Let it Snow: 7 Awesome U.S. Ski Vacations
With mountain ranges dominating landscapes coast to coast, the United States is filled with great skiing. Here are seven ski and snowboard destinations (and one bonus location!) in seven different states that you should be eyeing as winter approaches.
Alaska is a bucket-list destination for travelers, so why not cross it off with a one-of-a-kind ski vacation? The Chugach Mountains on Alaska’s south-central coast host the Alyeska Resort, which features 76 named trails, including the longest continuous double-black diamond run in the country. More adventurous skiers and snowboarders can also get a helicopter escort to the backcountry. Alyeska’s unique geography makes it stand out, with breathtaking mountain and ocean views and plentiful snowfall: More than 660 inches annually. As if that isn’t enough, the Northern Lights put on a spectacular show on cold winter nights.
Jackson Hole (Wyoming)
Jackson Hole routinely pops up as the best skiing destination in America, and the experience starts with the travel. Fly into Jackson Hole Airport at the edge of the Grand Tetons or make the picturesque, 4.5-hour drive from Salt Lake City with the mountains and winding streams of southern Idaho and northwest Wyoming as a lovely backdrop. Oh, and the skiing is pretty good, too. Stay at the base of the mountain in ski-in, ski-out lodges, or in the western town of Jackson. Jackson Hole is a haven for expert skiers: Challenge “The Big One” or explore the backcountry trails that are skiable through May.
Lutsen Mountains (Minnesota)
Bob Dylan, born in nearby Duluth and raised in Hibbing on the Iron Range, made Highway 61 famous, but Lutsen helps keep it famous. This is a gem of a resort on the north shore of Lake Superior, with the highest drops in the Midwest, four mountains, and 95 runs. Lutsen is family-friendly, while featuring the kind of terrain that intermediate and advanced skiers love. The red gondolas provide stunning views of the big lake they call Gitchi Gummi. The nightlife isn’t bad either—Papa Charlie’s tavern features live music throughout the ski season.
Powder Mountain (Utah)
You can’t go wrong in Utah, with plenty of parks to choose from near Salt Lake City. Powder Mountain is growing in reputation for its high-quality skiing and lack of crowds. It’s north of the bigger resorts in the Salt Lake City/Park City cluster and limits daily ticket sales to 1,500—which is nothing for a park with more than 8,000 acres of skiable terrain. Powder Mountain puts the skiing, often on fresh powder (hence the name), at the forefront. Don’t sleep through the Salt Lake City nightlife, either, should you get a chance to spend an evening in Utah’s capital.
Squaw Valley (California)
It’s almost a shame that “Tahoe” has become shorthand for the great skiing in Northern California. Squaw Valley, ranked the number one ski resort in the country by USA Today readers in 2017, deserves to be singled out. The 1960 Winter Olympic host city (well, city is a strong word) boasts all the amenities of a world-class resort, with a gold-medal history behind it. You’ll find slopes appropriate for all levels and a vibrant nightlife, which could include night-skiing.
Of all the Colorado ski destinations—Aspen, Telluride, Vail to name a few—none balance small-town feel with big-time slopes like Steamboat. There are nearly 3,000 acres of skiable terrain here, with plenty of space for a wide range of expertise, not to mention ski-in/ski-out lodging at the base of the mountain. If the slopes get the best of you, you can always slide into one of the geothermal hot springs that surround the town.
Stowe Mountain Resort (Vermont)
Want to ski the East? Stowe should be your destination. This family-friendly resort has a good balance of difficulty in its 116 trails across two mountains. And it continues to grow in amenities. For example, a gondola that fits 10 people transfers skiers from Mount Mansfield (the tallest mountain in Vermont) and Spruce Peak, so they can easily explore all the park has to offer. Then there’s the luxurious Stowe Mountain Lodge—part hotel, part spa—that offers travelers some ideal mountainside relaxation before and after they hit the slopes.
Bonus: Las Vegas Skiing
It may sound outlandish, but hear us out: Las Vegas is a shortish (snow-free!) drive from the best resorts southern Utah has to offer. Brian Head and Eagle Point stand out in particular. Combined with the inexpensive airfare—more major airlines fly direct to Vegas than to, say, Jackson—and winter travel without winter conditions, a Vegas ski trip could be in the cards for you.