If Hot Chocolate Could Speak

Posted On
Dec 20, 2016

Before you were a parent you were pretty full of yourself—skiing the entire mountain freely, listening to music, stopping for a midday beer if you felt like it or chomping down on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while the chairlift whisked you over the next untouched run you couldn’t wait to hoot and holler down. Let’s say on this particular day the thought of a cold microbrew was just too much to pass up. Ordered up, a beautiful pint of frothiness sits in front of you, but you can’t help but be distracted by the family of four who have exploded at the table, nearest you. WTF. It looks like they’ve unpacked for a week’s vacation around this small, round-table at the mid-mountain lodge. And even worse, the kids are fidgeting and blabbing non-stop—the chaos level rivaling that of five different LEGO sets dumped into one dreadful pile. Glaring at the parents, your eyes loudly say: “Why the hell did you give those damn kids giant mugs of hot chocolate?” Of course, the parents are too consumed around that round table to notice your judgmental and assuming eyes. They’re too consumed being present for their children as they take a breather from the slopes.    


Fast-forward fifteen years and now you are the one sitting at that round table, hanging out with two kids with rosy cheeks and hot chocolate mustaches reliving the last secret run through the trees. You certainly don’t notice the young bro at the nearest table glaring at you, as you’re ecstatic that this is just the second hot chocolate break of the day.


This is what it’s all about. Making it to the well-deserved hot chocolate break from Utah’s wintery chill. As we all know, the tricky part is everything that leads up to the cup of cocoa.


Jumping into winter sports with your little ones can seem a bit perilous and daunting, not to mention expensive, but with a little planning here’s how to find the good stuff.


Ski Free Programs

Brighton takes the cake, as kids 10 and under ski free! At Eagle Point, Powder Mountain, Snowbasin, Snowbird and Solitude kids six and under ski free. While at Brian Head, Cherry Peak and Sundance, five and under hit the slopes for free. Ski Utah’s 5th & 6th Grade Passport remarkably allows for 5th graders to ski/ride three times free at each resort while 6th graders are granted one free day of skiing/riding at each of Utah’s 14 resorts. Don’t worry parents, there’s an option for you as well. While not free, the Ski Utah Yeti pass is the perfect accompaniment to the Passport programs, giving parents a day of skiing at each resort in the state for just $46 per day.


Uber Family-Friendly Deals

Alta’s ski after 3 program is a great place to teach the kids to ski, where $10 gives each person access to the beginner lifts. Nordic Valley’s family pass rings in at $930 which is good for a family of four. Score an all day pass on the beginner lift at Beaver Mountain for only $25.


Ski School

January is a sweet, sweet month. Why? Because January is officially known as Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month. In Utah, most resorts offer up a lesson, rentals and a lift ticket for as low as $45. For more information visit – skiutah.com/lssm At Brian Head the Brian Head University package offers first time skiers or boarders three group lessons, three lift tickets and three days of rentals for $299. If you haven’t learned how to ski or ride after these three lessons then you’ll receive a full refund. Snowbasin’s Learn & Earn program provides newbies with three lift tickets, lessons and rentals for $399 with the reward of a season pass upon completion of the program.  



Solving the dreaded gear equation can certainly be one of the most costly aspects associated with sliding on snow for the winter but also one of the most time consuming endeavors when your faced with the possibility of your son’s foot out growing his boots in a single season. If you get into the swing of things early enough, fall ski swaps are still a sure fire way to get the gear. Just to name a few: the Ogden Ski Swap is held November 18-19, while Alta and the Heber Valley (Zermatt Resort) host ski swaps into November as well.


Do you truly identify yourself as a skiing family? If so, there are two opportunities that are affordable and headache free when it comes to your growing kids. Utah Ski & Golf (801) 355-9088 offers the Junior Upgrade Program which costs $350 in total and should cover all of the child’s rental needs until age 11 or 12. How amazing is that? Each year, or even mid-winter, come into their store and exchange for the correct sized boots and skis. The Lift House (801) 943-1104 also offers a similar product dubbed the Junior Rental Program which includes a first-year cost of $120 and each subsequent year costs $80. With both programs, upgrades are available so check with each shop for all the details.  

Night Owls

It’s true, you and the family might have to sport an extra layer or two once the sun dips below the mountains, but night skiing is an affordable option where lift ticket prices are more than fifty percent cheaper by night. Night owls are welcome at Brian Head, Brighton, Cherry Peak, Nordic Valley, Park City, Powder Mountain, Snowbird and Sundance. Powder Mountain hosts Tuesday family nights which includes six lift tickets for $65. Nordic Valley stands out at night, with 100 percent of its terrain open for night skiing.


Southern Utah

Sliding on snow in the state of Utah has become such a thread of life that a skier graces the license plate. With 14 resorts there are myriad options for families but two resorts truly stand out. As family-friendly as they come—Brian Head and Eagle Point in southern Utah provide jaw-dropping scenery combined with mellow slopes and affordable rates.

Here’s to your greatest winter ever as a ski family. Hopefully you can tap into a few of these ideas which will free up a few bucks and time for that cup, or two, or three, of hot chocolate at the mid-mountain lodge.




Writer’s bio- For the past seven years, Brandon’s lived the dream as Ski Utah’s Content Director—where he gets to show off The Greatest Snow on Earth to the world. And on the weekends, he happily spends his time negotiating the precarious hot chocolate to ski-run ratio with his six year old daughter and two year old son.




Solitude, Park City, Northern Utah, Ogden, Southern Utah