When I was expecting my first child, several outdoorsy friends expressed surprised that someone with so many active interests would want something as limiting as a baby.
Having little kids doesn’t mean that folks can’t ski. In fact, skiing is one of the most baby- and child-friendly sports, believe it or not.
First off, there are fine day-care operations at most ski resorts these days, including some outstanding examples right here in our region.
Second, if you’re headed for a resort without a suitable facility for the tots, you can still find ways to ski.
Cross-country skiing with a child in a backpack makes for a great workout. And if you’re very confident of your ability to not fall, baby can even ride in a front pack or backpack on more gentle downhill slopes.
When my oldest was a baby, my husband and I staked out a quiet corner in the ski lodge, set up our portable playpen, and traded off: one parent skiied, the other stayed with the baby, and we switched every two hours. I’ll always be grateful to my husband for first tracks on one particularly good powder day that year!
One disadvantage of that system is that both parents pay full price to ski, and get only half the skiing. We rationalized that cost by buying low-priced season passes. That may work at Mount Spokane or Lookout, which have no day care.
More fun options are available at most other area ski resorts, including:
Schweitzer Mountain Resort: Schweitzer’s KinderKamp can accommodate up to 65 kids from 3 months to 8 years old. This bright, happy, busy place charges $35 for a full day for an infant in diapers (or $23 for half day), and $27 for kids out of diapers ($19 for half day). If you pay by the hour, it’s $5 an hour, or $7 for those in diapers.
Schweitzer’s ski instruction for little kids is excellent, and the resort offers an all-day program that includes two two-hour ski lessons plus child care for $45. Lunch is available for an additional $5.
For reservations, call (208) 263-9555 ext. 2270.
Silver Mountain: Silver’s Minors Camp can take up to 21 children ages 2 to 6. A full eight-hour day is $30 including lunch and snack, and there are discounts for additional siblings. Hourly rate is $5.
Located downstairs in the lodge at the top of the gondola, Minors Camp is pleasant and welcoming. It provides little skis and boots so all its kids can go out and play in the snow on skis. Those who want to hit the slopes can take a one-hour private lesson for an additional $12.
Silver also offers the Skiwee program for kids ages 5-11, which includes a full day of lessons and lunch, but those children don’t go to Minors Camp. Skiwee costs $40 ($27 half day), or $25 for kids who either have season passes at Silver or are too young to need lift tickets (5 or 6).
For reservations, call (208) 783-1111 ext. 302 or 0.
49 Degrees North: The nursery at 49 Degrees is unique in that it offers FREE child care Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays (the hill is closed Wednesdays and Thursdays). On weekends and holidays, the rate is $2.50 per hour, with a discount for additional siblings.
The nursery can accommodate up to 20 children, ages 2 to 8. Lunch is an extra $2.50.
For reservations, call (509) 935-6649, ext. 5.
The Big Mountain: Kiddie Korner at The Big Mountain (near Whitefish, Mont.) is a fun program that takes kids from birth to 8 or 9 years old, with a maximum of 40 children. But only three of the 40 can be infants, so call ahead for reservations.
At Kiddie Korner, any child under 14 months and/or not walking is considered an infant. Prices are $48 for infants full-day, $25 for half a day (9-1 or 1-5 p.m.). Older kids are $35 for a full day, including lunch.
Ski lessons are extra and range from $12.50 to $21, depending on the program you pick.
The center is conveniently located at the base of several of the resort’s easier lifts.
Reservations: (406) 862-1999.
Red Mountain: This resort near Rossland, British Columbia, can accommodate 10 children from 18 months to 6 years old at Red Mountain Kindercare. A KinderSki program combines day care from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a 1-3 p.m. ski lesson for $40 Canadian. Hourly day care rate is $3.50 Canadian.
Kids bring their own lunch, or parents can pay in advance to have a lunch ordered in. Kids there do lots of crafts, painting and playing.
Kindercare is located at the bottom of the hill that leads to the resort’s parking lot.
Reservations: (604) 362-7114.
Grand Targhee: This Wyoming resort isn’t really in our region, but my daughter had so much fun at their Kid’s Club during a vacation a couple years ago that I think it’s worth mentioning. What’s different about the Kid’s Club is that it’s in its own self-contained log cabin, built just for this purpose. That means windows in the babies’ room are low enough for a toddler to stand at the window and look outside.
The Kid’s Club can take up to 23 children ages 2 months to 7 years. Prices are $36 for a full day for kids 2 months to 2 years ($24 half day), or $32 for kids 3-7 ($20 half day). A full day with two group ski lessons and lunch is $55; a half day with one lesson is $35.
For reservations, call 800-TARGHEE.