Are you excited to plan a ski trip? If this is your first time skiing? We have you covered!
This guide for skiing for beginners will provide you with all the information you need to prepare for and plan a ski trip.
As a bonus, you will get a packing-for-a-ski- trip checklist to help you know exactly what to bring. (keep reading) We make skiing for beginners a breeze!
The following information is designed for beginner skiers. In this post, we will go over what kind of ski gear you will need, where to plan a ski trip, ticket and ski rental options, ski school, and basic ski terminology. We also dive into some important tips for skiing for beginners to get your set for your first ski trip.
Let’s explore all of your options and teach you how to plan a ski trip you won't forget.
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Ski Gear you Need Before your Trip
First up on this guide for skiing for beginners is what to buy for a ski trip. There are a few ski essentials for beginners you will need for a ski trip. We are going to narrow down what you need to buy for a ski trip.
What to Buy for a Ski Trip
Checklist for Ski Trip
Make sure to get a copy of my complete ski checklist for packing. This list will help you make sure you do not forget anything for your skiing trip!
There are a few things listed above, that you may not think of packing, the rest of the packing list is available in the ski checklist that I will email to you.
I also have a “What to wear skiing post” this will help you know what you need for your first time skiing.
Decide the Location of Your First Time Ski Trip
Deciding the location is the first step to plan a ski trip. There are some amazing resorts in the USA. This post will exclusively focus on the US.
There are a lot of factors that play into deciding a ski trip location. For a first-time ski trip, I would recommend going somewhere close to your home.
Ski Resorts Close to “Me”
If you live on or near the east coast, there are options in the northeast. The same goes for the Midwest and western United States.
Go Skiing – Tips for First Time Skiers
If there is not a ski resort nearby then you might as well fly out to the Rocky Mountains and enjoy the best skiing in the United States.
Colorado claims to be the #1 ski destination in North America, but Utah has the greatest snow on earth, so planning a Salt Lake City Ski Trip might be a better option. It is up to you! Either Way skiing for the first time is going to be an awesome experience.
How Much Does a Skiing Trip Cost?
I hate to say this but going on a family ski trip can cost as much as Disney World!!!
When you add in ski gear, airline tickets, ski lift tickets, ski rentals, ski food, and hotel cost. It can add up.
It really depends on the size of your family but. go into this skiing trip knowing that skiing is not cheap. However, there are ways to save money on a ski trip and I am excited to share a few!
How Long Should I Plan a Ski Trip For?
To make the best decision on location, determining the length of your trip is essential. If you are planning for a week or two of skiing, I definitely recommend going out west to the best ski resorts in the United States.
We live in Utah and personally know individuals that have moved out to Utah specifically to ski the powder and groomed trails as a preference to what is known as icier runs out east.
My husband being from northern Illinois and skiing in the Midwest was blown away to see the mountains out west.
I think you can’t lose either way between Utah and Colorado, they both have great resorts. Wyoming, Montana, California, and Nevada have some great resorts as well. There are great “skiing for beginners” resorts in all these locations.
Utah Ski Resorts
In Utah, there are a number of resorts very close to Salt Lake City and the international airport. It is about 30 minutes to amazing resorts including Park City from the airport.
If you are still in or near Salt Lake City, you can still access the Park City resorts quickly, and also can get to four other major ski areas quickly: Brighton, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird. But just be aware that Alta is ski only.
I live in Utah so I may be a little biased!
Colorado Ski Resorts
Colorado also has 27 different resorts to choose from. I have skied at Cooper, Copper, Keystone, and Breckenridge. Most of the resorts are 1.5 to 2 hours away from Denver.
There are a lot of ski resorts that are perfect if you are skiing for the first time.
Once you have chosen your ski resort location the next step is to purchase your tickets.
Skiing for Beginners Guide - Snow Ski Lift Tickets
There are a few options to choose from when purchasing ski lift tickets. You can buy tickets ahead of time on the resort website, at the gate, or purchase through a 3rd party. Let’s explore these options for your skiing trip .
