5 Winter Wonderland Destinations for the Newbie Skier/Snowboarder

With winter in full swing, it's officially time to hit the slopes. I'm by no means a seasoned skier but I find the sport sort of like riding a bike. On average, I ski about once every two years and I've tried snowboarding once but spent most of the time on my behind — probably in part because I opted not to take an introductory lesson. Learn from my mistake and take your time on the bunny slopes before progressing to the green or blue-labeled slopes — and consider testing out your snow legs one of these five destinations that are ideal for newbie skiers and snowboarders.

Aspen, Colorado

First time skiers and snowboarders can feel like kings of their own castle at Aspen-Snowmass resort thanks to Buttermilk, a private mountain essentially designated for beginners because nobody else really goes there. The instructional classes are small, which allows for more one-on-one instruction and a sense of camaraderie. Once you’re sore from too many wipeouts, you can take a hot chocolate break and enjoy the views.

Image: AspenChamper/Facebook

Whistler, Canada

After taking a class at the Snow School, test your skills on the green level slopes or take the scenic route by skiing along some of the trails. The best place to get started is at Olympic Station. About 15 percent of the slopes are suitable for beginners and this place is huge so that’s more than enough.

Image: whistlerblackcomb (Mitch Winton/Coast Mountain Photography)/Facebook

Wengen, Switzerland

Let’s be honest here — do you really need a good reason to visit Switzerland? I think not. If you travel all the way to Europe, make the most of it and spend a few days on the slopes to really master the basics. Wengen is a quaint village located in central Switzerland, right in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Their ski school is one of the best, and there are plenty of other activities to take part in — like tobogganing!

Image: WengenLauberhorn/Facebook

Whitefish, Montana

Unless you’re traveling with a group of other newbie skiers and snowboarders, you’ll want to find a resort that also offers some more advanced slopes. Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana is a good choice and it’s also more affordable than most. When you’re fingers can’t take any more of the cold, warm up with beer and bar food at Bierstube or head into town for a tour of the Great Northern Brewery and a wander through the pedestrian trails.

Image: WhitefishMT/Facebook

Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley Resort has been open since 1936 and because it’s rather remote compared to other resorts, it’s hardly ever crowded. That probably explains why many celebrities come here to take ski and snowboarding classes. About 36% of the mountain’s terrain is rated beginner and many newcomers gain confidence quickly because of this. Make sure to start at the Dollar Mountain teaching area and go to the section with no trees.

Image: sunvalley/Facebook