Photo: Blake Jorgenson/ Whistler Blackc

8 Perfect Ski Weekends

January might be over, but that doesn't mean you can't still plan a winter vacation to one of the country's top resorts. February and March are often the snowiest months and warmer spring temps paired with bluebird skies make for wonderful days on the slopes. And there's always après, of course. So take advantage of the second half of ski season by spending a weekend at one of these mountains.

Only Have a Weekend in Aspen? Do This.

Low on time? Hit the slopes early, then take advantage of après offerings at night. Photo: Courtesy of Aspen Snowmass

Only Have a Weekend in Aspen? Do This.

Where to ski, stay, eat, and drink in the Colorado mountain town.

Here’s the thing about Aspen: No matter who you are or where you’re from, most everyone is here for the same thing—a taste of the ultimate ski-town dream, which Aspen serves up in in spades. The town delivers some of the best skiing (5,300 acres of inbounds terrain over four mountains), nightlife, and dining in the country. Hit Ajax for thigh-burning cruisers and the Highlands for steep skiing and a laid-back local vibe. But save some energy: When the lifts stop spinning, that’s when things really fire up.

Here’s your road map to the best Aspen has to offer—in a weekend or less.

Must Stay

limelight hotel aspen skiing colorado
  Photo: Limelight Hotel

About a five-minute walk to the gondola, the Limelight Hotel delivers the best overall value and vibe in town. Board games, a fleet of cruisers, and two hot tubs are at guests’ disposal. A tasty complimentary continental breakfast is served each morning. And you don’t have to go far for après—from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day, the Limelight serves up a bar menu with wallet-friendly prices, live music, and one of the best après scenes around.

Must Ski

aspen colorado aspen highlands
  Photo: michael.stockton/Flickr

Meet at the gondola at 8 a.m. for First Tracks, a complimentary program for ticket holders that allows 15 skiers on the hill before the mountain opens to the public at 9 a.m. Lap miles of corduroy or lace figure eights through virgin snowfields while the rest of Aspen is still in bed. Sign up at the ticket office at the gondola base station 24 hours in advance to lock your spot.

Jump on the Ajax Express lift on Aspen Mountain and take it to the top of the mountain. From there, head right over to Walsh’s, an east-facing double black diamond run that gets tons of morning sun, which makes for great powder turns or corn skiing.

Don’t forget to hit Aspen Highlands. Head straight for the Highland Bowl, some of the best lift-accessed skiing in the Lower 48, via the Deep Temerity lift or Lone Peak chair. From there, jump on the cat for a boost a third of the way up, then begin the 40-minute bootpack to the top. Trust us, it’s worth it: 2,500 vertical feet of perfectly pitched, wide-open bowl skiing awaits.

Must Eat

ajax tavern aspen colorado skiing
  Photo: Aspen Snowmass/Flickr

For one of the best breakfasts in town, head to Bonnie’s. Beloved by locals and located on Aspen Mountain, this eatery serves up dynamite oatmeal pancakes and apple strudel.

Come lunchtime, head to the foot of Aspen Mountain and post up at Ajax Tavern. Grab an Ajax Double—the best damn burger in town. If it’s warm, also grab a seat on the sun-drenched deck and watch as wealthy cougars mix with celebrities and colorful locals like Benny the Blade, an Aspen icon often spotted sporting a fanny pack and his signature shaggy blond mane.

You can also try the newly renovated Merry-Go-Round, a popular mid-mountain lunch spot where you can grab quick organic bites. From there, point it to the parking lot and hightail it home.

When the dinner bell rings, head to the ski-in-ski-out Pine Creek Cookhouse for one of the best dining experiences in the Rockies. Found in the old mining town of Ashcroft, about 30 minutes from downtown Aspen, Pine Creek serves up killer food in a cozy log cabin with a roaring fire and views of the Elk Mountains. Park at the top of Castle Creek Road, then snowshoe, cross-country ski, or ride a horse-drawn sleigh to the Cookhouse.

