Winter Travel Guide 1996
Our Favorite Ski Resorts for Urban Dwellers
Take a sick day and go
By Ron C. Judd
WACHUSETT MOUNTAIN SKI AREA, PRINCETON, MASSACHUSETTS
Distance: Fifty-two miles, one hour from Boston.Take Massachusetts 2 west to 140 south.
Why Bother: Fine instruction programs, a beautiful, spacious base lodge, a 1,000-foot vertical drop, a sliders' terrain park, and 18 ski trails (three of which are legitimate expert runs from the summit) make Wachusett, elevation 2,006 feet, feel like a much bigger resort. It also parties like one: With the lifts running until 10 p.m. and a hugely
popular series of evening corporate races attracting as many as 500 participants, the base lodge's Coppertop Bar cranks 'most every night. Information: Lift tickets, $35; call 508-464-2300
By Meg Lukens Noonan
LUKENS NOONAN SANTA FE SKI AREA, SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO
Distance: Eighty miles, 90 minutes north of Albuquerque. Take I-25 north to Santa Fe, then head northeast 16 miles on New Mexico 475.
Why Bother: At one of the highest base elevations in the country (10,350 feet), you can see clear into Colorado from the top of the triple chair's 12,000-foot elevation. Since most thrill-seekers head north to Taos, the locals and Texans who frequent the mountain have plenty of steeps and 550 acres of dry, light powder to themselves under the clear,
sunny New Mexican sky. Stay tuned for the decision on a controversial expansion plan; if approved, it will up the acreage to 891.
Information: Lift tickets, $37; call 505-982-4429; 800-776-7669 for lodging.
By Stephanie Gregory
WINTER PARK RESORT, WINTER PARK, COLORADO
Distance: Sixty-seven miles, 90 minutes northwest of Denver. Take I-70 west to U.S. 40.
Why Bother: Winter Park offers unpretentious, big-mountain skiing that is also affordable, thanks to a multi-level ticketing system and a good assortment of reasonably priced lodges and restaurants. There's nothing cut-rate, though, about the skiing; bump skiers swear by Mary Jane's big, soft moguls; view-junkies can't drag themselves off the
above-timberline terrain in the Parsenn Bowl; intermediates rave about the vast cruising terrain on runs like Cranmer and Allan Phipps. The town itself is just unpolished enough to retain an agreeable frontier funkiness.
Information: Lift tickets, $42; call 800-729-5813
STEVENS PASS, SKYKOMISH, WASHINGTON
Distance: Eighty miles and about 90 minutes northeast of Seattle. Take
I-5 north to Everett and follow U.S. 2 east to Stevens Pass summit.
Why Bother: With a new high-speed quad on the front side of the mountain, commuters are happier than ever. Stevens offers by far the most diverse terrain within an easy drive of Seattle, with a grand mix of beginner, intermediate, and downright hellish runs. In spite of its dead-central location in the heart of notorious Cascade Concrete territory,
Stevens's snow is consistently quite good--and quite deep. When the weather clears, the views of the 400,000-acre Alpine Lakes Wilderness are sublime.
Information: Lift tickets, $34 (weekends); call 360-973-2441.
By Ron C. Judd