I've never skied or snowboarded before!
How do I even start?
Where do I begin?
Nothing about strapping a metal-edged piece of epoxied wood to your feet and sliding down a mountain atop water in its frozen physical state is actually normal.
Now that we've got that out of the way we can better understand why starting out as a total beginner in skiing or snowboarding can be a bit intimidating, especially as an adult! But we'll break it down into a couple easy steps for those NEVER-EVERS who are interested in the benefits of winter sport which include:
Arguably the best learning program around, Snowbasin Resort near Eden, Utah has fully committed itself to the creation of new skiers and snowboarders with its 3-year Learn & Earn progression program. Save a ludicrous 80% on lift tickets, ski passes, rentals, and lessons in this award-winning initiative! Note that space is limited so if you want to participate in this industry-leading program, you'll want to commit early. Here's the deal...
YEAR 1: EARN & LEARN
To kick off your ski and snowboard journey, your first season will include 3 all-day lessons and gear rental. Participants who complete their three days of lessons will earn a Snowbasin ski pass valid for the remainder of the season. Talk about motivation!
YEAR 2: EARN & RETURN
Your second season at Snowbasin will focus on practicing and building your fundamental skills. Expand your abilities by accessing more difficult terrain and once again earn a Snowbasin Season Pass. Upon completion of the Year 2 program, the rental gear is now yours to keep!
Year 3: LEARN, EARN, & GRADUATE
Congratulations, Tiger, you're an ace! Enjoy a private ski lesson with a talented instructor and finish out your 3rd season strong with a Premier Snowbasin Season Pass (no blackout dates). You're now officially a full blown skier or snowboarder.
WOODWARD PARK CITY
Perhaps Utah's most unusual ski area, Woodward Park City is comprised of perfectly sculpted and progressive terrain features tailored to professional athletes and on down to those brand new to winter sports. A state-of-the-art 66,000-foot indoor campus offers additional training opportunities and clinics to further dial in your strength, balance and skills.
Woodward adopts a successful and fun approach to learning the art of skiing or snowboarding with carefully plotted exercises and drills meant to coherently build progression and foundational skills. Take advantage of their unique terrain to slowly build up to more and more challenging runs and acquire skills in a strategic manner.
The amount of programming, clinics, and coaching at Woodward is nearly limitless, so be sure to investigate all the options. Oh, and they offer night skiing and riding too! Learn more here.
Located near Ogden, Utah, Nordic Valley is one of the most affordable places around in terms of ticket prices, rentals and lessons. With ample opportunity for night skiing as well as a large amount of beginner terrain under the Bridger and Crockett chairlifts, Nordic is easily one of the best places to learn in Utah.
Save big money by purchasing night skiing tickets in advance and take advantage of Nordic's various programming like the Sunday Rookie Senders sessions. Nordic also offers reasonably priced private lessons to further dial in and hone your technique with personalized instruction.
One thing that sets Nordic apart is the friendly, welcoming community and the easy/straightforward navigation. You won't get lost at this mountain and the friendly vibe will put newcomers at ease.
ALTA SKI AREA
For skiers, there is no more beautiful and scenic place than the wide and gentle groomers accessible from the Sunnyside Chairlift at Alta Ski Area. The thing to know about at Alta is the Sunnyside At 3 Program, offering affordable access to the best snow in Utah. After 3 p.m. new skiers can access the Sunnyside Chairlift from 3–4:30 p.m. for just $19-24 per day. Or you could opt to purchase a Sunnyside At 3 Season Pass for just $99.
Another great option is Alta's afternoon Learn-to-Ski programs for adults from 1:30-4pm. Learners have the option to book a single group lesson or a pack of three lessons. Lessons are divided up into three basic fundamental skills sets meant to build on progression and foster confidence in a group or private setting. For more info click here.
Note that Alta is a skier's mountain, snowboarding is not allowed at Alta.
