I’m a passable downhill snow skier—which means I stay upright most of the time. But while excellent at keeping my skis in the less-than-graceful pizza position, I’ve yet to master the French-fry technique.

My kids learned to downhill ski in Vermont a couple of years ago. But last winter, we found we didn’t have to travel that far to enjoy the powdery slopes. There are great family ski resorts right here in New Jersey and in the nearby Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. All offer ski and snowboard rentals and a variety of ski and snowboarding lessons for all ages. Many provide babysitting at a fee and convenient lodging for overnight stays. The typical season runs about mid-December through March. And most of the resorts have snowmaking capability when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.

Where to Go Skiing in New Jersey

Mountain Creek in Vernon is the largest in NJ, with 43 trails, eight lifts (including an eight-passenger gondola and a “magic carpet” surface lift), eight tubing lanes, 19 terrain park trails, and trail lighting for night skiing. Of the 16 total miles of trails, there are eight beginner, 26 intermediate, eight advanced, and one expert.

Campgaw Mountain in Mahwah is ideal for newbies, with five beginner/intermediate trails, two double chairlifts, two “magic carpet” conveyor lifts, and specialized Skiwee programs for kids ages 4–6. The Bergen County Parks Department owns the facility, so county residents receive discounted ticket prices.

With plans to go semi-private in the future, the Hidden Valley Club in Vernon nevertheless remains open to the public for now. All 14 trails (three beginner, four intermediate, five advanced, two expert) lead to a single base area, making it easier for families to reunite should they decide to ski different runs.

Across New Jersey's State Line

In the Poconos, you’ll find more family-friendly ski resorts. Shawnee Mountain offers 23 trails, nine lifts, twilight skiing, babysitting, and more. Camelback Mountain boasts 33 trails, 17 lifts, two terrain parks, a snow-tubing park and four lodges (three at the base, one at the summit). And at Jack Frost and its companion resort, Big Boulder, the roughly 35 trails range from Snowmonsters (beginner) to Bunny’s Elbow (intermediate) to Floyd’s Folly (expert).

In addition, for a non-refundable processing fee of $15, the Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association offers a Snowpass to fourth and fifth graders from any state, which is good at approximately 21 participating ski resorts in Pennsylvania for the entire season. (Go to skipa.com/4thgrademain.htm for instructions on how to apply for a Snowpass.)

Ski instructors often use the terms pizza (front of skis form a point) and French fry (skis parallel) to help young skiers learn how to position their skis to better navigate the mountain. So whether you’re the kind of skier who swooshes through the powder on a Black Diamond slope (French fry) or slowly snowplows your way down a beginner trail (pizza), you can find good skiing and family fun this winter just an hour or so away. Stay warm!

Mary Ann McGann is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.