The snow at Alta is almost always good. In fact, there is not a day during the conventional ski season, from Dec. 1 through mid April, when Alta doesn’t hold our highest score for snow. If you look at the snow graph on Alta’s ZRankings profile page, you can see that, when compared with other resorts, Alta retains a score of 100 throughout the entire season (right graph). What’s even better is that Alta’s elite snow quality doesn’t suffer much during March because of the mountain’s preponderance of north-facing terrain, which comprises 53% of its slopes. Alta not only gets snow in higher quantities than any other resort in the Rockies, but it also efficiently preserves all of that precipitation.
Making its first appearance in our chart is Alpe d’Huez. Few resorts in the Alps match this resort, which is a 90-minute drive from Grenoble, for its suitability for skiers and snowboarders at both ends of the skills graph, as well as in the middle. Its ski area is now the fifth largest in France, with slopes that go down to 1,100m and up to a heady 3,330m, while its glacier ensures snow cover is sufficient for a long season that stretches from early December to late April. The village itself is sits in a sunny bowl above the valley town of Bourg-d’Oisans and is split into eight small districts, of which some offering ski-in/ski-out access.
Pila is little known outside Italy, but offers a worthwhile surprise to those who visit. A small area of well-groomed, snow-sure slopes suited to intermediates rises around a car-free, purpose-built resort. Great for families with small children, it has a splendid nursery slope, play area and gentle tubing hill all located near the centre. There’s also a Miniclub that caters for kids up to age 12. It’s not exactly charming, but the resort is a functional mix of chalet-style buildings and large apartment blocks with direct access to the slopes on one side.
The town of Vail caters largely to high-end travelers, with luxury accommodation, fine dining, and upscale shopping. More affordable accommodation can be found in the surrounding towns, from Silverthorne and Frisco over to Eagle. Many visitors fly into Denver and drive or take a shuttle to Vail, but the closest airport is the Eagle Vail Airport, about a 40-minute drive from Vail.
The cute mountain village of Keystone offers a variety of relaxed dining options following a day on the hill. The parking for Keystone is convenient and free, making the whole process of spending a day skiing at this resort easy and more affordable than some of the surrounding resorts, like Vail, where parking is at a premium, and rates are correspondingly high.
Moving up three places and making it into the top five is everyone’s favourite upmarket resort, Courchevel, which gives access the largest linked ski area in the world – and more Michelin stars than you can shake stick at. Because of the north-facing aspect of many of Courchevel’s local slopes, the snow here is usually some of the best in the whole of the Trois Vallées ski area, and there’s terrain to suit everyone from beginner to expert. Indeed, many visitors never feel the need to leave the Courchevel valley, despite having the rest of the ski area to explore.
Set at 1,800m, Avoriaz is the highest part of the huge Portes du Soleil ski area that spans the French-Swiss border and has 650km of pistes. The local slopes around Avoriaz normally get some of the best snow. The majority of the rest of the Portes du Soleil slopes are lower and snow quality can suffer, especially on the sunny Swiss side of the circuit. When the snow is good throughout, there is a huge amount of cruising available on generally well-groomed pistes. You can do a cross-border circuit in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions, and there’s also the French Morzine-Les Gets area to explore, easily reached by catching a gondola from Avoriaz down to Morzine.
A beer or two on the terrace of the bar at the Hotel Castillan is the après-ski scene of choice. Later on, it’s more of the same over dinner, though more hedonistic visitors and seasonnaires party on at the K2 Bar and Pub Le Bois des Fees.
This year, an Italian ski resort is at the top of our ranking for the first time in this competition! Skiing is possible almost all year round in Livigno since the station is open from the beginning of autumn until the end of May.
Ski Granby Ranch is designed for families and passionate skiers who want to instill in their kids the same kind of love for the mountains, in a safe and fun environment. Everything is made to be comfortable for the whole family – easy-access lifts, and ski terrains created for all skill levels and all ages. Ski school takes children starting from 3-years old, developing their skills through games, group activities and competition. Kids with advanced skills are encouraged to explore the terrain and are introduced to racing.
Keystone is a wonderful place for families to explore the Rocky Mountain slopes, or the many ski and snowshoe trails throughout the forest. There is a lot to do without skis – cozy sleigh rides, exhilarating tubing at breakneck speed, ice skating or snowmobiling. The kids can learn to ski or snowboard at the famous Children’s Ski and Ride School, improve their skills and meet some new friends, while their parents are skiing down some more challenging slopes.
Best Family Ski Resorts
Best Places To Ski
This mountain doesn’t have a lot of north facing terrain—only 20%—and it’s not excessively high, elevation wise, with a summit of 10,000 feet, but Targhee has zero terrain facing East (which gets sun at an increasing rate in the spring), and its western-facing terrain, at 60%, is the next best thing to north-facing slopes. Targhee is also quite far north, nestled into the Teton range in the northwest corner of Wyoming, almost in Montana (and almost in Idaho). Most importantly, the resort gets more snow than any other resort in the Rockies other than Alta, so it’s always a strong candidate for those seeking powder skiing, even in March.
Located in Northwestern North Carolina (in Blowing Rock, NC, also near Boone, NC) Appalachian Ski Mountain, NC offers skiing fun for the whole family. Appalachian features North Carolina’s Only Official Burton Learn To Ride Center (offering snowboarding lessons by Burton and the French Swiss Ski College.) Check out the interesting History of Appalachian Ski Mountain here. Appalachian Ski Mountain offers children’s programs for learning to ski as well as snowboarding programs for kids: learn more about Children’s Ski and Snowboarding Programs. Check out the Appalachian Ski Mountain’s “First-Timer’s Guide” for the scoop on skiing and mountain activities at Applachian Ski Mountain. Appalachian Ski Mountain is located at 940 Ski Mountain Rd, Blowing Rock, NC 28605, tel. 828-295-7828 or 800-322-2373.
