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Non Region Specific Kids-friendly Ikon resort in the West in early April

dovski

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So probably the most family friendly resort we have visited with our kids when they were younger was Sun Peaks. Pretty much all the accommodation is ski in ski out. Their ski school and kids programs are fantastic and skiing there is incredibly reasonable. We have skied there end of March/Early April and had some great conditions and even powder, but we got lucky that year. Downside to Sun Peaks is that coming from the US you are going to have to fly and drive ... no major international airport within 5 hours of Sun Peaks, though there are some smaller local airports within an hours drive.

Banff is hands down our favorite Spring Skiing destination and we go there as a family every April. They are further North so you are almost always guaranteed to have good. sometimes great snow. The town of Banff is amazing plus you are in the middle of some of the worlds most beautiful national parks. You are also about a 30 minute drive from Lake Louise, which is also amazing. There are three Ikon pass resorts in the area, Sunshine, Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay. There is a free ski bus that will pick you up from your hotel in Banff or Lake Louise and take you to each of the ski hills.

Getting to Banff is easy as it is a little over an hours drive from the Calgary International Airport. Also come April it is the off season in Banff so hotels are very reasonable, we always book early and get a massive Ikon Pass discount through SkiBig3. For our trip this April, we booked the Elk + Avenue Hotel in downtown Banff for about $93 cdn a night. We also rented a Suburban through Costco travel for about $75/day, also in CDN $$.

Personally we we prefer Banff in the Spring over Sun Peaks because it offers more ski options and has a lot of great après ski options. We also like Sun Peaks and truthfully you cannot go wrong with either. Both will be way way cheaper than any US resort and both are highly recommended. Feel free to ping me if you have any additional questions.
 
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Ivan

Ivan

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Thank you everyone for your responses! @Mel @dovski Banff looks like an interesting option, too. I will look into it more closely.

Re traveling with kids: yes, I know it can be challenging, and Killington/Stratton/Sugarbush is definitely an attractive option. Having said that, we have traveled with kids quite a bit (without ski stuff, though), including trips over 15 hours long, with a stroller, car seats, etc. Sometimes it was tricky, but we have a ton of great memories, and yes, kids remember a lot. So yeah, it's not necessarily easy, but I'm pretty sure we can make it work if we really want to fly somewhere.
 

dovski

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Thank you everyone for your responses! @Mel @dovski Banff looks like an interesting option, too. I will look into it more closely.

Re traveling with kids: yes, I know it can be challenging, and Killington/Stratton/Sugarbush is definitely an attractive option. Having said that, we have traveled with kids quite a bit (without ski stuff, though), including trips over 15 hours long, with a stroller, car seats, etc. Sometimes it was tricky, but we have a ton of great memories, and yes, kids remember a lot. So yeah, it's not necessarily easy, but I'm pretty sure we can make it work if we really want to fly somewhere.
Plus one to that, but like you we have always traveled with our kids and it so worth it. With a little planning it is also not that bad. Our ski trips now look like this:
  • have a van and driver who picks us up with all our ski gear and drops us right at the departure door in front of check in.
  • skis and boots and all our gear get checked
  • We try to take direct flights as that makes it easier
  • We try to pick destinations where the car rental place is onsite, so we can pick up our bags and put them directly in the car.
  • Where possible we go for ski in ski out accommodation or accommodation with a shuttle to and from the ski hill
  • we made our kids carry their ski gear from a very young age .... this has made a huge difference
So many great memories from so many great trips and so many more to come!
 

tromano

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I have three kids all under 13. I will say that UT is a perfect place to go for a vacation with kids. The entire culture of the place is not just kid friendly, its more like kid focused. The wasatch front has untold number fun things for kids to do - outside of the resorts - and it would be worth while to check them out and see if anything speaks to your family. Just one list: https://saltlakecity.kidsoutandabou...places-take-kids-and-around-salt-lake-city-ut

Of the UT ikon areas, IMO, Deer Valley and Brighton are the best for kids. Deer valley has a huge volume, high percentage, and good quality beginner and easy intermediate terrain, amazing grooming and to top tier in service. At Brighton the the kids favorite, its just a fun place to ski and they have pretty much built their brand on family and youth. Have the best terrain parks of the ikon resorts and great glades and trees that kids always seem to be drawn to. For both the terrain tends to be more mellow and kid friendly, the resorts are more easily accessible, and consistently provide a positive skier experience.

For most people staying up canyon in the cottonwoods is the best option. However, there are some draw backs in that you tend to get stuck up there and don't want to or can't leave. The services in the canyons are limited and you may end up paying luxury prices for hostel quality accommodations.

A salt lake valley based ski trip targeting the cottonwoods can can be the best of both worlds or the worst possible choice (and kids just up the risk factor). The risks are mostly the logistics of getting up to and back from the cottonwood canyon resorts - especially if it's snowing. If it snows (even in April) the cottonwoods may still be a total disaster. Worst case scenarios include many hours per day in canyon traffic or canyon closure, which basicly means you cannot go up in the morning or worse not allowed to leave the resort in the afternoon. BCC is generally a safer bet than LCC but both canyons may close during ski season. 4x4 and good tires is basicly a requirement for this trip plan.

