Playing in snowHumans were never meant to hibernate in winter. Besides, there’s too much fun to be had in the snow, whether you want to ski, snowboard, snowshoe, cross-country ski, sled, build snowmen or snow forts, or make snow angels.

Are you ready? Snow is already beginning to fall in the Rockies and Sierras. And you can share you joy of all things snow with the Bring a Friend Challenge, a new element of Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. It’s open to all current skiers and snowboarders from Dec. 17-March 17. The Challenge offers incentives for current skiers and snowboarders who introduce newcomers to lessons from professional instructors this winter. You can win prizes and even a free trip to a snow resort.

January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month 2013.Β Special FeaturesΒ offers a quick overview with all of the places where you can get discountedβ€”or possibly even free–lessons and rentals. You can also follow the deals on Twitter and Facebook

Look for opportunities to explore new mountains– like the Mountain Collective, an unprecedented collaboration between the four top independent resorts: Alta, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows that offers 50 percent off on lift tickets and 25 percent savings on lodging.

Find Packages and Deals.

You can snowshoe with kids in national parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Or you can experience winter at a dude ranch like the C Lazy U and Vista Verde Ranch in Colorado where you can snowshoe, horseback ride in the snow, cross-country ski and even back-country ski with a snow cat taking you up the hills so you can ski or snowboard down on private land. And you won’t need to cook a single meal.

Many snow sports resorts are pulling out all the stops for families this season with increased programming, free lift tickets and free flights. Look for deals from companies such as that can package lifts, lessons, lodging and air and can tell you where and when to find kids-free programs this season.

Check out companies such as Black Tie Rentals that will deliver gear right to where you are staying and adjust it on the spot. (I loved the convenience at Aspen last year) Many locations offer a kids-rent-free package throughout the season for ages 12 and younger. Ski Butlers has deals in Steamboat and Telluride where kids rent free with an adult rental for five or more days.

More ski news: Tips on finding a ski resort close to home.
Eileen Ogintz writes the popular Taking the Kids syndicated family travel column.