16 Ways to Apres at Squaw Valley Village with Kids

 

Enjoy Squaw Valley with kids where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe.
Squaw Valley offers families the place to ski big  plus a village full of family fun. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Squaw Valley–More than a Ski Resort

Taking the entire family skiing requires more than a few lift tickets. Squaw Valley Ski Resort offers a village packed full of fun for everyone on a family ski getaway, not just the skiers.

When I’m planning my family’s annual winter getaway, I look for fun activities for everyone. I want shopping, dining, and winter activities like sledding and skating all within walking distance. I found all that in Squaw Valley’s Village on a recent visit. 

Top Family Fun at Squaw Valley

  • Snow Tubing
  • Mini Snow Mobiles
  • Sledding
  • Indoor rock wall
  • Outdoor trampoline
  • Roasting s’mores
  • Take the aerial tram to High Camp
  • Tour the Olympic Museum
  • Snow shoeing
  • Dog sledding
  • Cross country skiing
  • Shopping
  • Spa treatments
  • Yoga
  • Fireworks on select nights
  • Live music on select nights
  • Horse-drawn sleigh rides on select nights
  • Plus lots of holiday fun during December

What I loved about The Village at Squaw Valley

  • Everything is right in the Village so you don’t have to leave the resort.
  • Even in the busiest time of the year it never felt crowded.

What I wanted from The Village at Squaw Valley

  • A skating rink in the Village.
  • Better labeling in the parking lots since it tends to be a sea of cars.
family fun at Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
I found lots of family fun at Squaw Valley that doesn’t require a lift ticket. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Family Fun without a Lift Ticket

My kids could ski or snowboard everyday but Mom can’t. I need a break after a few days or my legs will fall off or worse.

Sure, my kids would love to explore on their own but I’m not comfortable letting my kids, 10, 13 and 15-years-old run wild on the mountain. So I add a rest day into our family ski getaway.

I might get to sleep in an extra hour but I’ve got to keep the kids moving. And that means heading outdoors for winter family fun.

What to do at Squaw Valley Village with Kids

In a corner of the Squaw Valley Ski Resort, I found the SnoVentures area packed with winter fun. Located next to Squaw Kids, the ski and snowboarding school, SnoVentures offers a day’s worth of fun.

For kids of all ages, snow tubing gives families a fun outlet for competition. Grab a tube and use the covered surface lift for more fun with less work.

A free sledding area, located next to the snow tubing area, offers all-day fun for free if you bring-your-own equipment. Or pick up a sled in Tahoe City, just 10 miles away.

For the kids, mini snowmobiles offer thrills and a taste of the adrenaline sport with just-the-right-size option for kids. Limited to kids 6 to 12.

The Village at Squaw Valley also features an indoor rock wall. Outside I found a Sky Jump Trampoline for the kids.

More than a ski resort, Squaw Valley Village offers family fun off the slopes with outdoor sports along with indoor activities as well. See a full list to plan your winter getaway.

For the winter athlete, the Nordic Center at the Resort of Squaw Creek at Squaw Valley offers 18km of groomed trails, located close by. Winding through the meadows in Squaw Valley offers postcard-perfect scenery.

Too much of a workout for a vacation? Try snow shoeing and pull the kids in a toboggan for fun with the littles.

Families looking for an Arctic-inspired adventure can find it at Squaw Valley. Imagine a team of Alaskan Huskies pulling the family through the snow-covered meadow on a dog sled.

Don’t forget that Squaw Valley offers horse-drawn sleigh rides and live entertainment during December. Santa skies into Squaw too. And remember to try one fo the festive meals for the holiday season.

Squaw Valley’s Aerial Tram

The aerial tram offers spectacular views of Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe beyond. A scenic ride aboard a large tram car offers a fun outing to High Camp, the terminus for the tram.

With a couple of restaurants at High Camp, take the family on a ride for lunch or dinner. Don’t forget to tour the Olympic Museum. Tickets are required.

Olympic Museum where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Learn a little ski history at the Olympic Museum at Squaw Valley’s High Camp and remember to grab a gold win selfie. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Squaw Valley’s Olympic History

Squaw Valley’s skiing is not the only thing that’s legendary. Their successful 1960 Olympic bid is as legendary as the games themselves.

In 1955 Alex Cushing, the chairman of Squaw Valley, saw a newspaper article announcing Reno as the possible site for the 1960 Olympic Games. He threw his resort in the mix, boasting only a single chairlift and a couple of rope tows at the time.

The place to beat—Innsbruck, Austria, an international favorite.

Against all odds, Cushing secured the vote in France. With the help of the State of California and Walt Disney, the infrastructure grew out of the valley virtually overnight.

Days before the opening, Squaw Valley lacked the snow it needed. Then a fierce snowstorm blew in from the West and dumped the much needed snow.

As if orchestrated by Walt Disney himself, the head of pageantry, the clouds cleared moments before the official the start of the Olympic Games. Moments later Walt Disney released 2,000 doves into the air signaling the start of the 10-day long games.

Be sure to walk through the Olympic Museum at High Camp. My kids loved standing on the Olympic podium.

Indoor Winter Escapes

Need an escape? Sneak out to the Trilogy Spa located in The Village at Squaw Valley. Don’t forget that massages can work out the mountain kinks.

The Wanderlust Yoga Studio, located in The Village, offers drop-in classes.

The Village is packed with shopping and offers more than winter gear. Shop at the Squaw Valley Logo Company or any of the shops featuring home, kids or toy shopping.

The kids can even craft on their winter getaway.

Après-Ski Fun

Every Saturday evening, the Village at Squaw Valley offers live music. Then at 6 p.m., the night sky lights up with fireworks.

Squaw Valley also features a film series selected nights throughout the winter season for free movies at the Olympic Village Lodge.

For adults looking to unwind, the Auld Dubliner Irish Pub draws a crowd along with several other bars in the Village area. 

Rocker Where to take kids Skiing in Lake Tahoe
My kids ate big after a day on the slopes at Rocker in the Squaw Valley Village. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Where to Eat in The Village

The Village at Squaw Valley offers lots of options for families.

During my visit, we ate at Rocker, steps from the lifts. It features a patio to watch the fireworks and a casual environment for families.

My kids dominated a plate of nachos as big as the state of California. With a little kids’ menu, big kid pleasing hamburgers, a choice of farm fresh salads, the whole table left full and happy.

Snacks for kids where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
We love crepes and I found lots of tasty treats across Squaw Valley Ski Resort for families. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

For snacking during the day, I stopped by the Euro Snack trailer for savory and sweet crepes. Of course, I ran into Starbucks for coffee and hot chocolate. I also found pizza, sushi and grill options.

For the Skiers and Snowboarders

Squaw Valley Ski Resort is more than a ski resort, it’s a bucket list destination and an international favorite for over 50 years. And it was recently voted Best Ski Resort in North America by the readers of USA Today.

Any day on the mountain can’t be beat, and a day at Squaw is epic. It’s more than the world-class runs, it’s a the feeling seeps in and takes hold. It’s the kind a day that you remember for decades.

Family Skiing at Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Heading up the First Venture lift right after we get to the SnoVentures area. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Squaw Valley by-the-Numbers

Base Elevation: 6,200 ft. Summit Elevation: 9,050 ft.
Vertical Drop: 2,850 ft. Skiable Acres: 3,600
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 25%
Blue 45%
Black 30%
Total Named Runs: 170
Lifts: 29 total:

1 aerial tram, 1 funitel, 1 high speed 6-pack, 3 high-speed quads, 1 quad, 9 triples, 3 doubles and 5 surface lifts

Squaw Valley Ski School

Squaw Valley offers programs divided by age. For the youngest skiers, ages 3 to 4 (potty-trained kids only), the Pioneers program focuses on fun with first time, full-day and half-day programs available.

For the 5 to 7-year-olds, kids can choose from skiing or snowboarding. The Explorers Ski and Grommets Snowboard Program is for more active kids and broken down by ability–green, blue or black-level runs.

Kids 8 to 13-years-old explore the mountain trying lots of runs along side similarly-skilled kids. The Mountaineers Ski and Jibbers Snowboard program will be on the snow the majority of the day.

All kids’ programs (ages 3 to 13) feature an afternoon first time package. Teen group lessons are available though they meet in the adult lesson area.

Is it Your First Family Ski Trip?

What do you need to pack for family ski trip? I’ve been there and pulled together a list to help you out.

Need some advice on picking a ski school for your kids? I’ve got some tips for families to find the best program. 

More Lake Tahoe Fun for Families

Looking for more places to discover in Lake Tahoe? Got a couple of my favorite spots to share.

Mt Rose Meadows for sledding 

Spooner Lake for sledding 

Granlibakken Tahoe  

Northstar Ski

Mt Rose Ski Tahoe 

Then discover a quaint town to spend an afternoon, like Tahoe City.

Where’s Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Squaw Valley Ski Resort is located at 1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, California. Squaw Valley is 12 miles south of Truckee, California, along California Highway 89. Tahoe City, California, a quaint mountain town on the western shores of Lake Tahoe is 10 miles away.

If flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to visit Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley is 48 miles from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) via Interstate 80.

Parking Available

General Parking Free
Premier Parking $20
Valet Garage Parking $30 or $40 holiday

Disclosure: 

My family was hosted by Squaw Valley Ski Resort though I have skied at Squaw Valley for years.

Know Before You Go

  • Pack a bag of marshmallows and a couple of roasting sticks, I found several fire pits, perfect for an après-ski
  • Squaw Valley Ski Resort’s partner resort, Alpine Meadows is a short complimentary shuttle ride away.
  • Before heading out check out road conditions at NVroads.com for tire chain requirements. I use Nevada’s website for the Lake Tahoe region since it’s easier to use on a mobile device than California’s website.

