7 Reasons You Probably Don’t Ski

I grew up in Traverse City. Everyone assumes that I grew up skiing, but sadly that’s not my reality. I had a terrible experience with the chairlift on a 7th grade youth group trip and consequently resolved to stay far, far away from skiing. Over the years I turned down ski trip invites, sat on the sidelines at times, and all around just tried to avoid the slopes.

Talking to other moms, I find that I am not alone. Which one of these “I don’t ski” people are you?

ALWAYS COLD: “I don’t ‘outside’ in winter.” This is a what a woman said to me yesterday. She’s always cold and can’t fathom why she’d want to intentionally go outside in the winter in an attempt to have fun.

TERRIFYING CHAIRLIFT: “The chairlift is why I don’t ski.”

TOO OLD: “I didn’t learn as a kid – there is really no point in starting now. Plus, I don’t want to go that fast.”

NO ONE ASKED ME: “No one in my family skis and no one has invited me to go. I’d go if someone asked me.”

HILLS ARE TOO BIG: “I have a huge fear of heights and those giant hills are intimidating. What if I get to the top and can’t get back down?”

IT’S INTIMIDATING: “What do I pack? How do I start? I have no clue what I’m doing and I’m afraid I’ll embarrass myself.”

THE PRICE TAG: “Skiing is too pricey. There aren’t any options for my budget.”

My Concerns Conquered, One by One

I’ve always wanted to know how to ski, but my fear – and all of the issues listed above – continually won out.

Until this year, when it occurred to me that if I didn’t learn how to ski, my kids probably weren’t going to learn, and this cycle of not skiing was going to get passed onto the next generation.

My good friend Stephanie’s family lives and breathes skiing. What a help she was to me as I looked to get past the intimidation factor and learn how to get my family into skiing! [If you missed it, she did a whole series of ski prep videos with me that will make you the most prepared family on the slopes.]

With her advice, my whole family skied through the subzero temps of early Jan 2018 and NOT ONE of us was cold! Wearing the right layers was key to keeping us warm and toasty.

crystal mountain michigan melody's family slopeside

She also reassured me that if I started with a lesson, the instructor would make sure I was comfortable with the chair lift. She was right! My  instructor didn’t care that my only goal my first day was to get over my phobia and master the lift.

Actually, taking a couple of lessons (that’s how many I needed to feel comfortable on my own) helped remove a lot of my hesitations. The intimidation factor goes way down when you have an instructor by your side, and when you are properly prepared. The hills don’t seem so big when you’ve learned the right technique for going down. (Hint: it’s not like sledding where you careen straight down the hill!)

And when you’re at the top of the lift at Crystal Mountain there are always multiple ways to get back down. The green (easy) hills are just like an extended version of the bunny hill and will be a gentle way to find your way back to the bottom of the hill. Blues are medium, and black are trickiest.

crystal mountain top of ski hill snow

And, chances are, that if you live in Michigan you have a connection to someone that loves to ski and would probably be thrilled to join you as you learn the sport. Talk with friends and let them know you’re interested. I’m guessing you’ll get a positive reaction – and find a new way to get to know these friends even better. Ski trips are fun! Having friends along that know the ropes lessen the intimidation factor, too.

Keeping the cost of skiing down can be tricky, but you can find deals. If you have a 4th or 5th grader, they ski free at many locations and kids 6 and under ski free at most ski resorts.

Let Me Rave About the Lessons for a Minute

Crystal has perfected the art of teaching people to ski. A crew of seasoned instructors – with patience beyond measure – daily take people of all ages from zero to skiing. Crystal Kids and Adventure Cubs take young people and teach them the basics in a fun way. (Hot cocoa included!)

Our ski instructors at Crystal knocked it out of the park – each kid told me how great “their” teacher was. Not only did having lessons give my kids the knowledge they needed to get out on the slopes safely, it also made the whole resort a friendly place. We’d bump into an instructor in the lounge or on the hill and there was instant, friendly conversation. Kudos to Crystal for hiring and maintaining top notch staff!

crystal mountain michigan crystal kids ski lessons


And Now, About the Skiing & Snowboarding

Yes, Crystal is an amazing place to learn how to ski. But I also quickly found that it’s a place seasoned skiers and boarders love to return to year after year.

crystal mountain michigan ski slopes

58 slopes and multiple lifts provide plenty of opportunity to find your favorites. This, in addition to the three terrain parks, will keep even veteran skiers challenged. Now that we’ve learned to ski, we know Crystal is a place we will return to even after graduating from the bunny hill.

Skiing Isn’t the Only Thing to Do at Crystal Mountain

We spent 3 fabulous days at Crystal Mountain.

Learning to ski was a definite highlight of our visit – but it was certainly not the only one. Here’s a look at all of the fun – and relaxing – we packed into our northern Michigan getaway. [Bonus – it only took us a little over 2 hours to drive there from GR!]

