Our family enjoys adventure and trying new experiences. We have quite a list of activities to try as a family one day (surfing, sailing, zip lining, white water rafting, to name a few.) and now that we have lived in the Centennial State for a little over one year, we decided it was time to do what “everyone” does around here: ski.
Participating in activities that are popular and part of the culture is something we enjoy. We believe if you really want to experience a place, do something that area is known for. When it comes to Colorado one of those activities is skiing.
It is also important to us that our kids are introduced to challenging situations and have the opportunity to try something new. Kids need all the feelings of being a newbie, not being an expert and possibly even failure. Skiing provided our older two with a bit of uncertainty but afterwards, a sense of accomplishment.
Your ski experience will vary depending on where you go and how old your kids are, but if you are a first-time skiing family like we were, here’s what I suggest: ask around. Coloradans who have skied for years have all kinds of insight to offer us beginners. Based on the advice we received from a handful of skiing friends, we:
- Started on Monarch Mountain.
- Purchased package deals that included lessons, lift tickets, and gear rentals.
- Only took our oldest two (9 year olds) on this trip and left our 4 year olds with grandparents.
Getting lessons was the best advice we received and we are glad we followed it. Our kids were taught in a group with patient, enthusiastic instructors and were also provided lunch. My husband and I had a 2-hour private lesson where by the end, we got on the chair lift and tackled two green runs (beginner). By the end of the day, we felt confident and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Our kids learned basic techniques and rode the bunny hill with us about 10 times at the last part of the day. They had fun and felt like they knew what they were doing.
Renting our gear at the lodge was an excellent choice. We did not have to lug ski gear back and forth to the car and then to a rental facility once we were back home. When you are new at something, adding in gear can feel intimidating. If we had not rented our gear along with our tickets and lessons, it would have cost more money, as well.
Saving time + saving money = winning!
Taking only our older two this first time around was another decision we don’t regret. Monarch does provide childcare for potty trained kids ages 3-6, but since we had grandparents in town, we let them take over for the day. I asked our ski instructor what his recommendation was for best age to learn. He said you really need to know your child. Some are ready at 2, some at 6, others at 9. There is no perfect age and a good attitude goes a long way if your child is older.
What we would do differently
Because we all enjoyed our experience, we are looking for opportunities to go skiing again! But there are a few things we will do differently.
We will put our older two in lessons again, but my husband and I feel confident enough to go it alone next time and possibly rent our gear at an outside location.
Because skiing is excellent exercise, and you’re at high altitudes in Colorado, you get thirsty. Our next ski trip, we will take hydration packs. It’s time consuming to take your gear off just to run inside to grab a quick drink of water. Lesson learned.
Pack lunches. Not only are the restaurants extremely crowded at lunch time, they are expensive. Monarch had a picnic area where you could eat food you brought with you and I assume most lodges are similar. There is always the option of eating in your car too. We brought snacks along with us, but nothing that would sustain us for lunch. Next time we will take lunches and purchase snacks.
Because you will most likely be at higher altitudes when skiing, begin hydrating 2 days prior to your trip. Nothing ruins your fun like a splitting headache.
Use sunscreen, chapstick, and lotion. Dry cold air, coupled with sun and high altitude means dry skin! Do yourself a favor and be prepared.
Bring your layers, but also be prepared to sweat. The day we skied was supposed to be 24 and cloudy. It ended up being the most beautiful day at 35 and sunny. But that meant we were HOT. Definitely layer up, but don’t underestimate that awesome Colorado sunshine.
Have Fun Skiing
The most important aspect to remember is to have fun. You don’t need to ski triple black diamond runs to have a good day on the mountain. You don’t even need to get to the intermediate level. Ski at your own pace and have a great time doing it! And if you try skiing and don’t enjoy it… good job trying something new and move on to the next new adventure on your bucket list. Trying new activities creates memories and is good for you in countless ways.
What new experience or activity have you and your family tried lately? Or what new adventures do you have planned for this New Year?