Rehash and recover from the night’s antics over homemade doughnuts and blueberry pancakes at Main Street Bakery, the best breakfast joint in town. This place is what all breakfast spots should be: downhome vibe, awesome grub, and friendly service. Main Street Bakery gets slammed, so go early.

Must Drink

ajax aspen Aspen Mountain colorado Content Type Fireworks gondola gondola plaza night no one no people Outdoors snow Thomas O'Brien Winter
  Photo: Courtesy of Aspen Snowmass

As you roll into town, stop at the Woody Creek Tavern, the old stomping grounds of Hunter S. Thompson, the legendary gonzo journalist who ran for sheriff of Pitkin County in 1970. About 15 minutes down valley of Aspen and festooned with Christmas lights and photos of regulars, Woody Creek is a funky dive bar that serves up killer burgers, anything from canned to draft beer, and a taste of old-school Aspen.

Après options abound in Aspen. For a rowdy singles scene and scantily clad snow bunnies in hot tubs, try 39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel. For more than 200 craft beers on tap (including Colorado classics like Telluride Brewing Co. and Upslope), a cozy fireplace, and American comfort food, head to HOPS Culture, a recently opened pub that’s on track to becoming an Aspen drinking institution.

With its A-list roster of talent, intimate setting, and great sound system, Belly Up is one of the best live music venues in the country. On any given weekend, Chromeo, Spearhead, or Taj Mahal might be headlining. This is the kind of place where rock and roll memories are made.

Ski Some of the Best Terrain in Utah at Snowbird

Snowbird's tram allows access to over 90 percent of the resort's terrain. Photo: Craig Stanfill/Flickr

Ski Some of the Best Terrain in Utah at Snowbird

And it definitely has the coolest heli-skiing setup.

Just 29 miles from Salt Lake City, Snowbird has everything a skier might want: 2,500 acres of steep bowls, chutes, and trees, all covered in 500 inches of snow annually. What Snowbird lacks in rustic charm (it’s a purpose-built concrete village), it makes up for in terrain—arguably the best in Utah. Thirty-foot cliffs and 50-degree chutes beckon rippers while mellow cruisers satiate the adrenaline averse. At day’s end, four lodges at the bottom of the mountain welcome weary skiers into their high-thread-count arms.

It’s easy to understand why some of the best skiers on the planet—Todd Ligare, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Angel Collinson—call Snowbird home. And if you don’t already get it, read on to learn why.

Must Stay

  Photo: Snowbird

With a world-class spa and spectacular views of the Wasatch, and within stumbling distance of the lifts and bars, the Cliff Lodge has been a Snowbird staple for more than 40 years. Check in and then head to the Lodge Bistro Lounge on the pool level for drinks and a nibble. Start off with a High West Double Rye Manhattan, a blend of two of the best whiskeys in Utah, produced at Park City’s High West Distillery. For dinner, try the winter greens Caesar followed by the roasted salmon. Finish your meal with bittersweet chocolate cake.

If that’s not enough hedonism for one day, slip on your robe and head for the outdoor hot tub on Cliff’s roof deck, one of the best in ski country. Get those legs nice and loose—you’re going to hammer them over the days to come.

Must Ski

snow sports snowbird mineral basin skiing utah
  Photo: Ethan Bloch/Flickr

With access to over 90 percent of the resort’s terrain and some of the best inbounds skiing in the Lower 48, laps off the Snowbird tram are a must. Line up by 8 a.m. to ensure first cabin once the tram starts spinning at 9:00. (Be forewarned: It gets packed, especially on powder days.)

From the top of the tram, at about 11,000 feet, follow the Cirque Traverse, which serves up an almost endless supply of steep lines. Take the Traverse to the end to hit Dalton’s Draw, a hidden favorite. The hike-to terrain on Mount Baldy, where some of the Freeride World Tour comp takes place, is insane. Pro skier Todd Ligare, a TGR staple and Snowbird devotee, suggests the Keyhole, a vast area on Baldy that requires little exploring and holds soft pockets days after a storm, or the Wilbere Chute, which serves up long, clean, consistent shots that will make your legs burn.

