SKI AND SNOWBOARD AREAS
Ski and snowboard areas in the U.S. come in all shapes and sizes. Some are called "day areas" because most of the clientele spends the day there and goes home after skiing and snowboarding. Others are large "destination" resorts with a large infrastructure that includes overnight accommodations, entertainment centers, a variety of restaurants and other attractions for overnight guests who may be staying for a few days. The basics are the same everywhere.
(Photo Courtesy of Mountain Creek (NJ))
The Base Lodge
This is the hub of the ski/snowboard area operation. Base lodges generally house the rental equipment area, bathrooms, restaurant and/or cafeteria facilities, storage lockers, and a retail shop. Many have Welcome Centers or greeters for car and bus groups. Most areas offer day care centers for young children. Day care may be in the base lodge or in a nearby building. The area's learning center also may be in the base lodge or in a nearby building.
Learning centers are where professional instructors are located. Professional instructors are trained to teach a wide range of learners. Centers include programs for children some as young as three years old. Group and private lessons are available. Before your visit, check out our How To Videos from Gearing to Go.
Typically, ski/snowboard areas place their beginner terrain in a location separate from the rest of the complex. Beginner areas will have a slowly moving chair lift or something called a "magic carpet" to transport learners up a gentle slope. The "magic carpet" actually looks like a carpet that is moving uphill. Learners or those practicing just stand on it for the ride up.
National Ski Patrol members serve an important role at ski/snowboard areas. Their main focus is safety. They patrol the slopes making sure that skiers and riders stay in control. They also help anyone who may be having difficulty or if an accident occurs. Accidents do happen. Many patrollers are volunteers who are trained to perform varying degrees of medical assistance if needed.
Even smaller ski/snowboard areas have terrain parks for those who want to learn or perfect doing "tricks" on the snow. Some include a half pipe (a trough built into the snow). Most include contoured snow shapes and various structures that skiers and riders can jump or slide over.
Parking lots tend to be large at most ski/snowboard areas since the majority of people drive to the location. Many offer shuttle services from the lot to the base lodge.