This Western State's Accessible Ski Resort Is Perfect For Beginners

"Honey, do you wanna take the kids skiing in Nevada this winter?" If your partner said this, you would be forgiven for thinking they'd mixed up Nevada for Colorado or some snowy state in the Northeast. But Nevada has some excellent ski resorts with epic trails. There's Diamond Peak, where you can zip down the mountain with stunning views of Lake Tahoe glistening ahead. Or at nearby Heavenly, you can ski in two states on the same day — Nevada and California! Heavenly is one of the few resorts in the country where you can say, "Oh, I just skied into the next state for lunch."

But that's not all. A little further north toward Reno, there's a special ski area that feels very unique. Sky Tavern is a nonprofit resort that offers ski and snowboard lessons to children, adaptive skiing for children who need physical or mental accommodations to get on the slopes, and freestyle and race programs. The resort's mission is to make skiing accessible to all. The flagship Sky Tavern Junior Ski Program was founded in 1948, and over 125,000 children have passed through its doors.

The lessons

Skiing and snowboarding lessons take place on the weekends at Sky Tavern. Your kids can attend classes for two hours on a Saturday and two hours on a Sunday for eight weeks during the ski season. General and adaptive lessons begin at 9 a.m. All kids carry cards that are punched to show their level, and when they're ready, they move up to higher-level classes. A freestyle ski and snowboard program begins in November with strength-based training in the gym before participants get to practice their skills in the terrain park.

After the lessons, families can continue enjoying the slopes until 4 p.m. What's different about this area is that lessons are run by fully-trained volunteers, with specially-trained volunteers taking care of children in the adaptive program. Children must attend lessons to later have access to the slopes, so there is a sense of community at Sky Tavern. Adults are not permitted on the slopes if they are not program members.

How it works

For parents, Sky Tavern is not a drop-and-run situation. All kids must have a parent on the mountain for the duration of their time there. Parents of kids having ski lessons are expected to volunteer in some way. You might be helping another child on the slopes (parents do not help their own children during lessons) or doing other volunteer activities. An exception is for "bus students," who come to the resort by bus from schools in the area. Parents and guardians can accompany their children if they wish, but children can also come alone on the bus.

Now, let's talk about the money. Sky Tavern is a budget-friendly ski destination compared to most resorts. Membership costs $369 for children and includes all lessons and access to the lifts every weekend during the season. For comparison, a two-hour lesson at nearby Diamond Peak costs $180 just for the weekend. Parents also need to buy a membership at Sky Tavern, whether they want to ski or not. Parent memberships cost $349. Again, this is for the entire season. Sky Tavern offers safe, affordable skiing for beginners and more advanced riders, as well as a community feel that is hard to find elsewhere.