Park City's Deer Valley Resort recently spent a huge amount of effort and time updating the beginner zone around the Snow Park Base Area to improve the experience for beginning skiers. The project enhanced access for the ski school and provided instructors with more beginner teaching terrain while removing beginners from more crowded runs. The aging Burns Lift was removed to create more space for lessons on the Wide West run and a new conveyor lift will help pop guests back to the top of this perfectly graded beginner run. A new 4-person high-speed quad, the Burns Express was constructed to create a better connection between Snow Park and Little Baldy Peak so new skiers can enjoy far more terrain suitable for their needs while fostering their progression.
Deer Valley's award-winning service translates to a top-notch experience with the Deer Valley Resort Ski School.
Note that Deer Valley is a skier's mountain, snowboarding is not allowed at Deer Valley.
In central Utah, high in the Tushar Mountain Range, lies Eagle Point, an oasis in Utah's high desert country. Eagle Point seldom sees lift lines and the uncrowded slopes are the perfect spot to learn. The gentle and scenic terrain around the Skyline Double Chair offers gentle and wide groomers perfect for those just starting out. Affordable pricing and the mellow atmosphere make this zone a peaceful place to unwind and practice turns. The comfortable Skyline Lodge and its sunny deck is where you'll rent gear or meet for lessons and it offers a great spot to take a breather or grab a snack.
New for the 2023–24 season, Brian Head Resort near Cedar City in Southern Utah will debut its FREE On-Snow Experience for those who have never ever tried the sport. The new program is the ultimate intro with a step-by-step, self-guided clinic to better prepare first-timers on their big day. Learning stations staffed by instructors will provide tips and information along the way and will speed up the acquisition of basic skills and fundamentals. This program is open to all ages and introduces basic mountain safety and relevant tips for a successful first time skiing or snowboarding.
A perennial favorite for local Utahans to get their start skiing or snowboarding, Brighton's welcoming atmosphere, affordability, and night skiing offerings cannot be beat. I myself learned at Brighton decades ago! Up to 2 children under the age of 6 can ski or snowboard for free at Brighton. This resort also offers extensive night skiing terrain and afternoon/evening lessons so it's great for those with school or busy work schedules. The welcoming atmosphere and playful terrain at Brighton make it a first choice for many locals in Utah.
In general, there's much money to be saved if you purchase your lift tickets ahead of time. Be sure to visit your resort of choice's website as there may be great deals or packages for beginners; don't hesitate to call the ticket office and ask. Be on the lookout for local deals, bundled discounts for lessons, tickets, and gear rental, group rates, family rates, etc.
The Ski Utah Passport Program is a fantastic deal for children in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade where 45 days of skiing (3 at each of Utah's 15 resorts) is offered for just $69. Ski Utah's Yeti Pass is another awesome product to know about if you can't make up your mind on where to go. The $719 Yeti Pass is good for one lift ticket at each of Utah's 15 ski and snowboard resorts during the 2023–24 season, that's an unbeatable price at about $50 per day.
In addition, some resorts will host events for beginners that can make the transition to skiing or snowboarding less intimidating. Visit the resort's event pages for more info or contact the ticket office to learn more.
Another hot tip is to visit local ski swaps which offer used gear at steep discounts. Lone Pine Gear Exchange is a personal favorite for tracking down gently used outerwear and the latest and greatest in ski and snowboard technology. With a bunch of locations and the best deals around, Level Nine Sports is another local shop to be aware of. Ski Utah has gathered up some tips on scoring your dream ski/shred kit so click here for great info.
Your top-to-bottom packing list should include:
Having been skiing since age 2, I've witnessed my fair share of beginners navigating their first few visits to the mountains. I would *highly* recommend investing in a lesson. Don't rely on a friend or family member and definitely don't just show up and try to figure it out. Nothing about skiing or snowboarding is particularly natural and intuitive. There are a number of foundational skills and good habits to learn that will more rapidly help you progress and prevent injury. A lesson with an instructor will provide you with confidence and a firm grasp on the basic fundamentals to succeed and help you navigate to appropriate terrain on the mountain.
