Of the hundreds of reasons why skiing reigns supreme above other sports, perhaps the most underrated is the ability to travel with your child to practically any ski destination in the country and be guaranteed full-day child care and/or ski school. I was a destination ski school newbie until this trip. However, after trying five days of ski school and childcare at two Ikon Pass destinations in two states, I’m completely sold on the idea. Whoever coined the phrase, “you can’t please everyone” obviously wasn’t’ aware of the numerous options for ski schools, lesson sessions, and child care services – not to mention the many kid specific events – offered by destinations across the entire Ikon Pass. As it turns out, it’s okay to ask for help on a family ski trip. In fact, it’s kind of expected.
“I was a ski school newbie until this trip.
However, after trying five days of ski school and childcare at two Ikon Pass destinations in two states, I’m completely sold on the idea.”
Off to Big Sky
There’s nothing like getting out and sharing fresh tracks with your kiddo on a family ski trip. We made sure to be suited up and ready for Big Sky’s First Tracks program at 7:30 a.m. Big Sky’s First Tracks showcase some of resort’s 2,300 acres of beginner and intermediate terrain, ending with a gourmet breakfast at Everett’s 8800, a mountaintop lodge.
First tracks made, I booked Hagen at Big Sky’s Lone Peak Playhouse for the next two days. The choice of either a morning or afternoon ski lesson allows parents to play it by ear with a flexible drop off. We would ski or swim in the morning before lunch, after which the Big Sky Mountain Sports School would take him skiing in the afternoon. Those four and a half hours then allowed me to experience the best of Big Sky—all under bluebird skies offering endless views of this rugged corner of Montana.
Crystal is Calling
Less than 2 hours from Seattle, Crystal draws weekend warriors from the city. But Monday through Thursday, you’ll likely have the place to yourself, as we did. The base village consists of a main lodge, a kids’ club, two shops, the Alpine Inn (a Bavarian-style lodge with the main off-mountain restaurant and bar), and four subdued, 2-story lodges. But that’s not all. With free parking and a frequent shuttle, Crystal’s infamous B Lot hosts one of skiing’s most legendary RV cultures. For decades families have been packing their kids, dogs, and skis into motorhomes so that they can spend weekends and holidays together in B Lot.
A Local Legend
The most famous grown kid from that motorhome mecca is professional skier Ingrid Backstrom. She grew up in Seattle and spent weekends overnighting in B lot with her siblings and parents. Now a mother of two young girls, Ingrid lives a few hours away in Leavenworth and made the trek to show me the best of the what Crystal has to offer.
Divide & Conquer
Our first morning, Ingrid guided us onto straight lines, steep chutes, and wide-open powder. It’s a magical thing following a pro skier at the mountain they know best. Meanwhile, all our children were cruising happily on friendly runs with names like Tinkerbell and Discovery Meadow. Hagen had the run of the kid’s A-frame. He spent hours making art, eating French fries, and putting on rock concerts with some Crystal employees.
We left Crystal with tired legs and full hearts. In the week since we left home, we skied six days in a row at two different Ikon Pass destinations. It was the kind of trip I’d never be able to plan without a pass that gives you access to so many places and experiences. The sensation isn’t lost on kids either — Hagen loved treating every run like an adventure. And thanks to amenities like ski school and childcare, you can have a few adventures of your own, too.
About the Author
Tess Strokes is a freelance writer and editor based in Aspen, Colorado. She is part of the Ikon Pass Content Team. Tess has written for several publications, including The Atlantic, Outside, Backcountry, Skiing, and National Geographic Adventure.
Hit the Road
This story features destinations included in the Northwest Winter Road Trip. Check out this itinerary to start planning your next mountain adventure.