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Crush it Local Style at Lake Tahoe’s Diamond Peak

Diamond Peak Resort for Kids
With peeks of Lake Tahoe below the skiing and boarding at Incline Village’s Diamond Peak is some of the most scenic. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Diamond Peak, the Locals Ski Resort at Lake Tahoe

On my first trip to Tahoe, I pulled on a pair of ski boots for the first time at Diamond Peak Ski Resort. After a couple of days on the snow, I was hooked for life. Flash forward 20 years and now I want to know how’s Diamond Peak Resort for kids.

A lot has changed in my life since my first Tahoe weekend. I’m toting a carful of kids in ski and snowboard boots now. What impressed me the most was all the perks and deals for families at Diamond Peak Ski Resort.

2017 Diamond Peak Lift Tickets

Ages Regular Holiday
24 to 64, Interchangeable Parent’s Pass $79 1/2 Day $74 $89 1/2 Day $84
13 to 23, 65 to 79 $59 1/2 Day $54 $60 1/2 Day $64
7 to 12 $34 1/2 Day $29 $44 1/2 Day $39
Child under 6, 80+ FREE FREE

Online discounts available though must be purchase in advance. Family packages are available. Diamond Peak offers discounts for the active military, first responders and adaptive skiers.

What I loved about Diamond Peak Ski Resort

  • Convenience for families staying in Incline Village. No traffic.
  • Manageable size of Diamond Peak and all runs end at the Base Lodge.
  • The sense of community at Diamond Peak can’t be beat. It’s a locals’ hangout.

What I wanted at Diamond Ski Resort: 

  • More green runs. It has 3 runs for kids just starting out.
  • More close-in parking. I had to take an open air shuttle down the mountain.

Diamond Peak By-the-Numbers

Base Elevation: 6,700 ft. Summit Elevation: 8,540 ft.
Vertical Drop: 1,840 ft. Skiable Acres: 655
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 18%
Blue 46%
Black 36%
Total Named Runs: 30
Lifts: 1 high-speed quad, 2 quads. 3 doubles and 1 surface lift for ski school.
Diamond Peak Resort for Kids
My 10-year-old moves up to the easiest blue trail at Diamond Peak. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Diamond Peak Resort for Kids

Learn to ski with the local kids. Diamond Peak Ski Resort is the go-to program for Lake Tahoe kids. Since it offers half-day and full-day programs along with six-week programs over the entire season.

Diamond Peak Ski School has an efficient drop-off procedure and after checking in at their desk, the staff handles the rest. It’s a relief to have someone else fit the kiddos with their equipment, especially ski boots.

After outfitting the kids with their equipment, the ski instructors pull all the skis in a toboggan. Then the kids walk to practice area, centrally located next to the ski services building or the school yard green run.

Diamond Peak Resort for Kids
Diamond Peak’s Ski School features a surface lift along with the Schoolyard chair lift. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The ski school has a surface lift and the School House lift is very close to the ground, about 10 to 15 feet off the ground depending on the snow base. The ideal situation for little kids advancing to ski lifts.

For all day ski programs, Diamond Peak offers kids favorites like, mac-and-cheese and pizza, for lunch.

Terrain Parks at Diamond Peak

I’ve got two boys, 10 and 13-years-old, so I’ve learned about terrain parks over the last few seasons. It’s not as crazy as I originally thought.

I will admit, when my daredevil son told me he wanted to check out a terrain park a couple of years ago, I envisioned something I’d seen on the Olympics. Don’t worry, think of terrain parks as snow playgrounds.

During my visit, my kids started with the terrain features at the bottom of the Logdepole run. Then moved up to the Popular Progression Park. Even my 15-year-old daughter started to ski over the small jumps.

Be sure and check out the terrain park signs to see if your kids are in the right playground. Most resorts install several terrain parks with differing levels of difficulty. Take it easy and start small.

Ski like a local at Diamond Peak in Incline Village on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. With kids lessons along with some of the best views, Diamond Peak offers family skiers some serious perks, like FREE skiing for some kids.

Parent Perks at Diamond Peak Ski Resort

I’ll take any perk. Diamond Peak offers an interchangeable parents pass so parents can share a single lift ticket. Allowing one parent to watch the baby while the other shreds the mountain.

Diamond Peak features family packages for two adults and two kids. And don’t forget kids under 6 ski FREE.

A shout out to Grandma and Grandpa, take the kids skiing for FREE. Those over 80 get free lift passes too.

Where to Eat at Diamond Peak

Diamond Peak Resort for Kids
Grab a table on Diamond Peak’s sun deck to enjoy the view of Lake Tahoe. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Diamond Peak offers a couple of lodges, their Base Lodge and Snowflake Lodge at top of the Lakeview Quad lift. The Base Lodge features a food court where I got my kids a couple of hotdogs, though vegetarian options are available.

Wild Bill’s BBQ hits the spot for the older crowd with two locations. During busy days, grab some Wild Bill’s on the Base Lodge Deck, the place to relax under a blue bird sky. Venture up to the Snowflake Lodge for more BBQ.

The Loft Bar serves up the classics for après ski unwinding. Staying open a couple hours after the lifts close, it’s the place to toast a perfect run. 

Is it Your First Family Ski Trip?

What do you need to pack for family ski trip? I’ve been there and pulled together a list to help you out.

Need some advice on picking a ski school for your kids? I’ve got some tips for families to find the best program. 

More Lake Tahoe Fun for Families

Looking for more places to discover in Lake Tahoe? Got a couple of my favorite spots to share.

Mt Rose

Spooner Lake

Granlibakken 

Northstar

Squaw Valley

Then discover a quaint town to spend an afternoon, like Tahoe City.

Where’s Diamond Peak Ski Resort

Diamond Peak Ski Resort is located in Incline Village at 1210 Ski Way, on the northern shore of Lake Tahoe. Just 35 miles south of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport when driving  Mt. Rose Highway (NV Hwy 431).

If flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to visit Lake Tahoe, several airport shuttles drop off in Incline Village at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, located at 111 Country Club Dr. Diamond Peak Ski Resort runs a Free ski shuttle bus from the Hyatt as well as several other locations throughout Incline Village.

Disclosure:

My family was hosted at Diamond Peak Ski Resort though I have skied this resort through the years.

Know Before You Go: 

  • Reservations are recommended during holiday breaks and long weekends. Ski School sells out.
  • Helmets are recommended but not required at Diamond Peak and not included in the ski lesson package. Helmets are $10 additional.
  • Arrive early to ski school to allow for smooth transition.
  • Group snowboarding lessons begin at 7-years-old or at 3 with a private instructor.
  • Before heading out check out road conditions at NVroads.com for tire chain requirements, especially Mt. Rose Highway (NV Hwy 431). I use Nevada’s website for the Lake Tahoe region since it’s easier to use on a mobile device than California’s website.

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9 Things To Do in Tahoe City with Kids this Winter

Watson Cabin, Where to go in Tahoe City with Kids.
Walk by the Watson Cabin along the shores of Lake Tahoe. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

What to do in Tahoe City with Kids

A day on the mountain can’t be beat, but Mom needs a break after a couple of days. That’s why I plan a day to sled and ice skate with the kids. Tahoe City offers 9 activities perfect for families that scream fun like sledding, ice skating and snowshoeing, all within walking distance. Then answer the question, what to do in Tahoe City with kids.

Tops for Sledding Granlibakken Tahoe

Granlibakken features the fastest sled hill in Lake Tahoe
My 12-year-old needs a sturdy ride and Granlibakken features MH sleds.

Nestled in the evergreens, Granlibakken Tahoe offers lodging and a small ski operation, although my kids love their crazy fast sledding hill. For nearly half what other ski resorts charge for an hour of snow tubing, Granlibakken offers a full day of sledding fun.

For $16 per person ($17 during holidays), kids get unlimited rides down their monitored hill and a saucer sled for the day. Kids can climb Granlibakken’s hill over and over, racing each other and even Mom.

Tahoe City where to sled at Lake Tahoe
My kids discuss strategy as they figure out how to beat Mom down the hill. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

After a few sledding runs, time for s’mores! The ski hut at Granlibakken sells s’mores packages with enough chocolate, grahams, and marshmallows for a family of four to toast at the fire pit. Or bring your own in your snack bag. The ski hut also features hot drinks, soups and Mexican favorites in an authentic log cabin with a pot belly stove.

Find Granlibakken Tahoe at 725 Granlibakken Road. It features a small ski hill with a rope tow and inexpensive lift tickets ($30 – $35 per person for a full day).

Tahoe City Winter Sports Park

First on my kids list, the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park, to ice skate. All the winter sports activities are conveniently located next to each other and rental equipment is available.

Go ice skating in Tahoe City
Take the kids ice skating in Tahoe City. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

TAHOE CITY ICE RINK

Tahoe City features an ice rink with jamming tunes and festive lights, perfect for kids of all ages. Located in the center of town (251 North Lake Blvd), this rink offers families a place to strap on their skates for some outdoor fun.

We laced up our skates and hit the ice under a canopy of twinkling lights. My kids grabbed the seals that beginners use to push around the ice for confidence and stability.

Rental skates are available or bring your own. Admission for skaters and tables for non-skaters.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKI TRAILS IN TAHOE CITY

For outdoor enthusiasts, Tahoe City Winter Sports Park offers 4 km of groomed trails. Meander through a meadow in the center of Tahoe City enjoying the sights and scents of the season.

The Tahoe City Winter Sports Park offers ski rental. And trail passes required.

Tip: Teens enjoy cross-country skiing though not suited for the youngest kids.

TAHOE CITY SLEDDING HILL

Looking for more outdoor kid fun? Tahoe City Winter Sports Park offers a small sledding hill steps away from the ice skating rink. Admission based on age.

SNOWSHOE TRAIL IN TAHOE CITY

Snowshoeing requires no new skills, just strap on snowshoes and walk with a couple of poles. I found a snowshoe loop that’s dog-friendly at the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park. Grab a toboggan and pull the littles for family fun.

