For the best family ski trip, consider going out west to Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, California, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon. These Top Rocky Mountain Ski Resorts fit our ski criteria: ski terrain diversity, reliable snow, ski in ski out lodging, family activities, exceptional ski and snowboard schools, plus a healthy dose of scenery and friendly locals, and après ski things to do.
Plus, we have tried to steer you clear of some of the largest most crowded mega-resorts.
Purgatory Mountain Resort, Colorado
As family skiers, we love everything about Purgatory at Durango (accept maybe the intimidating name “Purgatory”). Purgatory Mountain offers plenty of terrain, fun undulating runs on the frontside, some edgier steeps and glades on the backside, and a convenient un-crowded base village with ski school, shops, restaurants and perfect condo lodging at The Purgatory Lodge with an outdoor pool and spa. As a bonus, you can visit downtown Durango to experience a real Colorado cowboy town.
Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky is one of the best ski mountains on the planet. This Montana ski resort is vast, very fun and offers spectacular vistas. The Lone Peak Tram serves legendary ungroomed steep terrain. This mega resort has something for everyone. Miles of tame groomed skiing, uber steep scare yourself silly chutes and couloirs, steep tree skiing, easy tree skiing, you name it, they have alot of it. Big Sky is on the IKON pass. For years this was an undiscovered gem, now Big Sky can get busy, they have added many new high-capacity lifts to whisk you around the mountain. It does not get any better than staying slopeside at Big Sky’s Summit Hotel, you can walk to the lifts, to kids ski camp and to the Village Plaza with skier services, shops and restaurants. Take a day off to visit Yellowstone National Park -Old Faithful still goes off in winter, the geysers and wildlife are more dramatic in snow.
Grand Targhee Resort, Wyoming … “Where Skiing Still Rules”
Grand Targhee Resort is ideal and fun for skiing families. It’s one big, small ski resort – big skiing with 2,602 acres of super scenic terrain and over 500-inches of snow annually, with a small base village – nothing fancy but everything you need for a family ski vacation. Targhee has daily kids’ ski and snowboard camps, an outdoor heated saltwater pool, a top après ski bar for parents called The Trap, and family sleigh ride dinners certain evenings which we loved. Targhee frequently offers great deals for like “kids stay, ski and eat free” with reserved resort lodging which is right at the base, 70s vintage condos. The “Ghee” (locals nickname) is friendlier and more affordable than Jackson Hole nearby. Targee gets a ton of snow but is also noted for many foggy days skiing in the clouds.
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Beaver Creek offers skiing for everyone. The Beav’ has a well-pitched front side with 2,000- vertical off the Centennial Chair, and great skiing upper mountain for beginners on the Red Buffalo and McCoy Park Express Chairs, challenging steeps on Birds of Prey and Grouse Mountain area. Miles of pretty tree-lined cruising from Rose Bowl to Bachelor Gultch and Arrow Head makes for fun exploring. It truly has become a sprawling mega-resort over the years. Once a quiet undiscovered gem, unfortunately, that is no longer the case with Vail’s Epic Pass. Beaver Creek has always been elite and “spendy” but lodging here has become $$$. If you can afford to stay at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek or the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch, these are two of the best ski hotels in the world. Otherwise, stay in Avon.
Snowmass at Aspen Colorado
Snowmass is the largest of the four Aspen ski mountains. Skiing the Big Burn at Snowmass will fuel everyone’s big ski ego – super pleasant and scenic. With ski in ski-out lodging at Snowmass Village in the posh Viceroy Hotel, or The Limelight, and the state of the art Tree House child care center – Snowmass is ideal for families. Glade expansion on Snowmass’ Burnt Mountain makes Snowmass the second largest ski resort in Colorado with a vast 3,362-acres. Aspen’s Buttermilk is teen heaven in January when they host the trendy Winter X-Games. Siblings Aspen Highlands and Ajax in downtown Aspen are also worth a day of skiing during your family ski week in Aspen.