Should I Buy Ski Lift Tickets at the Resort or at the Gate?
Buying ski lift tickets on the website ahead of time will usually save you quite a bit of money. At big resorts such as Park City Resort in Utah, it can save you up to $30-$40 per lift ticket.
Some resorts do not charge a huge fee to buy your tickets once you arrive but I have seen some resorts be almost $20-30 more at the gate.
I would check ahead on the resort's website to see what option is best for you.
First Time Skiing Tips for Discount Ski Lift Tickets
There are a few options for getting discounted ski lift tickets. Let's explore some of your options.
Liftopia was great a great option for getting discount tickets before the pandemic. They do not offer as many resorts now.
If Liftopia sells tickets to the resort you want to go to, it will be a great option to save money. The earlier you buy your tickets the more you will save with Liftopia.
Most premier ski resorts are not included on Liftopia.
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Costco seasonally sells discount lift tickets for ski resorts. These tickets will normally be multi-day tickets.
Local Ski Shops
Most local ski shops will have discount tickets available. Always check to make sure you are getting the best deal. Also, gas stations sometimes have 2-for-1 deals.
I know a lot more deals in Utah if you are interested join the Facebook Group and ask! (that is the easiest way to get in contact with me)
Discount Ski Tickets For Kids
If you have a 5th or 6th grader, you can buy a special discounted ticket that will allow them to visit every resort in Utah or Colorado 2 times that year. Plus, when you purchase the pass you are given a coupon book for amazing deals on gear and ski rentals. (this promotion is open to all US residents)
Epic Kids Pass
If you are a resident of Utah or Colorado, children, in kindergarten through 5th grade, can apply for an Epic Kids Pass. This pass gives one free lesson and 5 days to ride. (You have to apply in the summer or early fall to get it.)
Here’s another kids’ perk. Brighton Ski Resort in Utah has a “kids ski free” with paying adult option. Brighton is a great place to go and makes the “skiing for beginners” top choice in Utah.
Skiing For Beginners Guide - Ski Rentals
Since you are planning a first-time ski trip all of the following information will be new to you. I want to give you some first-time skiing tips that will help you rent your skis.
First Time Skiing Tips for Ski Rentals
There are a few options for ski rentals for you skiing trip. Let's check them out!
Onsite Ski Rentals
Ski resorts will have a ski rental facility on site. We have rented skis many times from the resorts themselves and it has been great.
Advantages: It is easy to pick up and drop off your skis.
Disadvantages: The lines tend to be longer during busier times.
Off-Site Ski Rentals
Another option is to visit a ski shop before hitting the mountain. This option has worked for us in the past.
Advantages: Shorter lines, cheaper prices
Disadvantages: Loading skis in a car and dragging them to the resort.
Are Ski Rental Ski's Good?
What I found is the ski resorts have pretty nice skis. Plus, as you rent your skis you will be measured and fitted so your skis will fit you properly. If your skis are not adjusted just right they can pop off easily or not come off if you fall and you could injure yourself.
How Much Time Should I Plan to Rent Skis?
I would plan an hour to get fitted for skis. Maybe you will get lucky and there will not be a line. Hopefully, you could get in and out fast. I always say plan for a wait and then you won’t be disappointed.
You might want to rent your skis ahead of time so you can be ready to hit the slopes on your first day. The only thing is it may cost you a little more money to do that if you have to pay for an extra day? (that just depends on the ski rental site)
The good thing is once you get the equipment, you can use it for your entire skiing trip.
Skiing for Beginners Guide - Ski Lessons
Should I Go to Ski School?
Yes, yes, and yes! If this is your first time skiing you need to take a lesson. Otherwise, you will not have fun your entire skiing trip. Let’s go over the different types of lessons and I will recommend some tips for skiing for beginners.
What Types of Ski Lessons Are There?
