While the dropping temperatures and first snowfall of the season may cause some travelers to fly south and escape the cold beachside, for other travelers, it’s a chance to head to the mountains. This story is devoted to those who love skiing, snowboarding, and mountain resort-hopping in the wintry months. Whether you’re more interested in first tracks or après-ski, we’ve rounded up the best ski and snowboard destinations to visit this winter. From the Rocky Mountains to the Powder Highway, read on for ten places to hit the slopes this season.
1. Taos, New Mexico, USA
(Image of Taos ski resort provided by Adobe Stock)
Skiing in the Southwest? Yes, please. Head to New Mexico to visit Taos Ski Valley, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Albuquerque. Taos is known for its dry, powdery snow and steep runs with gorgeous vistas of the rugged terrain and surrounding forests. And if you’d like to combine culture with your slopeside adventures, check out the nearby city of Taos Pueblo, a Native American community designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 1,000 years of history and tradition.
2. Breckenridge, Colorado, USA
(Image of Breckenridge provided by Adobe Stock)
Head to Colorado to experience the charming downtown and champagne powder of Breckenridge. The variety of terrain in Breckenridge makes this ski resort perfect for families, as it accommodates all levels of ability. But it’s not just limited to family vacations — Breckenridge is perfect for groups of friends looking to enjoy their après-ski just as much as their time on the slopes. The annual Ullr Festival, dedicated to the Norse god of snow, is a bacchanalia for Viking lovers and hedonists alike. (Don’t be afraid to dress in costume).
3. Banff & Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
(Image of Lake Louise provided by Adobe Stock)
Banff and Lake Louise should be atop the bucket list of skiers and snowboarders worldwide. If you’re interested in endless runs, sweeping views, and guaranteed powder, head north to the Canadian Rockies to ski the Big 3: Banff Sunshine Village Ski Resort, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay Resort in Alberta, Canada. Nestled along the Continental Divide, all three resorts are within driving distance through the Rocky Mountains and offer a distinct ambiance — though, we recommend Lake Louise for the more expert skier, as the above-treeline terrain is not to be missed. The best part? Banff Sunshine Village doesn’t close until May 23rd, so in case you’re unable to visit this winter, you still have a chance to earn your turns by spring.
4. Okemo, Vermont, USA
(Image of Vermont ski resort provided by Adobe Stock)
While there’s nothing quite like a New England summer by the coast, travelers should head inland in the wintertime for seasonal adventures — and visit Vermont, in particular. Though there are an array of ski resorts in the Green Mountain State, we recommend Okemo Mountain Resort, tucked among the charming cabins, snowy mountains, and quaint downtown of Ludlow, Vermont. Forget walking in a winter wonderland, and try skiing in one instead. We suggest the Dream Weaver ski run (a beginner’s green) for maximal views of your magical environs.
5. Lake Tahoe, California & Nevada, USA
(Image of Lake Tahoe skier provided by Adobe Stock)
Head west to Lake Tahoe in the wintertime to witness the stunning beauty of the azure sparkling waters of the lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains — with plenty of places to hit the slopes. Lake Tahoe is home to a total of five ski resorts, and our personal favorite is Palisades Tahoe, home of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. And, just as the Grateful Dead famously lit out from Reno on their quixotic musical journey, so, too, will you fly into Reno (Tahoe’s nearest airport) for your slopeside adventure. Plus, if you’re into spring skiing, sync up your visit with the annual Winter Wondergrass music festival to enjoy bluegrass bands and bluebird days.
6. Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
(Image of Whistler ski trails provided by Adobe Stock)
From the scene of the 1960s Winter Olympics in California to the setting for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, our next selection is one of the largest ski resorts in North America. With its mile of vertical terrain, extensive back-country, and a village full of lively haunts for après-ski, Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort is a cult-favorite destination for avid skiers and snowboarders. But don’t let the reputation intimidate you — there are spectacular ski school opportunities for beginners, as well. (And there’s no better place to learn than atop the gorgeous snow-capped mountains of British Columbia.)
7. Aspen, Colorado, USA
(Image of Aspen lake provided by Adobe Stock)
There is a reason that Aspen is so popular, both domestically and internationally, and it’s not just the scene-y champagne ambiance of Cloud Nine, the alpine bistro atop Aspen Highlands. Aside from Highlands, Aspen Snowmass offers three other mountains — Buttermilk (perfect for beginners), Snowmass (extensive terrain suitable for all abilities), and Ajax (better for experts). This Rocky Mountain retreat offers an array of luxurious accommodations, as well. Our personal favorites are The Gant Aspen, a chic hideaway within walking distance to the base of Ajax, and Aspen Meadows Resort, a serene oasis less than two miles from downtown Aspen.
8. Rossland, British Columbia, Canada
(Image of mountain slopes provided by Adobe Stock)
Head to RED Mountain Resort for a hidden gem along Canada’s Powder Highway that’s located just minutes across the US border in Washington State. As the oldest resort in Western Canada, RED Mountain Resort is located in the former gold mining town of Rossland in the West Kootenay mountains. Adventurous skiers looking for first tracks and untouched terrain should check out the cat skiing opportunities with Big Red Cats for an unforgettable journey into the wild of the forests and mountains of southeastern British Columbia.
9. Lake Placid, New York, USA
(Image of skier provided by Adobe Stock)
Head north to the Adirondacks to ski the iconic White Face Mountain in Lake Placid, New York. Home of the famous 1980 Winter Olympics, White Face offers the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies, with 3,430 feet of terrain for skiers and snowboarders to explore. But you needn’t be an expert to enjoy your trip to White Face — there’s a plentitude of runs accessible for beginners, and the bucolic town of Lake Placid offers plenty of diversions for those who prioritize the après rather than the ski.
10. Big Sky, Montana, USA
(Image of Big Sky provided by Adobe Stock)
We’re wrapping up our list with the largest ski resort in the lower 48: Big Sky Resort in Montana. This ski-lovers paradise is located in Montana’s Big Sky Country and offers sweeping views of the rolling hills and endless valleys of the American West. Fly into nearby Bozeman to begin your adventure and book a stay at Lone Mountain Ranch to maximize your time in Cowboy Country — the luxurious riverside cabins are the perfect place to recuperate after a long day on the slopes.