Surrey Rides with Hot Cocoa and a Bonfire

Horse-drawn surrey rides, complete with blankets and hot chocolate – and followed by roasting marshmallows over a bonfire – are a kids dream. The old-fashioned fun was a great way to spend time with my family after being apart for lessons during the day.

Fat Tire Biking

So much fun! If you and your kids enjoy biking in the summer, this is something you’ll want to try.

Kids have to be able to reach the pedals on their smallest bike (generally ages 12 and up will be good to go) but beyond that, get ready for an adventure. Pedals have grips on them so you can wear your winter boots while biking. I’d advise to go a layer less than you would for skiing – you really keep warm pedaling those bikes!

Here’s a look at our fat tire adventure:

Ice Skating under the Lights

Silly kids, welcome!

Ice skating is fun and so is doing it at night under the lights. The skating rink at Crystal Mountain is in the center of it all and rentals are available.

Swimming, Swimming, Hot Tub, Swimming

The notch of awesomeness always goes to the next level when there’s a swimming pool involved.

I seriously don’t know where kids get all of their energy from, but even after a long day skiing and snowboarding, my kids wanted to hit the pool. Maybe it’s because their instructors told them that snowboarding foot cramps melt away in the hot tub? 


You can explore Crystal Mountain property by snowshoe if you’re looking for another adventure.

Snowshoe rental equipment and trail maps are available at the Park at Water’s Edge. They have sizes for all ages and it really is a neat activity to try with your whole family. You can even snowshoe in portions of the Michigan Legacy Art Park and see sculptures as you trek.

Pedicures & More at the Crystal Spa

A pedicure on any day is wonderful, but after a day of skiing, it is divine!

I stole away with my older daughter to get a pedicure after our second day of skiing and I think it’s what I needed to recharge and get me out there again on day three. Spending one on one time with my middle child made the experience even better! The Crystal Spa offers many more services for adults, but when you have a youngster along, you’re limited to pedicures and facials (age 14 and over). Maybe next time it’ll be a mom-only retreat because that massage menu looked amazing, too.

Fuel Up – What to Eat at Crystal Mountain

Lunch was easy – we just hit the Clipper Cafe inside the Lodge for burgers, fries, hummus & veggies, salad, yogurt parfaits and more. I loved all of the healthy options available here!

The buffet breakfast at Wild Tomato Restaurant & Bar hit the spot before we headed out to ski each morning. Kids loved the huge variety (and waffle station, lol) and adults loved the fresh fruit and tasty fare.

The Waffle Cabin was another delightful place to take a break. Of course, my girls went for the extra chocolate version of what was on tap.

We ordered in pizza one evening from the on-site Little Betsie Bistro. Yummo breadsticks, pizza and pop when you just want a night in.

Finally, make sure to have a beverage at Thistle Pub & Grille in Kinlochen before you end your visit.

Staying in an Onsite Cottage is a Great Way to Go for Families

We’re a family of five. Finding lodging that lets us spread out and have a little space to ourselves is a challenge at times. We’ve been in cramped hotel rooms more times than I’d care to remember.

So when we arrived at our Crystal Mountain Cottage, I had to keep from laughing as my kids discovered that there was an upstairs to be explored.

“Don’t tell me what’s up there yet!” yelled one kid, as audible gasps of wonder shot down the stairway.

Seriously, this ski cottage, just steps away from all of the Crystal Mountain action was cute as a button and superbly equipped. Fireplace, kitchen with cookware, whirlpool tub, window seat, multiple bedrooms, WASHER & DRYER (so handy for a ski trip!) made coming in from skiing a treat in itself. If we visit in the summer, the screened in porch would be much appreciated, too.

BONUS: The storage area next to the cottage entrance has a lock and is the perfect place to stow your snow sports equipment – keeping the cottage free and clear of snow.

And when I sent the kids on a mission with their dad, I had a few minutes to unwind and enjoy having the place to myself.

We stayed in one of the Cottages at Water’s Edge. If you prefer different lodging options, Crystal offers quite an array of choices. Staying on property is often the best value when you combine your activities with lodging in one of their packages.

When Can We Go Again??!

We live in Michigan and now we can claim that we’re a ski family. The next time an invitation to hit the slopes comes my way, I don’t have to reach for the excuses or hope my calendar is already full. And neither will my kids.

Crystal Mountain helped us realize our dream of learning how to ski and we can’t wait for the chance to visit again and put our new skills to the test.

crystal mountain michigan skiing and snowboarding


Crystal Mountain is located just over 2 hours away from Grand Rapids at 12500 Crystal Mountain Dr. Thompsonville, Michigan.

Thanks again to Crystal Mountain for hosting our visit. All opinions are my own.