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Top Resorts In West for Families

Famimly-Sun-Valley-Dollar-Mountain Many resorts dedicate slopes to families with varying skill levels, like Dollar Mountain at Sun Valley. (Dollar Mountain/Facebook)

What do families want out of a resort? Parking near slopes, ski-in ski-out lodging, efficient signup for lessons, plenty of wide, moderate trails for the whole family, and lots of entertainment.

SnoCountry leaned on ZRankings and others to come up with a quartet of resorts in the West that go out of their way to accommodate families.

From the git-go, Colorado's Keystone goes all-in for families with kids. Free gear wagons reduce gear-schlepping. Ski school signup is a snap, and instructors use games to aid learning.

On the hill, the resort has kids' chair and four surface lift at the base for newbies and beginners -- both at base and mountaintop with magic carpet and "adventure zone" trails in the trees and through tunnels. Best is the top-to-bottom Schoolmarm green trail designated for family skiing with ample slow zones. For diversion, check out Keystone's Kidtopia with arts and crafts, snowball making and sledding -- plus a chance to meet a real avie dog.

California's Northstar-at-Tahoe consistently ranks high for a family-friendly experience. Like Keystone, gear wagons await in parking lots. Lodging surrounds the base, meaning easy access to lifts. Ski school targets youngsters -- as young as 3 years old -- with 1-3 full-day lessons with the same instructor. Trails mostly wide blues with huge terrain park complex. Off-mountain fun includes tubing, trampline, crafts and movies.

If kids get antsy in the car, it's only 35 minutes to Park City Mountain Resort from the airport. Plus, town and resort merge within walking distance. Terrain meanders about, mostly wide blues and green -- perfect for the whole family runs. Options for lessons include youngsters groups capped at four or five. Eight terrain parks sprinkled around 7,300 acres. Novices hone skills with progressive learning at High Meadow Park. Apres-ski spiced up with bobsled run at Olympic Legacy Park.

One of few resorts with top-to-bottom green run, Sun Valley's College/River Run trail combines with separate Dollar Mountain greens and blues to welcome families to ski and 'board together. So does separate Snowsports school renowned for expertise, and off-slope activities of sleigh ride, movies, bowling and ice skating complete the experience.

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