A Brave Ski Mom conversation with Lisa, a ski racing mom from Pennsylvania.
We choose Elk Mountain Ski Resort. While this ski area is in northern Pennsylvania, about three hours from where we live, it is also where my husband and I learned to ski. We have many great memories of Elk Mountain.
Why Elk Mountain Ski Resort?
Elk Mountain is located in northern Pennsylvania near New York. It is in a beautiful part of our state. Elk Mountain is truly in the middle of nowhere and a hidden gem. You won’t just stumble upon it. You have to plan to go there, but is is worth it. The skiing is a lot like Vermont. There are tons of trees, beautiful pines and beautifully cut slopes. The resort knows how to make the most of their mountain and with 1000 vertical feet, they have a lot of mountain by eastern standards. Make the most of their mountain. There are trails for all abilities and our daughter skiing the expert trails. Because Elk Mountain is smaller, it has a very cozy feeling.
What makes Elk Mountain Ski Resort good for families?
A great benefit for families are the resort’s flex tickets. You can buy morning tickets, afternoon tickets or evening session tickets. You don’t have to ski the entire day. Sometimes we ski in the morning, have a late lunch and call it a day because you can get a lot of skiing in four hours.
Elk Mountain also has a good ski school, that seems to cater to younger skiers. Snowtubing is really popular also, although we haven’t done it. We go to ski.
I also enjoy the slower pace at Elk Mountain. They have one quad chair, but all the other chairs are doubles. This makes the trip up the mountain slower, but I like it because it slows things down and gives us time to look around and enjoy all the beauty.
There are also two terrain parks. Especially on evenings and weekends, these are popular with snowboarders. Still, I think that probably 75% of the people on the hill are skiing.
Elk Mountain is an older ski resort, so lodge is not the nicest and it does get crowded. But it has a really nice restaurant and you can feed a family reasonably. The benefit of having only one lodge is that everyone always knows where to meet, for day or night skiing. Everything funnels back to the lodge.
I suppose it would be nice if Elk Mountain got a six person detachable chairlift, but really, it isn’t that type of place. It’s not very commercial and it’s definitely not a place where you feel rushed.
Do you have any “secrets” to share?
I think the beginner hill is great. It has a lift, so you don’t have to fool around with tow ropes or J bars. Once beginners are ready to go to the top of the mountain, there are some really nice green runs to take down.
Any advice for other families before them come to Elk Mountain?
If you can get there early, there is a smaller parking lot by the D lift. You can walk to the lodge from this parking lot. Once it is full, you have to park down low and take the tram to the lodge.
Where do you like to eat?
The restaurant in the lodge is great and there are many choices in nearby towns. The Elk Mountain website has a full list of area restaurants.
What about lodging?
This area of Pennsylvania is really untouched. The nearest national hotels are in Clark Summit about 15 minutes away. The Elk Mountain website has comprehensive listings of nearby hotels, motels, B & B’s and rental properties.
What makes Elk Mountain unique?
The fact that it is so untouched. It is remote. It’s not commercialized and you have to go out of your way to get there. There are no strip malls and the nearest gas station is 10 minutes away. Elk Mountain is a hidden gem and a great place to go with your family.
What is your favorite memory of Elk Mountain?
Probably taking my daughter there for the first time. She was 7 years old and it was the beginning of her 2nd season. We went up to visit family over Christmas break. She was used to skiing a smaller mountain near our home. When we drove up, I remember the look on her face. Then I remember the look she had when she was on top of the mountain. She was amazed by the big mountain. Watching her explore Elk Mountain and have so much fun, was great for my husband and I because we both grew up skiing there. It was her first big mountain.
I learned to ski at Elk Mountain in middle school. Every Friday, a bus took middle school kids up to ski. Tickets and rentals were included. I didn’t grow up skiing, so I went with a group of girls and we all learned to ski together. We went just because the boys were going. We didn’t have the right equipment or gear. We’d wear four pair of socks and two pair of jeans. We’d fall, get wet and freeze, but it was great fun!
Your nine year-old daughter is now a ski racer and loves skiing. Do you have any tips for other parents?
Put your kids in lessons. Don’t try to teach them yourself. If you start with lessons in the early season, you have a better chance of getting a small, or even private group. Plus your child has the entire season to improve and learn. The instructors are prepared to work with kids and make the learning fun. Parents can’t always do that with their own children.
Otherwise, make sure kids have one good pair of socks, good long underwear and boots that fit properly. That’s important for everyone!
What is your favorite thing about family skiing?
Skiing makes the winter go by so much faster. While everyone else complains about snow, ice and cold, we look forward to it and my daughter gets excited about it. We ski as a family and are doing something together that we all really love. Skiing is also something we can do together when she’s older. My husband and I are looking forward to free passes at age 70. We all hope to have a life long love of winter and skiing together.
The Brave Ski Mom Adds…
Elk Mountain Ski Resort is in Union Dale, Pennsylvania about 30 minutes North of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The focus is definitely on skiing at Elk Mountain, with a full selection of ski school programs for all ages and junior and adult racing. Special events including telemark workshops are planned throughout the season. For more information, please check the Elk Mountain website.
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