Special shoes aren’t required and the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park offers snowshoe rental.  I just strap them to my snow boots. Admission for the snowshoe loop pass.

 

Tip: Want to do it all? Buy a Sports Park All Day Fun Pass.

CAFÉ ZENON

Tahoe City where to sled at Lake Tahoe
I sampled the mac-and-cheese along with the fries at Cafe Zenon after skating for a while in Tahoe City. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

After a couple of hours on the ice, we needed to eat. Steps away from the ice rink at Tahoe City Winter Sport Park I found Café Zenon. With a large menu of upscale comfort food offerings, I found entrees that satisfied my palate and the kids.

The mac-and-cheese is not just for the kids. Adults can order it with pride. The chicken tenders with fries are cheat-worthy. Don’t tell the kids! But the fries are really frites–yummy.

Café Zenon offers a full bar with inventive and signature cocktails. For the kids, order a hot chocolate.

THE TAHOE ART HAUS AND CINEMA

See a Movie, what to do in Tahoe City with Kids
Baby it’s cold outside so grab a seat and see a movie. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Evening comes early in the winter so escape to the movies. Sit in the cozy couch seating or rock away in a leather seat, the Tahoe Art Haus Cinema shows latest blockbusters.

As Lake Tahoe’s only cinema draft house, order a local draft beer or coffee drink. Don’t miss the popcorn spice bar and I found hotdogs and cheese pizza too.

COMMONS BEACH PARK AND PLAYGROUND 

Visit the Playground, What to do in Tahoe City with Kids.
Kids have lots of choices at the Commons Beach playground. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

If the snow isn’t too deep then let the kids play along one of most picturesque walking paths at Lake Tahoe. The Common Beach Park features open spaces for running, a walking path and a playground.

The divided path offers a lane for cyclists and walkers along with interpretive signs. My kids found playground gold at Commons Beach Park. Even my 14-year-old scrambled over the climbing wall.

Since I found plenty of seating, a few picnic tables and a restroom located next to the playground, families congregate here year-round. Even the little kids have a separate play structure. Free

Along the shore of Lake Tahoe, the quaint hamlet of Tahoe City offers families winter fun, minutes from the area's best ski resorts.

Where to Shop in Tahoe City 

Quaint, locally owned shops line the streets of Tahoe City. As a bonus, you can walk between all the shopping in Tahoe City.

Skiing and Sledding Near Tahoe City

Enjoy Squaw Valley with kids where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe offers families the place to ski big with lots of family friendly runs and terrain parks. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Lake Tahoe offers world-class skiing for families, including some of the best ski schools around. And Tahoe City is minutes from several top resorts.

Squaw Valley Ski Resort offers families Olympic skiing and history with lots of mountaintop green runs served by a large gondola.

Northstar Ski Resort offers families a luxury ski getaway with a premier kids learning center.

Diamond Peak Ski Resort has been a locals favorite for years.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe boasts lots of green runs just for kids along in the Enchanted Forest.

Then I’ve got a couple of FREE sledding hills nearby too.

Tahoe Meadows

Spooner Summit

First Time Skiing? 

Need help packing for a family ski getaway. I’ve pulled together a list of must haves for the whole family. 

Finding the perfect resort for your family requires research. I’ve got a list of the features I look for in a family friendly ski resort.

Disclosure:

My family was hosted for part of our visit to Tahoe City. Consideration for locations listed.

Know Before You Go:

  • The ice rink is open everyday throughout the winter season though check after a heavy snowfall when snow removal temporarily closes the rink.
  • Outdoor ice skating rinks have faster ice than indoor rinks. Bring a helmet for kids learning since falls are common.
  • Park at the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park and walk to the park, movie theatre and shopping.
  • Before heading out check out road conditions at NVroads.com for tire chain requirements. I use Nevada’s website for the Lake Tahoe region since it’s easier to use on a mobile device than California’s website.

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Your Guide to Skiing at Northstar in Lake Tahoe with Kids

Enjoy Northstar Ski Resort best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe
A day enjoying the blue bird sky while skiing down a perfectly groomed run is divine. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Carving my way through a treed glade as the diamond-dusted mountains sparkle soothes my soul. For my kids, catching a bit of air in the terrain park makes them forget about homework. My husband just wants to be away from his office and work obligations. A family ski getaway should be filled with moments of wonder and excitement, not frustration and tantrums. To do that, a family needs a ski resort that caters to the needs of families. By providing kids a superior learning environment, Northstar Ski Resort offers the best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe. With a village full of après fun, families create memories instead of meltdowns.

Northstar Ski Resort at Lake Tahoe

Located near California’s Lake Tahoe, Northstar Ski Resort boasts a secluded ski resort that caters to families.

What I loved about Northstar Ski Resort

  • The sheltered location reduces wind issues.
  • They love families, kids are everywhere.

What I wanted from Northstar Ski Resort

  • Better labeling in the Village.
  • Less traffic.

Northstar By the Numbers

The Mountain Statistics

Base Elevation: 6,330ft. Summit Elevation: 8,610ft.
Vertical Drop: 2,280 ft. Skiable Acres: 3,170
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 11%
Blue 56%
Black 33%
Total Named Runs: 100
Lifts: 20 total:

2 gondolas,1 high speed 6-pack, 7 high-speed quads, 1 fixed-grip quad, 2 triples, 2 surface lifts and 5 Magic Carpet lifts

 

Our Day Skiing and Riding at Northstar

Enjoy Northstar Ski Resort best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe
Skiing with kids down Northstar’s engineered runs make this Mom a better skier. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

My kids, 9, 12 and 14-years-old, have skied and snowboarders for several years, each year taking lessons and starting on the green runs. Though we’re making progress and moving up to the easiest blue trails.

My youngest and I rode the Big Easy lift, the easiest lift for younger kids. This area offered banked turns and a spine that my 9-year-old son loved. This is the place to start your first day on the snow.

My kids moved up from the Big Easy lift to the Arrow Express lift. This lift offers a longer green run for kids and families. It’s also a designated slow zone and Northstar positions ski patrol along this route to control speed during peak periods, like holidays.

After a few runs down the Lumberjack trail and the Lower Main Street, my kids tried the Vista Express Lift to tackle Skid Trail. Another green run that connects with Lumberjack and Lower Main Street for an even longer green run.

At the end of the day, my kids took the Village Run back to Northstar’s Village. Since everyone makes their way back down the mountain this way, I don’t suggested this for beginners due to congestion.

Northstar Terrain Parks

Enjoy Northstar Ski Resort best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe
Spend time in Northstar’s terrain park, let the kids show you some new tricks. Even better, shoot a video. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

I’ve got two boys, 9 and 12-years-old, so I’ve learned about terrain parks over the last few years. They’re not as crazy as I originally thought.

When my daredevil son told me he wanted to check out a terrain park, I envisioned something I’d seen on the Olympics. Don’t worry, think of terrain parks like snow playgrounds. Most resorts offer several parks with different terrain features.

At Northstar, my boys stayed on the Warren Miller’s Playground, off Skid Trail after riding the Vista Express Lift. This terrain area boasts features made of snow, like small jumps.

As a mom, be sure and check out the terrain park signs to see if your kids are in the right playground. Most resorts install several terrain parks with differing levels of difficulty. Take it easy, start small and keep an eye out for the more advanced teens.

Northstar Ski School

Enjoy Northstar Ski Resort best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe
Ski School is the only way to get the kids on the snow and loving it. Let the professionals handle it. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

After seven years of kids in ski school, I can spot an excellent program.

My Must Haves for Ski School

  • Trained staff that actually like kids and know how to talk and play with kids. Corny jokes and riddles a plus.
  • A separate facility with an indoor transition area that allows for kids to rest or warm up.
  • A separate outdoor area that’s fenced off from the rest of the resort yet visible for parents wanting to check-in.
  • Separate magic carpet lifts or surface lifts for ski school only.
  • Staff that fits kids with skis.
  • Helmets for kids regardless of local laws.

An Outstanding Program will have

  • A program that keeps the littlest kids off the elevated lifts before 6-years-old.
  • A chef-inspired lunched that’s accommodates kids’ special diets, like gluten-free or vegan.
  • Engineered runs that makes turning easier.
  • Covered lifts

As a Mom, I notice the details. I want the best possible program with the best possible instructors.

Though the kids just want to have fun.

That’s what it’s all about. Getting kids on the snow and loving it. Northstar gets that. They aim to groom lifelong skiers and riders with a super fun day on the slopes. S’mores included.

Enjoy Northstar Ski Resort best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe
The engineered trails at Northstar help kids and adults master turns. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Northstar makes it look easy but it takes skill and talent behind the scenes. From the instructors to the groomers and even the chefs that prepare lunch, the ski school team works together for the best possible experience for your kids.

The instructors connect with kids of a certain age naturally. Northstar pairs instructors with kids that age, making the instructor-student relationship stronger. I remember that feeling when I was a preschool teacher.

The groomers work overnight to create an environment that helps kids learn faster. By banking the turns and adding fun features like rollers, Northstar’s beginner runs give kids confidence and a high-five moment of fun.

Even the chefs at Northstar elevate lunch for the kids with freshly cooked options like chicken or fish. Along with healthier lunches, Northstar also serves a daily soup, vegetarian and gluten-free items.

At the end of the day, I want to see kids beaming with a smile and announce, I love skiing.

Snowboarding for Preschoolers

Grandlibakken-Tahoe: an intimate ski hill that's easy for Mom and her wallet. Lake Tahoe, Family Ski Destinations,
Northstar offers snow boarding lessons for kids as young as 3. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Northstar offers one of the few programs in the U.S. with snowboarding as an option for potty-trained 3-year olds. The Burton Academy gets the littlest kids on a board and loving it in a riglet park.

