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Where to go...First famiily ski -Tahoe, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah ???

Where to go...First famiily ski -Tahoe, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah ???

Jan 21st, 2010, 06:03 PM
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Where to go...First famiily ski -Tahoe, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah ???

My wife, 4 year old daughter and myself are considering a fun vacation with some skking, ice skating, maybe snowmobile, and tubing. We also want other activities in case my daughter gets tired of the snow . We are condering the western US anywhere but there are too many choices. It just needs to be a place that is not too expensive. We are going in March sometime. Any suggestions
jackandcarolyn is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 06:25 PM
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Having skied in CO, CA, UT,PA and NH I would rec UT. CO has great skiing BUT most ski places in CO are hours away from the airport which is not something I look forward to after being on the plane for hours already, esp w a 4yr old.

In UT, we've gone to Alta and Snowbird which are about 1.5 hours at most from SLC airport. However, those resorts are more designed for locals and very serious skiers. For other activities, I would recommend the Park City area which has something for everyone and is ~1 hr away from Salt Lake City. The ski resort we prefer there is The Canyons bc its so big. Park City itself is an ok town but of course, funky Sundance is nearby. There is tubing and ice skating in Park City, both of which we've done. We had a great time tubing after skiing all day too. Finally, if you're looking for upscale then Deer Valley is your place. They have a great ski school and their service is really great, the down side is that you pay for it. It's close enough to Park City that you can enjoy PC things and still stay (or ski) in Deer Valley, if you wish.

I know less about CA skiing except that Tahoe is 4 hours from SFO and ~40 min/1 hour from Reno. Northstar is liked by the locals, I hear. I only skied at Heavenly which was nice but I don't recall what else was there or how the ski school was.
HunyBadger is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 06:51 PM
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Re Tahoe: The two airports to use would be Reno or Sacramento depending on the fares/routes you can get (not SFO, Oakland or San Jose)

Tahoe has everything you want - near-ish an airport. Less than an hour from Reno to the Lake and about 2 hours from Sacramento to north shore w/ Northstar, Squaw Valley, and Alpine Meadows.

From Sacramento it would be slightly longer drive but not much longer to Southshore w/ Heavenly Valley, Sierra Ski Ranch and Kirkwood. Homewood is between north and south Tahoe. Boreal/Soda Springs are just west of Truckee - a bit closer to Sacramento/farther from Reno. but still in the same general area.

No matter which end of the lake you'd choose, there is skiing for all levels, skating, the lake of course, sledding/tobogganing, scenery, snowmobiling, cruising across the lake http://www.zephyrcove.com/cruises/cruise-schedules.cfm

You could spend a couple of hours in Truckee - an old time western town w/ good eating and shopping. Squaw Valley is wonderful and this year they are celebrating the 50 year anniversary of the '60 winter Olympics. I'd probably pick northshore and stay at Squaw or Northstar or in Tahoe City. But southshore is good too (more built up though) and maybe stay at the Embassy suites between Harrahs and the Heavenly Valley Gondola.

Plus gambling of course - but you could spend days at Tahoe w/o stepping foot inside a casino (If you do decide to go to a casino - children aren't allowed on the casino floors, but they all have good child care centers w/ games and toys.)
janisj is online now  
Jan 21st, 2010, 06:52 PM
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Northstar is fantastic for families, but I can't say it's "not too expensive". Skiing is a very expensive sport, kids ski school is an added cost, and staying within the resort is more expensive than staying outside the resort (but sooooo much more convenient, because you can use the in-resort shuttle service instead of your car). But it's terrific. (P.S. We also LOVE Park City, but never went there when our kids were little).
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 07:39 PM
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I'd go to Park City.

Take the Heber Valley Tube 'n' Train to the Soldier Hollow tubing hill (or drive there). There's also another train from Soldier Hollow that just makes a scenic loop. Heber is about 30 minutes from Park City.


More tubing at Gorgoza Peak north of Park City.

If you've got the money, snowmobiling, sleigh rides (with dinner) and dog sledding:


There are other companies that offer snowmobiling. You might want to research several to see if the terrain of one sounds better for riding with a 4-year-old.