You could easily spend half a day exploring Mineral Basin, a steep, wide-open bowl that dishes up some of Utah’s most sought-after terrain on a powder day. Ride the Peruvian Express to the top, then take the tunnel through Hidden Peak to access Mineral Basin. Traverse far skier’s right and tip into the Bookends. The traverse weeds out the crowds, and the northeast aspect keeps the snow nice and cold.

By midday, most of the powder stashes are gone, so hit Chip’s Run, a fun late-afternoon choice for great groomers, wall hits, and rollers. It’s a playground stretching almost three miles that delivers you right to the base of Snowbird, putting you within striking distance of the tram, or Tram Bar, a favorite après joint.

Must Eat

mid gad restaurant snow sports snowbird utah skiing
  Photo: Maurice King/Flickr

Grab breakfast or brunch at the Forklift, a Snowbird institution across from the tram on the Plaza Deck. Its Sunday brunch is not to be missed. Fill up on homemade granola, whole-wheat pancakes, or chorizo hash, and finish off with a Bloody Mary.

Come lunchtime, head to the Mid-Gad Restaurant, at the top of the Mid-Gad lift. Fuel up on a gooey Gad Melty, a sharp cheddar and havarti grilled cheese combo served on fresh sourdough bread. With one of those in your belly, you’ll be ready to charge.

You don’t even have to leave the confines of the Cliff Lodge for one of the best meals in Snowbird. Jump in the elevator and head to the sushi bar at the Aerie Lounge on the 10th floor for live music and some of the best sushi in the Rockies. There’s no better way to top off a day at the ’Bird.

Must Drink

  Photo: Snowbird

At day’s end, make your way to the Tram Club for the $5 shot-and-beer combo. The Tram Club is nothing fancy—a subterranean lair with a few widescreen TVs, a laid-back vibe, and live music on weekends—but it’s the best place in Snowbird to get your drink on. After a few shot-beer combos, make your way back to the Cliff Lodge hot tub and rest up for another day in powder paradise.

Must Do

powderbird heli skiing skiing snow sports snowbird utah
  Photo: Powderbird

If you’d like to sample the finest skiing the Wasatch has to offer, splurge on a day of heli-skiing with Wasatch Powderbird Guides. At $1,195 a day, it’s not cheap, but can you really put a price on pure bliss?

Get to Know Crested Butte's Cowboy Charm and Steep Terrain

Grab a pint in a bar with bullet holes in the walls after a day of skiing. How much more authentic can you get? Photo: Courtesy of J.C. Leacock/Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Get to Know Crested Butte's Cowboy Charm and Steep Terrain

The isolated community is still a ski-bum heaven, with steep and deep terrain and a touch of cowboy charm.

A 19th century mining town turned ski bum Shangri-la, Crested Butte is classic Colorado in all the right ways. Rowdy skiing compliments raucous drinking establishments, where cowboys sidle up to the bar next to Flylow-clad locals. Mount Emmons dominates the skyline and the white stuff that blankets it is light and fluffy.

Because it's a bit out of the way (about a four-hour drive from Denver) and legendary for its extreme terrain, Crested Butte has managed to retain its funky charm and old-school, laid-back vibe, as well as affordable prices. Keep in mind that downtown Crested Butte is about a five-minute drive away from the 1,547-acre mountain and serviced by a free shuttle bus that runs every 15 minutes. Aside from development at the base of the mountain, Crested Butte delivers a taste of the Old West right alongside of a dose of world class skiing.

Must Stay

outside outside magazine outside online ski bums snow report january issue Elk Mountain Lodge Winter snow channel colorado
  Photo: Larry Lamsa/Flickr

To get a true sense of what Crested Butte is all about, stay downtown at the 19-room Elk Mountain Lodge. Located just steps from Crested Butte's main drag, the Elk Mountain Lodge is owned by a nice local couple, the Nolans, who are full of good insider beta. Example: If it's a full moon, head to the mountain for a skin up the resort to Uley's Cabin for a raging bonfire and party. The complimentary breakfast is a dream—homemade granola, huevos rancheros, and cinnamon-raisin French toast. Plus, you're only two blocks from the bus stop, where you can catch a ride to the mountain.