In the Ripperoo’s Riglet Park, named after the riglet reel that attaches to the front of the snowboard, instructors pull kids through tiny terrain features. Kids get the feeling of snowboarding sooner and progress faster.

Back when my 12-year-old son started on the snowboard, he had to wait until he was 7 to take a group lesson. A lot has changed for the youngest kids in the last few years, with Northstar and Burton leading the pack with the littlest riders.

Northstar’s Signature Programs

The Ultimate 4 Program at Northstar offers small group instruction for four people ages 4 and up. Grouped with similarly skilled skiers and riders, students get individualized instruction in a fun, more social environment.

Get all the details for skiing with kids at Northstar Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe. Take a look at where to learn, where to ski and where to play. Even tips on what to do after the lifts close.

Moms looking to move up the mountain, Northstar offers Womens Ultimate Four, an afternoon lesson offering quality instruction from a female coach. It’s a casual environment for moms that missed a few seasons and want to improve their skiing.

Platinum Access offers guests a one-day pass for a no-wait lift line access. Seasonal options available for season pass holders.

Private family lessons are available and accommodate up to six people for the same price.

For families with special needs children, Achieve Tahoe offers private lessons for kids with physical, sensory or intellectual challenges with adaptive ski and snowboard equipment and trained instructors.

Where to Eat at Northstar Ski Resort

During my visit to Northstar, we ate at The Lodge at Big Springs located at mid-mountain, right off the Big Springs Express Gondola. With a pizza station, burgers, soups, salads and baked potatoes, I found something for everyone in my family. Kids meals are available.

For skiers farther up the mountain, The Zephyr Lodge is located close to the Tahoe Zephyr Express lift. At Northstar’s summit, The Summit Smokehouse offers views of Lake Tahoe.

The Village at Northstar offers families lots of options, like pizza, sushi, tacos and food trailers. Paired with activities for the family, après-ski continues after sunset. 

Family Fun at The Village at Northstar

The Village at Northstar offers iceskating, movies, crafts, shopping, s’mores and the list goes on. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The family fun starts at Northstar’s ice skating rink that features a stage with live music. When the Zamboni takes a spin, kids gather around the fire pits for s’mores while adults enjoy a Starbuck’s coffee or a cocktail from the Cabana Bar.

For the active kids, I found a bungee trampoline. Not all kids want to play outdoors, so the The Village Candle Shop offers arts and crafts, like candle making, pottery painting and mosaics. Build a souvenir at The Bear Village.

I found a spa offering massages and spa services along with yoga in The Village. And don’t forget the movie theater with two screens.

For families with little kids (ages 2 to 6) that don’t ski, Minor’s Camp Child Care offers licensed daycare services at Northstar. Kids will enjoy arts and crafts and outdoor play in the snow while mom and dad enjoy a day on the slopes.

Winter Fun off the Slopes

Northstar Ski Resort hosts star gazing with a star guide that takes guests through a tour of the night sky. Several different tours offered from family tours to snowshoeing night star tours.

At the Cross-Country, Telemark and Snowshoe Center, I found fat tire bike rentals and rental equipment for cross-country skiing, Telemark skiing and snowshoeing.

Kids love tubing and Northstar offers tubing just off the Big Springs Express Gondola. First-come, first-serve for one-hour of tubing fun and a separate lift ticket is not required. Kids have to use their own tube and be 42” tall. 

Where to stay at Northstar Ski Resort

Enjoy Northstar Ski Resort best ski lessons for kids in Lake Tahoe
Enjoy the house-made s’mores on the patio after a day of skiing at the Ritz-Carlton – Lake Tahoe. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Located mid-mountain I found the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offering an AAA five-diamond resort that caters to families. During my visit, I toured the property and found a contemporary mountain retreat that reminded me of national park lodge.

The central fireplace anchors the gathering space, outfitted with small groupings of sofas that allow for intimate conversations. Families enjoy live music and sip on cider while playing board games with the kids.

The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe offers a mountain concierge that stores ski equipment slopeside. A luxury feature for families skiing with several kids. Hauling gear is never fun, especially with small kids.

My kids love to stay active, even on a getaway. The Ritz-Carlton offers seasonal activities geared towards families. The complimentary s’mores are a winter must-do. Every afternoon, a marshmologist passes out house-made marshmallows to toast at the firepit.

During my visit, this mom had to sample a couple of marshmallows and it was so worth it. Next to the firepit, I found Ritz-Carlton’s Après-Ski Champagne Experience for an afternoon treat. Champagne makes everything better, even a near perfect ski day.

More Lake Tahoe Fun for Families

Looking for more places to discover in Lake Tahoe. Got a couple of my favorite spots to share.

Mt Rose Meadows for sledding 

Spooner Lake for sledding 

Granlibakken Tahoe

Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Mt Rose Ski Tahoe

Diamond Peak Ski Resort 

Then discover a quaint town to spend an afternoon, like Tahoe City.

Prep and Pack for Lake Tahoe

Need help packing for a family ski getaway. I’ve pulled together a list of must haves for the whole family. 

Finding the perfect resort for your family requires research. I’ve got a list of the features I look for in a family friendly ski resort.

How to get to Northstar Ski Resort

Northstar Ski Resort is located at 5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee, California. It’s 7 miles south of Truckee, along California Highway 267. Tahoe City, California, a quaint mountain town on the western shores of Lake Tahoe is 17 miles away.

If flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to visit Lake Tahoe, Northstar is 41 miles from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport via Interstate 80.

Disclosure:

NorthstarCalifornia Ski Resort hosted my family for one day. Though I have enjoyed Northstar on several occasions before that visit.

Know Before You Go: 

  • Reservations are required during holiday breaks and long weekends. Ski School sells out.
  • Kids under 12 are required to wear a helmet during ski school.
  • Arrive early to ski school to allow for a smooth transition.
  • Pack lip balm, googles, and an extra set of gloves for kids in ski school.
  • Pack a bag of marshmallows and a couple of roasting sticks, I found several fire pits, perfect for an après-ski treat.
  • Before heading out check out road conditions at NVroads.com for tire chain requirements. I use Nevada’s website for the Lake Tahoe region since it’s easier to use on a mobile device than California’s website.

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A Family Guide to Skiing Squaw Valley

Enjoy Squaw Valley with kids where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe.
Squaw Valley offers families the place to ski big with lots of family friendly runs and terrain parks. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Where to Take Kids Skiing in Lake Tahoe

Squaw Valley is a legendary Olympic resort in Lake Tahoe that boasts 6,500 acres to explore. Their runs top lists across the world, like the KT-22. It’s a bucket list destination for skiers from around the world.

Squaw is the resort where locals take their friends when they want to ski big. A day at Squaw is a day kissing the clouds while the snow and the lake try to out sparkle each other.

Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Been working with my kids for years to reach the point when we could ski Squaw Valley as a family. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

But what about the kids? My family loves this resort, part of it is the allure of Old Tahoe, the make-you-smile vibe that resonates with today’s kids as much as it did 50 years ago. The other is telling the kids back home you got to ski Squaw.

What I love about Squaw Valley Ski Resort

  • The skiing can’t be beat. Known as one of the top North American Ski Resorts.
  • It’s Olympic history as the host of the 1960 Winter Games.
  • The Village at Squaw Valley offers lots family fun with restaurants, shopping and activities.

What I wanted from Squaw Valley Ski Resort

  • More green skiing in the SnoVentures area, near the Ski School
  • Ice skating in The Village.
  • More discounts for families.

Squaw Valley by the Numbers

2017 Lift Tickets at Squaw Valley Ski Resort
Ages Online Advance Tickets
18 to 64 $129
13 to 17 $112
5 to 12 $78
65+ $112
The Mountain Statistics
Base Elevation: 6,200 ft. Summit Elevation: 9,050 ft.
Vertical Drop: 2,850 ft. Skiable Acres: 3,600
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 25%
Blue 45%
Black 30%
Total Named Runs: 170
Lifts: 29 total:

1 aerial tram, 1 funitel, 1 high speed 6-pack, 3 high-speed quads, 1 quad, 9 triples, 3 doubles and 5 surface lifts

My Visit to Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
With views of Lake Tahoe and the Squaw Valley area, I take a moment to savor the view. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Skiing with three kids can be a challenge at a large resort. Keeping the kids corralled requires a Mom with wings, not skis. And I will admit I shied away from the larger ski resorts when my kids were younger.

I can report that my kids, 9 12 and 14, had the best day on the snow at Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe. During our two-day visit, we spent our first day on the snow getting our ski legs underneath us again at the SnoVentures area its beginner lifts and green runs.

Enjoy Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Skiing with these two requires a Mom with some stamina and a little bit of skill. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The SnoVentures area is perfect for families since it’s next to the parking lot. Making trips to the car for forgotten items is no big deal.

The SnoVentures area features a separate lodge with some indoor seating along with a microwave and a hot water spigot. I found outdoor picnic tables and a couple of food vendors so I didn’t have to hike back to the Village.

Most of the skiing at Squaw Valley is mountaintop skiing that requires a ride up an aerial tram. I checked out my kids and reassured myself that they knew how to stop and turn before we headed up the mountain.

This area also offers mini snowmobiles, snow tubing, and cross-country ski trails as well.

High Camp with Kids

Ski Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
The High Camp area offers wide open skiing with lots of green runs just right for families. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

On our second day, we wanted to head up the mountain so we boarded the aerial tram for High Camp. I double-checked I had everything I needed to keep my three kids happy for the day. It’s a hike back down to the car.

For this ride, skiers and boarders carry their equipment and don’t wear it since High Camp features a lodge where the tram loads and unloads. The tram ride up the mountain includes a sway that might frighten some younger kids though my 9-year-old was fine. And remember to hold on.