- Full day
- Half day
Group Ski Lessons
Group lessons are perfect for kids and teens. They can range from full-day or half-day. The younger your kids are the longer they will need lessons. I would say 9 and under could benefit from 3 days of ski school. If you are 10 and up one day is probably enough.
The key is to keep at it! There is a steep learning curve, but once you get the knack of skiing, it becomes so much more fun.
Private Ski Lessons
If you have a little one or a child that needs more one-on-one attention, a private lesson is great. We did this for our 3 year old and it was perfect.
Adult Ski Lessons
Lessons are not just for kids. Adult lessons are just as important as kid lessons. The benefit is that your coordination is developed so that should help you progress a little faster.
It is totally normal to learn to ski at 30, 40, or even 50. I promise you will thank yourself later for including a lesson.
Believe me, if you don't know how to stop in skiing it will not be pretty!
The instructors are amazing. They help you feel confident and teach you how to balance, stop, and get on and off the lifts. It is well worth the investment. They will teach you things to know about skiing you never would have thought of!
Our Experience With Ski Lessons
For younger children, all-day lessons are worth it. They give you your own time to master your skills before picking up the littles. Once you pick them up, you can do a few runs with them on the bunny hill. It’s good for them to know they can ski without the instructor right there.
First Time Skiing Tips
It is important to remember that tipping ski instructors is expected. $20 for a group ski lesson and $50 for a private ski lesson. Or you could use a range of 10%-20%. This is the norm.
Skiing for Beginners Guide - Ski Terminology
If this is your first time skiing, we need to add some new vocabulary words to your bank.
Green Slopes (often indicated by a green circle)
A green slope is an easy slope. These are probably the ones you need to stick with as a beginner skier.
Blue Slopes (often indicated by a blue square)
Blue runs have intermediate slopes. If you have been skiing a few days and start to feel confident, you can probably handle a blue slope.
These trails are hard! They are meant for people who have been skiing a long time. I have skied since I was 10 and still do not do very many black diamonds.
Double Black Diamond
These trails are for professionals or daredevils.
My experience has been solely in the Rocky Mountains. With that said I have heard that east coast ski resorts are not as steep and the slopes are not as long so you may be able to do a harder trail out east.
Okay, word to the wise. Check to see what slopes each ski lift takes you to. My husband told me of a time growing up when his dad took him and his brother to Utah and coaxed them to go on a ski lift that looked like it only led to black diamonds.
Despite assurances from his dad that there must be other ways down, the runs were all black diamonds, and on some stretches, they had to traverse double black diamonds.
A terrain park is a designated area of a ski resort for tricks. It looks like a skateboard park on the slopes.
Skiing for Beginners Guide – Type of Ski Lifts
There are a few different types of ski lifts. Let's learn all about them!
Tow Rope or Magic Carpet
Some resorts for their easiest runs have either a tow rope or a magic carpet. A tow rope uses a pulley system. You hold onto a rope that pulls you across the snow.
The magic carpet is like a conveyer belt (think the moving walkway at an airport).
2-8 Person Lift
A chair lift is what you probably imagine when you think of ski lifts. These lifts have you sit comfortably as you ride to the top of the mountain. Most of these types of lifts have a bar that comes down after you sit on the lift. The bar not only protects you but allows you to rest your skis.
Not all chair lifts are created equally. You will find that some are high-powered and some are very slow. It might take you 10 minutes to reach your destination while others can take up to 45 minutes.
Gondola and Trams
A gondola or tram lift are enclosed compartments, which will keep you nice and warm. You usually don’t wear your skis on these. Usually, these take you all the way to the top of the mountain; and cost extra money.
Is Riding a Ski Lift Scary?
Maybe you are a little afraid of heights. I know I am! But I do pretty well on ski lifts. I like the bar you pull down in front of you, because it makes me feel safe.
As long as you don’t do anything stupid, you will be fine. Now that you know some first-time skiing tips about lifts you can enjoy your beginner ski vacation.
