With spring weather just around the corner, right now is the perfect time to start planning the perfect family ski trip to Park City. Spring is one of the best times to plan a family ski trip since the snowpack is high, the weather is a bit warmer and more predictable than it would be earlier in the ski season. Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain are both planning to stay open until April 11th, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the amazing snow. Here are some things that you need to know to plan the perfect family ski trip this spring.
Plan Your Day Around the Sun
Warmer spring temperatures mean that you can expect ski runs to be firmer early in the day. Firmer trails can be difficult for kids, and shake their confidence, so plan your ski day a little differently. Consider starting your ski day just a little bit later. Usually, by around 10 am, the snow starts to warm up and the trails get softer. Staying in on-mountain lodging will allow you to have a later start, whereas if you’re staying somewhere else, parking can be hard to find that time of day.
As you start skiing for the day, plan on following the sun. Ski areas that have been hit by the sun first (slopes that are east and slightly southern-facing are best), since they’ll warm up first. Gradually work your way to more north-facing slopes as the temperature increases and the sun gets higher in the sky
Dress in Layers
Spring skiing weather can be a bit difficult to plan for when skiing with kids. It’s not uncommon to start the ski day at 15 degrees and to end the day skiing in 40-degree temperatures in the spring. Those big temperature shifts are also going to require clothing shifts for your ski family, so layering is essential.
Start by wearing a high-quality base layer. I recommend merino wool or synthetic base layers since they both insulate AND wick sweat away. Avoid any cotton next to your skin. On top of that, a thicker mid-layer for insulation, followed by waterproof coat and snow pants.
As the day warms up, plan on taking off an extra layer to prevent sweating and overheating. You’ll want to either carry a backpack for the extra layers for the kids or plan on renting a locker at the lodge.
Keep in mind that kids often aren’t aware that they’re overheating until they’re really sweaty and uncomfortable. Ask kids often if they’re getting warm or starting to sweat, so they can learn to know when they’re overheating.
With Park City’s high altitude, combined with the effort of skiing, it’s easy to get dehydrated, especially in warmer spring temperatures. This season, most drinking fountains being off-limits, so many skiers are forgetting to hydrate and drink water throughout the day.
To help your family stay hydrated during spring skiing, bring a hydration pack to share, or stash a couple of water bottles in a backpack to bring with you (which is also perfect for storing kids' layered clothing).
If you’re coming from a lower altitude, dehydration also puts you at a greater risk for altitude sickness, so drink up!
Bring Extra Masks
It’s no surprise that face masks are mandatory at resort base areas, lift lines, and while riding lifts and gondolas. What may surprise you is how wet your mask will get after a full day outside in the cold. As the warm air from your breath hits the cool outside air, it will create condensation on your mask making it wet. A cold, wet mask is one of the fastest routes to discomfort while skiing this year. Plan on bringing an extra mask to switch out during the day. If you’ve got young kids who are prone to sucking on their masks, bring several extras.
Plan Your Dining In Advance
This year, on-mountain dining looks a lot different than it has in the past. While traditionally, you may have been able to stop into the lodge and sit and enjoy a bite to eat, this year that isn’t the case, so you’ll need some advanced planning. Here’s what you need to know:
Deer Valley Dining
Reservations are recommended for table service at Snow Park, Silver Lake, and Empire Canyon Lodges. Walk-in service may be available but is not guaranteed. For quick grab-and-go options, you can go to Etc, Snow Park, Silver Lake, and Empire Canyon, though plan on eating at an outdoor table or taking the food to go. Reservations are required for all evening dining at Deer Valley.
Park City Mountain Dining
If you’re planning on dining on the mountain, make sure that you download the EpicMix app where you can reserve your time to dine. Time To Dine reservations are required at Cloud Dine, Legacy Cafe, Miners Camp, Mid-Mountain Lodge, Red Pine Lodge, Red Tail Grill, Sun Lodge, Summit House, and the Umbrella Bar. If you prefer to grab your food and go, quick service is available at First Tracks Cafe, Jupiter Java, Murdock's Cafe, and Tombstone BBQ.
If you’re looking for the ultimate in flexibility and social distance dining, plan on tailgating this year. Spring weather is amazing for tailgating, and the parking lot always seems to take on a more festive atmosphere in the spring, with lots of families tailgating and music streaming out of cars at lunchtime. There are numerous options for purchasing grab-and-go meals in the morning to enjoy once you have returned to your car.
Protect Yourself From the Sun
The high altitude of Park City brings you closer to the sun, increasing your chances of sunburn. Combine that with the sun reflecting off the snow and onto your skin, and you’ve got the perfect conditions for a crazy goggle sunburn. This year it’s especially important to remember your sunscreen since mask-wearing has made us forget all about exposed skin. While you’re skiing down the hill, you are allowed to remove your mask, and that’s when you’re at the biggest risk of sunburn. Plan ahead, and have everyone put sunscreen on their face and neck before they gear up for the day, and plan to reapply at lunchtime.
Book Ski School Early
This season, ski schools are operating at a reduced capacity because of COVID. If you’re planning on putting your family in ski lessons (which I can’t recommend enough - even for adults), book as far in advance as possible. I recommend that your first two days of skiing each year be with an instructor to help reinforce good ski habits and to jumpstart your ski success.
Wear Waterproof Outerwear
Spring temperatures can often be deceiving, if there’s ever a time of year that you need really waterproof outerwear, it’s the spring. Warm temperatures and melting snow mean a lot more water soaking into your clothes. Make sure that everyone, especially kids, has waterproof gloves, snow pants, and a waterproof jacket. If you don’t want to go and buy new gear, try re-waterproofing your gear with a waterproofing spray!
Ready to go? Plan your family's spring skiing trip to Park City now, and discover why spring is the absolute best time to ski with kids!