Another year has rolled around, and winter snows have come to the leading ski areas. Skiers have again voted Canada’s Whistler/Blackcomb area as the favorite ski destination in North America. It claims the largest ski area on the continent.
The slopeside village is reminiscent of a European alpine village with upscale boutiques, gourmet restaurants and lively bars clustered around plazas and walkways. Non-ski activities include ice-skating, paragliding, snowmobiling and sleigh rides.
This ski area offers an international ambiance with the special Canadian friendliness that many skiers enjoy. There are very fine resorts, lodges and spas here, so check them out to decide which suits your taste and pocketbook. There are a total of 33 lifts in the 8,171-acre area.
The second most popular site is Telluride, Colo., which is situated amongst the 14,000 ft. peaks of the San Juan Mountains. Flanked by jagged peaks on all sides, the recent addition of Prospect Bowl offers timberline skiing for all levels.
The inspirational setting encourages guests to leave the everyday world behind to simply enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the mountains. The historic town and mountain village are linked by an innovative gondola transportation system. Plenty of activities for non-skiers are also available including spas, shopping, snowshoeing and sleigh rides.
Skiable acreage is 2,000 with 17 total lifts. You’ll be able to choose fine lodging from those available. Many resorts and lodges throughout the ski system are offering discounts of from 20 percent to 25 percent during this slower travel period.
The third most popular skiing destination is Deer Valley, Utah. When the resort opened in 1981, it set a new standard for the ski industry worldwide. Embracing the amenities discerning guests would expect at a fine hotel, Deer Valley incorporated excellent service, fine dining, and friendly professionalism as basic elements. The slopes are immaculately groomed and offer ski valets, architecturally stunning lodges, and award-winning cuisine. It features skiable acreage of 2,026 with a total of 22 lifts.
Beaver Creek, Colo. is also very popular. It is only 10 minutes away from Vail and it offers uncrowded slopes and intimate atmosphere. The resort has a reputation for pampering guests and is world renowned for its upscale lodging and dining. This European style village is a favorite with families for its convenience and charm. Skiable acreage is 1,625, with 17 lifts.
Next door, Vail is extremely popular perhaps because it is one of the largest sites. It offers everything, from long, intermediate runs through the aspens, to the back bowls of China Bowl and Riva Ridge. Fun begins in Vail Village, an Austrian inspired center with walking streets bordered by more than 70 restaurants, boutiques and bars. Lodging is available in Vail Village, Lionshead and Cascade Village — all are set along the base of the resort. Skiable acreage is 5,289 with 32 lifts.
Five mountain ranges surround magnificent Jackson Hole, Wyo. It has retained a mix of old west charm and casual friendliness. Jackson Hole is famous for steep chutes and open bowls, best suited for intermediate and advance skiers. Grand Targhee’s powder skiing is the best-kept secret in the area, with an annual snowfall of 500 inches and a wide variety of terrain, it is paradise for all levels of skiers. Snow King, nestled at the edged of the town of Jackson, has runs for everyone and is known for its night skiing, snow tubing, and annual hill climb. Skiers can stay in town or slopeside at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village. Skiable acreage is 2,500, with 11 lifts available.
In some places, a day of outrageous bumps, steeps, pipes and bowls is the end-all, be-all. In Aspen/Snowmass, Colo. they say that is just the beginning. Here are glorious runs, followed by some snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. After that, you can head downtown for some shopping and even hit a tequila bar before dinner. All four exciting mountains are within a 12-mile radius and accessible by a free continuous skier shuttle. There are accommodations to suite every taste. Aspen features skiable acreage of 673 and Snowmass offers 3,100 acres. A number of ski lifts are in both locations.
Tamarack Resort is nestled in Idaho’s Payette River Mountains region. The resort is located about 90 miles north of Boise. The base elevation of the Tamarack Mountain is 4,900 ft. and it rises to a summit of 7,700 ft. It features 1,100 acres of lift-accessible terrain serviced by seven lifts.
Park City, Utah is best known as being the Alpine Heart of the 2002 Winter Olympics. It is in fact an old mining town offering wonderful shops, restaurants, and a quaint main street to stroll after skiing. A public lift departs from the center of Park City to the slopes. Staying in town allows easy access to ski neighboring resorts of Deer Valley Resort and The Canyons.
Driving 30 minutes adds Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, and Solitude to the list of ski options. Park City is located 45 minutes from Salk Lake City’s Airport, so it’s possible to fly and ski in the same day. The nearby Utah Olympic Park is home to the Olympic bobsled run and ski jump, which are open for the public to experience. It has 3,300 acres to ski and 14 lifts.
Steamboat, Colo. claims to be the ultimate cowboy ski town, full of western hospitality. As one of the largest ski areas in Colorado it offers something for everyone. Wide-open cruisers, black diamond bumps, and legendary glade runs through the aspens can be found in Steamboat. The ski school as been voted the best in the U.S. and they have a kids-ski-free program, which makes it a favorite with families.
For non-skiers or those taking a break from the slopes activities abound, including snowmobiling, natural hot springs excursions, fly fishing or simply strolling historic Main Street. Skiable acreage is 2,939 with 26 lifts.
Breckenridge, Colo. is situated between four huge mountains with more than 2,200 acres of skiing and riding, two high-speed six passenger SuperChairs, two world-class terrain parks, a state-of-the-art children’s ski and snowboard school, unparalleled grooming, signature events and a historic mining town with endless shopping, dining and nightlife. It offers a total of 29 lifts. It features several fine resorts and lodges in various price ranges.
Big Sky, Mont. is a vacation experience filled with natural wonders, rather than man-made attractions. With more than 3,600 acres of skiing, there is skiing space for everyone. The Lone Peak Tram accesses wide-open bowls and steep narrow chutes for advanced skiers. While long groomed runs and glade skiing is suitable for all skier levels. Big Sky’s family lift ticket program allows two children (10 and under) to ski free with paying adult.
You might even take a day off from skiing to take a snowmobile tour, dog sled trip, or go snowshoeing in nearby Yellowstone National Park.
While in Montana check out Moonlight Basin with groomed runs, open bowls, and challenging chutes in a truly spectacular setting. Enjoy ski-in/ski-out accommodations to the “Biggest Skiing in America” with more than 5,500 acres of skiable terrain in conjunction with neighboring Big Sky Resort.
Also in Montana is Whitefish Mountain Resort, which is one of the largest ski resorts in North America. Located in the Rocky Mountains of northwestern Montana, it is famous for snow-ghosts, vast terrain, short lift lines, unsurpassed views of Glacier National Park, and a laid-back, friendly environment. It’s also easy to get to, only 19 miles north of Glacier Park International Airport.
I hope this has given you a few ideas of the many “slopes” that are available to you in spectacular settings. Don’t break a leg!