The danger that going it alone or relying on a friend or family member presents: injury or a bad day. If you want to continue being a skier or snowboarder, do yourself a favor and invest in a couple lessons. Lessons are often offered in packs, with discounts and group rates. A little online research will help you find the best combo of services and pricing to match your budget.
In general, you'll absolutely want to reserve your lesson and gear rentals well ahead of time to ensure availability. This is especially true if you plan to ski or snowboard during the busy holiday season in late Dec or early January as well as the holiday weekends in Jan and Feb. If you are renting gear at the resort, some resorts do require gear rental reservations. Be sure to call ahead to secure your gear prior to your lesson day. Most resorts will offer a bundled discount for lift tickets, rental gear, and your lesson. Be sure to ask about local specials or any specific programming they offer to support new skiers in the community.
It will not come as a surprise that it does occasionally snow here in Utah. If you're not comfortable driving in the snow, there are some options. Many of Utah's resorts will offer shuttles or public transportation to reach their slopes. You can pop over to our Ski Bus Guide here for more information.
In periods of heavy snowfall, the roads can quickly become treacherous. This can come as a surprise to someone who sets off on a beautiful sunny morning only to discover a howling tempest to accompany their drive home. Helpful and accurate snow and weather forecasts can be found at Open Snow weather forecasts and you should brush up on these winter driving tips. When in doubt, catch the ski bus! These experienced drivers know how to safely navigate our treacherous mountain roads and the busses are kitted out with chains and gnarly snow tires.
Know that during the peak holiday visitation periods of mid-Dec to mid-Jan, weekend holidays, and during Spring Break, there will be peak demand for parking at all Utah resorts. You can save yourself some headaches by planning ahead, check out our parking guide here. Some resorts DO REQUIRE parking reservations, others incentivize carpooling, and nearly all are serviced by public transit. All ski resorts will have a parking policy webpage, visit before you head for the hills.
Know that in general, parking will be less of an issue if you avoid peak holiday periods. You can also try to prioritize your visit during the weekdays or clear/calm weather. It can also be a total win to consider night skiing which does not normally attract as many guests as daylight hours. If you do decide to experience night skiing, be sure to dress extra warm and bring hand warmers!
Just like on Utah's bike trails and multi-use trails, there are a few simple rules to keep everyone safe and having fun. A lot of these aren't necessarily intuitive for first-timers so take a few moments to review the Ski & Snowboard Responsibility Code. This handy code is internationally recognized and standardized for all resorts across the United States and Canada. These basic principles are all you need to know to prevent injury, accidents, and collisions. In the end, we're sliding downhill on sharp equipment at the mercy of gravity, knowing the code could save a life!
For more tips and info on how to keep safe during skiing or snowboarding, check our Mountain Manners article.
In the end, as a lifelong skier, I can confidently say skiing and snowboarding are so much more than a sport. It's a rewarding lifestyle, a pipeline directly to Mother Nature, and a way to unwind, relax, and celebrate the outdoors. It's the anticipation of a fantastic day, it's the cozy feeling afterward, crackling fires and a warm cocktail or cocoa. Skiing and snowboarding can lead to exciting travel, experiencing new places and cultures and meeting lifelong friends.
It's NEVER too late to start!
HELPFUL RESOURCES & ARTICLES
Ski Utah's Family Ski Resort Guides - Click Here
Guide to Ski & Snowboard Rentals - Click Here
How to Prep for Utah's Ski & Snowboard Season - Click Here
Ski Boot Fittings, Dos & Don'ts - Click Here
Getting Started at Nordic Valley - Click Here
How to Pick Your Ideal Ski or Snowboard Kit - Click Here
Ski Utah Parking Guide - Click Here
A First Time for Everything - Click Here