I arrived at Hidden Valley, Missouri’s largest winter resort, on a brisk Monday morning late last winter.

I brought with me two daughters, no skis, no gear, and if I’m being honest, more than a little trepidation. I had skied for the first time in twenty years just a few weeks earlier. I lack the knowledge and expertise (to say nothing of patience) necessary to teach my daughters, twelve and nine, who had never been on skis of any type.

After I signed them up for lessons, they alternated between being nervous and excited as we rented boots, skis, poles, and helmets. We walked out of the dark gear area and blinked into the bright sun reflecting off the snow in the “classroom” at the bottom of a bunny hill called Easy Street.

They learned alongside a handful of other kids, none of whom, judging by appearances, had been on skis before, either. I tried not to helicopter over them during the instructions, but I snuck peeks every now and then. Prior to that, their only outdoor winter adventure had been sledding and even that was on small hills. I want to teach them to try new things, to push themselves, to take risks. I want them to walk right up to the point they are scared and take one more step … but I don’t want them to fall on their faces and break bones.

Then again, Easy Street—the bunniest of Hidden Valley’s bunny hills—is small enough and flat enough that I doubt they could have hurt themselves no matter how epic the wipeout. Which is not to say their falls were fun. I saw frustration from them and their fellow students matched by patience from the instructors.

Kids and adults can learn to ski on the bunny hills and intermediate slopes on the sixty-five acres at Hidden Valley Ski Resort. There are three black diamond ski runs and other activities, too. Photo courtesy Hidden Valley Ski Resort.

I also saw progress. Within an hour or so, most, if not all, of the kids could get to the top of Easy Street via a carpeted moving sidewalk and ski down, though that skiing came in fits and starts. At the three-hour mark, my girls could go up and down Slow Poke (a tick more difficult than Easy Street but still safely in the bunny hill category) repeatedly without incident.

That allowed me to leave them to ski by themselves and explore the rest of Hidden Valley, located in Wildwood, a twenty-seven-mile drive from downtown St. Louis, not far from Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka. I was surprised at how big the place is. Ski resorts in flat suburban areas usually offer little in terms of variety. But Hidden Valley’s trail map lists two peaks and fifteen ski runs, including three classified as black diamond. They looked nasty. I didn’t set foot, to say nothing of skis, anywhere near them. There is also a tubing park for sliding down the hill on giant inner tubes, a new zip line course, and two terrain parks for trick skiers and snowboarders.

I thought my girls would eventually get bored, not because of Hidden Valley but because they were twelve and nine. Nope. Hours passed. Darkness fell, the overhead lights flickered on, and they cared not for dinner or bedtime. I agreed to let them have one more run a dozen times. By the time I finally dragged them home, they had walked another hundred yards from Slow Poke up an intermediate hill called Show Me, and hopped onto it about halfway down. They weren’t slowing down at all.

When you go

For a list of activities, hours, snow report, and other information visit HiddenValleySki.com.

Hidden Valley Ski Resort
17409 Hidden Valley Drive
Wildwood, Missouri, 63025
636-938-5373