Getting the kids on the slopes can be costly, but with a little effort, you can find the deals out there. Ski resorts want you to teach your family to ski and they'll do what they can to encourage it, whether it is a price break on lift tickets or lessons, or the beginner lift is free.
The best option is to get the kids in ski school. Save up and get them a few days of lessons to learn the basics. Once they've done that, then you can spend a few hours with them on the bunny slopes. With kids being so much closer to the ground, the learning curve is much better as they have a lot less farther to fall.
Call ahead to the resort you're considering visiting to see if they have any deals for beginners or families. Many resorts offer lesson specials in January, as it is Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month. Others offer Ski & Stay Packages in the early season, or in April at the end of the season.
Many resorts offer free lift tickets for kids under five years old. They can get in some good practice for the bigger slopes, if you can find some easy slopes to take some turns.
Some areas have beginner lifts available for free or for cheaper. Powderhorn, near Grand Junction, Colo., has the E-Z Rider chair that is available for skiing and/or boarding for a $20 lift ticket. A beginner terrain park is just off the lift and available for that price as well.
The Printerboy chair at Ski Cooper is another inexpensive option at $15 per ticket. It's a beginner lift at the base. Ski Cooper is a smaller Colorado resort and a great place for your family to learn. Lodging in nearby Leadville is affordable as well as historic. Arapahoe Basin in Summit County, Colo., offers the Molly Hogan lift for only $20 during regular season ($15 for early/late season). Also, if you buy a full-price, adult lift ticket, your child (age 6-14) gets a free lift ticket.
Stratton Mountain in Vermont has a beginner lift in the Learning Park. The cost is $10. Stratton's Myra Foster says, "It's 45 acres of ideal teaching terrain and a great place for parents to let their kids head out on their own for the first time."
Kids ski free on Sundays at Kirkwood Mountain Resort in Calif. It's up to two kids, ages 12 and under, with any paid adult. The deal is good on every Sunday, except during the holiday weekends.
Kirkwood's Daniel Pistoresi says, "We get a big response to this program every year. In this day and age, it's harder for families to find something affordable for the whole family. It's a great deal for them to have the kids go along for free."
These are just a few examples of the deals you can find, with a little bit of research.
Another option is to ski or board at night. Sometimes you can get better deals. For example, Ski Beech in North Carolina offers $20 lift tickets Sunday through Thursday night, not counting holidays. Night skiing is included in your full-day lift ticket price at Keystone. However, if you are only skiing under the lights, the price of the lift ticket is cheaper.