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Planning The Perfect Family Ski Vacation

Imagine yourself riding the chairlift with your family, the snow slowly falling, wonder and excitement filling your kids’ faces. The mountain is peaceful and quiet. You hope this moment will last forever. Every family has their story, and every ski vacation has its story. Ski Utah has worked with our local experts to provide you advice and suggestions for planning your best family ski trip ever.


Mom’s Utah Winter Bucketlist

Adventure Mom

While the youngest skiers in your family might be the most enthusiastic on the mountain, there's even more adventure to be had on the days you're not skiing bell-to-bell.


After eating lunch on the mountain, your little adventurers will love exploring and learning about the wildlife on the mountain from a local naturalist. “Tour with a Ranger” is a great way to recharge and refresh for the last part of the day.


Snowbird might be the perfect place to celebrate the winter holidays as a family. From the Hanukkah candle lighting after a day on the slopes or the Christmas eve parade and fireworks (after a day of skiing for free if you are one of the first 50 people to dress up like Santa).


Solitude mountain is the idyllic stay for families, with a Swiss-inspired village that serves up yoga, S’mores, avalanche dog demos and movie nights for guests. Plus kids under 6 ski for FREE. My fave, start them off on the Link Lift.


Pull out the family calendar and find an night where everybody can go night skiing at Brighton. PLUS, kids 10 and under ski for free, even during the day :)

Powder Mountain

Any 12 year old with a lift ticket can compete in the mini slalom and slopestyle competition known as Grom Fest.


The Snowbasin event calendar runs deep. My favorite is their snow carnival, featuring races, face painting, a scavenger hunt, avalanche beacon drill stations with ski patrol, music, and free food.


We get it, those little legs get tired after a long day of skiing. Let your kids use their arm muscles (and keep the adrenaline just as high) on the winter ZipTour at Sundance. Flying over the mountain is just as much fun as flying down it!

Park City Mountain

If your family wants an après activity that cannot be topped, check out the horse drawn sleigh ride and dinner after a day on the slopes. While your highlight might be the live music and delicious food, we’re betting your kids will talk about the horses pulling them through the snowy field for years to come.

Deer Valley

If you have a few days to explore Deer Valley (and hopefully take advantage of one of the complimentary Mountain Host Tours), be sure to check out the “Snowshoes and S’mores”. The short snowshoe hike will end at a mountainside camp fire, equipped with the finest ingredients for s’mores.

Beaver Mountain

Spring skiing at Beaver Mountain is as groovy as it gets. Your family will LOVE the Snoopy Carnival at Beaver Mountain. From the snow maze to the luge through the trees, everybody will have a great day. And the bonus? Costumes are encouraged!

Brian Head

One of the highlights of your family’s winter will be the Star Party at Brian Head. The staff from Cedar Breaks Park will point out constellations, planets, neighboring galaxies, and swirling nebulae for you to view through the telescopes. Dress warmly and enjoy the complimentary hot chocolate!

Cherry Peak

If your family’s legs are exhausted after a day of skiing, but you’re not quite ready to call it a day, check out the tubing hill at Cherry Peak. Your legs will thank you as you take a ride up the hill on the magic carpet, and your older kids will be excited to stay out as late as 9 p.m.

Eagle Point

You want in on a little secret? Fridays at Eagle Point is one of the best places in the state to score fresh snow. Why? Because Eagle point is open Fridays to Mondays which means that any snow that falls on Tuesday through Thursday is untouched. Your family will thank you.

Nordic Valley

While the After School Program is a MUST for locals wanting to teach their kids to ski, if you’re in town for the weekend, your family will love learning to ski together in the group lessons. Instead of feeling the rush of a larger resort, learn at ease in the intimate instructional setting.


Learning to Turn, from A to Z. Learning to Ski or Ride in Utah is Anything but Old School


There was once a time when the only option for kids’ ski and snowboard instruction was choosing between a private or group lesson. Well, those days are thankfully over. Not only are lessons more tightly tailored to age and ability, but on-snow learning has been fine-tuned based on terrain features and equipment innovations. And, of course, having fun is now considered as critical as mastering technique.

Little Kids (age 3 to 8)

For kids aged 3 years old and willing to ski, Deer Valley’s full-day Fawn Special includes one hour long, one-on-one lesson bookended by snow play, story time and art projects. Snowbird’s Chickadee Age 3 lessons are offered in both half-day and full-day increments, with hour long, one-one-one lessons during the full-day option, mixed with plenty of on, and off, snow fun. Park City Mountain’s Ultimate 3 Ski Lesson for three-year-olds includes lots of fun, games, and on-hill time always with a 3:1 student-instructor ratio.