Must Ski

Teocalli Bowl outside outside magazine outside online snow channel ski bums Winter january issue colorado

Start off with a few warm up laps in the East River area, a zone that gets tons of morning sun and is filled with cruisey groomers. For perfectly spaced trees, hit Sully Glades at the top of Double Top.

There are a few reasons Crested Butte is known as a hardcore skier's mountain and the Extreme Limits terrain is one of them. Take either the North Face Lift or High Lift (both T-Bars) to access the Extreme Limits' 543 acres of black diamond pitches, trees, and 10- to 60-foot cliffs. When the Freeride World Tour comes to town, this is where the event takes place and after a day schralping these steeps, you'll understand why.

On a powder day, Crested Butte is one of the best places on the planet to be. The snow is sublime and the skiing is steep and crowd-free. Your best bet is to follow a local, but in any case, beeline it to Phoenix/Spellbound Bowls, or to the Peel, a 1,700-foot banana-shaped chute that slices down the resort's front side.

Must Eat

camp 4 coffee outside outside magazine outside online ski bums snow report january issue Elk Mountain Lodge Winter snow channel colorado
  Photo: Larry Lamsa/Flickr

Breakfast is one of Crested Butte's great pleasures. And there's no place better for early morning sandwiches than Izzy's. Grab a mug of locally brewed Camp Four coffee and a Basically Mikaela sammy to go and hop on the bus to the mountain.

Located at the bottom of the Paradise Lift, the Paradise Warming House is the go-to spot for a quick and easy lunch. Another on-mountain option is Uley's Cabin, located at the base of the Twister lift. The mushroom bisque and Elk bourguignon are sublime.

Once night falls, refuel at the Ginger Café, ground zero for Asian food. Try the spring rolls and lamb korma, topped off with a mango mojito. With those in your belly, you'll be ready to rock the next day of skiing.

Go totally local and head to the Secret Stash, a bonafide pizza emporium. Located in the heart of downtown Crested Butte, the Stash serves up tasty, creative pizzas in a lively setting. Try the Notorious F.I.G., a blend of mozzarella, asiago, and blue cheese topped with prosciutto, figs, and truffle oil. Go ahead and order a Moscow Mule. After a day skiing Crested Butte, you've earned it.

Must Drink

Crested Butte Mountain Resort ice bar
  Photo: Courtesy of Trent Bona/Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Crested Butte is a town that likes to party and there's no shortage of places to kick your heels up.

Start off with a drink at The Ice Bar at Uley's Cabin on Mount Crested Butte. Uley's serves up a rocking on-mountain après scene, complete with a bar made of packed snow and ice, lots of afternoon sun, and tasty rum drinks, thanks to the new partnership with Montanya, the local rum distillery, which has a killer tasting room in town that's also worth a visit. 

Off the mountain, nightlife options abound. Hit Kochevar's for pool, darts, and a helluva good time. A Western bar that dates to 1919 with bullet holes in the walls from the old days, Kochevar's is the kind of place where cowboys and ranchers mix with bearded locals. 

For something a bit more upscale, head to the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin, a refurbished miner's cabin from 1891 that serves artisanal tipples, like the Beetnik, a beet-infused martini, which, paired with the chocolate fondue for two, is the perfect evening night cap.

With the tagline, "a sunny place for shady people," the Eldo is where you go to have the kind of really good time you don't always remember. A deck with great afternoon sun, live music, and an anything goes vibe make the Eldo a local's favorite.

Must Do

irwin catskiing outside outside magazine crested butte
  Photo: Courtesy of Irwin Guides

Just ten miles outside of Crested Butte, Irwin is one of the best cat-skiing ops in the lower 48. Situated in a unique orographic vortex, Irwin gets over 600 inches of snow a year, whereas Crested Butte averages 300. Plush cats zip you from the bottom of runs to the top and depending on your group's speed and size, you'll average about 8 to 10 laps, skiing some of the best chutes and bowls of your life.

