you”. This is what friends say to me when I go skiing, these people I treasure and adore… clearly they care about me too.

But…

I don’t need extraneous fears and doubts in my head, especially when I am skiing. What I need is confidence and positivity…that’s all.  I know the dance between safety and risk when I’m skiing, I know it very well. No one is more protective of me than me! My adventures and my risks are highly calculated.

I am never “not careful”. Greg and I put safety in our skiing above all desire to adventure, well ahead of a rush to ski un-tracked, to conquer new unknown snow terrain.

Skiing is my element, the mountains, the snow, the high alpine, its my environment, my choice of passion. Skiing is my zone, but in order to have the best (safest) skiing, I need to be “in the zone” – strong, ready, resilient, confident, courageous, prepared, present. There is no place here for self-doubt, for Debbie-downers pointing out the obvi…yes skiing comes with risk. I have read my lift ticket and season pass disclaimers, have you?

Ski resorts’ legal waivers clearly state “skiing has inherent risk”.  We could talk endlessly about risk versus reward, in skiing and in all sports and activities.

Instead I’ll just proclaim skiing is safer than texting and driving,  ponder that instead of pouncing on my choice to ski and how risky it may be.

Yes, I’ve heli skied with a pack of men in Bella Coola, gone out of bounds in The Alps (as they say in France – it’s better to be off-piste than piste-off– lol) and skied with the best World Cup ski racers on the planet at Portillo Chile.

I did the Bobsled on the Olympic track in Park City (now that was dangerous), and hurt my neck for a week!
I skied the speed trial run at Verbier, loved cat skiing the remote Monashees (with a pack of salivating Sugarloafers), and look …I’m still here to write about it.

Because I take great care… of myself, my surroundings. I have immense respect for the weather, the mountains, ever-changing snow. I stay fit so I am prepared for a myriad of ski conditions and slopes. I have been educated on avalanche slides, tree-wells, avalanche protocol. I also have the utmost respect for those who work in the ski biz, from liftees to groomers, to patrol and 1st responders.

Last but not least, I love my own body and know its strengths and weaknesses.

Don’t wanna get injured… been there, done that. Don’t wanna die either, haven’t done that – not ready – so much more to explore, so much life yet to live…  I also want to LIVE life to the fullest, not from the safety of my “living room”, the sidelines are not for me …thank you.

Would you tell an Indie car drivedon’t crash” or the crazy Wallendas “don’t slip and fall”? At our summer camp in Maine, my sis in law shouts “don’t fall” just as the waterski boat pulls and you are getting up on water skis. Hey, thanks…didn’t need that seed planted right now. When my friend Mary announced she’d be climbing to Everest Base Camp, I gave her only positive encouragement, not “you could die” because she knew that. Proud of her… delighted to hear of her adventure firsthand. She planned, prepared and had success!

I enter every adventure with thoughtful consideration and caution, a heady approach and  acknowledgement of worst case scenario, but also enthusiasm and a vision of best outcome – as a goal…which we often achieve. Visualizing our safe outcome, with proper preparation and fitness, is highly effective, especially at high altitude. Self-doubt, or voices in your head telling you not to get hurt, does not play in your favor. There is no room for uncertainty when you are in a steep white room, untracked, unknown…you  need your best self. I channel my nerves and anxiety (yes, I do get nervous) into positive energy, along with a little self pep talk.

I will digress to say I am so blessed to have friends who genuinely care about me, my health and well-being, as I do them. Friendship is such a gift… caring about another human being that’s not your family, but someone you choose to share with, and laugh with, is one of life’s greatest gifts….perhaps the best of all! Because friendship… well, you earn it…the trust, the experiences – from the silly to the sublime, the camaraderie, the crazy, the loyalty, the acceptance and appreciation of knowing each other quirks. I love my friends! #iloveus

So my friends, next time you want to say “don’t get hurt”, instead say “have fun” or “I look forward to seeing your ski photos” and “let’s celebrate when you get back”, “do what you love”. I will in turn be as supportive of my friends’ crazy (ok, risky) passions and pastimes: running (oh geez your knees), sky-diving (OMG), making candles (hot wax – yikes), sunbathing (burn baby burn),  beach boot camp (ok – not so risky – just sandy, early morning and not fun).

I’ll be skiing (safely) with good vibes, thank you very much. It’s what I love, it challenges me, makes me happy, healthy, accomplished, vibrant.

Do what you love, love what you do, know the risks, picture the rewards, life is an adventure… go get yours…

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke
Family Ski Trips Luxury Vacation Guide

 

Top 10 Apres Ski Tips

How to Après Ski Like a Pro…

My friends ask me, “do I have to ski to après ski?” This naive inquiry comes mostly from my gal pals , who fear getting cold, hurt or embarrassed, but don’t want to miss a good party. I have decided to let them in on our after skiing social since the ratio of ladies to dudes at ski resorts bars is sadly disproportionate. However, I do ask that non-skiers make an effort to understand the skiing lifestyle and après ski culture. Most importantly, I advise them not to start conversations with “I wish I could ski, looks fun, but it terrifies me.” Or “I hate the cold.” And “I’m afraid of heights.” That may just end the convo before it starts!