A breakthrough at this age could be something as simple as walking on snow in ski boots.

Insider tip: According to Mya Frantti, Deer Valley Resort children’s program manager, three things parents can do to ensure their little ones have a great on-snow experience are: “Talk to them about their lesson beforehand to get them excited, make sure they have the correct gear and maintain realistic expectations,” she says.

Tweens (ages 9 to 12)

This age is all about creating life-long snow sports lovers. Programs sure to solidify a love for skiing or riding for tweens include Alta’s Advanced Mountain Explorers. Has your tween never skied or ridden before? Make the most of the season with Brian Head University or Snowbasin’s Earn to Learn, never-ever programs that reward participants for completing a series of three lessons with a season pass.

Big Kids (ages 13 to 16)

Independence is where it’s at with teenagers, a fact of life not lost on organizers of Alta’s Teen Camp and Deer Valley’s Teen Escape. Both camps provide skiers with a social, fun and supervised way to explore each mountain. The guides with Solitude’s new Hidden Tracks program take skiers off the beaten path to Solitude’s secret stashes.

Insider Tip: Night skiing is great way to help your teen burn off some post-dinner energy. At Brighton, kids 9 and adults age 8 and up can take a two-hour lesson (6 to 8 p.m.) and get a night skiing lift pass (valid from 4 to 9 p.m.) every Thursday of the season for just $50. At Sundance, mention the two-for-one promo at the ticket window on Wednesday nights..

For the Whole Family

If your family has similar skiing ability levels and on-snow interests, Park City Mountain and Eagle Point’s family lessons are each a great opportunity to stay together as a family. Or kill two birds with one stone with the new Peak-to-Peak Guided Experience at Park City Mountain, a personalized journey through the mega resort’s 7,300 acres.

Adaptive Skiing

Both adults and children with mental and physical challenges can get in on the fun as well through adaptive instruction offered by the National Ability Center and Wasatch Adaptive Sports as well as Brighton, Deer Valley, Park City Resort, Snowbasin, Snowbird and Solitude.


Powder is Not Just Reserved for Locals. Here’s How to Experience the Magical Feeling of Floating on The Greatest Snow on Earth

Powderhound Matt

When looking for family-friendly powder skiing it is super important to do your research ahead of time. Most resorts will groom their beginner terrain because novice skiers aren’t looking for knee deep powder. That being said, if you are in search of powder and you and the family are ready to take the next step, here are some tips.

Step one. I cannot over emphasize the simple things like snow, food and bathroom breaks. Use the Ski Utah snow report or Open Snow’s Wasatch Snow Forecast and know the forecast. Arrive to the resort early so that you and the kids can hit the bathroom and be well fed. The last thing you’ll want to do is head to the lodge after the first lap so someone can grab some food or use the bathroom. The window to ski powder grows smaller and smaller as the day progresses on so it’s super important to optimize your fun once the flakes start flying.

Step two. Grabbing a grooming report or talking to a mountain host should always be of utmost importance when arriving at the mountain. Most beginner terrain is groomed but a grooming report or a mountain host can lead you to the low-angle untracked goods.

Deer Valley and Powder Mountain have always had two of the best mountain host programs in the game. Take advantage of them, especially because they are complimentary!

Step three. Go against the grain. The beauty for you beginner skier is you’re not ready for advanced terrain yet, so avoid those chairs where the locals flock.

Insiders Tip: Don’t overlook skiing groomed runs and just skiing the powder on the edges of the trail that the groomers didn’t touch.

Equipment Tips from your eyes to your toes: The right equipment makes a huge difference. Make sure that your goggles are as versatile and varied as the snow conditions. I love the Smith line of goggles and remember to search for mid to low light options.

Having the right skis makes all the difference in the world. If you are coming from the east coast and you’re just not ready to jump into the super fat skis, I’ve got the perfect ski for both men and women. Men, try the Rossignol Experience 100 HD. This thing crushes on groomers but also handles quite well in Powder conditions, especially when you are on trail. On the women’s side try the Temptation 88.

Here are a few of my favorite spots for the enthusiastic beginner powder skier in your family:

Alta: Sunnyside Chair. Sometimes you’ll even find Après Adam and myself skiing directly under the Sunnyside Chair on powder days. These trails are all either green circles or blue squares

Snowbird: Baldy Express Chair. Try Claim Jumper, Lucky Boy and Birds Nest, they all funnel into Lupine Loop. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that you are headed to the top of the resort. Once you are done skiing your green runs you can always take the Mineral Basin Express Chair to the summit and download on the Tram.

