Beginners Guide to Skiing and Snowboarding

First time skiing? First time snowboarding? We have you covered.

Our Top Ten Beginner Tips

What to Know about Skiing and Snowboarding

Every year we have thousands of visits from families and individuals who have never tried skiing or snowboarding before. We understand the questions that arise and the need to have all as much information to help you plan your trip. Our Top 10 Tips are crafted from the most common questions we receive, complete with links to all the information you need.

Want to reach out and connect? We are here to help, use the contact information at the bottom of the page.


What The Weather Is Like

The weather changes frequently in the mountains and affects road conditions. Check the resort weather report and the local road or highway status. Give yourself plenty of time!


Where To Go When You Arrive

We are excited to have you here, and we want to make sure you know exactly where to go. Review the Getting Here information based on how you are arriving. Research the resort layout and maps ahead of time and check pre-arrival information if you have lessons booked.


The Best Time to Ski And Snowboard

Holidays and weekends are our most popular days throughout the season. The best deals can often be found mid-week, during non-holiday periods. Before you visit be sure to check our Hours of Operation page so you are up to date on what’s happening.


How To Ski Or Snowboard

Take expert advice from a professional instructor with the patience and knowledge to give clear instructions on the correct technique. We offer group lessons that can be bundled to include equipment and a lift ticket as a package, or private lessons for a tailored experience just for you.


What Equipment You Need For Skiing Or Snowboarding

We recommend renting all your ski or snowboard equipment instead of borrowing older gear. It is safer to learn on modern, maintained equipment and it will help you progress faster. Reserve skis or a snowboard online in advance for the best deals and to guarantee availability.


What To Pack For a Ski Trip

Staying warm and dry will help keep you comfortable, safe, and having fun! Dress in layers so you can add or remove as needed and ensure your jacket, pants and gloves are waterproof. Read below to learn more about what to wear and where to store gear.


Fuel Up

Exercising at altitude takes a lot of energy! Drink plenty of water and be careful not to become dehydrated. Bring plenty of pocket snacks or check out our resort food and beverage options.


Make Sure You Have a Lift Ticket

All skiers and snowboarders are required to have a ticket or pass to access the snow and lifts even if you are just starting out. Read below to learn more about how tickets and passes work and be sure to buy online in advance.


Where To Start

Ski areas are broken up into trails, categorized by difficulty. Read the mountain information below to understand how to interpret maps and your safety obligations as a skier or snowboarder. Remember the best and safest way to learn is to sign up for a ski or snowboard lesson.


Skiing With Kids

Skiing and snowboarding with kids can be intimidating, but we are here to help! The best way for kids to learn is with a lesson. Want to learn together? Consider a private lesson for the family. Read our parent’s guide below for our top tips for skiing with kids.

Beginners Guide to Skiing and Snowboarding

More Information

Below is more detailed information broken out into sections. Still have questions? Please don't hesitate to reach out to us using the contact info at the bottom of the page. We are here to help make your trip an experience of a lifetime!

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Trail Maps

A Trail Map outlines the services and lifts at the resort, as well as the location and difficulty of the trails, also known as runs. Don’t worry if it’s a bit daunting at first, most resorts around the world use similar systems:


Green Circle

Green Runs are the easiest trails on a mountain. They are generally wide, smooth and flat, and designed for beginners moving at slower speeds.

Blue Square

Blue Runs are intermediate trails and require a solid mastery of the basics in order to navigate safely.  

Black Diamond

Black Runs should only be attempted by accomplished, expert skiers or snowboarders. They are often ungroomed, narrow and steep. A double black diamond indicates the most difficult runs at a resort. 

Terrain Park

Terrain Parks are defined areas with built and maintained features such as jumps, boxes and rails designed for skiers and snowboarders to perform tricks. Terrain Parks are marked with this orange symbol and are classed as small, medium or large. Parks can only be entered and exited at designated points. Click here for more information on Terrain Park Safety.

Groomed Runs

After a day of use or weather, ski trails can become bumpy and rutted. The process of smoothing and flattening out the snow surface using a machine known as a SnowCat is called ‘grooming’. This happens before the resort opens and makes runs easier to ski or ride. Each resort issues a grooming report daily to indicate what runs are groomed. All green runs are groomed each day. 


Lifts are denoted with red lines on the trail map. This is the way we transport up the mountain! The symbol for each lift shows how many passengers can ride together per chair. Surface, tow or drag lifts are common in beginner areas. "Magic Carpets" are like moving sidewalks (like at the airport) that carry you up a gentle slope. You can view the status and type of lifts at the resort on the website.

Ski and Snowboard Clothing

What to Wear

Staying warm and dry should be on the top of your priority list when planning a ski or snowboard trip! The weather and the temperature can also change quickly in the mountains. Dress in layers so you can easily add and remove as needed.


Base Layers

This is the layer that will lay closest to your skin and provide insulation. Wool or synthetic fabric is recommended. Cotton is not ideal. A thin pants layer on the bottom and form-fitting long-sleeves on top.



The second layer is your mid-layer. An insulator jacket (puffy) or fleece is a standard mid-layer because it is appreciated for its warmth and comfort.


Outer Layers

This is the layer that will help keep you dry and protect against wind. You will want a waterproof jacket and insulated snow pants



Thin, warm, and long, well-fitting socks are key! This is insulation for your foot and calf under your boot. Wool or synthetic fabric is recommended to help wick sweat and moisture away.

