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Finally! Ski season is here and plenty of powder is just waiting to be shred! It’s no secret that skiing can be an expensive hobby, so make the most of your ski days at the best destinations in the country (there’s even plenty of budget-friendly ski resorts too). Instead of settling for your familiar stand-by resort year after year, why not switch it up and check out something new? Check out some of the most epic snow skiing destinations in the U.S. to travel to this winter season.
One of the best all-around ski destinations that really does seem to have it all is Telluride. This is a great place to come for mountain scenery, good lifts, reasonable lines, top restaurants, and fun nightlife. And the scenery here is absolutely stunning. It’s also an artist haven that has a fun and friendly vibe. Telluride is one of the most picturesque towns in Colorado offering the perfect mix of snow and sun, so you can bet on great snow conditions. The quickest way to get here is to fly into Montrose Airport, which is about a 75-minute drive from Telluride.
One of the most family-friendly and fun areas to visit this winter is Deer Valley in Utah. Here is one of the very few resorts in the country that does not allow snowboarding, so it’s a favorite among dedicated ski enthusiasts. But be aware that a stay at this resort and lift tickets are a bit of a splurge. Deer Valley is just 40 miles from Salt Lake, which makes it a favorite destination among locals. Foodies also love this resort because there are so many excellent culinary choices offered at Deer Valley.
One area worth mentioning specifically is the Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe. It has the highest elevation of all the resorts in California. When you ski here, you’ll get amazing views of North America’s largest alpine lake, which is along the California/Nevada border. Heavenly is known for its nightlife scene, including après ski parties, concerts, casinos, and nightclubs. Both skiers and snowboarders are welcome here, and it’s a convenient trip from Reno, Sacramento, and the Bay Area. This is a great place to find hidden gems on the slopes and fun activities when you’re done for the day. South Lake Tahoe is a prime destination if you’re looking to ride the slopes.
Come to Jackson Hole to ski if you want to soak up some of the most beautiful winter scenery in the country. This is a place for intermediate and advanced skiers; beginners may be more comfortable at another resort on this list. But if you’re more interested in the après-ski scene than the actual slopes, Jackson Hole can be fun for everyone. The towns of Jackson and Teton Village have lots to do for shopping, dining, and drinking. And the slope-side hotels and luxurious lodges are amazing. Other exciting winter experiences that you can have at Jackson Hole include snowmobiling, cross country skiing, Heli and Cat skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and winter bike tours.
Utah is home to many of the country’s top skiing destinations. Snowbird, for instance, is easily accessed from the international airport in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s also made some dramatic improvements and renovations in recent years including a new restaurant and pedestrian bridges. The Cliff Lodge is an excellent ski hotel, offering ski-in/ski-out convenience, a heated swimming pool, a spa, and more. At the top of the mountain, there’s a great casual restaurant called The Summit. Nearby Alta is a skiers-only (no snowboarders allowed) resort that’s near Snowbird and also worth a visit with your ski pass.
Located in Northern Vermont in the Green Mountains, Jay Peak Resort is a four-season resort that has some of the best skiing on the East Coast. Alpine and Nordic conditions are listed on the resort’s website in the winter, and the resort’s goals are to make skiing affordable and to accommodate the needs of skiers and riders. There are 81 alpine trails here of which 20 percent are easy, 40 percent are intermediate, and 40 percent are advanced. There are also four terrain parks and nine lifts, plus rentals and lessons are available. It’s nice to see Nordic skiing here for friends and family members that prefer a peaceful glide to a downhill adrenaline rush. Jay Peak also receives more snowfall than pretty much anywhere else in the Northeastern U.S.
Alaska represents the untamed wilderness of ski adventures, and the top resorts here offer plenty of adventure for experienced skiers. One of the best places in the state to ski is Alyeska Resort, which is a year-round destination. It’s just 40 miles from Anchorage, and there are 1,610 skiable acres here. Alyeska has 76 trails and gets over 643 inches of snow on average each year! It’s steep, deep, and ideal for skiers who know what they’re doing on the slopes. About 52 percent of the trails are intermediate and 37 percent are expert/advanced level, while just 11 percent of trails are suitable for beginners. The season here runs from mid-November through mid-April, and the resort has a lift capacity of 12,196 skiers per hour.
Big Sky doesn’t disappoint skiers with epic scenery and vast terrain. Big Sky Resort tends to be less crowded than some of the others on this list, which is a big plus for skiers who want to get in as many runs per day as possible. Another perk is that there’s no large city near the resort area, so traffic to get here tends to be much more manageable than in other resort areas. Big Sky is a family-friendly ski destination that has something for all levels of skiers. However, 42 percent of the trails are designed for advanced skiers and 18 percent of trails are for expert skiers. About 25 percent of the trails are intermediate and 15 percent are beginner level. You can get there by flying into Bozeman, which is about an hour away.
The name Aspen has become practically synonymous with skiing, and this is an epic resort scene that all skiers should visit at some point. Aspen Mountain is closest to the town of Aspen and known for its luxury accommodations. Come here if you’re looking to splurge and treat yourself to high-end shopping and dining. Aspen Mountain is great for intermediate skiers. Another of the Aspen ski areas, Aspen Highlands, is best to visit if you consider yourself to be a hardcore ski bum. It’s a large resort that has some seriously steep runs that you can only access by hiking through the snow to them. Beginner skiers should probably find another resort area to visit.
Another awesome ski destination on the East Coast is Stowe Mountain in Vermont. This is an upscale resort that’s famous for its luxury accommodations. Come here if you want to relax and enjoy the warmth inside just as much as the 100+ ski runs outside on the slopes. This is also an ideal destination to experience the historic charm of New England and check out how small towns enjoy the winter season.
There’s more to Idaho than just your favorite potatoes. Sun Valley is famous for being the first resort in the world to use chairlifts to transport skiers to the top of the mountain. There’s a little bit of everything at this resort though, which makes it an ideal pick for families. You can reach 3,400 vertical feet and enjoy over 2,000 acres of varied terrain to explore. Hardcore skiers can ride the large superpipe, Nordic skiing trails are available for those who don’t prefer downhill slopes, and there are also kid-friendly trials.
Lots of people don’t think of New Mexico when they’re looking to ski, but there’s much more than just desert terrain in the northern part of the state. The ski slopes at Taos are known to be quieter than those at nearby Ski Santa Fe, and there’s a great mix of trails for different skill levels here. Taos Ski Valley is consistently ranked highly for the best value for what you get at the resort. Expect to find high and steep slopes, as well as dedicated skiers who come back here year after year.