Park City Mountain: Motherlode Chair: Everything off this chair, for the most part, is rated as a blue square. The key to this area is getting the grooming report and knowing which trails weren’t groomed overnight. On those powder mornings, Sunnyside is always a fan favorite.

Deer Valley: Quincy Express: Try the Ontario Bowl. Yes, this is a black diamond rated ski bowl and yes, you do need to take a short walk to get to your destination but I promise it will be well worth your effort. The key to this zone is to NOT go all the way to the top of the hike where almost all other parties will go. The real beauty behind this run is the Ontario green circle trail is no more than 50 yards to your right, so you always have a good bail out option if you find it to be too difficult.

Brian Head: Ski Wildflower and Navajo Chairs: Literally this entire side of the mountain was set up and designed for beginner and intermediate skiers.

Powder Mountain: Hidden Lake Express Chair: I’ll close with Powder Mountain, here is why. Pow Mow as locals call it, is designed for powder skiers of all ability levels. The resort grooms an extremely small portion of its terrain and the resort holds great snow days after a storm. This is a top down mountain, which means you can drive to the top and start your day skiing rather than riding a chairlift.
Full disclosure this video is all advanced terrain:


Here’s How to Keep Moving from Dawn till Dark on Your Next Ski Vacation

Active Alyssa
A family that plays together, stays together.

Growing up in Ohio I experienced “Life Elevated” during family ski vacations to Utah that were packed with fun, bonding and non-stop go. A major reason why I loved these trips to the mountains so much, is that we spent time being active together which helped grow our family bond. I’m the luckiest girl in the world and now I live in Park City where I’ve had to the chance to try just about every winter activity under Utah’s winter sun.

A day of skiing is the cherry on top, and they don’t call it a ski vacation for nothing, but sometimes you need to change it up—sometimes your toes need a break from your boots. Here are some of my favorite, non-skiing activities.

  1. Ice-skating:

    Park City, Solitude, and Cherry Peak all have ice rinks at the resort.
  2. Snow Biking:

    Where the rubber meets the snow!
  3. Yoga:

    Hot Spring, Paddleboard Yoga: Homestead Crater in Midway
  4. Snowshoe:

    Fun for all ages, explore many trails!
  5. Tubing:

    Thrill ride the family will be sure to remember. Check out Gorgoza Park, Soldier Hollow, Wasatch Parc, and Brian Head Resort.
  6. Cross-country skiing:

    Get the family moving on the trails, or tow a toddler in a ski trailer.


Our Resident Travel Planning Pro, Snow Travelista, has Three Ski Vacation Planning Tips for Families Looking to Save Money

Snow Travelista

Kid’s Passes

Pssst … I’ll let you in on a secret. The Ski Utah 5th & 6th Grade Passport program isn’t exclusively for Utah residents. It’s available to all students, and offers discounts on gear and lessons! The Passport allows 5th graders to ski for FREE three days (one day for 6th graders) at every resort in the state. The cost is just $35 (or $45 after Jan. 31, 2018), making it the best deal going.

Save Some Bucks

The best advice I have for families planning a ski vacation is to plan ahead to save money, but don’t over-plan your time. The greatest values on airfare, lodging, lift tickets, and rentals are found by booking and/or buying in advance. For example, Alta adult day passes purchased at the window costs $104. However, if you buy online in advance, prices can run $20-$30 less depending on the date. The biggest savings occur on weekdays. The same holds true for equipment rentals.

Don’t Schlep Your Gear

Seriously, avoid airline baggage fees and preserve your sanity. Leave your skis and snowboards at home. Rent them in Utah, or better yet, have them delivered right to your front door. Try Ski Butlers, SKI ‘N SEE and Elite Ski Delivery.

Pro Tip: Here are my favorite Deal Savings Resources.


Your Family Après Guide—Because No Great Story Ever Started with a Salad


A wise man (ok, it could have been me) once said — the only thing more fun than skiing is après-skiing! And, despite what you may have heard, Utah has no shortage of opportunities to enjoy a drink while unwinding and sharing stories after a long day on the slopes.

From swanky cocktail lounges to ski town dive bars. From nightclubs to family-friendly pizza joints. A celebratory cocktail is always just a few shaky ski boot steps away from your last run of the day.

Family Friendly Après-tunities (arranged from $ - $$$) - Great spots to take the whole family after a day on the slopes.

