What is a Magic Carpet Ski Lift? 4 Tips to Riding One

by Laura Penrose | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

Learning to ski is not easy; navigating lifts can be one of the most challenging tasks for a new skier. Have you ever thought about going skiing for the first time, looked up different resort maps, seen the words "magic carpet," and wondered what on Earth that is?

A magic carpet is a conveyor belt that skiers ski onto to take them to the top of the beginner slope. Magic carpets are easy to use and make a more enjoyable experience for first-time skiers.

day 1 skiing

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Before you start thinking about Aladdin's flying magic carpet, I will explain a more detailed explanation of what a magic carpet is on a ski resort.

What is a Magic Carpet Lift?


A magic carpet lift is a conveyor belt that you ski onto, and it takes you to the top of the beginner slope. The conveyor is typically made of rubber or grippy plastic, so when you ski onto it, your skis will stick to the material, and you won't fall backward.

In 1990 Denver, Colorado, the first magic carpet was introduced by Rocky Mountain Conveyor & Equipment. Since its inception, magic carpets have been taking over beginner slopes worldwide as a more accessible option for beginner skiers.

Before magic carpets, a more common beginner lift was a ski tow. This style of lift required skiers to hold onto a rope (usually metal) that would pull them up the slope.

Due to the difficulty of riding a rope tow, many ski resorts have switched to magic carpets.

Magic carpets can improve your first-time skiing experience as they are much easier to use, especially for small children. However, it might pay to check out if the resort you are planning to go to has a magic carpet if you want to learn to use this style of lift.

Ski Resorts With The Most Magic Carpets


Based on our data, Big Sky Resorts in Montana has the most magic carpet lifts out of any resort in the USA. While 4 out of the top 6 are all in Colorado. However, when you're learning to ski, all you need is 1. Having more just helps reduce crowding in the busiest of resorts.

Different Types of Magic Carpets

Most magic carpets are all the same, and they operate in very similar ways. However, there are a few variations of what you might see on the mountain.

1. Kids Magic Carpet

Magic carpet ride

Some ski resorts offer a kids-only area or a very short magic carpet that is aimed to be for children to use. These are typically just the regular magic carpet that is very short and used to teach the youngest children how to ski.

As these lifts are relatively short, the slope that the kids will be skiing down will be relatively gentle.

2. Hamster Tunnel

Hamster Tunnel
Photo by Guilhem Vellut licensed under CC BY 2.0

Probably one of my favorite types of magic carpets is the hamster tunnel. It is a magic carpet with a tunnel built over it. These tunnels protect riders from the elements when riding up to the top of the beginner slope.

They keep you nice and warm while you are riding up to the top, and yes, they look like a hamster tunnel on the side of the mountain!

3. Railed Magic Carpet

If you are having trouble balancing while riding the magic carpet, this lift comes with rails on one or both sides of the carpet. However, many places try to avoid using rails on their lifts because they can create more hazards than benefits, so you may not see many magic carpets with rails.

4. Tubing Magic Carpet

In addition to being used for beginner skiers, it is common to see magic carpets used for sledding (or tubing). These tend to be a bit steeper, and it isn't advised to ski onto them.

Photo by John Anes licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Advantages & Limitations

Magic carpets are the simplest and easiest lift type to ride and are the least scary to beginner skiers and children. Once you are on the magic carpet, it isn't easy to fall off; if you do fall off, the distance is minimal.

They are also easier to use than any other type of ski lift, such as rope tows (as mentioned before), Poma lifts, T-bars, and chair lifts, meaning they are fantastic for beginners to get to grips with.

The main limitation of a magic carpet is that they are limited to shallow gradients as they rely on friction between the magic carpet surface and your skis. As such, when installing a new magic carpet, it can't be placed on too steep of a hill.

The other disadvantage is that they are more challenging to maintain from a snow control point of view. If there is a snowfall overnight, the magic carpets must be cleared before they can be opened. And grooming operations can't get as close to the magic carpet as they can with other lift types.

How Do You Ride A Magic Carpet?


Magic carpets are very common for beginners, and at many large ski resorts, it will be your only choice to learn how to ski before you move onto larger lifts. Here are a few simple tips to help you ride the magic carpet.

1. Know How to Move on Your Skis

Before you are ready to ride the magic carpet, you want to make sure that you can get down the mountain. If you have a ski instructor, they will help take you through the basics of skiing and moving on your skis before they take you on the magic carpet.

2. Ski Onto the Lift

As you approach the base of the magic carpet, ensure that your skis are lined up with the magic carpet conveyor, and then ski onto the magic carpet. You should leave enough space between you and the skier in front of you before you ski onto the magic carpet.

3. Stay Balanced and Pay Attention

Once you are on the magic carpet, all you need to do is keep your balance and enjoy the ride. Because you will be standing with your skis on, you should ensure that you are standing up with good posture.

It is usually relatively easy to stay balanced once you are on a magic carpet. It is like riding the escalator, but your feet can't move too much. If you are having trouble staying balanced, I recommend keeping a wide stance with your skis when you ski and bending your knees slightly. This will help you to stay balanced.

4. Be Ready to Ski Away From the Lift When You Reach the Top

When you reach the top of the lift, you need to be ready to ski away and clear the top of the magic carpet for other skiers riding the magic carpet behind you.

Most importantly, this is a beginner lift, so if you do fall over, don't worry about it. Everyone will be understanding, and the lift staff controlling the carpet will make sure to stop the carpet if they need to and help you back up.

Final Thoughts

Shymbulak Resort
Photo by Tore Khan licensed under CC BY 2.0

Beginning to ski is not easy for anyone. A magic carpet is a conveyor belt that skiers ride onto and are transported to the top of the beginner slope.

They are simple, easy to use, and can improve a first-time skier's learning experience by taking the stress and hassle away that the more traditional rope tows bring. Just remember

that most people using the magic carpet are also beginners, and it may take a few times to get used to riding. And maybe, just maybe you will feel like you're in a whole new world while riding the magic carpet.