skiing for beginners; first time ski trip
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Plan A Ski Trip: The Ultimate Skiing For Beginners Guide

Are you excited to plan a ski trip?  If this is your first time skiing? We have you covered!

This skiing for beginners guide 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)  

The following information is designed for beginner skiers.  Let’s explore all of your options and plan an amazing ski trip.

If you want to save this information for later be sure to pin this to Pinterest. 

This post may contain affiliate links that will give me a commission at no additional charge to you.

Ski Gear you Need Before your Trip

There are a few things you may not think of to pack listed below, the rest of the packing list is available in my ski checklist that I will email to you.

  • Goggles
  • Hand/Foot Warmers
  • Water Proof Phone Case
  • Tall Socks

Make sure to get a copy of my compete ski checklist for packing.  This list will help you make sure you do not forget anything!

I also have a “What to wear skiing post”  this will help you know what you need. 

Decide the Location of Your Ski TripBest Ski Resorts

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.  If you live on or near the east coast, there are options in the northeast. Same goes for the Midwest.

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! 

How Long Should I Plan a Ski Trip For?

skiing for beginners guide

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.

We live in Utah and know individuals that have moved out to Utah specifically to ski the powder or groomed trails as a preference to what are known as icier runs out east. And 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, and Nevada have some great resorts as well. There are great “skiing for beginners” resorts in all these locations.

Utah Ski Resorts

skiing for beginners

In Utah, there are a number of resorts very close to Salt Lake City and the international airport. It is about 30 minutes to Park City from the airport.  

There are plenty of lodging options in Park City if you want either a hotel or lodge experience. You can quickly access Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain.

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 currently ski only.

Colorado Ski Resorts

skiing for beginners

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.  

Vail is a primer ski resort in Colorado and has great lodging and shopping.

Once you have chosen your ski resort location the next step is to purchase your tickets.

Ski Tickets

Park city mountain ski in and out

There are a few options to choose 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. 

Should I Buy Ski Lift Tickets on the Resort Website or at the Gate?

Alta Ski Resort - Salt Lake City Utah

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.  

Discount Tickets

There are a few options for getting discounted ski lift tickets.  Let’s explore some of your options. 


Liftopia Ski Resort

Liftopia is a great option for getting discount tickets. 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.

Regardless of whether you purchase your tickets on the website or somewhere else you will need to reserve your day as part of the COVID-19 measures put into place. 


Image courteous of the Today show

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

Ski lessons

If you have a 5th or 6th grader, you can buy a special discounted ticket which 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 for all US residents)

 If you are a resident of  Utah or Colorado, children, 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.  


Ski Rentals

There are a few options for ski rentals.

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 long 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 trip.

Ski Lessons

Deer Valley ski school
Image courtesy of Deer Valley

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 trip. Let’s go over the different types of lessons and I will recommend some options for you.

What Types of Ski Lessons are There?

  • Group
  • Full day
  • Half day
  • Private

 Group Lessons

Park city ski school

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.

Please note: Because of Covid-19 group ski lessons are not being given to children under 7 in the 20202-2021 season at a lot of resorts in Utah. Private lessons are available. 

Private Lessons

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. 

Adults Lessons

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.  I promise you will thank yourself later for including a lesson.

Ski Instructors

Plan a ski trip

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.

Our Experience

First time ski Trip

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.

Hot Tip

It is important to remember that tipping ski instructors is expected. $20 for a group lesson and $50 for a private lesson. Or you could use a range of 10%-20%. This is the norm.

Ski Terminologyfirst ski trip

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)

Beginner ski trip green slope

A green slope is an easy slope.  This is probably the ones you need to stick with as a beginner skier. 

Blue Slopes (often indicated by a blue square)

Beginner ski slope blue

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.  

Black Diamond

ski trip

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

plan a ski trip

These trails are for the 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.

Our Experience

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 going 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.

Terrain Park

Plan a ski trip

A terrain park is a designated area of a ski resort for tricks.  It looks like a skateboard park on the slopes. 

Lift Types

skiing for beginners

There are a few different options for ski lifts.  Let’s learn all about them! 

Tow Rope or Magic Carpet

Tow Rope Ski Lift

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

First time ski trip ski 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 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

First time ski trip ski lift


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 because it makes me feel safe.

 As long as you don’t do anything stupid, you will be fine.

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.

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 your Skiing For Beginners on Your First Ski Tripskiing for beginners

Get a Map

Some resorts are so big you will want a trail map so that you can plan your way down the mountain.