  1. Davanza’s (Park City - Town):

    This local’s favorite sits just steps from the Town Lift Plaza at Park City Mountain. Known most for their pizza, don’t look past their street tacos, salads, and a surprisingly tasty Philly.
  2. The Corner Store (Park City - Base):

    Another local’s favorite located across the plaza from the Pay Day Lift at Park City Mountain. You’ll probably hear it before you see it. A classic apres-ski spot for the whole family with live music and a sunny patio.
  3. Umbrella Bar (Park City - Canyons Base):

    The outdoor bar and food truck is a great place for families to hang out and share some food and drinks.
  4. Porcupine Bar and Grille (Cottonwood Canyons):

    The Porcupine is another great spot for the entire family. Located at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon and equidistant from Brighton, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird, this is the go-to spot for a family leaving the Cottonwoods. Tuesday is local’s night with $2 specialty drafts.
  5. High West Distillery (Park City Mountain - Old Town):

    Just steps from Town Lift, High West is the only ski-in/ski-out distillery in the country. High West is a must-do for anyone.

Adults Only Après-tunities ($-$$$): Put the kids to bed and head straight to these adults-only hot spots. From classic apres-ski lounges to places to dance the night away.

  1. Shooting Star Saloon (Huntsville - Snowbasin/Powder Mountain):

    The oldest continuously-running bar in Utah is located in the small town of Huntsville in the Ogden Valley. Come for a pitcher of Heidi’s Special and stick around for the Star Burger and a photo with a massive stuffed St. Bernard head.
  2. Tram Club (Snowbird):

    A swanky sports-bar/70’s lounge in a bunker with views of the inner workings of the tram bull wheel. Home to the best apres-ski deal in Utah, a shot and a beer for $5.
  3. Sitzmark (Alta):

    This nearly 80-year-old apres-ski lounge is located somewhere in the Alta Lodge. Order their signature cocktail, The Boomerang, a hot toddy with Twiskey, equal parts tequila and whisky.
  4. No Name and The Spur (Park City - Old Town):

    Looking for a place to let loose in Park City? Look no further than No Name Saloon and The Spur. No Name is known for their Buffalo Burgers, friendly staff, and eclectic decor.
  5. Owl Bar Sundance:

    The Owl Bar at Sundance is the best bar in Utah County. Not only that, but the bar itself—like the actual bar that drinks are served on—is the same piece of wood that Billy the Kid regularly ordered drinks at in Wyoming. Great food and great cocktails in one of the coolest bars around.


The 411 For Snowboarding Families

Sideways Stories

With it being 2017, the term "ski vacation" has evolved to include any number of methods of downhill transportation. That being said, your modern family winter vacation is more than likely to be a 100% snowboard-focused affair and you have chosen Utah as your destination to ride this season. A good choice if I might say so myself, seeing that I grew up on these slopes and Salt lake is steeped in snowboard history and culture. Here are some tips on what a shred family is to do in the land of Zion.

Local Snowboard Hotspots

Salt Lake City has been the hub for snowboard culture in the west for a long time now. From the 1970's when Dimitrije Milovich was building and riding the first "Winterstick" snowboards here in the local mountains, to the street snowboard revival of the early 2000's and the being a primary location for the filming of the legendary Mack Dawg and Kingpin videos, the salty city has seen its fair share of iconic snowboarders and snowboard moments.

The place that has seen more of these characters and moments is Milosport snowboard shop. This is the place where the aforementioned Dimitrije Milovich started building his unique snowboards, hence the name Milo Sport. Located between Parley's canyon (road to Park City) and the Cottonwood Canyons (home of Brighton, Solitude and Snowbird).

If you chose to venture north to ride at the beautiful resorts of Snowbasin or Powder Mountain, be sure to stop at Cross Roads skate and snow shop. Located below Ogden canyon, it is easily accessible before or after a day of riding at one of these gems.

Shred School

Once you have checked in at the local shop, you might be wondering if there are any snowboard schools that could help your kids sharpen their skills. It just so happens that many of the resorts in the state have partnered up with Burton snowboards as certified learn to ride of "LTR" centers, to ensure that kids are learning to ride the right way. Check out the shred specific schools in Utah.


If your budget allows, I would highly recommend investing or renting in a more powder specific board for you and your family. Conventional wisdom would suggest that these types of boards (typically more pointed tips and short tails) would only be good in fresh snow, but in reality these shapes are extremely versatile in all conditions and will make your life so much easier and more fun on your Utah snowboard trip.