Skiing This Winter

TRAVEL TALK

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There were some 55 million visits to U.S. slopes last winter and this season promises to be even busier.

The best skiing in Arizona is the Snowbowl close to Flagstaff. Located on the picturesque San Francisco Peaks, it is a little more than two hours from Payson. The ski area offers terrain for skiers of all levels. Snowbowl is located on the western flanks of the San Francisco Peaks. The resort is celebrating its 70th anniversary this season. Phone (928) 779-1951 for more information.

There are many other locations for good skiing. It is advisable to pack less and enjoy more. Most airlines let you travel with a ski bag as part of your checked luggage. Be aware of the weight allowance. If you are renting a car, be sure to reserve in advance for a four-wheel drive or snow tires. Don't gamble with chains. Experts say use ski socks rather than standard cotton socks. They allow more blood flow, have cushioning where boots can accommodate it, and are warmer. Don't forget your helmet. Many skiers use them today.

Some of the top out-of-state ski resorts include Whistler Blackcomb, B.C. with the highest rated score in North America. The year-old Symphony Express quad chair accesses more than 1,000 acres of terrain (whistlerblackcomb.com). Another is Aspen. The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies offer naturalist-guided snowshoe tours (aspensnowmass.com).

Check out Deer Valley, Utah. The new Lady Morgan Express quad opens up 200 additional acres on eight new ski runs (deervalley.com). Park City, Utah offers color-coded maps which indicate the day's freshly groomed trails (parkcitymountain.com).

Telluride, Colo. is always popular. On the western end of the resort, the Black Iron Bowl adds eight backcountry-style runs (tellurideskiresort.com).

In Vail, the newly revamped Lions-Head includes a 12-passenger gondola to Eagle's Nest (vail.com). At Beaver Creek, the Diamonds in the Rough program grooms expert runs for intermediate-level skiers (beavercreek.com).

And, at Steamboat, the six-passenger Christie Peak Express replaces three slower lifts to Christie Peak (steamboat.com). Crested Butte offers a $40 CB card allowing resort-wide discounts, including 25 percent off lift tickets (skicb.com).

New this year at Breckenridge, the resort podcasts recommendations of local hangouts, (breckenridge.com). Snowmass opens the 25,000 square-foot Treehouse Kid's Adventure Center for youngsters (aspensnowmass.com).

The Whitefish Mountain Resort, in Montana, was known as Big Mountain. The resort was founded in 1947 and spans over 3,000 acres of Rocky Mountain snow with two lifts, and a new base lodge. Call 877-ski-fish.

There are many other great skiing opportunities within the Rocky Mountain region, as well as Western and Eastern Canada. California is also famous for great ski runs and resorts.

Most ski resorts consider booking within 90 days "close in," meaning they'll probably require more than a deposit. Be safe, enjoy and take your camera.

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