With the winter season right around the corner, skiers and snowboarders rejoice at the opportunity to get back into their element. Whether you’re an avid skier looking for fresh slopes or are new to the sport and want to know where to start, you’ll find these North American ski destinations and their après-ski offerings the ideal spots for celebrating the first snowfall.
Located on the rugged west coast of Canada, Whistler welcomes winter revelers to hit the slopes smack in the flightpath of the Pacific storms. The town is flanked by two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, featuring more than 8,000 acres of varied terrain. In addition to traditional skiing and snowboarding, Whistler is known as heli-skiing heaven for intermediate to advanced skiers looking the take their adventures to new heights.
Off the mountain, travelers can treat themselves to an impressive selection of activities in Whistler Village. From shopping and world-class art galleries to the -32˚ C Kettle One Ice Room at Bearfoot Bistro, there’s something for all ages to enjoy after a day on the slopes.
Typical ski season: End of November through late April.
California may have a reputation for year-round surfers and string bikinis, but there’s much more to the Golden State to celebrate. Offering one of the longest ski seasons in the state, Mammoth Mountain makes for the ideal snow-filled escape for winter, spring, and even summer – sometimes. Best of all, you can go from snow to sand in just two hours, perfect for travelers looking to live the best of both worlds. Families hitting the slopes will appreciate Mammoth Mountain due to 65 percent of its terrain being for green and blue skiers, great for the little ones.
When not shredding the snow, take a ride down the mountain at Woolly’s Tube Park, or go on a scenic snowshoeing adventure. Need a break from the cold weather? Heat things up with some bowling and indoor golf at Mammoth Rock ‘N’ Bowl.
Typical ski season: Beginning of November through July.
Another California favorite for scenery and substance is Lake Tahoe. With legendary peaks and picture-perfect views of the water from all angles, Tahoe takes winter sports to new heights with six different resorts specializing in their own unique groomed and ungroomed terrain. Heavenly Mountain Resort is the best spot for tree skiing, while Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl Resort are celebrated for their high snowfall and epic steeps.
Ready to remove the skis? Fuel the fun while taking in unrivaled views of Lake Tahoe on a snowmobiling tour, then warm up as you gather for dinner and drinks around one of Tahoe’s popular fire pits.
Typical ski season: Beginning of November through June.
There’s a reason this Colorado town attracts more skiers and snowboarders than almost any other mountain in the nation. In addition to its famous Back Bowls (seven open expanses of mainly black diamond slopes), Vail is home to one of the largest ski schools in the world, allowing novice and advanced skiers to perfect their “pizzas” and “french fries” in a safe and scenic setting. Vail also has a reputation for having more powder days than most, perfect for those looking to escape from the ice sheets of the Northeast.
Following a fun-filled day on the mountain, enjoy a ride on the town’s free shuttle from your resort to Vail Village. Here, you’ll find heated cobblestone streets and snow-dusted pine trees surrounding dozens of unique shops, restaurants, bars and even an ice skating rink.
Typical ski season: End of November through mid-April.
There’s a lot for winter sports fans to love about Park City, Utah. In addition to being home to the largest ski resort in the country, this city is also extremely accessible, allowing anxious adventure seekers to skip the connecting flights and long drives that other ski destinations often require. With base and summit elevations at 6,800 feet and 10,000 feet, Park City Mountain features over 7,300 acres of skiable terrain, meaning you can hit the slopes multiple days in a row without ever having to ski the same run twice.
This Utah playground offers a variety of ski-in/ski-out lodging, making it easy for skiers and snowboarders to retire from the slopes whenever they please. Warm up with a whiskey cocktail from High West Saloon, which happens to be the only ski-in distillery in the world, then satisfy your senses at Firewood, a hot hangout with a menu featuring an exclusively wood fire-cooked food menu.
Typical ski season: End of November through early April.
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