An interview with Karen de Seve, a ski mom and writer based in the Northeast. Karen blogs at Family Snowtime! A former ski instructor, Karen loves hitting the slopes with her husband and two young daughters.
Okemo Mountain Resort, in Ludlow, Vermont, has been a Northeast staple since 1955. A nice blend of new-and-improved and rustic, Okemo combines a sense of historical New England with recently upgraded lifts, snowmaking and terrain parks. Speaking of parks, Okemo has the only Superpipe in the Northeast.
What makes this resort great for family skiing?
As a parent of two young children, I’m looking for the best value at a mountain where everyone will be happy. Okemo does not disappoint. Kids under 6 years old are free (plus a one-time $5 charge for a direct-to-lift RFID card).
Here are some other “must haves:”
Easy slopes for the wee ones: There are convenient magic carpets at Jackson Gore base and the Clock Tower base within just a short walk. Better yet, it is easy to ski back to the lodge when little piggies get cold.
Ski/board school: Jackson Gore base has a great day care/snow school combo that makes it easy for parents to get some runs on the upper mountain. The magic carpet and chair lift are close, so little legs won’t tire out before the lessons even began.
Beyond the bunny slope: As our kids gained skills, they’ve enjoyed taking the Quantum Four Quad to Jackson Gore Peak and other parts of the resort. The lifts at the Clock Tower base provide access to a lot of beginner slopes. At Jackson Gore, there’s a pretty big jump from the magic carpet hill to the chairlift slope, which has steep sections.
Variety of terrain: Okemo has a nice variety of slopes for everyone, along with nine terrain parks.
Après ski fun: There’s a great swimming pool at the Spring House at the Jackson Gore base. It’s worth the sprint across the parking lot. The kiddie pool has a giant frog slide, and the big pool has a tall slide. Parents can take turns playing and relaxing in the hot tub.
The skating rink got an upgrade this year so the ice will stay cold even if the air temperature rises up to 50 degrees. You can rent skates and even boogie down when there’s a DJ in the Ice House!
Another family favorite is the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster. A parent and kid ride together in a roller coaster car with a hand break that allows you to control your speed down the 3600-foot-long track that twists, turns and drops. You’ll want to ride it more than once, so just buy double tickets up front.
And although I haven’t tried it, the tubing looks pretty fun!
Any deals you’d like to share?
If you aren’t satisfied with conditions within your first hour on the slopes, you can get a return-visit coupon.
Save 25% by buying your tickets online in advance.
Ski or ride for free on Sunday afternoon when you purchase a 5-, 6- or 7-day pass beginning Monday.
With the new RFID passes, parents can load money onto the card for kids to pay for lunch if they are on their own.
How about advice for families coming to Okemo?
Winter in Vermont is unpredictable. Bring lots of layers. It can be windy and freezing one day and warm and snowy the next.
Weekends are crowded, but there are events and family activities. Mid-week, the mountain is a lot less crowded.
If you can, ride the orange bubble lifts. Okemo is windy. The bubbles (and heated seat) help you stay warm!
Favorite spots for a snack or meal?
Honestly, my favorite food is the s’mores, delivered fireside at the Jackson Gore lobby! The Coleman Brook Tavern is pretty tasty, too.
How about lodging?
Our family has rented a house in Ludlow, which require driving to the mountain. Then we discovered the Jackson Gore condos, which were perfect for the little kids just starting out.
Do you have any family skiing tips to share with other parents?
When I had kids, I had to rethink slope time. Some things I’ve learned are:
- Sign kids up for lessons. You’ll be happy you did!
- Go at your kids’ pace.
- Be encouraging, but not demanding.
- If the kids are cold and tired, go inside to warm up. Everyone will be happier.
What is your favorite thing about family skiing?
I love skiing, and there’s nothing more fun than sharing my favorite sports with my kids. Being on the slopes is a great way to have fun and get outdoors.
The Brave Ski Mom Adds…
Okemo is indeed a Vermont family favorite, consistently ranked as one of the best resorts for families of all ages. Known for its excellent snowmaking and grooming, conditions are generally good and the resort offers a range of popular clinics for adults and kids, including Women’s Alpine Adventures.
When kids need a break from the snow, the resort also has an abundance of activities that appeal to every age.
Also, you should note that Okemo Mountain Resort is on the MAX Pass!
The MAX Pass is a single pass that gives you 5 days at each of 39 ski resorts across North America, with no blackout dates.
You’ll also find Big Sky, Montana; Mountain High, California; Mount Bachelor, Oregon; Buck Hill, Minnesota; Mont-Sainte-Anne and Stoneham in Quebec and, one resort I’m dying to visit, Kicking Horse, BC.
Karen de Seve has been telling stories about science and nature for decades, most recently for National Geographic Kids, Web and Magazine. She is the creative force of Creative Content Studio, and just started blogging at Family Snowtime!s A former ski instructor, Karen loves hitting the slopes with her husband and two young daughters.
More Vermont Skiing:
- The Beast and The Best: Learn to Ski, Build Your Skills and Enjoy Killington, Vermont’s Biggest Resort, November 3, 2014.
- Pico Mountain: Killington’s Local Sister, November 5, 2014.
- Family Skiing at Mad River Glen, Vermont, December 17, 2012.
- Why I Love Skiing at Okemo, Vermont, October 27, 2011.
- Why My Family Loves Skiing at Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont, January 26, 2011.
- Why Our Family Loves Skiing at Sugarbush, Vermont, December 16, 2010.
© 2017, braveskimom. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.