Why the U.S. Ski Team Calls Park City, Utah, Home

Park City is home to 3,300 acres of great skiing, but check out nearby mountains while you're there. Photo: Adam Barker/Deer Valley Ski Resort

Why the U.S. Ski Team Calls Park City, Utah, Home

Take in as many mountains (and drinks) as you can in a breakneck, hardcore-skier's perfect weekend in Park City and Deer Valley.

There’s a reason—several, actually—that the U.S. Ski Team calls Park City home. First off, Park City Mountain Resort delivers 3,300 acres of some of the best cruisers, bowls, and parks in the country. Then there’s the charming main drag lined with bars, restaurants, and shops. Plus, a couple mountains, including Deer Valley, are less than a 10-minute drive away. That’s the beauty of Park City: There’s something for everyone.

Alpine purists might turn their noses up at Deer Valley, but they shouldn’t. Sure, ski valets are a staple, but while the furry-collared types lap Deer Valley’s 2,026 acres of meticulously groomed cruisers, powder stashes last for days. The perfectly spaced trees on Lady Morgan Peak and the chutes off the Empire lift will scratch most hardcore skiers’ extreme itch. With so much to choose from, you really can’t go wrong at either resort, so go to both.

Must Stay

  Photo: Courtesy of Stein Eriksen Lodge

With its lively downtown, Park City makes the perfect home base for a weekend exploring Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley. Located just 150 feet from Park City’s lifts and a 10-minute walk from the main drag, Chateau Apres offers an old-school vibe, complete with board games, complimentary breakfast, hot tub, and even a dormitory for those who are really holding onto their purse strings.

If it’s creature comforts you’re after, there’s no place better than the slopeside Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley. With its 23,000-square-foot spa, four-star restaurant, and army of ski valets who will warm your boots and then help you into them each day, the 180-room lodge will deliver you straight into the lap of luxury.

Must Ski

  Photo: Joseph De Palma/Flickr

Deer Valley is known for its impeccable grooming, but guarantee fresh corduroy by signing up for First Tracks, a program that offers private, early access skiing with a guide from 8 to 9 a.m., before the lifts open to the masses. 

Warm up on Stein’s Way, a 4,500-foot thigh burner of a cruiser named after legendary Norwegian ski racer Stein Eriksen, before heading to the Empire Express. From the top of Empire, take Orion at skier’s right, then duck into Anchor Trees toward the Daly Bowl. Drop into the bowl, or keep traversing to access a series of chutes.

Next up? Lady Morgan Express for some of the best tree skiing in Utah. From the top of the lift, go skier’s left into Centennial Trees, where you’ll find perfectly spaced trees at just the right pitch and stashes of fresh powder. Or go right from the top of Lady Morgan and into the trees between Argus and Magnet for wide-open aspen glades. For more epic tree skiing, check out Triangle Trees, accessed from the top of the Wasatch or Sultan Express lifts via Tycoon. End the day with cruisey GS turns down Star Gazer, which drops you into Silver Lake Lodge, one of Deer Valley’s hubs.

Must Eat 

  Photo: lakefire15/Flickr

Do breakfast in Park City. For a classic cozy coffee shop, stop into Atticus Coffee and grab one of its famous red velvet lattes and a breakfast bagel sandwich to go. For a sit-down, full-menu breakfast, the Eating Establishment (or Double E in local-speak) serves up huge portions of yummy seasoned potatoes and eggs, Belgian waffles, and biscuits and gravy.

Deer Valley is known for its world-class dining. Any meal there is a treat, though probably an expensive one. The St. Regis doesn’t mess around when it comes to spoiling guests, and lunch at the J&G Grill is no exception. With acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the helm, J&G dishes up sophisticated city cuisine in a luxurious mountain setting. The black truffle pizza and steamed shrimp salad are standouts, as is the J&G cheeseburger.

Do yourself a favor and check out Burgers and Bourbon, one of the newest dining options in Deer Valley. Located in the Montage Deer Valley, Burgers and Bourbon serves the state’s largest selection of whiskeys as well as spiked milkshakes and an unmatched menu of signature burgers made with farm-raised beef, artisan cheeses, and vegetables from Utah farmers and dairies. 