Enjoy Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Even during busy holiday weeks, I found lift lines easy to manage, especially early and late in the day. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The High Camp offers sweeping views of Squaw Valley along with peeks of Lake Tahoe beyond. It features the Olympic Museum, an ice-skating rink, a seasonal pool and hot tub (spring through summer) and several options for lunch or dinner.

The High Camp area offers lots of green runs, beginner terrain parks and several different lifts. My kids loved the mountaintop skiing and snow boarding including my 9-year-old.

Ski Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Be prepared to ski at a higher elevation at High Camp with googles, a neck gaiter or scarf and thicker gloves. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

At 8,200 feet, the winds can be an issue at High Camp, especially on the lifts. I suggest goggles for all, even on sunny days. I could see smaller kids having possible issues with the wind.

For our trip, my kids covered lots of the green runs using the Bailey’s Beach, Mountain Meadow and the Belmont lifts. I found the skiing open and uncrowded on the busiest week of the year.

During our visit, we used the Squaw Valley app that features real-time information. I could find my teen skiing even with spotty data coverage.

Squaw Valley Terrain Parks

Enjoy Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Catching air is tops for my kids when skiing and boarding in the terrain parks. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

I’m a boy mom. So I’ve learned about terrain parks over the last few seasons. They’re not as crazy as I originally thought.

I will admit, when my daredevil son told me he wanted to check out a terrain park a couple of years ago, I envisioned something I’d seen on the Olympics. Don’t worry, think of terrain parks like snow playgrounds.

At Squaw Valley, my kids, 9, 12 and 13, started on the terrain features at the High Camp Start Park. Then they moved on to the Belmont Park near the Belmont Lift. And stayed there the majority of the day.

Sure the kids want to SKI Big but what's it really like to ski with kids at Lake Tahoe's Squaw Valley? Got all the details from lessons to terrain parks along with places to eat.

As a Mom, be sure and check out the terrain park signs to see if your kids are in the right playground. Most resorts install several terrain parks with differing levels of difficulty. Take it easy, start small and keep an eye out for the more advanced teens.

Squaw Valley’s Terrain Parks
  • SnoVentures Start Park
  • High Camp Start Park
  • Belmont Park
  • Gold Coast Park
  • Mainline Park

Night Skiing at Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Try night skiing at Squaw Valley, where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Squaw Valley offers night skiing and boarding on a 3.2-mile blue trail. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

My 12-year-old begged for hours to snowboard down the Mountain Run, a blue run that’s a whopping 3.2-miles long. After talking with several ski instructors, I said yes and made his day.

Dad accompanied him down the mountain. My son had no problems but Dad felt his age (40+).

Night Skiing lift tickets can be purchased for an additional fee and are valid from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The aerial tram transports skiers and snowboarders. Night Skiing is usually available the week after Christmas and Saturdays through March.

Squaw Valley Ski School

Learn to ski at Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Squaw Valley’s covered surface lifts top my list for premium features of the best ski schools. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Squaw Kids, the Squaw Valley Ski and Snowboard School, offers programs divided by age. All lessons begin at their separate facility, located between SnoVentures and the Village.

For the youngest skiers, ages 3 to 4 (potty-trained kids only), the Pioneers program focuses on fun with first-timers, full-day and half-day programs available. The littlest skiers will be on the snow and in lessons for several hours and nap time is not included.

Family Skiing at Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Heading up the First Venture lift right after we get to the SnoVentures area. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

For the 5 to 7-year-olds, kids can choose from skiing or snowboarding. The Explorers Ski Program and Grommets Snowboard Program is for more active kids and broken down by ability–green, blue or black-level runs. A lunch break is included for all-day students.

Kids 8 to 13-years-old explore the mountain trying lots of runs alongside similarly-skilled kids. The Mountaineers Ski Program and Jibbers Snowboard Program will be on the snow the majority of the day and includes a lunch break for all-day students.

All kids’ programs (ages 3 to 13) feature an afternoon first-time package. Teen group lessons are available though they meet in the adult lesson area.

Squaw Valley Programs and Clinics

Squaw Valley features a couple of programs geared towards Moms looking to move up the mountain. For blue or black-level skiers, check out the 3-day Women of Winter Camp in January.

Looking for a guide to showcase the best that Squaw Valley offers? A non-instructional guide and priority lift access will allow for more exploring. A complimentary jacket is included and guide services are for blue or black-level skiers.

Private lessons are available and accommodate up to four people. Discounts for multiple days are available.

For families with a special needs child, Achieve Tahoe offers private lessons for kids with physical, sensory or intellectual challenges with adaptive ski and snowboard equipment and trained instructors.

Where to Eat at Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Rocker Where to take kids Skiing in Lake Tahoe
My kids ate big after a day on the slopes at Rocker in the Squaw Valley Village. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

At the end of a killer day of skiing, I love to grab a bite to eat before I head back. The Village at Squaw Valley offers lots of options for families.

During my visit, we ate at Rocker and my kids dominated a plate of nachos as big as the state of California. With a little kids’ menu, big kid pleasing hamburgers, a choice of farm fresh salads, the whole table left happy.

Snacks for kids where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
We love crepes and I found lots of tasty treats across Squaw Valley Ski Resort for families. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

For snacking during the day, I stopped by the Euro Snack trailer for savory and sweet crepes. Of course, I ran into Starbucks for coffee and hot chocolate. I also found pizza, sushi and grill options.

For adults looking to unwind, the Auld Dubliner Irish Pub draws a crowd along with several other bars in the Village area. Be sure and visit the World’s first ski-in, ski-out Starbucks located in the Gold Coast Lodge at the top of the Gold Coast Funitel, the only funitel in the U.S.

Squaw Valley’s Olympic History

Olympic Museum where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
Learn a little ski history at the Olympic Museum at Squaw Valley’s High Camp and remember to grab a gold win selfie. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Squaw Valley’s skiing is not the only thing that’s legendary. Their successful Olympic bid is as legendary as the games themselves.

In 1954 Alex Cushing, the chairman of Squaw Valley, saw a newspaper article announcing Reno as the possible site for the 1960 Olympic games. He threw his resort in the mix, boasting only a single chairlift and a couple of rope tows at the time.

The place to beat—Innsbruck, Austria, an international favorite. Cushing had the U.S. vote since the State of California backed the cause. Though it took a scale model so enormous it couldn’t get into the presentation room to win over the rest of the Olympic Committee.

After the successful bid, roads and facilities had to be built and fast. Even Walt Disney helped make the 1960 Olympic Games a success by orchestrating the pageantry.

After an unseasonable warm winter a fierce snowstorm dumped the much needed snow days before the start of the Olympic Games. Then the games needed the clouds to clear to light the eternal flame.

As if orchestrated by Disney himself, the clouds cleared and the torch was lit. Then 2,000 doves rose into the air above Squaw Valley signaling the start of the 10-day long games.

Be sure to walk through the Olympic Museum at High Camp. The Olympic podium offers a perfect picture spot for kids.

Family Fun Without a Lift Ticket:

family fun at Squaw Valley where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe
I found lots of family fun at Squaw Valley that doesn’t require a lift ticket. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Taking the entire family skiing requires more than a few lift tickets. Squaw Valley Ski Resort offers a village packed full of fun for everyone on a family ski getaway, not just the skiers and boarders.

During my visit, I found a spa, yoga and shopping for Mom and Grandma. The kids can craft at the craft studio, roast marshmallows, sled, snow tube, and ride a mini-snow mobile.

Try a new sport. I found dog sledding, cross-country skiing, and snow shoeing. I even found trampolines and climbing walls.

If celebrating the holidays, Squaw Valley offers horse-drawn carriages, Santa visits and special seasonal performances. Nightly fireworks are a must. And the chefs at Squaw Valley turn out special holiday meals.

Is it Your First Family Ski Trip?

What do you need to pack for family ski trip? I’ve been there and pulled together a list to help you out.

Need some advice on picking a ski school for your kids? I’ve got some tips for families to find the best program. 

More Lake Tahoe Fun for Families

A day at the resort is fun but so is finding a perfect sled hill in a nearby forest. Got a couple of my favorite spots to share.

Mt Rose

Spooner Lake

Granlibakken 

Northstar

Diamond Peak

Then discover a quaint town to spend an afternoon, like Tahoe City.

Where’s Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Squaw Valley Ski Resort is located at 1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, California. Squaw Valley is 12 miles south of Truckee, California, along California Highway 89. Tahoe City, California, a quaint mountain town on the western shores of Lake Tahoe is 10 miles away.

If flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to visit Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley is 48 miles from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport via Interstate 80.

Parking Available
General Parking Free
Premier Parking $20
Valet Garage Parking $30 or $40 holiday

Disclosure:

Squaw Valley hosted my family for one ski trip. Though I have skied Squaw Valley on numerous occasions without any sponsorship.

Know Before You Go: 

  • Reservations are required during holiday breaks and long weekends. Ski School sells out.
  • Arrive early to ski school to allow for smooth transition.
  • Kids helmets are mandatory in Squaw Valley’s Ski and Snowboard School.
  • Pack lip balm, googles, a small snack and an extra set of gloves for your kids.
  • Kids in ski school (ages 3 to 13) will ride ski lifts when they can turn and stop.
  • I found several fire pits so pack a bag of marshmallows and a couple of roasting sticks for a perfect for an après-ski treat for the kids.
  • If your kids are afraid of heights, keep them in the center of the tram and focused on the view in front of them.
  • Before heading out check out road conditions at NVroads.com for tire chain requirements. I use Nevada’s website for the Lake Tahoe region since it’s easier to use on a mobile device than California’s website.