Ski Europe: From the Alps and the Pyrenees to the Dolomites, discover new terrain to test your skills on the hills. Let our Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Italy, Top-Rated Ski Resorts in France, and Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Switzerland help you decide on your next European winter vacation.
Gently rolling hills offer novices the perfect terrain for learning and building skills. Of course, there are numerous runs for expert and experienced riders, as well, in addition to terrain parks, superpipes and halfpipes. With numerous ski resorts throughout the area, you can easily find the perfect one to visit for your next Utah family ski vacation.
Once the kids are worn out from their 2 75-minute sessions, it’s inside for crafts, reading and playing on the indoor jungle gym. While the kids enjoy ski school, adults can explore the 3,300 acres of fun spread out over 7 snowy peaks and 9 bowls.
The mountains are calling. Plan your perfect winter getaway with a ski, snowboard, or winter sports vacation from Southwest Vacations®. Find your winter wonderland in top ski resorts in Colorado, Utah, and northern California.
Bruce Goerlitz Photo /ShutterstockIf you can’t quite make it out west this year, don’t worry, there’s plenty of skiing on the East Coast that’ll provide the same delights. In fact, you can walk in a winter wonderland just 125 miles northwest of Philadelphia and New York City, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Though this city is known as a Steamtown National Historic Site (where kiddos can tour former rail yards, a 19th-century mill and the trolley museum), during the winter, the slopes are a mere eight miles from downtown.
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Copper also has an excellent Kids Night Out program, with three hours of free child care with games, crafts and movies while parents hang in the resort. At the base of the resort’s tubing hill, you’ll find Critterland, home to a tubing carousel and mini tubing hill, a snow den with tunnels to scamper through and other pint-sized activities. Woodward at Copper’s Barn, an indoor playground with year-round ski, skate and bike programs offers ramps, foam pits and fly-bed tramps for those of all skill levels to practice tricks for their next trip down the mountain. For some friendly competition, Copper Mountain also offers Alpine Rush Zip Line where two riders can soar side-by-side 30 feet above the West Lake ice skating rink up to 30 miles per hour.
Entering the top 20 for the first time this year is Europe’s highest ski resort, Val Thorens. The village, which sits at 2,300m, opened over 40 years ago as an ambitious experiment in concrete, purpose-built resorts. But down the years it has developed into a much more aesthetically pleasing place, with a justified reputation for quality slopes, fine dining and lively après. With slopes up to 3,230m, the top point of the whole 600km Trois Vallées ski area, the resort’s lofty altitude ensures that decent snow conditions prevail from late November until early May. It’s a great base for exploring the Trois Vallées, but locally, Val Thorens alone claims 140km of varied pistes – most suited for beginners and intermediates.
Ski, slide and ride in Sundance at Utah Olympic Park and create at the Art Shack Studio. Enjoy rustic accommodations with cozy fireplaces at the Sundance Resort during the winter, or stay at the Zermatt Resort & Spa for a ride on the European-style carousel in the spring. The resorts are often housing directors and camera men looking to use the landscape as the backdrop to the next great film.
“… Bar is very nice too, food is excellent & we can highly recommend the delicious cocktails After a day’s skiing we also were served hot cider and homemade cookies from 4pm which were again delicious I would def…”
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With lots of light, dry snow — about 560 inches per year — Alta has ideal conditions for both beginner and expert skiers and snowboarders. Located less than an hour from Salt Lake City, Alta is geared toward skiers, but snowboarders can find trails and slopes to their liking at other mountains in the area, such as the Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort. The Alta community is simple and historic, but what do you really need to have a good time other than authentic snow and the slopes?
Shawnee Peak is the mountain where families keep coming back generation after generation. If you are bringing your kids for the first time, you will want them to become comfortable on the snow as soon as possible, so that you can show them all your favorite spots. Children’s Group Clinic and SnowSports will take care of that.
Once families have made the trek to the mountain and managed to get the kids up near the snow, it’s often the case that families will need to get everybody signed up for ski school and into rental equipment. This, as any parent knows, is a Herculean task. Only the brave will survive. The parents must push on—there are awards waiting the victors of this process.
Okemo Mountain Resort is an all-season, destination resort that caters to new skiers with programs separated by age group: 3 (Little Dippers), 4 to 6 (Snow Stars) and 7 to 14 (Mountain Explorers). It also offers a mountain coaster, ice skating, snow tubing and kids’ snowmobiling, along with restaurants and Kids Night Out — a childcare program that allows mom and dad to enjoy a romantic dinner on the mountain.
It’s also about culture. Ski resorts that have built experiences around the family dynamic generally score better in these rankings that those that don’t. That doesn’t mean that skiers can’t take their kids to lower-scoring resorts, it just means that things aren’t laid out to the best benefit of kiddies and their parents—and there’s a place for that, too.
Wolf Creek has the enviable combination of getting the most snow in Colorado of any normal (not Silverton) ski resort, but it also has gobs of terrain facing north: 65% of its slopes. The mountain is also fairly high, with a base of 10,300 feet and a summit of nearly 12,000 feet. So while Wolf Creek is further south than most of the resorts on this list, its other characteristics make it an excellent place to hunt spring dumps that can stay cold for days.