What to Expect: Surrounded by Colorado’s Gore and Sawatch mountain ranges, and founded by members of World War II’s 10th Mountain Division, Vail serves up 5,200 acres of ski and snowboard terrain, including its legendary Back Bowls that will have your quads quivering.
Hot Spots to Hit: Take a special family lesson, put your daughter in its special Ski Girls Rock program (for girls ages 7-14) or explore the mountain on your own. For the latter, make sure to hit its many Kids Adventure Zones, marked with wooden corbels or archways (try Chaos Canyon, Sherwood Forest and Porcupine Alley), where carved animals greet you around banked corners and behind trees. (You can even ski through a 50-foot-long teepee.)
For a break from the slopes, visit Adventure Ridge at the top of Lion’s Head gondola to snow bike, jump on a trampoline, snow tube, ride a mountain coaster and more; or enjoy a snowcat ride to a gourmet dinner at Game Creek Restaurant.
Bonus: The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum recently reopened after a year-long, $2.6 million renovation.
What to Expect: As Colorado’s second largest ski resort at 3,339 acres, it seems like Snowmass might be better at losing kids than wooing them. But filled with more secret passages than Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Castle, it’s easy to see why Ski magazine has billed it as the country’s “Best Family Ski Area.”
Visit and your kids can revel in secret passages lined with Disney characters and wooden animals, wide-open groomers, a kids’ crafts center, cowboy crooners and more. To make things even easier, 95 percent of the lodging at Snowmass is ski-in/ski-out, meaning quick hand-offs and access to hot chocolate.
Hot Spots to Hit: Ski through a tunnel under a fort topped by a bellowing ape, hit a free kids slalom course, ski past real, live reindeer on Rudolph’s Run, and race through Lizard Lodge, featuring a giant crab-shaped snow cave. Also, look for alligators coming out of the snow under the Village Express lift.
A free Kids Mountain Guide pamphlet highlights all its family amenities, including the 25,000-square-foot, $17 million Treehouse Kid’s Adventure Center, a ski school base including a climbing gym, teen activities, kids’ retail store and kids-themed rooms (i.e. Butterfly and Trout Haven), each tailored for a different age group.
Bonus: Campfire sing-a-longs with s’mores, sled dog puppies, a winter zipline where you take off on skis, and a new ice skating rink at newly opened Limelight Snowmass Lodge.