Since school started a couple weeks ago, my son has said daily (no lie), “I can’t wait for winter.” Though he’s been skiing since age 4, he seemed to hit his stride last season. I think he especially likes skiing now since he’s old enough, at age 11, to ski with his cousin or teen sibling without adult supervision at our home mountain, Aspen/Snowmass, since he knows the trails so well. But even exploring new-to-us mountains — like Winter Park and Breckenridge last year — is more fun for all of us because both children are really good skiers (faster and more confident than me).
And perhaps that’s my confession of the season: I very much enjoy the sport of skiing, but I like watching my kids have fun flying down the mountain much more than actually negotiating the slopes myself. I like that skiing is something we can do together as a family in the outdoors on glorious bluebird days (yes, I’m a fair-weather skier, too), and I love celebrating a good day on the slopes with an après-ski beer. Finally, to the point of this post, I really, really like all of the other things you can do in mountain resorts besides ski.
Because I am not one who is jonesin’ to ski every second of every day on a ski vacation (or here at my Aspen-area home on winter weekends), I happily seek out and schedule other cool winter activities in the mountains. While I am most familiar with the goings-on at ski resorts in Colorado, I guarantee you can find some of the below activities at resorts across North America — from California’s Mammoth Mountain to Maine’s Okemo and from Vermont’s Smugglers’ Notch to British Columbia’s Whistler.
Tubing: Our favorite mountain for tubing is at Keystone’s Adventure Point. Forget old-fashioned sledding: this is one sleek set-up, with groomed lanes and a conveyor belt ride back up to the top. The hill at Keystone is fast — just the way we like it. We’ve also tubed in Vail, Winter Park and Beaver Creek, whose tame hill is great for preschoolers. And it’s not just for kids — the other Vacation Gals and I laughed our butts off tubing at Park City’s Gorgoza Park a couple of winters ago.
Sleigh rides: Snuggle under a blanket an listen to jingle bells as you ride in a horse-pulled sleigh across snowcovered meadows and through pristine forest. Cozy and fun!
Alpine coasters: Get strapped into a coaster car and sail down a twisting, turning track (sort of like a roller coaster), through trees and around hairpin turns. Oh, yes, it’s quite exciting — and you can control the speed. We’ve done this at Breckenridge, though I know Park City Mountain Resort has a coaster, too.
Dogsledding: Sitting in a sled, while an experienced musher mans the reins is fun, but mushing your own dogs is way cooler. You’re in control of the dogsled when you book a tour with Good Times Adventures in Breckenridge. Even my seven-year-old son was able to do the driving a couple years ago; it was definitely the highlight of our ski season and an activity I’d highly recommend if you’re vacationing anywhere in Summit County this winter (i.e. Keystone or Breck).
Other things to do in mountain resorts in the winter include ice skating, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Then there’s always eating your way through fabulous resort restaurants, seeking solitude at a spa and ending the day sipping hot cocoa in front of a fire. There’s a lot to do at ski resorts besides ski!
This post is part of Back to Ski Week my pal Mara Gorman organizes annually. I was compensated for writing this post, but regular readers know how much I love playing in the outdoors with my family in Colorado in the winter months (i.e. I write about mountain resorts and activities all the time). Here’s to a fabulous ski season for all!