Pro Tip: Wear only ONE pair of socks! Extra socks will over-crowd the boot, restrict blood circulation, and won’t help keep you warm.


Gloves or Mittens

Waterproof gloves or mittens are a must on the hill. Go with something insulated or find a thin glove liner to wear as a base.


Goggles or Sunglasses

On a warmer and sunnier day, sunglasses will work fine. On colder, snowier days or at night we recommend goggles to protect your eyes.


Sun Protection

Even when it is overcast, it is important to protect any exposed skin from the sun. Remember to reapply every 2 hours!


How To Ski and Snowboard

Why Learn to Ski or Snowboard?

Skiing and snowboarding offer not only winter recreation, but a lifetime of fun as a sport you can enjoy with friends and family of all generations.

You can begin skiing or snowboarding at any age and in general it takes only a few days of guided practice to grasp the basics. The sports however do not come without risk, and while learning from friends or family can be fun the safest and fastest way to learn is through professional instruction.

Some common questions regarding lessons include:


Should I Choose Skiing or Snowboarding?

Skiers tend to become independent quicker, and snowboarding pairs well with prior board sports experience – but pick the one that appeals to you!


Should I Take a Group or Private Lesson?

Group lessons are more affordable, with the option to bundle with rental equipment and lift tickets. Private lessons offer more customization with instruction specific to your goals


How do Age Groups Work with Lessons?

People of different ages process information differently and progress at different rates. Group lessons are split by age to optimize this. Child lessons may include other activities, snacks and lunch to keep children engaged and energized. Private lessons allow different generations to learn together. 


Where do Lessons Take Place?

Some resorts have more than one physical lesson location. Make sure your lesson matches the location 

Explore Lessons , opens in a new window

How to Use a Lift Ticket or Pass

The one thing all skiers and snowboarders need is a ticket or pass to gain access to the slopes. This includes all ability levels. Even if you do not actually ride a chairlift and spend your time in learning or beginner areas access is still required.

Prepare Them Ahead of Time

You can help them to be physically and mentally ready before you get to the resort. Talk about skiing/snowboarding to help get them excited, and discuss how they feel about trying something new. With younger kids, practice dressing up in snow gear and make time for snow or outdoor play. The more familiarity they can gain with the experience before they arrive, the more comfortable they will feel when they are here!


Consider the Best Learning Experience for Your Child

You know best whether your kids learn better with you, or without you! Our advice is to always leave the hard work to our professional instructors who can leverage our kids facilities and teaching spaces to craft a kids specific experience. Many parents enroll their kids in lessons while they get some adult time, or take lessons themselves, and then connect afterwards for some snow time together. Want to learn as a family? A private lesson is the way to go as the instructor will tailor the experience around your goals!


Rent Ski/Snowboard Equipment

Buying equipment is a commitment and kids grow quickly. Renting at the resort ensures that your kids get equipment that is correctly maintained, fits right and can be adjusted or replaced if something doesn't work. If you sign up for a group lesson, rental equipment can be included at a discount. Ask about the possibility of picking up your gear the day before if you are nearby and many schools allow you to keep the equipment after the lesson for the remainder of the day if your child is not ready to stop!


Dress Them Right

Whether you buy or borrow, make sure all clothes and gear fits well, is in good condition and is waterproof. Avoid cotton or wool gloves or gaiters as these become wet and cold, and hand/foot warmers can really help on colder days. Thick or multiple socks do not always help! A single pair of long, athletic or ski socks that go up to just below the knee to avoid bare skin, wrinkles or constriction is a must. Discomfort in the feet, hands and face due is a number one cause for sad campers. 


Fuel Them for Success

Skiing or snowboarding, at altitude in the cold weather requires a lot of calories and hydration. Ensure they eat a hearty breakfast and take regular snack and water breaks throughout the day. Don't forget to plan a snack or food for the return journey also. 


Arrive Early and Plan Your Parking

Easier said than done, but allow more time than you think you need for driving, parking, walking, navigating etc. Rushing to get to a lesson time isn't fun for anyone, and generally, the earlier you arrive the fewer lines you need to contend with when getting ready. When you get here, keep an eye out for friendly staff who are more than happy to assist you in getting where you need to go. Travelling with another adult? Look or ask for Drop Off areas close to the base lodges where one adult can jump out with the kids while the other parks.


Plan Your Bathroom Breaks

Going to the bathroom in ski gear is an adventure in itself. Be strategic about planning your bathroom breaks and make sure than when one goes, everyone at least tries! 


Manage Your Expectations

Kids learn at different rates, and younger kids especially can take time to become independent stopping and turning. The important thing is to focus on their enjoyment of the sport, over their progression. They will improve quickly with practice, and be passing you on the slopes before you know it! But don't expect too much too soon. 


Set Emergency Meeting Places

When skiing or snowboarding with kids, be sure to first arrange an easy to find meeting place if you get separated, such and the bottom of a particular run or chairlift.


Make Sure Your Child Knows When to Stop Skiing

For example, if the clothing layer next to their skin stays wet and they're chilled, if they're injured, have a problem with equipment or even if they're simply worn out. Educate them that it's alright to stop before the end of the day and breaks are fun. 


Don't Forget Your Takeaways!

Lastly, be sure to take away memories and information! Don't miss a photo or video opportunity to help capture the moment. If your child took a lesson, take the time to ask your instructor at pick-up time about what they should practice and anything you can do at home to build muscle memory or to help prep them for next time!