There are some more adventurous activities for the adults at the Olympic Park. Bobsled, zip line, maybe others. You can also watch demos of freestyle aerials and ski jumping on Saturdays at the Park.
Jean is online now  
Jan 21st, 2010, 08:21 PM
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One advantage to Tahoe -- because there are so many motels, resorts, condos, you can usually get very reasonable accommodations. If the Residence Inn or Northstar are too pricey - you can find perfectly acceptable lakeside motels at both north and south Lake Tahoe.
janisj is online now  
Jan 21st, 2010, 08:24 PM
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Janis, where is there a Residence Inn?
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 03:08 AM
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I think you are expecting a lot from a 4 year old. It can be very cold.
If you are going to a ski area are you and your wife going to ski? Do you want your daughter to ski? That is going to require lessons.
I guess I am not understanding the focus of this trip. Do you just want to go play in the snow?
As for distance after airport arrival, there are a number of CO ski areas under two hours from DIA, if that is a big concern.
Might need to know what you are considering "reasonable/inexpensive". March is a big spring break month, and also, in CO, has a LOT of snow. Fun.
Gretchen is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 07:18 AM
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sf7307: "Janis, where is there a Residence Inn?"

Oh crap - I meant Embassy Suites . . . .

>>But southshore is good too (more built up though) and maybe stay at the Embassy suites between Harrahs and the Heavenly Valley Gondola.<<
janisj is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 08:29 AM
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(I was genuinely curious, because the Residence Inn is often a good alternative for families, although personally, we always stay at a condo or a big casino hotel (if we're relegated to staying in Reno, which has happened), or the Best Western in Truckee)
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 04:38 PM
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Your right Gretchen...th foucs of the trip is unclear. I would ski some.. I am just and average skier. My wife would have to learn with my 4 year old so we know the bunny slopes is all they will handle. But tubing and skating, snowmobile and maybe dog sled would all be great...AND if my child gets tired of the snow I like to have other options to drive to or the things to do fo we have a day or two off the slopes. This is our first winter vacation trip and we are from Florida.
Thanks to all of you that have commented.
jackandcarolyn is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 09:05 PM
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My wife would have to learn with my 4 year old

I assume you mean your wife also has to take some lessons, not actually WITH the 4-year old? Usually, 4-year olds learn in ski school. If you wanted them to be together, you'd have to spring for private (or I guess it would be semi-private) lessons. Anyway, I don't recommend it since obviously adults and children learn at different speeds.
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 04:20 AM
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I don't think even a private instructor would take that on!The 4 year old will basically be in a play school with some skis. The "bunny slope" has changed dramatically, and while your wife might be on that, the kids have a wonderful thing called the "magic carpet" to take them up their little hill--a moving "carpet" that they just step on. The little ones spend as much time inside coloring and having snacks as they do outside.
I am not even sure that tubing would be available to a child that young. Something to check.
We go with our family to Keystone a good bit. It has tubing, but you have to make reservations for your time (an hour maybe). And it fills up.
If you are interested in CO places near Denver, you might google for Winter Park, Breckenridge, Keystone, Eldora (small area), and probably others, and see what is offered. They are all within an hour and a half--two hours easy drive on I70.
Theoretically you could even drive into Denver and do a museum or zoo.
Gretchen is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 04:38 AM
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I can promise you I have seen hundreds of 4 year olds cruising down the slopes. I think it is perfectly fine to take a 4 year old skiing. Yeah, they might get tired of it after a little while, but they also get tired of anything after a little while. We did a group lesson and a private lessone when our daughter was young. I think she got a lot more out of the private lesson. I don't remember her exact age, but I believe it was 5 for her first experience on skis. Some kids pick it up really fast, others take time. Generally, the daredevils learn faster(the ones with no fear). If your kid can already skateboard, ride a bicycle, roller skate, or something like that-chances are you will be having a hard time keeping up with him/her. btw, Most of the smaller kids start out not using poles.
spirobulldog is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 05:52 AM
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The best place I have been to to start/learn skiing is Deer Valley. Doing group lessons is the most economical way to do it and they limit their group size to 5. As others have said, skiing is an expensive sport. If you're going to do it, just plan for that.... lessons, rentals, lift tickets etc.

