If you have never skied before, the idea can be daunting. We jumped right in and took the kids to Keystone Resort in Colorado for an unforgettable experience.  With these tips, you, too, can plan your first ski trip. Also check out our post, Insider’s Guide to North Carolina Ski Resorts.

Where to Go

Going to Colorado gave us the chance to enjoy the mountain views of the Rockies and learn to ski on fresh snow. When we arrived at Keystone Resort, our Atlanta kids were ecstatic to be greeted with real snowfall. The first thing we did was check-in and play in the powdery stuff at the playground.

We stayed in the River Run condos, closest to the village at Keystone, and it was so worth it. We easily walked to get groceries, snacks, coffee, and go to restaurants and shops. We had space to spread out and cook in the well-appointed kitchen at our condo, and loved the heated pool and hot tub.

Let’s Go Skiing!

Keystone is a perfect place for kids and adults to try skiing for the first time. We started out on skis in a private family lesson. This was a good choice for us because our kids, ages 5 and 3, were more confident with us than by themselves.

On the first day, we learned the basics including taking off and maneuvering and, of course, how to get up when you fall. Once we covered the basics, we learned to go downhill. Our kids liked the attention and the snack breaks. The kids program helped them get acclimated to going on their own.

When we split up on the second day, my husband and I did a group adult lesson. We built our confidence in the small group instruction. Adult lessons are offered for the full or half day.

Family Activities

Keystone’s Kidtopia has engaging family programs every day. Watch fireworks and take part in Riperoo’s Village parade (Riperoo is the village mascot). Our son loved the quirky, 45 minute night hike for Bigfoot. Every day at 4 p.m., Kidtopia has free cookies and hosts a daily scavenger hunt. Plus, attend an ice cream birthday party, explore the night sky, participate in a giant snowball launch, and explore a huge snow fort.

Tubing is also available at Keystone, a short drive from the main village.  Rent a tube for a small fee and enjoy sliding down the big hill with your kids.  It was a nice break from skiing and fun to still be outdoors and enjoy the view.

Make a Memory with a Sleigh Ride

For a special splurge, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride. We enjoyed the ride under the stars with warm blankets to a historic homestead for dinner. The hot chocolate, biscuits and soup were a delicious opening to a fun, tasty dinner. The guitar singalong and adult beverages during dinner added to the festive atmosphere.

More Tips for First-Time Skiers

  • Drink lots of water. The higher altitude means you must stay hydrated; plus you are trying a new sport, which can wear you down.
  • Be prepared to be tired and go to bed early. With the time change and the exercise, it was hard to make it past 8:30 p.m.
  • Mittens. Make sure you have mittens that stay on your kid’s hands and it’s a good idea to have a second pair.
  • One to two pairs of snow bibs for the kids. A second pair of consignment snow pants or bibs can be a great backup if the kids’ clothing gets wet.
  • Base Layer. You will need a breathable base layer to stay warm. Buy two pairs for each member of your family.
  • Ski jacket or warm winter coat. What you already own may work. Both children managed just fine with regular Land’s End winter coats. At Keystone, there were plenty of stores selling winter gear and the prices were reasonable if not the same as you would pay at home. You can easily buy anything extra you need at the resort.
  • Check an extra bag. With all the jackets, ski pants and boots, it was worth the fee.

The Details

Keystone Resort is about a two-hour drive from the Denver International Airport; plan to take a shuttle or rent a car. The resort has a variety of accommodations from lodge rooms, to condos to home rentals, starting at about $150 a night. Book a two night stay and kids ski free. If you book directly through Keystone, kids get free lift tickets (value: $72/day per kid) and accommodation rates are up to 30% off.

We went skiing for 2 days and stayed 3 nights. In retrospect, we would have loved one more day of learning and fun. Ski season typically ends in early April.

Looking for more kid-friendly things to do in Colorado? Read our story: Best Things to do in Denver, Colorado with Kids.

– Laura Powell

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