How Do I Get On and Off the Ski Lift?
This is one of the most important things you will learn at ski school.
Getting on the Lift
At nicer resorts, your ticket will have an electronic code that will allow a gate to open. If you are at an older resort you may have a ticket attached to your coat. The attendant will check it and allow you to go on.
Once you pass through the gate, there is a line that you enter. An attendant will have you move forward to a specific spot. You will look behind and wait for the ski lift to come to you, as it does you will sit down and pull the bar down.
Don’t rush. The operator can slow down the lift if needed. These are important first-time skier tips!
Getting off the Lift!
Getting on is easy! Getting off is the more difficult part. As you approach the end. There will be a sign to let you know when to lift up your bar.
I always point my skis up at a slight diagonal, come to the edge of my chair, and as my feet touch the ground push off. There is a small hill at the end of the lift that will allow you to use gravity to exit.
Balance is important and many people fall. But that is okay; this happens all the time, and the operator can slow or stop the lift as needed.
Tips for Skiing For Beginners on Your First Ski Trip
This is the part that is super important if this is your first skiing trip. These tips for first-time skiers are going to make your trip so much better.
Get a Map
Some resorts are so big you will want a trail map so that you can plan your way down the mountain. Unfortunately, the cold will kill your phone and you can't rely on gps!
Protect Your Phone
I have had trouble in the past with my phone getting so cold it just turned off. Newer phones may be better, but just be aware that this could happen.
Plan a Meeting Spot
If you are separated from your group make sure to set up a designated time to meet. Some resorts are so large you will want to have a dedicated place before you hit the slopes.
Be Prepared to Be Tired
Skiing is exercise! You will use muscle groups you never knew existed. You don't even realize you are sweating because the weather is cold. This is one of the top skiing for beginner tips to be aware of!
Bring Ski Food
‘Make sure to bring granola bars or other treats you can put in your jacket. This will help give you the boost you need.
There should be one or more lodges to eat at but bringing snacks on the lifts can fuel your body so you are ready to ski.
Take a Break
The ski lodge is a great place to rest. When you get to a lodge grab something to eat and get warm. The yummy food and warm room may make you want to rest for longer than you plan. But make sure to get back out there!
You Will Fall
Skiing for beginners tip #1 – It is totally normal to fall. Most first-time skiers will spend most of the day on the ground trying to get up! Don't let this discourage you. It is part of the learning process!
Don’t be afraid to fall! This may surprise you, but it is actually really easy to go straight down the mountain without stopping. This especially happens to beginners that do not enroll in ski lessons.
As you gain speed, you fear falling more and more, and then you gain even more speed. Just go slow! Nice wide turns and nice slow falls make a great combination.
Don't Give Up
Look around and watch everyone ski down the hill. If they can do it so can you! The first couple of days are going to be hard. It really is on day 3 that your body will start to click and you will start to have fun.
Stay warm and sure you have layers. Warm socks, a warm jacket, and a nice hat and gloves are a must for winter skiing. Be prepared to have a face covering, and foot and hand warmers.
Be aware that the weather at the top of the mountain can be much colder than at the base.
Skiing is a lot of fun but it takes a lot of work. Most likely you will have to practice, practice, practice! Skiing is a skill that you can learn, but do not expect to know how to do everything all at once.
The Best tip in our “Skiing for Beginners” Guide is to plan to ski at least 3 days. It takes that long to get the hang of it.
Are you Ready for your First Ski Trip?
I hope this helps you feel a little more confident as you plan your first ski trip. You are going to have so much fun! Hopefully, this “skiing for beginners guide” will help you be prepared and plan a ski trip.
Free Skiing Packing List
I created a simple ski packing list, I am happy to email you a copy!
If you have any questions when planning your trip come join me in my private Facebook Group.
This group is a place where you can ask any question about your upcoming trip and help others plan their trips. It is also a place where I put travel deals.