Another new addition to Deer Valley’s culinary scene is the Brass Tag in the Lodges at Deer Valley. Blending a fun, casual atmosphere with DV’s signature service, the Brass Tag serves an unusual and delicious menu. The fresh-baked pretzels and tandoori rubbed quail are not to be missed.

Must Drink

  Photo: Stephanie Rogers/Flickr

Word is that you should ski in Deer Valley but drink in Park City. We tend to agree, but start après in Deer Valley with the 7452 bloody mary at the St. Regis Bar. From there, head to Park City and its all-star roster of bars.

Located at the bottom of the Quittin’ Time run, next to PCMR’s Town lift, the High West Distillery is Park City’s crowning drinking establishment. Equal parts distillery, tasting room, and rowdy saloon, High West serves up top-notch pub food, some of the finest whiskeys in the West, and a rockin’ après ski party.

Top off any ski day or night out at the No Name Saloon. With its festive, down-and-dirty dive bar feel, No Name is the kind of place where locals play shuffleboard, eat nachos, and put back cold ones—lots of ’em. 

Must Do

  Photo: Franco Pecchio/Flickr

Perfect for adventurous advanced to expert skiers, the guided Interconnect Adventure Tour is a ski tour that links six of Utah’s premiere resorts—Alta, Brighton, Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, Solitude, and Snowbird—while also exploring some of the Wasatch’s most spectacular backcountry. Be prepared to skin and ski about 25 miles—and have the time of your life.

Take Advantage of Breckenridge in Two Days or Less

Breckenridge was once a mining outpost. Its main drag is as much of a party as its inbounds skiing. Photo: The Bivvi Hostel

Take Advantage of Breckenridge in Two Days or Less

Wild West charm alongside wild, crowd-free lines—Let's Go!

Breckenridge gets a bad rap as being a mecca for park rats and Front Range day-trippers, but that’s not the whole story. True, Breck is only an hour and a half from Denver and features five terrain parks, but there are also 2,908 acres of bowls, chutes, and hike-to terrain—some of the most interesting inbounds skiing in Summit and Eagle Counties.

Whereas many resorts in the area lack personality, Breck has plenty. Founded in 1859 as a mining outpost, downtown Breckenridge showcases the largest national historic district in Colorado. So it’s no surprise that Breck’s main drag is lined with Wild West–era buildings that are home to shops, swanky eateries, and dive bars. 

Must Stay

  Photo: The Bivvi Hostel

The Bivvi Hostel makes the ideal base camp for a weekend in Breck. Within walking distance of town and situated on the free bus route to the mountain, the Bivvi features six private rooms and four dormitory-style bunkrooms, a hot tub, fire pit, and delish complimentary breakfast. All of this, plus the fact that beds start at $45 per night, make the Bivvi perfect for ski bums like us. 

Must Ski

breckenridge skiing
  Photo: Liam Doran/Breckenridge

Spread over five peaks (all connected by trails and lifts) and featuring the Imperial Express, the highest chairlift in the United States, Breckenridge is a great mountain for everyone from beginners to expert skiers. Start the day with a few crowd-free laps off the Falcon SuperChair on Peak 10, an oasis of gladed tree runs like the Burn, which delivers perfectly spaced trees and powder stashes that last for days. Stay skier’s left for low-angle, wider-spaced trees; go right for steeper, tighter lines.

Come midmorning, traverse to the Peak 8 SuperConnect chair and continue on to the T Bar. From the top of the T Bar, warm up your steep-skiing skills with first tracks down Horseshoe Bowl. After a couple laps on the T Bar, hit the Imperial Express SuperChair, which tops out at 12,840 feet, for somewhat technical, big-mountain-style lines in Lake Chutes. Nine Lives, the second run as you ski toward the boundary rope, is littered with cliffs (airs, if you choose) and is the steepest run on the mountain.

Be sure to check out Peak 6, Breck’s newest terrain. Opened in late 2013, Peak 6 delivers 540 acres of expert and intermediate bowls, chutes, and hike-to terrain in the alpine.