Utah is a great place to meet your needs. There are so many resorts within 35-40 mins drive. There are 4 resorts on the Salt Lake city side and 3 resorts on the other side of the Wasatch mountains in Park City. Within about an hour, there's also Sundance, Snow Basin, and Powder Mountain.

There are also two tubing locations around Park City, one is Gorgoza Park near Kimball Junction, and the other is Soldier Hollow near Heber/Midway.

You can find accommodations that are affordable by renting a private home or condo on vrbo.com.
ncounty is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 07:20 AM
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Couldn't agree more--lots of 4 year olds on skis. But not cruising down the slopes the first time they are on them! Our son DID take his 4 year old up to ski with him--carried him onto the lift, and skiied down with him between his legs. He is, of course, an accomplished skiier, and it was after DGS had had a couple of days of lessons to get used to two things on his feet that can and will go in entirely different directions!!
And they do teach without poles--just something else to get in the way until they are useful.
For the OP, you might check which places have ice skating---that could be fun.
Gretchen is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 07:58 AM
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I agree with Gretchen that I have not seen a lot of 4 year olds cruising down the mountains. Kids a bit older, yes but 4 is still pretty young, especially if skiing for the first time.

The OP mentioned less expensive places and that would eliminate Deer Valley. I'd look at some of the smaller resorts or at least those that have a number of rental condos as well as those that have children's ski schools.

In Colorado you might try Sol Vista a great family place especially for beginners and Winter Park is nearby which will have some of the other activities mentioned. The YMCA of the Rockies ( not far from Winter Park) is another option. The Summit Valley area will give you access to several of Colorad's best ski resorts and staying in Frisco or Dillon will be less expensive although one can usually fine reasonable prices at Copper Mt ( a great family place), Breckenridge or Keystone.

Santa Fe has a ski resort nearby (Ski Santa Fe) and is only about a 40 minute drive from Albuquerque. They have a good children's program but not have much in the way of other activties.
historytraveler is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 08:49 AM
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I absolutely adored Beaver Creek, Colorado! Check into it before you make your decision. The town is so quaint with cobblestone streets, little shops, and an outdoor ice-skating rink. There is also this amazing dinner that you can do that takes you by horse up the mountain. As you are taken up this hill, you can see the stars because the altitute is so high. You finally get to this barn with all you can eat steak, chicken, etc. The kids can roast smores and there is live music. It was one of the most memorable experiences. Also, while we were going up the mountain on the horse, we stopped to feed some of the horses. All the kids loved it! Beaver Creek has amazing ski trails for all ages. The closest airport for you to fly into would be the Vail airport. Denver is about 2 hours away. It is one of those ski towns that is not overwhelming, but yet plenty to do. It is a great first ski trip.
JillDavis is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 11:58 AM
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Re the 4-year old learning to ski. We skiied regularly with two other families with same-aged kids when ours were young. Two of the families started their older boys when they were 3 in "ski school" (or as Gretchen described it, day care with some time on the magic carpet!). The third joined the group when the older kids were 6. Point is, the 6-year old who had never skiied before caught up to the other two 6-year olds who had been in ski school for 3 years, within a couple of days, and she wasn't any more coordinated or athletic then theyy were, it's just that the amount of actual skiing they actually do when they're super-young is super-not-a-lot!
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 12:53 PM
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Beaver Creek fails the "not too expensive" factor quickly. And it is not a great place for beginner skiers. Copper Mt in Colorado is the best first time/beginner skiing mountain around. Far better than Park City. However, the March date makes for a more complicated vacation. March is the height of Spring skiing both in Utah and Colorado which means more crowds and higher prices. Snow conditions are almost always better at that time in Colorado than Utah because the Utah slopes around Park City are lower and east facing which means warmer and more melting. Young kids performance on skis is almost totally related to weight and attitude. A big four old boy will generally do better than a small six year old boy or girl. Boys tend to be more aggressive at that age and that is helpful when skiing. However, your child could be more interested in snow board because of peer pressure. More kids are snow boarding than skiing. And I have no idea about snow boarding.
fmpden is online now  

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