Here’s a guide of how to be a good après skier!
You can join in all the fun and camaraderie over cocktails, predominantly beer,  without the risk of falling on the slopes, totally avoiding the cold, heights, and the cost of a lift ticket.

To excel at après ski requires much less athletic prowess than skiing or snowboarding, you just need to balance on a bar stool, maybe navigate snow base lodge stairs. As a non-skier, you can show up to the slope-side bar looking fresh, no helmet hair or sweaty UnderArmour, and jump in as if you have been carving cord all day.

Here are some après ski practice tips, so that you are top notch, and can fit in with your fall line friends when snow flies.

  1. Dress like a skier. Look like you skied even though you didn’t.
  2. No need to wear ski boots, real skiers take them off for serious après ski. Instead opt for boots like Merrill’s or LL bean boots (when in Maine). I love my Rossi apres ski boots. Ladies can don furry boots, but be careful not to look to chi chi or haute-maintenance in the mountains. See our guide to looking stylish on the mountain. You are pretending you skied, not auditioning for “snow bunny”!
  3. Get yourself a prime bar stool, near the window so you can watch the descending last chair lappers. Point outside, laugh, as if that awkward guy who is actually skiing is a bigger loser than you. LOL
  4. Tip the bartender early and enthusiastically. Remember their name, share yours. You will look like a regular,and you’ll be treated like a member of the mug-club.
  5. Bring a puppy (pet friendly bars only) and say you’re training your Dog for patrol and avalanche rescue. Wait and watch as your dog, and eventually you, receive ridiculous amounts of attention.
  6. Bring attractive friends if the puppy ploy seems staged and you don’t actually own a dog.
  7. Wear an air cast and have an epic, convincing story about your double black diamond crash that was not caught on tape – sadly. LOL!
  8. When asked about your ski day, deflect – ask them: what’s your favorite trail, what do you ski on, how many millimeters under foot, how many ski days do you usually bag in a season? etc… Skiers love to brag and boast.
  9. Don’t dance in your bare feet, rookie move. There are sloppy skiers in ski boots on the dance floor – ouch! Unless you are going for the “après ski injury” and sympathy vote.
  10. Don’t get hammered… that’s not pretty in any sport or season…sure, do one shot ski to cross it off your bucket list – and because its a fun “trust building” exercise with your new ski buddies – but know when to say when.  Cheers! See our Favorite Après Ski Bars on the Planet… seriously consider Learning to Ski or Trying to Snowboard!

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

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Vail Epic Pass or Ikon for skiing?

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is now on sale, with 42 Vail owned ski resorts and an early season purchase of $909 for the 2023-24 winter! Incredible value! Keep in mind, for ski season 2022-23, Vail Resorts sold 2.3 million Epic Passes, so you might anticipate busy ski areas at these Vail-owned and operated resorts. Its still the most “EPIC”, most comprehensive, affordable season pass for skiing in North America!

The Epic Pass starting at $909 offers unlimited skiing at 42 Vail owned ski resorts and 7 days each at many more, plus ski pass benefits in the Alps.  See full details and deadlines on the Epic Pass.

Vail Resorts now include:  Colorado’s VailBeaver 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 SnowNH’s Wildcat, Attitash, Mount Sunapee, the Midwest’s Wilmot,  Mt Brighton,  Afton Alps, Seven Springs, even Perisher Australia. In the Alps, Vail Resorts has acquired Andermatt Sedrun Disentis in Switzerland and Crans Montana for 2024-25 – also on this season’s Epic Pass.

Additional ski benefits to Epic Passholders include partner resorts – Telluride, , and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies!  Plus Hakuba Japan.

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. In Switzerland, ski at Andermatt Sedrun, at  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 $1,200!

IKON Pass is the other big mega-mountain pass player, at $1049 for the full pass, which combines Aspen’s ski resorts (Alterra Mountain Company) with Boyne, Powdr and Intrawest Resorts plus some indies for a total of 55 – 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, plus partners Sun Valley and Snowbasin.

Where are you skiing next ski season? Which pass are you buying? At these rates you might consider buying both EPIC and IKON for an epic ally iconic ski winter!

See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and our Guide to Skiing the Alps to plan your winter and book your next family ski trip!

Ski Slang for Parents

obsession-2ski (3) Here’s a Glossary for “Groms” – that’s code for beginner skier in the terrain park.  Your guide to speaking ski steez with your kids on the slopes…

If your skiing or riding is “sick,” consider it a compliment.