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Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe and the Enchanted Forest

 

Mt. Rose Ski Resort features value and lots of green runs, perfect for families. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The carful of kids will try any ski resort once but I’ve found only a couple that become our family favorites. The ones that we return to year-after-year because we like the skiing and the overall atmosphere. Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe is one of those.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe

You can't beat weather like this to ski with your best girl. Lake Tahoe, Family Ski, Mt. Rose
You can’t beat a blue bird sky and Lake Tahoe specializes in them. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Mt. Rose is usually the first ski resort to open every year thanks to its 8,260 base elevation, the highest base in Lake Tahoe. It offers a lot a value for families and I especially like the skiing areas for kids.

Main Lodge. It also features a large deck out back facing most of the runs along with a cafeteria, coffee shop, bar and retail shop.

Visit the Winters Creek Lodge, a couple of miles down Hwy. 431 (Mt Rose Highway) for the double-black diamond runs. The Slide Bowl,  The Chutes, an expert only area, is accessible through the Blazing Zephyr-6 and the Chuter lifts that originate at the Winters Creek Lodge.

Mt Rose Mountain By-the-Numbers

2017 Lift Tickets
Ages At the Resort 
16+ $125
6 to 15 $75
Under 5 $20

 

Base Elevation: 8,260ft. Summit Elevation: 9,700ft.
Vertical Drop: 1,800ft. Skiable Acres: 1,200
Type of Terrain Percentage of Runs
Green 20%
Blue 30%
Black

Double Black

40%

10%

Total Named Runs: 60
Lifts: 8 total:

2 high speed 6-pack, 2 high-speed quads, 2 triples, 2 surface lifts

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe is our go-to resort for family ski with its super fun green runs.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe offers acres of family-friendly green runs that kids crave.

The carful of kids love the proximity of Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe since it’s minutes from Incline Village. From Downtown Reno, Mt. Rose is 25 miles. From the Reno/Tahoe International Airport, it’s 22 miles. It’s even quicker to get to Incline Village in north Lake Tahoe at 11 miles.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe Skiing for Kids

My 13-year-old loves the new green runs in the Enchanted Forest. Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, carful of kids, family-friendly ski resorts
My 13-year-old loves the new green runs in the Enchanted Forest.

My only complain about the Lake Tahoe skiing is the limited amount of green runs for families. So many resorts forget about the family skiers and the carful of kids we bring to ski. I get it, we aren’t glamorous with our endless needs. We are slow and clog up the lift lines; sometimes our kids are whiny.

Mt. Rose offers a lot of green runs for kids. And I love they offer an area just for kids to kid, not a green run that doubles as a slow zone.

I’ve been to some BIG name resorts that offer a couple of greens for families. One long one that they have to have for skiers to get off the mountain and a slow zone where several blue or black runs converge. Not the best environment for kids.

The carful of kids on the new Wizard lift on their way to the Enchanted Forest. Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, Family Ski,
The carful of kids use the Wizard lift to visit to the Enchanted Forest.

Mt. Rose moved their old Ponderosa Lift and renamed it the Wizard lift. They took a single run named the Enchanted Forest and expanded it into a whole new area especially for families.

The Enchanted Forest offers green runs in a separate area that’s not tacked on to the bottom of a blue or black run. The Wizard is not a pass-thorough lift taking you to the top of the mountain either. It’s the gateway to magical Enchanted Forest that’s perfect for kids and the parents that ski with them.

You have the option of skiing down runs like Magic Potion, Dragon’s Tail or Spellbound. Even on the busiest of school holidays you feel alone in the world discovering an enchanted land that might be harboring a woodland sprite or dare we say, Harry?

Skiing with an 8-year-old keeps this Mom on her toes. Carful of Kids, Mt Rose Ski Tahoe
Skiing with an 8-year-old keeps this Mom on her toes. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

I love it. The carful of kids are crazy excited and don’t leave the Enchanted Forest all day. Then they head there the next day. They would still be there if it wasn’t for the ringing of the school bell.

Mt. Rose–Getting Kids on the Snow

Your kids not ready for independent skiing or snowboarding? Mt. Rose specializes in getting kids on the snow with their lesson packages.

This is a happy kid after his two-hour lesson at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, carful of kids, family friendly ski destination
This is a happy kid after his two-hour lesson at Mt. Rose.

The Mt. Rose Rosebuds program is for skiers 4 to 10 and snowboarders 7 to 10 that includes a two-hour lesson, rental equipment plus a helmet and a beginner lift ticket. With the online discount, it’s $115 or $125 at the resort.

If your kids are a little older (11+), Mt. Rose offers a first-timer package with a two-hour lesson, rental equipment with a helmet and a beginner lift ticket for $125 with a $10 online discount. There is a next step package for skiers that have skied before that includes a lesson, rental equipment and a beginner lift ticket for $125 with a $10 online discount.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe does a great job keeping the kids separated when learning to ski. carful of kids, family-friendly ski destinations,
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe does a great job keeping the kids separated when learning to ski.

For the littlest skiers, the Little Mule Magic Carpet Lift offers a fenced off area just for ski school. For the older skiers and snow boarders, use the Flying Jenny or the Show Off area that’s open to all.

I have had kids in the Rosebud program for years. The Flying Jenny (the Magic Carpet Lift) gets a Christmas card from me, I spend so much time on her with my kids.

What I like about Mt. Rose’s Rosebud program:

  • low kid-to-instructor ratio
  • the indoor area to drop off your kids
  • the instructors fit the kids with equipment for you

What’s next for Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe

According the Mt. Rose Marketing Director, Mike Pierce, they aren’t done expanding. They have plans for a new lift and a skier bridge over the Mt. Rose Highway (Nevada Highway 431) to be completed in the next three years.

Mt. Rose is not done expanding, look for more green runs and a new ski bridge. Lake Tahoe, Family ski,
Mt. Rose is not done expanding, look for more green runs and a new ski bridge.

This new area will expand the green skiing at Mt. Rose even more. I don’t know about your kids but my kids would put on head-to-toe white snow gear just to blend in so they would never have to leave.

Besides the new lift and runs, Mt. Rose also plans to renovate the Main Lodge and expand the Rosebud children’s center. I hope they include a fire pit since they are one of the few ski resorts not to have one.

I recommend Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, a favorite resort of the carful of kids for years, for your next family ski trip.

More Tahoe Fun

Tahoe City, on the western shore of Lake Tahoe, offers families lots of winter fun.

Know before you go:

  • Arrive early for the best parking and fewer lines during school holidays and breaks.
  • You can purchase tickets on consolidators, like Liftopia.com, for further discounts.
  • Reservations are a must for ski school programs during the school breaks.
  • You can get a discount by booking your lift tickets online through the ski resort’s website.
  • I like to rent my equipment from ski shops and skip the line on the mountain. Most shops let you rent equipment the evening before and you can return it early in the morning after your trip.
  • Don’t forget the helmets, they are required for kids at lots of resorts.
  • Mt. Rose does not offer daycare services or all-day ski lessons for kids.

 

Other Articles about Lake Tahoe:

 

How to Pick a Family-Friendly Ski Resort

How to Pack for a Family Ski Trip

Why I love Lake Tahoe for Families Ski Trips

FREE Sledding in North Lake Tahoe

Free Sledding at Spooner Summit

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Granlibakken-Tahoe–A Grand Resort for Family Skiers

 

Granlibakken-Tahoe in Lake Tahoe offers an intimate ski hill that gets my kids on the snow for a reasonable price after taking a year off.
Granlibakken-Tahoe is what this Mom headed to take the kids alone. Easy on the wallet and the back and I even had time to ski a few runs myself.

Have you heard, it’s dumping snow in Lake Tahoe right now. If spending time with your family on the snow on your bucket list, I urge you to check out Lake Tahoe for your next weekend away.

The carful of kids are loaded in the SUV and ready to go. It’s been two years since we hit the slopes; I think we might need a little practice. I need to find a place that can get us back up and skiing where we left off.

My oldest is 13 and shouldn’t have a problem. For the 8-year-old, two years is a long time and he might need a lesson. My 11-year-old board boy falls in between. With that in mind, I’ve got a great, first day planned to get the carful of kids back in form.

Granlibakken-Tahoe, more than a Ski Hill

The carful of kids want to check out Granlibakken-Tahoe, half a mile from Tahoe City (725 Granlibakken Road, Tahoe City). This resort is great for families with novice skiers or skiers that have taken a break for a few years.

Granlibakken-Tahoe has offered skiing and sledding in Lake Tahoe since 1928, when a local hotel stayed open year-round. Borrowing its name from Norwegian, it means a hill sheltered by trees.

I can watch my kids on the ski hill and the sledding hill at the same time. Granlibakken-Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, Family Ski Destinations
I can watch my kids on the ski hill and the sledding hill at the same time. For a Mom with three kids out alone for the day, that’s amazing.

Granlibakken-Tahoe offers lodging ranging from lodge rooms to three-bedroom town homes. Nestled on 74-acres surrounded by fir trees, it’s not uncommon to see wildlife walking through their property.

Though conveniently located near Tahoe City, one of the largest towns on Lake Tahoe, Granlibakken-Tahoe seems secluded from the hum of tourists. Some guests even walk to Tahoe City for its restaurants and shopping.

Besides downhill skiing and snowboarding, they have snowshoe and cross-country ski trails as well. The rental shop at Granlibakken has equipment for downhill and cross country skiing, snow boarding and snow shoeing, along with helmets.

We love the scenery of Granlibakken and snapped a family picture.
We love the scenery of Granlibakken and snapped a family picture.

In addition to the snow sports, they feature a year-round heated, outdoor pool and hot tub. Partnering with North Tahoe Adventures, Granlibakken has an aerial adventure park that’s open year-round. With several different courses, it’s open to kids ages 5 and older.

What this Mom likes about Granlibakken-Tahoe

Granlibakken-Tahoe is one of the smallest, lowest and least inexpensive ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area. This makes it an excellent option for families with several children.

I need a small resort.

Let’s face it, each kid has their own needs. Since I’m taking the kids skiing by myself, I can’t lose a kid at a mega-huge resort.