Steamboat is a frontier cowboy town ideal for ski families, with its own nearby airport. Steamboat’s ski terrain is extensive, 3,000 acres, with mostly gentle pitch and plenty of pretty aspen glades from mellow to steeper Shadows and Chutes. The Colorado snow and sun are abundant, and the on-mountain accommodations are aplenty including the Steamboat Grand. Steamboat’s Village at the mountain has everything within steps, while the downtown cowboy town of Steamboat Springs, just a short drive, is authentic western and wild. Take the family to Strawberry Park Hot Springs for après ski. Steamboat is Ski Town USA – home to the most US Olympic skiers and riders. They must be doing something right in Steamboat Springs.
Deer Valley, Utah
Deer Valley ranks as a top ski resort for service, food and grooming. Its top shelf for families – as long as there are no snowboarders in your ski group (snowboarders ban). This first-class ski resort in Utah has great lifts, excellent grooming and well-trained ski ambassadors to make your ski and stay at Deer Valley very civilized. Deer Valley is now part of IKON, so it can get busy. For lodging, Deer Valley has fancy properties like St Regis Hotel, Montage Deer Valley, Stein Eriksen Lodge, and magnificent Deer Valley ski mansions for rent. Deer Valley, already large, is in the midst of a mega expansion of lifts, trails, mountains and terrain to become one of the largest, if not the largest, resort in the country soon.
Breckenridge, the busiest ski area in the country, offers miles of vast alpine terrain off 5 mountain peaks. Kids love Breck’s ski-thru parks and fun adventure zones, and fun kids camps. Parents will love exploring the high-elevation bowl skiing on Peaks 10, 9, 8, 7, and 6 – plus the highest elevation lift-served skiing in the US at 12,840′ (altitude-wary beware). Breckenridge is on Vail Resorts Epic Pass , so you can expect epic crowds on weekends and holidays. There are so many hotels, condos and beds in this big Colorado resort town. Strolling the historic downtown “Breck” is fun apres ski at Breck.
Snowbird is a favorite ski area amongst core skiers. Snowbird’s Cirque offers some of the country’s foremost expert terrain serviced by the 2,900′ vert Tram. But for families, there’s some tamer terrain mid-mountain, and slopeside hotel lodging at the Cliff Lodge. Just a half-hour drive from Salt Lake City also makes this Utah family ski trip a winner as you can ski and fly same day. A Snowbird/Alta lift ticket gains you access to two phenomenal resorts (Alta is a skiers only resort, no snowboards allowed). Snowbird is a top resort for spring skiing – staying open until May.
This beautiful ski resort just 45 minutes from Salt Lake airport offers big mountain skiing, wide open bowls, perfectly groomed runs, three gondolas and gorgeous on-mountain lodges – after all its sister resort to posh Sun Valley Idaho. Snowbasin has the most advanced snowmaking in Utah, and some of the best views of four states too! Kids will love skiing Snowbasin’s Olympic downhill run. Parents will appreciate the affordable off-mountain lodging in Huntsville, Ogden or Eden. Eden is near another hidden ski stash at Powder Mountain.
Keystone for family skiing is fun, it’s on Vail’s Epic Pass, with a nice friendly pedestrian ski village with condo lodging by the slopes, a swift gondola serving skiers from the base, designated family skiing zones and learn to ski trails, even night skiing. Keystone has vibrant kids programs, and trails for every ski level. With its proximity to Denver, and being in the Epic Pass, it does get VERY busy. Keystone is just 25 minutes from sister Breckenridge ski resort.
Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho
The largest ski resort in Idaho, Schweitzer has tons of terrain for all abilities, 2,900 acres, and panoramic mountain and lake views. Schweitzer’s convenient mountain village has everything your family needs: ski school, condo-lodging in Selkirk and White Pine Lodge, kids activities, night skiing, après ski and dining, and the cool town of Sandpoint is just down the road on beautiful Lake Pend Oreille. Being in the Northwest, Schweitzer can get heavy snow, and wild snow-ghosted trees, or fog.
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