If your kids says “I’m down with that,” that doesn’t mean they’ve fallen. Quite the contrary, this means “I’m game.” Example: “I’m down with going skiing today,” means pack up the car, let’s do this.

Don’t be a “Joey” No offense to kids named Joey, but this idiom implies you are super awkward on the slopes. Joeys carry their skis crisscrossed, poles sticking out, unzipped, un-stylish, un-cool.

In Canada skiing lingo a joey is a  “punter” and occasionally a “gaper

A “Gaper Gap” is a noticeable space between your goggles and hat or helmet, leaving an open forehead faux-pas that’s super “awky” and amateur.

Snowcrapers, Shredders or Knuckle Draggers are snowboarders.

Two Plankers are skiers.

Knee Dippers or Pinheads are Telemark skiers.

Jibbers” are young skiers and riders chillin’ in the terrain park, jibbing (sliding the rails, taking jumps) and talking about how steez they are.

Fartbags” are old fashioned one-piece ski suits, that baggy Bogner you thought was so steezy in 1970. Ironically, your kids are going to want to borrow it along with your Nevica DayGlo anorak to make a retro ski fashion statement.

Yard Sale” is a significant wipe out where goggles, poles, skis, and personal items, are spread across the trail.

Tag Sale” includes all the aspects of a yard sale plus tagging into another object or skier/rider.

Taco” is lingo for a crash that folds your body over a terrain park rail – like a taco.

Mackerel Smack” is a hard snowboard fall, rhymes with thwack.

To “Stomp” a rail or jump is to execute it well. Say, “You stomped that bro. That was sick.”

To “Shred the Gnar” is to snowboard boldly.

Gnar and Grnarly describe big brave moves. Bode Miller’s bloody gash in his Super G suit and his tendon at Beaver Creek was “gnar” for example.

Jib, Kicker, Booter, and Money Booter are terms for jumps, the Money Booter being the biggest to cash in on. Example, “That dude made bank off that money booter.”

Insta” is now a verb, defining the activity of videoing and postinghttps://www.instagram.com/familyskitrips/ on Instagram. Example, “Did you Insta that sweet sesh (session) in the park?” or, “I totally Insta’d our wreck, lol.”

Crunchy” sounds like granola, hippy-esque terminology of the 60’s, but crunchy is reinvented to mean cool and colorful as a bag of Skittles.

SPORE” is an acronym for a Special Person On Rental Equipment, easily identified by “Rental” inscribed on their helmet and skis.

Fakie” is to ride or ski backward, or “Switch” looking over your shoulder (hopefully) to see downhill.

Hope this “Sick-tionary” helps you speak steez with young jibber who has swagger. Get more family ski tips and our recommendations on the best ski resorts in the West to bring your family on ski vacation and Top Eastern ski resorts for a family ski trip.

See more Ski Slang in our Family Ski Guide

Heather Burke, 2023 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

How to 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 – 270 and still going) you think winter just doesn’t last long enough. Summer is a time to recoup, regroup, stay fit – or go skiing in Chile!

Your summer survival goal is 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 snowboard, 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, a hard-packed beach, or prefer touring the 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, Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Love of Vail, too big to fail?

Dear Vail,

I have loved you for decades my sweet Vail. From your fun fall line trails on the frontside to your vast untamed Back Bowls, all perfectly pitched and oh so scenic. Our alpine affair has been magical. I’ve loved your amazing grooming, at Vail and Beaver Creek, ripples of corduroy laid out each morning on velvety snow from side to side.

Then you, Vail Resorts, you changed – you became more about take-overs and acquisitions, in the East, the West, and beyond. I watched at first with wanderlust and excitement with more pass options. Then I had genuine concern as your portfolio of truly special ski areas became bigger, and busier. Your attention to detail became attention to an “epic” amount of passes sold! I watched my ski industry friends’ hearts’ break too, they’d dedicated their careers to now Vail-acquired ski areas only to be terminated, eliminated, all for the sake of corporate cost-efficiency.

I witnessed you also let your experienced grooming team go and your fabled “5-star groomingslip to a 2-star with less groomed trails reported, and rookie ridges and divots, really rough transitions in the snow. I’d ski over a groomed crest only to find my path “short-sheeted”, the grooming just suddenly ended on major routes!

I witnessed the local disenchantment toward Vail Resorts, a company now perceived as prioritizing profit over people, at great ski hills like Stevens Pass, Park City, Stowe, Heavenly, Crested Butte, Okemo’s Ludlow, Sunapee, Wildcat and Attitash… the list goes on. These alpine havens have seen an explosion of visitors, over-crowding and traffic congestion, while jobs are eliminated or outsourced away from the local economy.