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.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

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.

Bring 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 in 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

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 a ski lesson.

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

skiing for beginners

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.

Dress Warm

Stay Warm Make 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.

Being Real

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?skiing for beginners

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 for your trip.  

If you need help deciding where to ski I have aTop Ski Resorts in the USA post.

Facebook Group

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.

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  1. I love skiing in Colorado. We haven’t been for a while, but hope to get back soon. I had no idea Costco sometimes sold ski tickets. Guess I’ll be looking daily for that deal.

  2. Thank you for sharing this post. I have never been on a ski trip before. This helps out a lot and I feel more confident on planning a ski trip!

  3. I think learning to ski is a requirement when you grow up in Utah, right? I also started skiing at a young age, but I don’t like the cold as much now, so I haven’t been for awhile. I used to ski Alta all the time as a teenager, and I also like Brighton, Solitude, and Park City.

  4. I’ve never been snow skiing, but it looks really fun. My biggest obstacle is getting time off to travel in the winter. I hope to give it a shot sometime. I’m hoping to get to spend more time in Colorado and Utah in the future!

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  6. I’ve never skied because it doesn’t snow in my country. But near my house, there is an indoor ski area. Let me read and find out and then try it. Do you know how expensive it is to buy a ski set?

  7. Such a comprehensive guide for ski beginners. I agree ski lessons are a must – and, yes, you will fall. You’ve answered every FAQ for new skiers.

  8. I have been skiing for many years and I never would have thought about all of this. Your post is so detailed with great info! I really liked your tips about ski rentals and getting your lift tickets ahead of time plus the different types of lifts. All super helpful for beginners!

  9. Great article for beginnings. If I ever decide to try it, I will be taking lessons, on the bunny slope. LOL

  10. What an informative post! I’ve never skied. At my age, that’s probably not going to happen now, but it looks fun.

  11. Great tips! I’ve skied a couple times, and those lifts can be scary at first! You give some great advice as to what to expect

  12. Wow! This is as comprehensive a post about beginning to ski as I have ever seen! If I’m ever brave enough to try skiing again, I am coming back here first.

  13. I have never been much of a skier but my husband tried snowboarding for the first time a few years ago and now wants to do a trip. Never thought I’d need these tips but I guess I do now! LOL

  14. Lessons would be a must for me, I think it would be fun to do as a family. Getting off the life makes me nervous, I’m sure I would fall 😁

  15. We have done a lot of different kinds of vacations but unbelievably have never skied! Maybe it’s time I tried?!?

  16. We’ve been dying to take the kids to the snow. I’ve snow boarded, but have never skied. Honestly, the ski lifts are the trickiest part for me! I get so much anxiety when it comes to getting on and off of them! LOL! Thanks for thorough tips. Once we can travel again and make it up to some snow, I’ll definitely be referring to this!

  17. A very thorough article! My hubby skis, and has been trying to get me out in the slopes for years! I prefer to ice skate! Lol… tried cross country skiing for the first time last year, and was on my butt as much as I was standing!

  18. I loved the tow ropes when I was a kid! We went so much that I did my fair share of moguls/blacks as well. Don’t think my grown-up body could handle that anymore! Ha! This is such a great guide for anyone planning to ski for the first time, you cover it all!

  19. I went skiing only a couple of times in my twenties, so I would probably be a beginner again (25 years later). Thanks for the great info!

  20. I don’t ski anymore due to a chairlift incident as a kid, but this is a great guide. Keystone is a particular favorite of mine!! I’m sure the skiing is great but I personally love the giant lake for skating and the ice sculptures!

  21. This is the best guide for beginners or those of us who haven’t skied in decades! Taking lessons can’t be emphasized enough!

  22. I wish I had this guide when we first started skiing 2 years ago. We relied on lessons the entire first and half of the second year — so much to learn!

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  24. This is exactly the information I need! My youngest turns 18 next October and this is what he wants to do for his birthday!!

  25. Excellent post for the skier! I wish I’d tried skiing when I was much younger. I think I’m past the point of trying this now!

  26. I’ve lived in Colorado my entire life, but I’ve only been skiing once (when I was 18). My kids haven’t ever been skiing, so this would be a great resource for them if they decide to try it out. We love to do all of the things like hiking, fishing, and camping in the mountains during the summer, but I guess we’ve never really done a lot of outdoor winter activities in the high country. Great tips!

  27. Skiing is not my . I’d rather lounge in the lodge sipping on a warm beverage. Great planning information for my family.

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