For those skiers and snowboarders who are ready to trade in some of their powder days and après drinks with friends, for homework and juice boxes with kids, it can be hard to imagine how to find time to get to the mountains. The obvious solution to this problem is to just make sure that when you do settle down, you’re already in the mountains. After all, there is almost nothing in the world better than sharing your passion for skiing or riding with family. If you want to impart a love for the mountains to a new generation, there are a number of mountain towns with the infrastructure and amenities conducive to raising a family. Here are five ski areas with the perfect combination of great schools, affordable housing, and deep snow — because the phrase “there are no friends on a powder day” is not applicable to your family.
Park City, Utah
You could find a worse place to ski or board with your family than the largest ski resort in the United States. Excellent schools, a small-town atmosphere, and access to a large metropolitan area make Park City a desirable landing place for those looking to bring up little ones in a mountain town. Park City is on the pricey end, but worth it for the opportunity to expose your kids to a truly international hub of arts and culture — one that gets from 300 to 400 inches of snow a year. Only 30 minutes from Salt Lake City, Park City is also ideal for commuters and frequent travelers who want to be able to get off work, clip in, and take the kids on the Town Lift before dinner.
Crested Butte, Colorado
It may not be immediately obvious that a place known for hardcore ski culture and extreme terrain is also one of the most family-oriented resort towns anywhere. Often called “the last great ski town,” Crested Butte is a tight-knit community that seamlessly combines an old-west vibe with modern amenities and facilities. In addition to an excellent education (Crested Butte’s Community School is one of the top-ranked schools in Colorado), your little grommets can avail themselves of a number of public parks, a beautiful library, and the town’s bustling Center for the Arts. And the adults can take advantage of wide-open bowls, endless powder stashes, and gnarly cliffs and chutes.
Big Sky, Montana
For those who want to raise a family off the beaten path, Montana’s pristine wilderness is the perfect place to instill a love for nature in the little ones. According to locals, although Big Sky is certainly out of the way, the town has a safe, suburban feel. In addition to beautiful public spaces and excellent medical facilities, the town has a number of fantastic dining options. Add to that the town’s daycare/pre-school and Lone Peak High School, and Big Sky starts to look like the ideal place for skiers and riders to start a family. Even if the kids aren’t able to go to the top of Lone Mountain yet, Yellowstone National Park, Ousel Falls Park, and a number of other outdoor areas are just down the road. Of course, when they are old enough to start shredding, over 300 runs and 4,000 feet of vertical await.
Skiers and riders who passed on this Colorado mountain town in their younger days, might find themselves drawn to the comfort and convenience of Breckenridge once they have kids. The large, Vail-owned resort is only a couple hours from Denver, making it one of the easiest towns to access in the Rockies. In addition to an embarrassment of natural riches, Breckenridge boasts a number of museums and learning centers geared toward families, including the Edwin Carter Discovery Center, Summit Ski Museum, and Breckenridge Music organization. Then, of course, there are Breck’s five peaks, where your little rippers can practice their triple corks on the same trails and terrain parks that skiers like Bobby Brown hucked as a kid.
It does not get more picturesque than a snow-dusted Main Street, in the shadow of a majestic mountain. That’s why it’s surprising that Ketchum doesn’t garner the name recognition that similar towns like Telluride or Park City enjoy. Residents of the Idaho enclave are just fine with that, though, given that they get uncrowded access to the good life via a thriving art scene and Sun Valley Resort’s 120+ trails (36% of which are beginner runs, more than any other resort on this list). Ketchum has the added benefit of several family-friendly restaurants, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, and a number of youth programs. Be aware that home prices are slightly expensive in the area; but according to locals, once you’re there, the cost of living is reasonable, and the quality of life is unbelievable.