What’s truly concerning is how crowded the ski experience has become with 2.3 million Epic Pass purchasers out there! Makes a ski gal not feel so special anymore. Lift lines, lift stoppages, crowded slopes with inexperienced, out of control skiers, is now the norm at Vail Resorts. You’ve sold-out to a “cheap pass to the masses” model. The skiing has become dangerous, and the mood has turned rude.

Vail was, is, a world-class resort experience, “like no place on Earth.” Now there are 37+ Vails, and the great name is just not the same. Beaver Creek’s slogan was “Not exactly roughing it”, now it’s just average. Stowe was the “Ski Capital of the East” – now it’s a cluster from the Mountain Road traffic to the Gondi and FourRunner Quad lines. It appears the Vail alpine dream is now quantity over quality – greed-centric, not ski-centric.

It would be “epic” to see Vail Resorts return to people over profits at your three dozen plus areas, a focus on skiing over stock value. Let existing management truly manage each unique ski area, empower your people, encourage the celebration of character at each mountain, instead of just bringing in big crowds for your billion dollars of Epic Passes sold.

Imagine getting back to the joy of skiing? Then my long love affair with Vail would rekindle. My dearest Vail, our intimate ski reunion on a far less-crowded, well-groomed Riva Ridge would be so sweet.

See more Ski Resort Reviews
Top New England Ski Resorts for Families
Top Western Ski Resorts for Families
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts for Families
Top Swiss Ski Resorts for Families
Top Austrian Family Ski Resorts
Top French Ski Resorts for Family Skiing
Top Family Ski Resorts in the World
Top Ski Safaris – multi-resort ski tours

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 stormy! 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 Other “cool winter activities” in Utah… try snowmobiling, ice skating, snow shoe or cross coutnry skiing, or visit Utah’s Olympic Park and try the Olympic Bobsled, see our review and don’t say we didn’t warn you!

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

Aspen’s IKON Pass or Vail’s Epic Pass

Hey Ski Friends! Winter is coming and its time to consider which season pass to invest in for ski 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 2023-2024! 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, around $1,000. The IKON Pass unites 47 top ski destinations, while  Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is valid at over 65 ski resorts across the US, Canada and the globe.

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass price started at $980 for unlimited skiing at 42 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, 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. Epic Pass holders get 20% off food and bev, lodging, lessons and rentals, and their Mountain Express airport transportation. See the Epic Pass on sale now.

The IKON Pass offers 47 ski resorts acres across the continent, yes Canada & Japan too,  on one season pass, with varying access at each destination, with a price of $1149 No Black Out Pass, 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, Snowbasin and Sun Valley, 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, see details at www.ikonpass.com. Alterra’s IKON Pass is $1149, 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 $879 (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! Yes, there will  be more crowds and lift lines at EPIC and IKON resorts.

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, by Heather & Greg Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com 

 

Vail’s Epic Ski App

1heather-simbaLeave it to Vail Resort to generate the most engaging mobile ski app – Epic Mix. From the folks who brought you The Epic Pass – a super savings season pass good at all Vail’s 42+ ski resorts, here is an Epic Mix app that tracks your vertical skiing, gives you real time intel on ski conditions, lift line times throughout Vail Resort, shows how your kids are progressing in ski school, and how your race time against Mikaela Shiffrin or  Lindsey Vonn. Epic Mix and the Epic Pass now function entirely through your cell phone, no season pass card needed! Amazing technology.

3-snowmass-sheer-blissMy honest scoop on the EpicMix ski app, I’m not big on apps or skiing glued to my phone… I go to the mountains to escape technology, electronics, stats and media.

What I like about Epic Mix is you don’t even need your phone turned on. Just sign up, turn off your phone and go ski if that’s the way you want to play. You can check your skiing stats online or on your phone at the end of the ski day. Other ski apps- Trace and Navtronics Ski apps munch data and run down your battery.

2hrb-beaver-creekEpic Mix tracks via you with GPS, so you can check your stats at the end of the day or the season, even view the app on your pc, so you’re not staring at your smart phone all day and missing out on Vail’s epic scenery. Of course the Gondola One has Wi-Fi and heated seats, a Vail’s 50th anniversary lift, if you want to check on your vert accumulated mid-day, see the line wait times at Lions Head, or reserve a lunch table with a view at the 10th Mountain Lodge at mid Vail.

The only thing better than the free Epic Mix app is Vail’s Epic Pass, which for about $841 with an early season purchase (read: April for the next season) includes skiing at all 41 of Vail Resorts, plus partners in the US, Canada and The Alps! Figure that a day ticket at Vail is $210 ish– so this pass amortizes quickly with one trip out west. The Epic Mix app will track your vertical at all them, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City/Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood, Whistler Blackcomb, Stowe, Okemo, Mount Snow, Wildcat, Attitash, Andermatt Switzerland…the list goes on…your Epic Mix will too.

See more of our Best Ski Reviews

Heather Burke, Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

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