When your children are young it’s easy to find great family ski resorts.
Most resorts offer extensive programs for 12-and-unders, including learn to ski and ride classes, day care, craft parties, game nights and so on.
It’s different with teens. They are less likely to jump feet first into anything, although most of them are totally stoked to jump head first off of most anything.
For many teens, a ski trip is more about the skiing and less about the diversions. Still, they enjoy trying new things, learning new skills and spending quality family time together (really, they do!).
This winter we went out of our way at Snowmass to discover the programs, activities and events that most suit teens.
Teen-Only Group Lessons
Skiing and riding are more fun when you’ve got strong skills, especially if you’re an image-conscious teen. Of the four Aspen mountains, only Snowmass offers teen specific group lessons, for kids ages 13-17.
“Teens want to be cool and part of the group,” explains program coordinator Kevin Jordan.
“Snowmass has enough teens in lessons that we can divide groups by age and ability. The mountain also has terrain for everyone.”
Snowmass has instructors who work with teens every week of the season, so they know what this age group wants. They also have a laser focus on teaching both safety and skills, whether they’re helping teens reach their goals in double black terrain, upping their park skills or anything in between.
Adventure and Explore
Lessons are beneficial and fun, but time to explore the mountain is equally important. While some teens want to rip the groomers, others crave jumps and jibs or chutes and couloirs.
Snowmass has abundant freestyle terrain with two pipes and three terrain parks. Bud Light Big Rail Fridays showcase the best in local and visiting talent and guarantee inspiration.
Snowmass also has hike-to terrain appropriate for intermediates and above. Long Shot, true to its name at over 5 miles, is an intermediate run at the top of a 10-minute hike at the top of the Elk Camp lift.
Just beyond Long Shot, advanced skiers duck into Burnt Mountain Glades, while experts flock to Hanging Valley and the Cirque.
Early Birds Get the Groom… and the Pow
While my kids hate to get up early for school, they’ll gladly wake up to ski, especially if they’ve got guaranteed first tracks. Snowmass has a free First Tracks program runs every Wednesday and Friday morning. Sign up in advance the day before and meet the group at the Village Express lift at 7:55 a.m.
Although not every day is a powder day (we only wish!), first tracks on fresh corduroy is super fun, too, and earns your teen some bragging rights.
Family and Food = Fun
Feeding teens is a non-stop, never-ending adventure, especially when they’re hungry from skiing.
We love to make time for one really special dining “event” when we’re on a ski vacation. At Snowmass, our favorite is a long lunch at the Lynn Britt Cabin. Taking time together, without the distractions of friends and phones, opens up space to talk about adventures and discoveries. Reservations are recommended.
Weekly snowcat dinners at Lynn Britt are another option, although the Wednesday night Chuckwagon dinners are geared to families with younger kids.
Although dinner is served each Friday at Elk Camp (part of Ullr Nights), it can be crowded with families and little ones. We think it’s better to eat elsewhere and then head up for biking or the last tubing session.
- Hard Truths About Skiing with Teens. And Some Good News, Too. March 12, 2014.
- Parenting Teens: Off the Couch and Into the Outdoors, July 8, 2013. \
- Tips for Your Best Family Ski Vacation, Ever! December 3, 2014.
- A Walk on the Wild Side at Snowmass, January 28, 2015.
- What’s New At Snowmass? Gladed Skiing on Burnt Mountain, Ullr Nights and Two New Hotels, March 15, 2013.
- Spring Break Guide to Snowmass, Colorado: A Top 10 List For Skiing Families, March 17, 2011.
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