My advice would be to wait and see how the season develops before picking a base of operations and resort/area to focus on.

If you need to book in advance staying in park city and skiing deer valley would be my recommendation simply because there are fewer things that can go wrong. The terrain is very appropriate for kids, crowds are more predictably low in spring, better lodging options near the resort, better transit, more service in park city than any canyon, and less variability in terms of the skier experience.
 
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Pat AKA mustski

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I used to lead a Middle School ski club. We chose Utah every year for exactly the reasons listed by @tromano. I took kids there every year for 10 years. We stayed in SLC and rode up in our bus though.
 

DebbieSue

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Have to agree with @DebbieSue. Travelling with that young, you're going to be a porter. Neither on Ikon but good snow - Mont Ste Anne, Quebec City, or Jay Peak. Tremblant is on Ikon, but who knows. Not a school holiday week either.
In fairness to @Jilly, I was going to recommend Tremblant. We did a wonderful road trip to Tremblant over Christmas when kids were 7 and 8 as an exotic “foreign”adventure. Decorated an outdoor tree w real lit candles, ate maple syrup snow treats, enjoyed the cuisine. Atmosphere at the mountain was more European than our typical New Hampshire lodges. We split the ride up with an overnight in So.Burlington at hotel w pool (do you see a theme here?). On the way home we stopped at a chain restaurant called Boston which made us Bostonians laugh. There was a hockey game on and the fans rooting for Les Habs were as entertaining as the game. We stayed at a lodge called Hotel du Lac; they had a ski school package that was recommended to us. In 5 days the kids advanced from green run wedge skiing to mostly parallel on blues. It was cold. I’m think Kton has better snowmaking and grooming, although my experience is 15 years old. We had chicken heads for most of the week, and that not a quebecois culinary delight. Skiing was noisy. Even though Tremblant is further North, for April I think Kton is a better bet.
 

DebbieSue

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Killington end of March/Early April has good snow. There’s no slopeside lodging afaik.
We have rented Trail Creek condo. Ski in, if it’s not total low tide. Non or later skiing parent can do drop off right at the lodges or gondola with skiers booted up to eliminate parking lot schlepp.
 

DebbieSue

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View attachment 214505
It was downright tropical at the base of Bear in 2022. Here, everyone’s watching @DebbieSue navigate the sea of moguls next to the course.
I think I was shopping, not navigating!!! We were lucky to have @James serving as Rear Admiral of the Mini-gathering Fleet, tending to those tossed about and taking photos along the way.
 

Bill Miles

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Lower elevation was mentioned; Sun Valley is pretty low for a Rocky Mountain resort, base 5750, top 9150.
 

ss20

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A minute from the Alta exit off the I-15!
Deer Valley for sure. Plenty of greens and blues. Low elevation. 45 minutes from the airport.

Brighton would be good for a day. Alta and Snowbird would be very very lacking in the "greens and gentle blues" area if you're looking to entertain your family for a whole day. Afternoon of skiing? Sure.
 
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Ivan

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Deer Valley for sure. Plenty of greens and blues. Low elevation. 45 minutes from the airport.

Brighton would be good for a day. Alta and Snowbird would be very very lacking in the "greens and gentle blues" area if you're looking to entertain your family for a whole day. Afternoon of skiing? Sure.
Yep, tend to agree re Alta and Snowbird. Love the reviews, but started looking at the trail map, and it looks like there isn't much for a 4-year-old (will be 5 in February) who will be in his second season of skiing this year.

I think for now the main options (if we eventually decide to do a big trip that involves flying) are Deer Valley in Utah (pros: lower elevation, lots of easier trails, great grooming; cons: may be more expensive, closing dates on the earlier side); Copper or Winter Park in Colorado (pros: ease of getting there, reliable snow, decent number of easier trails; cons: really high elevation); or Banff in Canada (pros: cheaper than other resorts on the list, reliable snow, fairly low base elevation; cons: not that many green runs, somewhat longer travel time for us, need to cross the border).

Sun Valley sounds attractive, but it would be more difficult to get there, and their closing dates are also a bit on the earlier side, so potentially snow cover may be less reliable in April (yes, I know there is a trade-off between lower elevation and longer season).

We are not in a hurry, so I'll keep doing more research, but this thread has been very useful.
 
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Ivan

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Well, perhaps one other advantage of going to Utah with full Ikon is that we would have more options there. Could split our time between Deer Valley, Alta/Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton, though my impression is that Deer Valley is hands down the best option as far as gentler runs go.
 

ss20

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A minute from the Alta exit off the I-15!
Well, perhaps one other advantage of going to Utah with full Ikon is that we would have more options there. Could split our time between Deer Valley, Alta/Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton, though my impression is that Deer Valley is hands down the best option as far as gentler runs go.

Do not plan on Alta/Bird if you have what sounds like East Coast low intermediate skiers. Unless you'd drive/shuttle between resorts. The AltaBird connection is stressful and can be challenging in poor conditions even for true intermediate skiers.

