Utah's Kid Ski Culture
Offspring of the winter-inclined may be born with ski legs, but that doesn't mean there aren't extra considerations for planning a family ski trip. And for those completely new to skiing and snowboarding, it's a whole other ballgame. To help you from bottom of the mountain to the top — and back down again — we've assembled some of Utah's best resorts for families, tips for starting ski school, and a few ideas for keeping things fun both on the slope and off. Your Utah family ski vacation starts here.
Watch the tiny grommets barrel down the mountain on miniature skis and snowboards with no fear, their parents trailing their tracks screaming, “Pizza, pizza!” Entry to snow sports for kids is simple, and family-based deals and amenities keep growing and evolving with every ski season. Utah loves teaching kids to ski and snowboard while keeping things fun for parents, too. Check out top local picks for off-the-slopes winter fun.
Ski schools abound at resorts throughout the state, and their instructors teach with loads of patience to help skiers of tomorrow start out right. Many families place their child in ski school for the morning to learn the basics and to give parents some quality ski time alone, and then all ski together as a family in the afternoon.
Ready to conquer ski school. Photo: Marc Piscotty
Enjoying the food and the views at Sundance. Photo: Marc Piscotty
Finding my ski legs at Snowbird. Photo: Marc Piscotty
A necessary provision at Deer Valley. Photo: Marc Piscotty
Still all smiles at the end of the day. Photo: Marc Piscotty
While teaching kids to ski or snowboard is a great idea any time during the ski season, one ideal opportunity is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month in January. Resorts offer plenty of deals to get kids of all ages up on skis or snowboards and get a jump on learning the skills necessary to continue for the rest of the season.
In some cases, it helps to be a Utah resident, because a few deals are geared especially to those living in state. But don’t get discouraged if you live elsewhere. Helpful programs such as Alta Ski Area’s season-long “Learn to Ski” program also counts for destination skiers. First-time skiers can choose up to four days of discounted lessons and rental packages, which can be used any time during the season. At Brian Head, the risk-free "Learn to Ski in 3" program gives first-time skiers and riders of any age a guarantee that the Terrain-Based Learning program will have you skiing or snowboarding in just three lessons or you’ll get a full refund.
If your family is Nordic-sport inclined, plenty of spots around the state are happy to support your adventures. Nordic Centers, often with family-friendly tours available, can be found at Alta Ski Area, Park City Mountain's Canyons Village side, Cherry Peak Resort, Snowbasin Resort, Solitude Mountain Resort and Sundance Mountain Resort. Sundance Mountain Resort has more than 9 miles of dedicated cross-country terrain and another 6 miles for snowshoeing. Snowbasin is a prime spot, featuring 16 miles of cross-country trails from beginner to advanced.
Their energy on the slopes may seem endless, but eventually, even the most dedicated young learner needs a break. That’s a great time to switch up the activity to something fresh like tubing. Ski resorts such as Brian Head, Cherry
Former Backcountry.com CEO Jill Layfield's tips for preventing mid-slope meltdowns
- Layer up. A cold kid is a grumpy kid. Bring plenty of extra layers, dry socks and hand warmers.
- Embrace the bribe. Offer gummy bears for a mid-run reward and promise hot chocolate at the end of a good day.
- Bring a backpack. Great for extra layers of clothing, gear, accessories, snacks and sneakers for last minute boot changes.
- Make an early exit. Calling it a day before they run out of steam will mean more energy and enthusiasm for tomorrow.
Resorts for Family Fun
Best Resorts for Familes
While all Utah resorts are family-friendly and champion having little ones on the slopes, a few resorts stand out according to our locals, and go above and beyond in their ski school offerings:
PARK CITY MOUNTAIN
With the amenities of Main Street and Canyons Village, the warm Orange Bubble lifts, and the beginner-friendly First Time lift, this is a great resort to start in and grow in. Once your skills are more advanced, you'll find plenty of room to spread out and explore.
SUNDANCE MOUNTAIN RESORT
Founded by Hollywood star Robert Redford, Sundance is a winter haven. Only an hour's drive from Salt Lake City via scenic Provo Canyon, Sundance offers families a playground of powder skiing, groomed runs, a ski school that focuses on your child’s needs and off-slope adventures.
DEER VALLEY RESORT
If there’s one thing Deer Valley is known for, it’s an absolutely peerless level of service. Consistently ranked at the very top for on-mountain food and snow grooming by SKI Magazine, Deer Valley offers ski valets to schlep your little ones’ (and your own!) gear, pristine groomers perfect for learning, on-site childcare and a renowned ski school.
BEAVER MOUNTAIN RESORT
Beaver Mountain was built with family in mind. It’s family owned, family operated, and 100 percent family oriented. With terrain ranging from deep powder to groomed bunny hills, plus a snowsports school and kid-friendly food at the lodge, Beaver Mountain is Northern Utah’s hidden family treasure.
BRIGHTON SKI RESORT
Brighton is known as "The place where Utah learns to ski and snowboard—and keeps on learning." In 2013, Utah Family Magazine ranked Brighton #1 for family affordability and terrain. And all children seven and younger ski for free.
Learn more about all 14 of Utah's outstanding ski resorts.