Hit NJ's Ski Slopes This Winter
How will you know if your kids are destined to be the next Shaun White or Lindsey Vonn if they never take the plunge? It may sound intimidating, but introducing your kids to the world of alpine skiing and snowboarding doesn’t have to be scary, nor overly expensive. We’ve got three excellent and affordable options, all great for families, right in our own back yard.
Ski season in New Jersey runs from December through March, depending on the weather. While all the resorts make their own snow, it’s a good idea to check snow reports for slope conditions before heading out.
Located in Vernon, NJ, Mountain Creek is New Jersey’s largest ski resort. Mountain Creek offers 167 skiable acres on four mountain peaks, 100% night skiing, the state’s highest vertical drop, and plenty of tubing lanes. Mountain Creek also has a 65 acre of Terrain Park that was named Top 5 by Freeskier’s 2012. The resort’s Kids Kamp offers group lessons for skiers and snowboarders ages 4 to 7, for either full-or half-day sessions (Mid-morning lessons are available for holidays and weekends only). Kids of all ages are welcomed to participate in their weekly Twisted Kids event, where they are welcomed to an hour of free, coached, learning. Group and private lessons are available for ages 8 and up. Mountain Creek also offers plenty of dining and nightlife selections and has two different spas. They also have weekend events for skiers and snowboarders to partake in.
Campgaw, in Mahwah, NJ, is a lot smaller than Mountain Creek. It’s located 18 miles north of the George Washington Bridge. Even though it is smaller, you will encounter short lift lines, uncrowded trails, the latest in rental equipment, the highest level of skiing or snowboarding instruction, and a friendly staff. Campgaw offers one main trail and five beginner/intermediate trails. It is a great park for first time skiers. Programs are available for children 4 and up. Programs go from Cruisers (for the little ones just starting out) to Race Academy. Daily group, private, and semi private lessons are also available for ages 4 and up. Tubing is also available! Tubing is open to anyone 42” or taller and anyone 300 pounds or under.
For families who prefer to keep it horizontal, check out High Point Cross Country Ski Center in Sussex, NJ. Explore 10 miles of trails, including several flat runs that are great for kids ages 5-12. There’s a separate five-mile trail for snowshoeing; 973-702-1222.
In an effort to reduce head injuries on the slopes, New Jersey became the first state to require all children under 18 to wear helmets while skiing and snowboarding and on lifts; the law went into effect Nov. 1, 2011. It’s the responsibility of the parent, legal guardian, or supervising adult to ensure that helmets are provided and worn. Parents whose children who are caught not wearing helmets will be fined $25 for the first violation, and $100 for additional violations.
The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) and Lids on Kids have developed a website, Lids on Kids, to help educate parents about putting helmets on children while they’re on the slopes; visit the site to learn how to choose the right size and fit for your child.
A study done by Morristown Medical Center at Mountain Creek in Vernon showed that while helmets won’t prevent serious injuries in high-speed crashes, they will prevent between 30 percent and 50 percent of injuries at moderate speeds.
All New Jersey ski resorts offer helmet rentals, but if you plan to ski more than twice this season, it pays to buy one.
Carrie Calzaretta, from Brick, NJ, was founding editor of Family Vacation Critic, and has published many articles about traveling with kids.
What Else Is Nearby?
Ready to take the show on the road? Here are our favorite slopes beyond the NJ border:
- Camelback Mountain Resort, Tannersville, PA
- Big Boulder Ski Area, Lake Harmony, PA
- Jack Frost, Blakeslee, PA
- Shawnee Mountain Ski Area, Shawnee on Delaware, PA
- Ski Big Bear , Lackawaxen, PA
- Hunter Mountain , Hunter, NY
- Whiteface, Wilmington, NY
- Windham Mountain , Windham, NY
- Belleayre Mountain, Highmount, NY
Updated January 2015