Maybe you’re new to the sport, or perhaps you want to up your game this season. Maybe this is the year that you finally put the kids in Ski School, freeing up your own mountain-bound days for endless stoked-out laps. No matter the reason, when it comes to family-friendly destinations and what Ski Schools or mountains to choose, the question is almost always the same: “where do we start?”
Well, here are the biggest things to know about beginners’ terrain and Ski Schools. First, across every destination available on the Ikon Pass, there’s always going to be a section of terrain devoted to progressing you and your family’s skills. Similarly, there will always be a ski school where guests can learn the ins and outs of the ups and downs. In fact, of the over 45 Ikon Pass destinations to explore, each mountain is there to helpfully usher you into the lifelong fun of snow sports.
So, when you begin skiing – or when you’re ready to introduce your family to the joys of sliding on snow – it’s not always going to be about comparing ski resorts. Instead, your closest Ikon Pass destination is likely the best place to start your journey. Before visiting, make sure to tour each destination website and get a feel for the programs that they offer. That way, you’ll know what to expect once the car is unloaded and the helmets are on.
Below, cruise through some ski school highlights at select family-friendly Ikon Pass destinations.
DEER VALLEY RESORT, UT
A ski-only destination, Utah’s Deer Valley is the perfect combination of lux and lax. Meaning that your family ski vacation can indulge in the finest amenities and service while relaxing into the sport. Consistently ranked #1 in guest services by the readers of SKI Magazine, Deer Valley always makes your experience their utmost priority.
When it comes to learning the ropes, this means that you can get personalized attention at Deer Valley Ski School’s specialty programs. As a part of Deer Valley’s Gold Standard of Instruction, your crew will receive instruction on proper stance, balance, and alignment analysis, all while you get a sense for the snow. For the next step, Deer Valley’s three-day Steeps & Stashes program pushes intermediate, advanced, and expert skiers on off-trail terrain. Another option is either the Exclusively for Men or Exclusively for Women programs, each designed to stoke skiing camaraderie among men and women with similar abilities. Bous Points: adults can ski with former Olympians at the exclusive three- or five-day Mahre Training Center Ski Camps.
Steamboat Resort is the gold standard of a classic ski town. Located in rugged northwest Colorado, it just so happens that Steamboat is the quintessential family town. With over 165 trails, this mountain offers 14% beginner, 42% intermediate, and 44% advanced terrain, giving all adventure seekers room to roam.
And when you want the best in ski or snowboard lessons, look to the instructors who hail from Ski Town, U.S.A.® From kids camps to private lessons, build confidence with state-of-the-art instruction while being guided around the mountain, teaching you the skills to improve your skiing or riding.
WINTER PARK, COLORADO
With its proximity to Denver and excellent lesson offerings, Winter Park is a popular spot for Coloradoans to get their skiing and snowboarding bearings. Multi-week kids’ programs have progressive group instruction, always with the same coach. This continuity makes for nothing less than stellar mini shredders. Additionally, Winter Park’s Ski & Ride School also offers specialty clinics — such as Bump Jamboree, Bob’s Mogul Camp, and Platinum Tracks — many of which take place on Mary Jane’s legendary mogul territory.
BIG BEAR MOUNTAIN RESORT, CALIFORNIA
Big Bear Mountain Resort is Southern California’s must-shred destination for family-friendly skiing and riding. Located in the San Bernardino Mountains, about 2-hours from LA, Big Bear Mountain Resort includes Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. Both mountains offer a wide range of beginner areas, while Bear Mountain’s terrain parks are often heralded as the freestyle originator.
When it comes to snowboarding for beginners, Big Bear Mountain Resort offers segmented downhill ski and snowboard lessons and terrain park–style skiing and riding instruction. The terrain-based Skill Builder Park is perfect for beginners. It has low rails, boxes, rollers, hips, and tabletops — all miniature versions of the features that have made Big Bear famous. Big Bear is also a proud sponsor of the United States Adaptive Recreation Center (USARC), which uses private one-on-one instruction to make skiing and snowboarding accessible for individuals with disabilities.
JUNE MOUNTAIN, CALIFORNIA
Known as “California’s Family Mountain,” June Mountain’s Ski and Snowboard School offers free skiing and riding for kids 12 and under. Yes, you read that right: FREE skiing and riding for kids 12 and under. Adult Ikon Pass holders also have the option to drop the kiddos at June’s Mountain Chalet for lessons while you rip through your runs. Adults can hire a personal pro for a private lesson and bring up to four friends at no additional cost. When the lesson is over, put your skills to work on June Mountain’s wide-open runs—perfect for beginners.
KILLINGTON RESORT, VERMONT
Killington prides itself on having the longest season of lift-served skiing and riding in New England, as well as the largest vertical drop. This means that the mountain is open for nearly two-thirds of the year, giving you both the time and the terrain necessary to progress your skills on the snow. When paired with the Killington Snow Sports School, guests are encouraged to nurture progression and turn seemingly impossible goals into easily achievable steps.
Stratton Mountain, nestled in between the mountains of southern Vermont, celebrates a legacy of creating traditions and carrying on the mountain spirit from generation to generation. Its terrain mimics the family environment of the resort’s Village, as it offers an outstanding 41% novice terrain, 31% intermediate, and 28% advanced/expert. Whether you’re enjoying laughs on the lift or a night out in the Village, Stratton can accommodate your whole family.
When it comes to lessons for the entire family, Stratton caters to both first-time skiers/snowboarders and mountain enthusiasts alike. This includes improving overall technique, becoming more fluid in the moguls, or being more confident in the terrain park. Most of all, Stratton’s Mountain Sports School is ready to maximize your smile while on the slopes.