9 Reno/Tahoe resorts where kids can learn to ski
Ever wonder what it's like to go on a dog sledding adventure? RGJ reporter Sarah Litz and photographer Jason Bean tagged along on an exciting winter tour. Sarah Litz/RGJ
Lake Tahoe is a great place for children to learn how to ski or snowboard.
Where to go?
Tahoe’s major resorts have expert instructors and give parents the opportunity to bomb down the black diamond runs, while the kids are busy acquiring skills and learning to ski safely. All the resorts teach both skiing and snowboarding.
Each resort has a variety of programs geared towards different age and ability levels, and they keep the group sizes small to give kids personal attention. Contact the resort of your choice to come up with the plan that works best for your child from a group lesson to a private lesson.
Resorts often require 24-hour notice to make sure they have instructors lined up. Holiday periods can change class prices and availability.
Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows: Whether it is Squaw Kids or Alpine Kids, the Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows program sets out to entertain and teach children in a supportive and secure atmosphere. Full day lessons/lift tickets and rentals run $289, with a first-time, Saturday lesson/lift price of $179.
Sugar Bowl: Sugar Bowl provides children’s lessons at both the Judah and Village base areas with a focus on small class sizes, with a guarantee of three students per instructor. Half-day lesson/ticket/equipment packages cost $230.
Northstar: Northstar’s lessons for the little ones start as low as $106 for a group half-day lesson. In addition to providing ski instruction to children, Northstar’s Minors Camp is the only resort licensed Child Care facility on Lake Tahoe’s north shore, for 2- to 6-year-olds. Minors Camp is $219 for all day and includes snacks and lunch.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe: Mt. Rose’s Rosebud program keeps the class sizes small while providing 4- to 10-year-olds with a $115 lesson, ticket and equipment rental package.
Heavenly Mountain Resort: Gotta love Heavenly’s motto, “pros when it comes to training tiny rugrats all the way to moody teens.” Like all the resorts, Heavenly’s focus is on teaching kids to explore the mountain while the adults get to ski on their own. Group lessons cost $210 a day.
Sierra at Tahoe: Sierra at Tahoe provides lessons on Easy Street, a specially sloped area designed to help skiers learn. They have a three-day kids ski school package for $130 per day including lunch, or a three-day child care program, which is $90 per day including lunch.
Kirkwood: Kirkwood is a large resort, but it’s off-the-beaten-path location usually means lessons are less crowded and less expensive than the resorts closer to the lake. Rates are as low as $106 for a half-day lesson, but vary based on peak times and time of day.
Looking for something less expensive?
If the focus is getting your little first timer into skiing or snowboarding without having to break the bank, two small resorts on Donner Summit just might fit the bill (or make the bill smaller).
Donner Ski Ranch: Donner Ski Ranch’s Learn to Turn Package includes a lesson, rental package and trail pass for $79 for the 7- to 12-year-old crowd.
Soda Springs: This small resort also has a lesson, equipment and ticket package for $79. They have great family pass programs and you can combine ski lessons with Woodward Tahoe’s indoor facilities to learn jumps and tricks.
Why take lessons?
Aside from the ring of spectacular mountain resorts surrounding the lake, Tahoe also has a group of experienced skiing and snowboarding instructors who enjoy working with kids.
One example is Sandra Smith, who has been teaching at Kirkwood since 1995. She emphasized the importance of kids taking professional lessons when learning how to ski.
“Kids respond differently to instructors then they do to their parents, and while we are teaching the kids, the parents get their own time to ski,” Smith said. “Taking a lesson gives kids the chance to learn proper technique right up front.”
Smith said that once children have learned the basics, they can spend some time skiing with the whole family. Another option is to take a family lesson.
“I can divide the day up to give individual feedback to all the skiers,” Smith said.
Squaw Kids Director Karen Roske agreed: “Whether in a private lesson or a group lesson, the benefits are tangible to both the parents and the kids.”