The Best Family Ski Resorts

From ski school and childcare to tubing hills and mini-terrain parks, these four resorts put family first.

Snowmass's natural terrain park     Photo: Hal Williams

Snowmass, Colorado

Snowmass's natural terrain park

EASY IN THE EAST
SMUGGLERS' NOTCH, VERMONT
Tucked into the north face of Mount Mansfield and boasting some burly and woodsy East Coast terrain, Smuggs could have set itself up as another core Vermont ski area in the vein of a Jay Peak or Mad River Glen. But it's also spent the past 20-plus years turning the place into one of the best resorts anywhere for families. The ski school offers a range of programs and packages—check out their Club Smugglers Advantage Package, which includes 50 percent off child care. smuggs.com

MELLOW MONTANA
BIG SKY, MONTANA
It features one of the biggest vertical drops in the lower 48, and the 45-plus degree steeps beneath the Lone Peak Tram will make you instinctively clutch your offspring. But don't be scared. The bulk of the skiing is cruisy and chill—and Big Sky's got every kiddie perk in the book, from a tubing hill to a mini-terrain park. And you won't exactly be competing with big-city day traffic for turns. Plus a combined ticket gets you access to Moonlight Basin, another spacious resort on the north side of Lone Peak. bigskyresort.com

RUN THE OPTION
SNOWMASS, COLORADO
Need ripping big-mountain terrain for you and Uncle Axel but mellow stuff for the rest of the clan? Snowmass's grooming is immaculate, but the steeps of the Cirque and the Hanging Valley Wall are some of the most challenging in Colorado. The area's 3,000-plus acres, combined with big vertical (3,500-foot runs are the norm) and lack of crowds, give the place a quasi-private-club feel. A brand-new base village and state-of-the-art ski school, the Treehouse Kids' Adventure Center, mean you can avoid the pomp of downtown Aspen. aspensnowmass.com

CHILD'S PLAY
STEAMBOAT, COLORADO
Letting your kids run at some mega-resorts is like setting them loose at Six Flags. Steamboat is as kid-friendly as it gets. There's really only one base area, the ski school is dialed, the flanks of the hill are loaded with ski-in, ski-out lodging (three big developments opened this year), and there's tons of mellow terrain. Oh, and there's also plenty of powder and tree skiing for you. steamboat.com

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