In the seasons when there is nothing white on the ground, it’s easy to succumb to the lure of the West, where the slopes almost always feature natural powder. But Eastern skiers, a hearty band, delight in the mere dusting of flakes, and are willing to accept manufactured snow because of the ease of getting in the car.
One of our closest ski areas is Mountain Creek
in New Jersey, where a new terrain park, Mountain Creek South, offers expanded freestyle options for skiers and boarders. Mountain Creek is extremely close to the New York metropolitan area, but it has a growing second home market, and a ski-in hotel with all the amenities of a Swiss resort. Belleayre
, in upstate New York, and owned by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, is building a new ski lodge, which will, alas, not be ready till spring. In addition to offering varied terrain in a relaxed setting, Belleayre has an Adaptive Ski Program for blind, autistic and developmentally delayed skiers, providing beginning, intermediate or advanced lessons.
Going a bit further puts you in Vermont. Southern VT boasts Bromley
, the southern facing mountain where you don’t want to forget sunscreen and goggles. Bromley has daycare where kids play in the snow and inside; by age 3, kids can start ski programs. The Pig Dog Mountain Club, for ages 6-12, offers full-day programs in skiing and snowboarding. Okemo Mountain Resort
has added snowtubing in the afternoons, for those who are tired of standing up (or falling down) in the snow. A magic carpet brings you back up to special tubing chutes. If your kids are too small for tubing (minimum is 42 inches), there are snow tunnels and slides that kids can climb around, then you can warm up at an outdoor fire pit.
Okemo has children’s programs that start kids as young as 2 (30 minutes in the snow, one-on-one). Off the slopes, Okemo has The Spring House, a new rec area with a pool, children’s pool with slide and fountains, and racquetball. The Ice House offers ice skating and a Nordic Center has trails for cross country and snowshoeing. You can also stay on top of your golf game deep in the icy hills. An indoor golf center has a putting green and virtual golf simulator.
has much to entice, including great programming for all ages. As part of the child care center, kids as young as 2 1/2 can go up on a special ‘magic carpet’ lift and get comfortable on skis. There are all-day ski and board programs for kids 3-17, broken down by ages. Après ski, there is a FunZone — an indoor play area that has been revamped with new inflatable climbing objects, an obstacle course, and a mini golf course. Info
—Mountain Creek, Vernon, N.J.: www.mountaincreek.com
—Belleayre, Highmount, N.Y.: www.belleayre.com
—Okemo Mountain Resort: www.okemo.com
—Smugglers’ Notch, VT: www.smuggs.com
. OUT WEST
—Park City, Utah boasts that you can leave New York in the morning, and be on the slopes by afternoon. In fact, its three ski resorts, Park City Mountain, Deer Valley and The Canyons, offer free lift tickets; if you fly into Salt Lake City, you can exchange your boarding pass for a same-day lift ticket.
is great for families with little kids; Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants-themed snowboards and skis appeal to young ones. But the large resort offers enough varied terrain for skiers of all abilities.
Park City has very personalized children’s programs, with a maximum of five per group. Young teens can take ski and snowboard tours with older teenagers. And the year-round Alpine Coaster and tubing park offer non-ski options. Deer Valley, the smallest of the three, still has plenty of beginner through expert trails, and a terrain park.
—The Canyons Resort: www.thecanyons.com
—Park City Mountain Resort: www.parkcitymountain.com
—Deer Valley Resort: www.deervalley.com
—Get more Park City, Utah ski info at www.parkcityinfo.com
has a Four Seasons Mountain Resort slope side, where a ski concierge arranges rentals, lessons and lift tickets and warms your ski boots. There is downhill and cross country, dog sledding and sleigh rides. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has daycare staring at 6 months, and ski programs for kids up to 14 years.
—Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY: www.jacksonholewy.com