Families love skiing at Snowmass. If you are looking for a spring break that can keep a wide variety of snow lovers happy, Snowmass should be on the top of your list. This sizeable resort tries to combine excellent service with a huge expanse of terrain making it a top destination for families from around the world
Here are some quick Mountain statistics: Base 8104 ft. Summit 12,510, 21 lifts, 94 trails with an average annual snowfall of 300. Types of trails: easiest: 6%, more difficult: 47%, most difficult: 17%, expert: 30%. There are 3 terrain parks (Snowmass Park, Makaha and Lowdown), a 22-foot superpipe and a beginner pipe.
Take a look at the map:
Weve now taken the kids to more a dozen ski resorts and Snowmass was notable for having some of the most interesting terrain. Im an advanced intermediate and had plenty of blues and groomed blacks to work with. My favorite lifts were Elk Camp, Sheer Bliss, and Campground. My "expertish" husband loved all the blacks. The only lift lines are at the base. Once your up the mountain, things thin out. Don't miss trying out the "poma lift" up to Cirque. You don't have to be a double black skier, there are other ways to get down from the peak or 12,510. And it's worth the views!
The Snowmass ski school is a well-oiled machine. Hundreds of kids from tots to teens go through the programs each day and Snowmass knows how to make it fun. The seasoned instructors are masters of putting the kids at ease and sending the parents off on their way. Cutting down on drama is an art form. The wide range of instructors speak a number of languages and are trained to help newbies and advanced kids get the most out of the experience.
Dont leave the lessons just to the kids. Even grown ups can benefit from learning something new. I took a private lesson with Barb. She was fantastic and got me to try black and bumps that I would have never tried without her. I cant stress enough how much MORE fun skiing is if you are constantly improving your abilities.
Yes, its pricey. The full-day private is $680 these lessons can have up to five participants. This is the same rate for a full-day Family Private Lesson. The family that skis together stays together. The pro will work with your family individually or as a group based on needs and abilities. The girls loved the lessons and especially enjoyed the kid-friendly tree trails that had little critters in them. Check it out:
Childcare is available for babies as young as 8 weeks up to age 4 at the Treehouse Adventure Center. This is a licensed facility for infants and toddlers. The Snow Cubs program will take the kids out for a one-hour private class for $145 (rentals included).
Lessons begin at age 2.5 and go strong through the teen years. Ages are grouped:
2.5 to 4: Specially designed for those not completely potty trained! Safe and fun with plenty of break time!
5 to 6: Young Kids. We had one in this group. She loved it. Coach Nicky and Martha really improved her skiing in the two days she was there and she was eager to go back every morning. $149 for a full day with a 7-day advance ticket (includes lunch & lift ticket)
7-12: Our other girl was raring to go for her lesson with the big kids her coach Johnny Mika had her jumping all over the place and getting down some big black runs. $107 (included lunch and lift ticket)
13 to 17: Also $107 whats notable is that these classes seemed very popular. Its cool to ski and get better. At many other resorts, lessons drop off at 12 or so. Its amazing that getting better and better has a level of cool.
When we werent skiing we loved the vibe of the village. We usually opt to cook the majority of the meals in when we head out on a ski trip. But the variety of dining at Snowmass will tempt even the most accomplished chef. There are so many tasty options on mountain and off. For sophisticated palettes, the Viceroy is the swank new spot in town. We ate at the 8K restaurant on one of our last nights of the trip. For families, my advice is to book an early table. The elegant setting might seem a little daughting but with a 6pm table we had plenty of companythere were at least six other families there with small children. I ordered a rack of Elk ($53) as a splurge. I thought the local game was so tasty and a great way to try something new.
In Snowmass Village there are lots of casual dining options. For a slightly more upscale experience, we had lunch at Venga Venga. This was my favorite meal of the trip. Celeb chef Richard Sandoval has a great slope-side tequila bar and cantina. We stopped in for a midday lunch. There were three or four margaritas to pick from (might just make your afternoon runs a little better). They offer 120+ tequilas. Add in a delish guacamole plus soft shrimp tacos and youve got a lunch made in heaven. The perfect après-ski meal or break from a hard day of hitting the powder. If you are lucky, youll nab a slope-side table and sip your margarita by the outdoor fire.
On Mountain we tried the Mid Mountain Elk Camp. This is the newest on-mountain restaurant and offers hungry skiers a huge variety of offerings. From roasted chicken to an amazing salad bar, there were tons of healthy and hearty options. FAMILY FUN: On Friday nights in season (de to March) families are invited to Ullr Nights from 5:30 to 9pm $10 for adults and $5 for kids. The evening offers entertainment and a great variety of food. The families we spoke to raved about this weekly event.
Next time: We tried to get into Krablloonik a dining experience combined WITH a dog sledding ride. But they were fully booked. How cool does this look though:
For our four-night stay we were hosted in Timberline (www.Timberline.com) a ski-in/ski-out condo. The condo was a quick 2 minute walk to the Fanny Hill run and had a nice Colorado vibe.
We loved our fully outfitted kitchen and the kids adored the cozy loft. After a big breakfast at home, it was just a matter of slipping on our boots and then a quick 5 minute ski to the base of the mountain where Ski School meets. And we could walk to the Snowmass Village in about 5 minutes.
Our lodge had a new pool with stunning views of the mountain and two hot tubes (one adult and one for the kiddies). The fitness room was in a state of renovationit was getting some brand new cardio equipment--but there was plenty of space to stretch. We found the front desk staff very helpful. They gave us ski locks, handled a fax and were helpful with kid-friendly activities.
At Snowmass ski season runs from late November through mid April. The resort is conveniently located about 15 minutes from the slopes, and the Aspen airport is adorable.
- Book lessons and lift tickets early. Call the office at 877-2828-7736
- Helmets are required for all ski lessons
- Label all the ski clothing you bring! We had our poles misplacedif you are bringing your own gear label. Label. Label.
- Arrive 15 minutes early to your lesson. It can be a bit chaotic at the base. On our first day there were close to 800 kids heading to ski school. Everything was well organized on the part of Snowmass, but with two kids it took a bit of time to find the two designated drop off areas.
- Drop and go. Dont linger. It makes the kids nervous.
If skiing isnt your thing, the Village has lots of shopping options. If you find yourself a little sore, I recommend the yoga class. I rejuvenated with a après ski yoga class with Erica. The stretching class was the perfect thing to rejuvenate my tired muscles.
The Discovery Center in town has a small exhibit dedicated to the find at the Zieglar Reservoir near Snowmass (we could see the dig site from the top of the mountain). They found the largest collection of Mastodon bones anywhere. In total, 4826 bones were pulled form the site many are being assembled at the Denver Museum now. You can visit the main site at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. This small site is just to get you excited. Find out more about the find here.
For little kids, I suggest story time as nice after school treat. Located at the Discovery center in the mall, a professional storyteller treated kids ages 6 mos. to 10 years to the verbal tradition of sharing tales. Our kids were mesmerized by the stories of dragons, Jack (from the beanstalk) and more. And theres always the popular smores. On Tuesday & Thursday the Village offers free smores to kids from 3:30 to 4:30pm.
Once you get to Snowmass you dont really need a car. The lot we parked at was a short jaunt from our condo. We skied, walked or took the free shuttle for the rest of our time at the resort. Cars are definitely optional.
For convenience, great snow and plenty of entertainment, Snowmass is sure to please. This is an ideal spot for families that have kids that range in age from babies to teens. Heck, even bring along the skiing grandparents. Everyone is sure to have a fabulous time.
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