The 13-year-old is annoyed by her family and wants some freedom. The 11-year-old board boy doesn’t know his limits. We need gentle terrain so we don’t end up in the ER later. The 8-year-old is timid and would play on his iPad all day, if I let him.

What’s a Mom to do? Surrender and stay home?

Nope. You can keep them all happy at Granlibakken and still have time for Mom to ski.

The youngest enjoys playing in the snow, while the older two sled just a few feet away. Granlibakken-Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, Family ski destinations,
The youngest enjoys playing in the snow while the older two sled just a few feet away.

Since their resort is one of the smallest, I could watch all my kids at the same time. Even when they were doing different things. It took me no time to round them up for a break and they couldn’t tell me they didn’t see me.

I need a low resort.

With Granlibakken’s elevation at 6,350 feet, it’s the best resort for people who have problems at higher elevations, especially kids. It’s important to let your body adjust for the first few days to prevent headaches and nausea.

My 11-year-old gets sick over 9,000 feet so I have find resorts that are at lower elevations. The carful of kids can’t ski in some states since the resorts are too high, like Colorado.

I need an inexpensive resort.

The best feature of Granlibakken-Tahoe is its affordability.

For a lift ticket and rental equipment for an adult, it’s $70 a day during the kids’ school break. For kids 12 and under, it’s $55 a day during their school break. If you want to take the kids skiing for a half-day, they have lift tickets for $16 for adults and $10 for the kids under 12. What a bargain.

For $70 per person, 7 and older, you can sign up for a beginner group lesson including rentals and a lift ticket. If your kids are under 7-years-old, you have to sign them up for a private lesson.

Our Day at Granlibakken-Tahoe

The carful of kids ski over school breaks. You know what that means–crowds. Not at Granlibakken, I don’t see any crazy lines and it doesn’t feel crowded.

After a late start, we pull into the resort at 10 a.m. This would’ve been a disaster at another resort. I am able to park close to the entrance and I find one family in front of us in the rental line.

Grandlibakken-Tahoe: an intimate ski hill that's easy for Mom and her wallet. Lake Tahoe, Family Ski Destinations,
Grandlibakken-Tahoe: an intimate ski hill that’s easy on Mom and her wallet.

In the rental shop, the guys size up the kids and get them in great gear, fast. When I slip on my ski boots, I’m amazed–virtually brand new and very comfy.

The carful of kids walk out on the deck behind the rental shop and find an empty table. I put down our stuff and spray the kids’ faces with sunscreen.

I’m not finished getting the youngest suited up when the 13-year-old is gone. I look around and spot her in the lift line. With her bright scarf, I can spot her anywhere in the ski or sled area.

The next to bail is my boy and his board. I check out the terrain, it’s relativity tame. He wanders over to the lift line behind his sister.

Now the 8-year-old is suited up and we ski about 20 feet and he goes down. And then he’s out. I can’t get him to continue.

He gets the gear on then decides that's enough for the day. Granlibakken-Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, family ski destinations,
He gets the gear on then decides that’s enough for the day.

I think, this is it, we’ll have to leave. Then he agrees to play in the snow making a snowman just feet from the rest of the carful of kids on the beginner lift.

Day saved. I would not have been comfortable doing this at any other resort.

The Lifts at Granlibakken 

Granlibakken has a rope tow instead of a magic carpet for their beginner hill. This is the first time that the carful of kids have used one.

My 13-year-old has no problems getting up the rope tow. Granlibakken-Tahoe, Family Ski Destination, Lake Tahoe,
My 13-year-old has no problems getting up the rope tow.

Once the norm at ski resorts across the country, they have disappeared due to the popularity of the Magic Carpet lift. The rope tow requires a little more coordination for younger skiers that must ski up the hill while being pulled by the tow.

The 11 and 13-year-olds don’t have a problem. They follow the directions of the lift operator and up they go. I didn’t have a problem either.

If your children are under 6-years-old, this might be a problem. Some Moms put their smaller kids between their legs and scoot them up the hill while Mom holds the rope tow handle.

After multiple runs down the beginner hill, the carful of kids are feeling good. It’s all coming back. Time we move up the mountain to the longer run.

Granlibakken utilizes a platter lift for the steeper side of their ski hill. It requires you to pull a pole that has a round disc down and place it between your legs. Then you are pulled up the hill by the disc about the size of a dinner plate.

My 11-year-old son has no problem with the platter lift at Granlibakken. Lake Tahoe, Family Ski Destination,
My 11-year-old son has no problem with the platter lift at Granlibakken.

The lift operator patiently explains this to my board boy and myself. The first time is a bit tricky but my son has no problems. For a Mom who has birthed three kids, I’m really working those thigh muscles. If I didn’t squeeze tight, I might slide right down the hill, backwards.

I didn’t.

Granlibakken’s Ski Hut

The carful of kids are ready for a break and Granlibakken has that covered. We head inside of their heated Ski Hut Snack Bar.

The interior of Granlibakken's Snack Hut is Old Tahoe, so charming and warm.
The interior of Granlibakken’s Snack Hut is Old Tahoe, so charming and warm.

I love it. It’s a log cabin that takes me back to vintage Tahoe. The vintage Tahoe that you see in the posters on the walls of most resorts.

Inside, we find a wood stove with a rack to warm your gloves. There are tables around the stove with plenty of seating.

You will find kid-friendly items on the menu. We grab a snack and head back outside to our table. With a blue bird sky and endless sun, the conditions in Lake Tahoe could not be better. Hard to believe it’s not above freezing.

The Sledding Hill at Granlibakken

After our snack, the carful of kids move on to the sledding hill. Since it’s right next to the ski hill, I can watch the kids and work on my skiing at the same time.

Don't know what the carful of kids love more, sledding or skiing. Granlibakken-Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, Family ski destinations,
Don’t know what the carful of kids love more, sledding or skiing.

For $15 per person, you get a saucer and access to the sled hill. I didn’t find a Magic Carpet lift on the sled hill but my kids didn’t need one. It’s a manageable climb for most kids.

The carful of kids love it. It’s fast. The staff at Granlibakken-Tahoe keeps the sledding area safe since the previous sledders walk off before the next sledders can slide down.

The carful of kids sled down it again and again, alternating between linking together and racing each other.

Ski, Sled and S’more

As soon as the sun sinks behind the mountain, it’s time to find someplace warm. Granlibakken-Tahoe lights a fire pit surrounded by log benches that adds to the rustic charm of a day of skiing in their secluded resort.

In the Ski Hut, you can purchase a bag with a chocolate bar, four graham crackers and six marshmallows for $5. At the fire pit, the resort has skewers to roast them up, a must-do for the kids.

Does it get any better than S'mores after a day of skiing? Kits are available at Guest Services for $5.
Does it get any better than S’mores after a day of skiing. Kits are available at Guest Services for $5.

After a long day of skiing and sledding, nothing beats a S’more. A little treat can really make the difference and hold my kids over until dinner.

Is it Your First Family Ski Trip?

What do you need to pack for family ski trip? I’ve been there and pulled together a list to help you out.

Need some advice on picking a ski school for your kids? I’ve got some tips for families to find the best program. 

More Lake Tahoe Fun for Families

Looking for more places to discover in Lake Tahoe? Got a couple of my favorite spots to share.

Mt Rose Meadows for Sledding 

Spooner Lake for Sledding 

Northstar Ski Resort 

Squaw Valley Ski Resort

Mt Rose Ski Tahoe 

Diamond Peak Ski Resort 

Then discover a quaint town to spend an afternoon, like Tahoe City.

Disclosure

My family was hosted by Grandlibakken-Tahoe.

Know before you go:

  • The skiing at Granlibakken is best for novice skiers and snow boarders.
  • Granlibakken caters to families that have some children that ski and some that want to sled. You can watch both hills at the same time. I was comfortable letting my kids go back and forth.
  • Granlibakken is a good resort to start your ski vacation if it has been a few years since your last ski trip.
  • Granlibakken does not teach kids under 4 and doesn’t feature a separate ski school area.

 

 

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How to Pick a Family Friendly Ski Resort

This is a happy kid after his two-hour lesson at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, carful of kids, family friendly ski destination
This is a happy kid after his two-hour lesson at Mt. Rose.

Want to take your carful of kids skiing and don’t know where to begin? I know, I have been there; I will help you find a family-friendly ski resort. There is lots to consider and if you are like me, you didn’t ski as a family as a kid.

I get it, skiing is expensive. It requires special clothes, special equipment and the resort itself can be expensive. If you live in Texas like the Carful of Kids, then you have to travel hours to see skiable snow.

When I started skiing in my twenties, it was easy. Rent some skies, take a lesson and then drink a cocktail. That was my ski trip. Then I had my carful of kids and everything got more complicated.

So where do you start if you have never skied before as a family? I’ll pass on some pointers.

Picking a Family-Friendly Ski Resort

Lodging and Location

I tend to look at the location of the ski resort. I prefer to drive to our ski trip so I don’t have to limit the luggage. I have an all-wheel drive SUV with tire cables if the roads get icy so that’s a bonus.

If you fly, you will have to check your gear for your flight and that’s a hassle. Then rent a 4WD or AWD car so you can get to your resort. Don’t skimp on the rental; driving a typical 2WD rental car in the mountains is just too risky.

Family Skiers have different needs. I've pulled together the list for you. Picking the Right Ski Resort
Family Skiers have different needs. I’ve pulled together the list for you.

Some skiers prefer ski-in, ski-out resorts–they look luxurious and they are. What you don’t realize is you park your car miles away and lug your gear. Unless you have staff or a mute husband, this is a fight waiting to happen.

I prefer to stay in a condo or other equipped rental. It is a necessity to have a dryer to warm up clothes or dry wet gloves. Having a refrigerator is great and getting the kids a quick breakfast is a huge time saver. To save some money, I bring my crock pot for hearty dinners after a day of skiing.

