4 Tips For a Foolproof Family Ski Vacation in Utah

4 Tips For a Foolproof Family Ski Vacation in Utah

By Chad Taylor
January 14, 2016

How to make your kids into lifelong ski (or snowboard) bums. A few tips to get it right.

You know the joy of skiing. You've experienced the exhilaration. It's time to get your kids out on the slopes so they can have similar experiences. Just think of the possibilities: they will whoop and holler with pure joy; they will speed past you with scornful glee when the student becomes the teacher; they will ask to go through the trees again and again and again; they will scare the bejeezus out of you when they hit that first jump a little too fast; they will share their last french fry with you; they will tell you knock-knock jokes on the lift; they will courageously go down a black diamond run that terrified them the day before; and they will most certainly find solace in the winter mountains for the rest of their lives.

So, as ski town junkies, we offer a few pointers for constructing a family ski trip that’ll keep your kids stoked about skiing or riding year after year. And with the Ikon Pass and the Child Ikon Pass they can ski three Utah resorts.

Snowbird Ski Resort

4. Can you have too many diamonds?

There are lots of variables to consider as you plan a great family/beginner-friendly day on the mountain, but the biggest one is probably the number and location of green and blue runs. (Runs are classified by difficulty and marked with corresponding signage on the mountain: green circle = beginner; blue square = intermediate; black diamond = advanced; double–black diamond = bananas.) Research trail maps and find the lifts that access appropriate terrain so you don’t accidentally get stranded at the top of a mountain that looks like where the Grinch lives.

3. The destination matters

Resorts have personalities influenced by terrain, tradition, age and the crowds they attract. Do your homework and find a good match for your family’s age, ability, and adventure level. Some things to consider as you research resorts: acreage; number of lifts & runs (and how many are green/blue/black); location (city access? public transportation? distance from airport?); lodging/amenities (ski-in/ski-out options? pool/hot tub? on-site rentals? dining options? ski school?); other activities (Nordic skiing? backcountry skiing? sledding? snowshoeing? yurts?).

Alta Ski Area embraces all skiers (but no snowboarders). It’s a classic with a bit of a split personality: Drop the kids off on Sunnyside where they can stick to green groomers or get their first taste of easy trails through the trees while you head over to Collins for steeper slopes gone gangbusters.

Snowbird boasts more aggressive terrain and should be saved for the kids’ third season but can be great for your fearless teenagers.

Deer Valley Resort offers 2,026 acres, so you’d expect plenty of varied terrains, and you’d be right. It’s a fantastic place to start, with limitless challenging options when you’re ready. It’s adventure central for explorers who are comfortable with vast terrain and want to keep things interesting. This one’s a global experience as you’ll run into skiers from Australia, Denmark, Peru, the UK, and more.

So which destination should you visit? That's easy. You should visit all three. With the Ikon Pass and the Child Ikon Pass, you and your kiddos can shred a wide variety of pow.

Alta Ski Resort

2. Keep those bellies full

There’s ski resort food, and then there’s ski resort nourishment for body and soul. We’re always up for a good burger and a bucket of fries — it’s amazing what a morning of hillside squats will do for your appetite — but have you ever felt the joy of walking into a mountain lodge to find they serve flatbread pizza, healthy salad (to go with your bucket of fries, obviously), homemade chili, and bread from the local bakery? A resort-like Snowbird has more options than you have any right to expect on a mountain with 10 feet of snow. Oh, and keep your pockets packed with chocolate, granola bars, and anything calorie-packed to keep the crew fueled for fun.

Deer Valley Resort

1. Avoid Cotton

There’s a reason you wear cotton t-shirts to the beach: They’re cool and breezy. They let heat out and air in — the opposite of what you want during the winter in the mountains. Invest in some Capilene or wool underwear for the whole family, plus snow pants, fleece or down jacket, waterproof/windproof jacket, gloves, goggles, helmet, and a neck gator.

Put in a little time planning and it will all be easy. Pack some board games and tell your kids the hotel doesn’t have Wi-Fi. Your family ski trip is going to be perfect.

And definitely buy the Ikon Pass and the Child Ikon Pass. You (and your kids) will thank us later.

Get a Child Pass (12 and under) for $149 with an Adult Ikon Base Pass purchase, or $199 with an Adult Ikon Pass purchase. Valid through April 9, 2018.