Deer Valley 100%. Copper a good choice too... likely cheaper as well
 
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Ivan

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Do not plan on Alta/Bird if you have what sounds like East Coast low intermediate skiers.
Yeah, makes sense. I'm not thinking about the Alta/Bird connection, but even Alta alone seems to have just a couple of blue runs (and no greens) off most lifts, except for Sunnyside. Yes, our younger one made terrific progress last season (from skiing a tiny magic carpet to skiing Stratton top to bottom), but still, I definitely want to have easier options for him.
 

dovski

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Yep, tend to agree re Alta and Snowbird. Love the reviews, but started looking at the trail map, and it looks like there isn't much for a 4-year-old (will be 5 in February) who will be in his second season of skiing this year.

I think for now the main options (if we eventually decide to do a big trip that involves flying) are Deer Valley in Utah (pros: lower elevation, lots of easier trails, great grooming; cons: may be more expensive, closing dates on the earlier side); Copper or Winter Park in Colorado (pros: ease of getting there, reliable snow, decent number of easier trails; cons: really high elevation); or Banff in Canada (pros: cheaper than other resorts on the list, reliable snow, fairly low base elevation; cons: not that many green runs, somewhat longer travel time for us, need to cross the border).

Sun Valley sounds attractive, but it would be more difficult to get there, and their closing dates are also a bit on the earlier side, so potentially snow cover may be less reliable in April (yes, I know there is a trade-off between lower elevation and longer season).

We are not in a hurry, so I'll keep doing more research, but this thread has been very useful.
Correction Banff actually has some great beginner terrain, specifically Sunshine Village. With the exception of Goats Eye, every chair has green runs and depending on your kids stamina you can chose between longer and shorter green runs. There is also a great kids club (Tiny Tigers) where they run half and full day skicare for kids that includes meals, activities, rental gear and lessons. Which is great if parents want to get in some advanced skiing or make a full day of it at the mountain and the little ones are getting tired

Her is the info on Tiny Tigers
 

Prosper

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Yep, tend to agree re Alta and Snowbird. Love the reviews, but started looking at the trail map, and it looks like there isn't much for a 4-year-old (will be 5 in February) who will be in his second season of skiing this year.

I think for now the main options (if we eventually decide to do a big trip that involves flying) are Deer Valley in Utah (pros: lower elevation, lots of easier trails, great grooming; cons: may be more expensive, closing dates on the earlier side); Copper or Winter Park in Colorado (pros: ease of getting there, reliable snow, decent number of easier trails; cons: really high elevation); or Banff in Canada (pros: cheaper than other resorts on the list, reliable snow, fairly low base elevation; cons: not that many green runs, somewhat longer travel time for us, need to cross the border).

Sun Valley sounds attractive, but it would be more difficult to get there, and their closing dates are also a bit on the earlier side, so potentially snow cover may be less reliable in April (yes, I know there is a trade-off between lower elevation and longer season).

We are not in a hurry, so I'll keep doing more research, but this thread has been very useful.
Ski in/out housing in Deer Valley will be significantly more expensive than Copper. Winter Park only has one real slopeside option and it is a bit of a walk to the beginner ski lift. Yes, you can find less expensive accommodations in Park City but that will likely be more expensive than comparable lodging in Summit County or Winter Park/Fraser. Copper is probably better than Winter Park terrain-wise although there are good green runs at Winter Park. There are many more housing and dining options in Summit County than Winter Park/Fraser. With all that being said, if budget is not as much a concern as altitude, Deer Valley is probably your best choice.
 

skidrew

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Pretty much the only exception is Syracuse, which has direct flights to Denver.
Because I ski there a lot, I'll make a pitch to add Big Sky to the mix. While no guarantees, snow should be decent in late March. If it's warm, it get can a bit sloppy near the base but up higher it's usually still decent if not great. But you run this risk almost everywhere, and Big Sky plans to stay open until late April (some others close early April).

If you can get a flight to Denver, you can connect to Bozeman, from where it's a one hour drive. Base is about 6500 feet, so not super high. And there's lodging at base.
 

dovski

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Because I ski there a lot, I'll make a pitch to add Big Sky to the mix. While no guarantees, snow should be decent in late March. If it's warm, it get can a bit sloppy near the base but up higher it's usually still decent if not great. But you run this risk almost everywhere, and Big Sky plans to stay open until late April (some others close early April).

If you can get a flight to Denver, you can connect to Bozeman, from where it's a one hour drive. Base is about 6500 feet, so not super high. And there's lodging at base.
Love Big Sky, absolutely amazing resort but the cost to stay/ski there has gone through the roof over the last 3 years. I get 10 free days a year there through my Ikon Pass and Boyne pass benefits, and last year was the first time I did not ski there on a long time. Cost of accommodation was double what I paid the previous year and 4x what I was paying 4 years back. 400% increase in 4 years makes it hard to justify. If you can find a great deal on accommodation or don’t mind the price this is a mountain you should definitely ski
 

S.H.

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Cost of accommodation was double what I paid the previous year and 4x what I was paying 4 years back. 400% increase in 4 years makes it hard to justify.
if the cost is now 4x what it was 4 years ago that's a 300% increase

#math #irrelevant
 

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