Check out the location of the ski resort’s parking lot if skiing for the day. I would prefer to park in front of the resort since I never grab everything I need in one trip.

The last thing on my list is the ski resort elevation. I have a kid that get elevation sickness over 9,000 feet. We have to ski at resorts that at lower elevations or he gets sick.

When to Start Kids Skiing 

How old are your kids?  I started my carful of kids skiing at different ages and I don’t think it really matters. They all seem to pick it up quickly but if all your kids are under 5, I might wait a few years to try skiing as a family.

The youngest kids have a problem with the cold and dressing them in ski gear can be a challenge. Ski resorts are not stroller-friendly–too many stairs and icy patches. Kids can’t carry their skis until they are older too.

 

I have one board boy and two skiers--making getting on and off the lifts a challenge. family friendly ski resort,
I have one board boy and two skiers–making getting on and off the lifts a challenge.

I have a 14, 12 and 9-year-olds; we started skiing when my oldest was 7 and the youngest was 2. The first year he stayed in the on-site daycare and the second year he started lessons.

My oldest and youngest kids ski but my 12-year-old son snowboards. Most resorts won’t teach young kids (3 to 5) to snow board, requiring kids to be 7. If you search, I have found resorts that have 5 to 7-year-old snowboarding classes.

Trails

I look at the ski resort trail map and count how many green runs they have. This information is usually listed as a percentage of the runs based on color–green, blue, black.
Green runs are the easiest and great for families. Blue are moderate runs and black for people braver than me.

Next, look for beginner ski lifts, they should be labeled. I prefer resorts that use conveyor-belt type lifts for beginners. Getting on and off an elevated ski lift is where most falls happen.

I make sure the beginner area is available to all skiers and just restricted to the ski school students. This is an excellent area to practice with your kids after their lessons. My carful of kids love to race Mom down the beginner runs.

 

We are all smiles when the sun is shining. family friendly ski resort
We are all smiles when the sun is shining.

 

Then I look at the quality of the green runs; are they all wide open areas at the bottom of more difficult terrain? I have found that more advanced skiers fly through slow areas on their way to the lift line. If all of the green runs wide and lack different routes, the skiing gets boring.

I prefer resorts that have green skiing areas with both wide open spaces and narrow runs through the trees. The carful of kids like to ride a run a couple of times then try another route.

Ski Mom Hints

Conveyor or Magic Carpet Lifts will keep your kids on the ground and not dangling from a wire like a trapeze. It’s a bit nerve-racking to get my youngest and myself on the ski lift.

Remember beginner runs are not the same as GREEN runs. Just because it’s labeled green doesn’t mean your kids are ready to cruise down it after one lesson.

Ski School for Kids 

Look at the resort’s ski school. Ski School is a must for kids under eight, unless you are a pro. All the instructors I have met through the years have been great with kids; pacing the program according to ability of my kids. They are patient with missing gloves and potty breaks.

I like the ski schools in a separate fenced-off area with separate conveyor-belt or magic carpet lifts that are only used by the ski school. I want my younger kids in an area away from the older kids with different needs and skills.

My youngest heading down his first green run with his ski instructor. Family friendly ski resort
My youngest heading down his first green run with his ski instructor.

 

Some ski schools have half-day programs but this might not be an option during the school holidays; the resorts prefer full-day programs during peak periods. I have been to resorts that offer on-site day care; this is a nice, yet expensive option.

If your kids are older then skip the ski school and sign them up for a beginner ski/snowboard package that includes classes, equipment and lift tickets for the first day. The earlier in the day, the better. After the class, they can practice.

If you plan to learn to ski or snowboard as a family then you might look at a private or semi-private lessons. The resorts tend to assign the most seasoned instructors to the private lessons; they are a great way to go but can be expensive.

I hope that my hints help you to find a family-friendly ski resort that suits your family.


Know before you go: 
  • Reservations are a must for ski school programs during the school breaks.
  • You can get a discount by booking your lift tickets online through the ski resort’s website.
  • I purchase lift tickets through consolidators, like liftopia.com for greater discounts.
  • I like to rent my equipment from ski shops and skip the line on the mountain. Most shops let you rent equipment the evening before and you can return it early in the morning after your trip.
  • Don’t forget the helmets, they are required for kids at lots of resorts.

Other Articles You Might Enjoy:

What to pack for a Family Ski Trip

Lake Tahoe for Family-Friendly Ski Destination

Free Sledding in Lake Tahoe

Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe

Ski Santa Fe

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Ski Santa Fe–My Favorite Family Ski Resort of New Mexico

Take a moment to take a family picture.
Take a moment to take a family picture.

The carful of kids attack the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at Ski Santa Fe for three days. This is my new favorite ski resort for families.

Why I love Ski Santa Fe

  • Close our home base, Texas
  • Located just 16 miles from downtown Santa Fe, which offers lots of dining and lodging options.
  • More affordable than Colorado or Lake Tahoe
How we hang at the La Casa Lodge.
How we hang at the La Casa Lodge with snacks from home. 

Ski Santa Fe features green runs for beginners and novices, most of them in the sun. I found their staff knowledgeable and friendly. They expanded and renovated their La Casa Lodge recently as well.

La Casa Lodge, easy to navigate with ski boots on, has all the things you need–a grab-and-go cafeteria, plenty of seating, walls of lockers and a ski shop. The rental area is roomy and doesn’t have that nasty locker room smell that you get at some resorts.

New Mexico Highway 475 up to Ski Santa Fe.
New Mexico Highway 475 up to Ski Santa Fe.

The road up to Ski Santa Fe is luxurious compared to some of the roads I’ve driven. NM Highway 475 is wide, nicely paved, frequently plowed and has plenty of guard rails. Never once have I felt like I’m about to skid off the mountain.

If a Mom from Texas can feel safe, you can too.

Santa Fe offers lots of options for families on a budget. Ski Santa Fe
Santa Fe offers lots of options for families on a budget.

The vibe is super mellow at Ski Santa Fe. Everyone is out to enjoy the snow and you never feel like you are at an alpine fashion show.

The resort caters to families during the holiday breaks–everyone from snow-suited babies to Grandmas sipping coffee. The base lodge lacks a bar, great for the carful of kids but disappointing for the apres-ski crowd.

Ski Lessons for the Kids

My youngest heading down his first green run with his ski instructor.
My youngest heading down his first green run with his ski instructor.

I am a firm believer in ski lessons for all ages. It seems putting on their boots is enough of a challenge for me.

It’s the best choice for your children so they will love to ski or snowboard. The instructors are accomplished skiers or snow boarders and extremely patient with the little ones.

Remember this is suppose to be FUN.

Snow Selfie. Ski School is a fun and easy way to get the kids loving the sport.
Snow Selfie. Ski School is a fun and easy way to get the kids loving the sport.

I made reservations for my youngest, 5, at the Chipmunk Corner for two days (a necessity over Christmas Break). He skied last year at Lake Tahoe and didn’t really like it. I’m not discouraged–I will stay upbeat and hope for the best.

The Chipmunk Corner has its own conveyor belt ski lift and fenced off area. That means the kids will never leave the ground and out-of-control adults will never run over them. The day will cost you $135, but that includes the ski rentals, a helmet, snacks, a hot lunch and lots of opportunity to ski (8:30 to 4:30).

Loving the atmosphere at Ski Santa Fe.
Loving the atmosphere at Ski Santa Fe.

The check-in process is a breeze; I smear sunscreen on his face right before I kiss it. He will be busy for the day while I get the other two up and going.

When I pick up my youngest up at the end of the day, he’s grinning ear-to-ear and says he loves to go fast. No tears and we didn’t have a melt down while I try to cram on his boots. Sometimes that’s worth a little extra money.

The other kids, 8 and 10, follow me to another conveyor belt lift to practice and warm up. It has been a year since the carful of kids have been on the snow.

After a few runs there, the carful of kids are ready to jump on the ski lift–the lift operators are super patient and will slow down the lift so a Mom and a couple of kids can get on safely–love that.

Taking a break before another run.
Taking a break before another run.

The carful of kids spend the day on the slopes and enjoy the postcard weather–light wind, clear skies and temperatures in low 40s. Can’t get any better than this, it doesn’t even feel cold.

Next time you want to take the family skiing for the holiday, check out Ski Santa Fe.

 

Not Too Early to Plan the Winter Ski Trip

The Carful of Kids at Ski Santa Fe
The Carful of Kids at Ski Santa Fe.

The carful of kids have a couple of free hotel nights to use before they expire so we are headed for the hills. This year the Winter Ski Trip is to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I have a lot to plan the winter ski trip.

When you have kids in school and two weeks off for the Winter Holiday–a Mom has to plan ahead. There is plenty of competition and only a limited number of rooms–remember not every room is available when using points or vouchers.

I called about a month ago and my first choice was already booked. Yes, that was the first part of October for reservations for the later part of December. You can’t wing it with a carful of kids and expect to get a good deal and your first choice.

Mom is not going to give up that easy. The carful of kids love the snow and we don’t see much of it in Texas.

When researching for our next adventure, I always have to stay flexible and plan early. Sure enough, I find something better–if Mom wanted predictability and convenience, the carful of kids would stay home.

My criteria for our Winter Ski Trip:

  • A family-friendly ski resort that is not too big–has to have a conveyor-type ski lift for my younger kids and lots of options for ski school.
  • Plenty of seasonal activities to do after the last run of the day–remember ski resorts usually are winding down at 3:30 or so.
  • Some family-oriented, non-chain restaurants to sample local cuisine.
  • Close enough to our home base of Central Texas that we don’t lose too much time driving.
  • A ski resort close to a Best Western because I have points for four free nights.

Keeping all that in mind, New Mexico is a natural choice for us. It is about 12 hours to the snow-covered mountains and it’s a great value for families.

Now all I have to hope for is SNOW.