It's that time of year when, for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the colder weather is on its way. What better way to make use of dropping temperatures than hitting the pistes, villages and après-ski entertainment of the superb ski resorts nestled amid the glorious mountains of the USA. There’s over 450 operating resorts in the country and we’ve made your decisions easier by selecting our favorites. So whether this is your first time on the slopes or you are a seasoned expert, it’s time to strap on your skis for some snowy adventures.
If it’s outright skiing without the razzamatazz of dining, shopping and nightlife you want, then make a move for the Alta Ski Area. This is a throwback to the golden age of skiing when all that was on offer were exciting steeps and high volumes of powdery snow. Alta is strictly a skiing-only area but there’s a direct link to Snowbird, where snowboarding is allowed. The two resorts combined boast 4,700 acres of skiable terrain and lay claim to receiving 46 feet (14 meters) of snow per season.
First time on the slopes? Colorado’s Breckenridge Ski Resort will make things go as smooth on the way down as they are on the way up via the beginner-friendly chairlifts. In fact, there’s few places in the country that can compete with the resort’s long and wide beginners' run. The resort boasts almost 3,000 acres of terrain, which includes runs for intermediates and experts, spread over five peaks. Off the slopes, the town’s galleries, museums and bars guarantee round-the-clock entertainment.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Those feeling up to a challenge should give the legendary steeps of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort a go. With 90% of the mountain geared toward experts and intermediates, it is advisable to leave the first-timers and kids at home. The bowls, cliffs and couloirs are nothing short of epic and there’s also the longest-continuous vertical steep in the country to tackle. It’s 4,139 feet (1,261 meters), if you can envisage that. Nearby Jackson and Teton Village have plenty of accommodation options outside of the resort.
Mammoth Mountain, California
California skiing at its best awaits at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Everyone is welcome to the 3,500 acres of terrain situated within the Inyo National Forest. Alongside the skiing and snowboarding, there’s opportunities to go on snowmobile excursions, snowcat tours and scenic gondola rides. There’s loads for kids to do as well such as bowling and live music. Stay here in the summer months and you’ll be perfectly located to explore Yosemite National Park.
Park City, Utah
America’s largest ski area, Park City Mountain, boasts a whopping 7,300 acres of terrain covered in pillowy-soft snow. If you rate yourself as an intermediate skier then this place is ideal for you. You’ll never get bored of the 348 trails, terrain parks and non-groomed runs. Even if you aren’t skiing, the town of Park City is non-stop entertainment with its vibrant Main Street packed with art galleries, cafes, pubs and restaurants. Don’t miss a stop at the mountaintop Cloud Dine restaurant.
European charm oozes in abundance at Vail Ski Resort. They say that the resort is like nothing on Earth, and with panoramic views of the Rockies from the slopes it does a good job at living up to its moniker. But what about the pistes? There’s enough here to keep skiers of all levels happy, including access to bowl skiing and areas perfect for novices. With three villages, there are abundant hotels and lodges and an endless supply of drinking and dining establishments. Golden Peak village is even the host of the Burton U.S. Open.
Winter Park, Colorado
Skiing and exploring snow-covered mountain ranges is a great way to bond as a family. If this sounds like your kind of winter vacation then try Winter Park Resort. Ice skating, tubing, snowcat tours, dog-sled rides, broom ball, there’s a little bit of everything. There’s a daycare service, too, for when the kids need a break or you want to enjoy some adult time. Nighttime activities are quiet here, but this resort receives the most snow in Colorado so you’ll want to save your energy for the slopes.