ski-vacationIf everyone in your gang is a beginner, consider smaller mountains near where you live, such as Hunter Mountain in New York, Crystal Mountain in Michigan, Brian Head Resort in Utah, Bolton Valley in Vermont and Mount Rose on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. They will invariably be cheaper and less overwhelming for the kids—and you.

Check what snow sports resorts near your home are offering for families this season:

Several states also offer “passports” for kids of certain ages allowing them to ski free—once you have filled out the paperwork and paid a small processing fee— all season. They include:

The 2012/2013 School of Shred Pass provides four free days of skiing or riding at each of Colorado’s top-ranked resorts–Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin–for all Colorado fifth and sixth grade students who register. Lessons and rentals are provided from 11/26/12-12/16/12, as well as during the entire month of January 2013 as a part of Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month.


The Canadian Ski Council’s 2012-2013 SnowPassallows 4th and 5th graders living in Canada to ski and ride three times at EACH participating ski area all across Canada

Check with your state to see what they are offering for your grade schoolers.

Special Skiing for Special Needs Skiers

There are also many adaptive programs around the country for those with physical and mental challenges including the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, CO; the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center also in CO; the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah, and Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports.

Eileen Ogintz is a leading national family travel expert whose syndicated column Taking the Kids is the most widely distributed column in the country on family travel. She also is the author of seven family travel books. Special thanks to Becca Tasch for her invaluable research assistance on this story.

For more Fun in the Snow stories, check out these lists of the best ski resorts for families across the country:

Best Midwest and Northeast Ski Resorts for Families

Best of the West Ski Resorts for Families

Ski Resorts Close to Home for Beginners

Ski Packages and Deals

Or read the full package of stories on family travel sites, Taking the Kids and Family Travel Forum.