Must Eat

  Photo: GoBreck

You don’t have to travel far on Breck’s main drag to fill your belly with something scrumptious. Begin your day with a latte (the mocha-flavored is the bomb) and a green chili burrito at Cuppa Joe, a cozy breakfast joint favored by locals, just off Main Street. The burritos are huge—split one with a friend or save half for later.

For a lunch, hit the Snowdrifter, a food truck that’s an alpine take on the popular food truck movement. Currently parked in front of the Horizon hut on Peak 6, the Snow Drifter dishes up killer grab-and-go lunch options, like the Philly cheesesteak, which you can nibble on your way up the Kensho chair.

After a day of roughing it on the hill, you might crave a little city-style atmosphere. If that’s the case, head to the Blue River Bistro for happy hour, which means live music and buy one, get one martinis and appetizers. We suggest the Champagne Dream martini, fried calamari, and honey and cashew–encrusted brie.

When night falls, fuel up on comfort food staples and a wide selection of craft beer at the Breckenridge Brewery and Pub, one of Colorado’s original microbreweries. Pair the four-cheese mac with an Avalanche Ale, and you’ll be in heaven. If head brewmaster Jimmy Walker is around, ask for a tour of the vats and get the whole story of how the Breckenridge Brewery got its start in this teensy mountain town.

Must Drink

Town of Breckenridge lifestyle
  Photo: Liam Doran/Breckenridge

Breck’s drinking culture runs deep, and the town serves up everything from martini bars and nightclubs to breweries, pubs, and everything in between.

With a DJ spinning beats, Mexican-inspired apps (hello, dirty nachos), and tasty margaritas, the T-Bar is the perfect place to post up after a day on the hill. Located slopeside at the base of Peak 8, the T-Bar gets packed—arrive early if you want to score a table. Right next door, the gondola to town runs until 5 p.m., so once you’ve aprèsed up, go home, take a disco nap, and then head out on the town.

Après Handcrafted Libations features craft beer, spirits, and drinks—think small-batch whiskeys from Breckenridge Distillery, 30 unique beers on tap, and Colorado wines. It’s BYOF (bring your own food), so grab a slice of Fatty J’s pizza and settle in for a proper quaffing session.

Launched in summer 2014, Broken Compass Brewing is the latest addition to Breck’s thriving brew scene. Already a local favorite, this brewpub offers killer beer, music, and a lively scene. Try the eight-flight sampler—and make sure the coconut porter is one of the samples.

No trip to Breckenridge is complete without a visit to the Gold Pan Saloon, the oldest continuously operating bar west of the Mississippi. When the Gold Pan opened in 1870, it was a favorite haunt among the region’s crusty gold miners. Today, it’s a favorite haunt of crusty ski bums and tourists alike.

Must Do

  Photo: Courtesy of Breckenridge Distillery

The Behind Swinging Doors Saloon Tour offers a behind-the-scenes look at the golden era of Breck’s pubs (the 1880s) and samples from today’s Breckenridge Distillery, an award-winning producer of small-batch bourbons (and more) made from alpine snow melt, the perfect souvenir.

Whistler: The Grandfather of North American Ski Resorts

Whistler has it all, from glaciers and a massive backcountry to terrain parks and spruce forests. Photo: Blake Jorgenson/Whistler

Whistler: The Grandfather of North American Ski Resorts

Plan a perfect weekend to the legendary British Columbia ski area

With 8,171 acres of terrain spread over two mountains slathered in a thick maritime snowpack that averages 458 inches a year, Whistler is the granddaddy of North American ski resorts. It also has 16 high-alpine bowls, killer hike-to zones, massive backcountry access to three glaciers, six terrain parks, and insane tree skiing.

When it comes to nightlife, the pedestrian village at the resort’s base is the Las Vegas of ski towns, serving up a heady mix of nightclubs, brewpubs, and dive bars and populated by a steadfast tribe of locals and tourists who wouldn’t have it any other way. After a trip to Whistler, you’ll likely join their ranks. Here’s why.

Must Stay

  Photo: jonwick/Flickr

Tucked in a cozy Euro-style chalet at the edge of Whistler, about a five-minute drive from the mountain, the Alpine Lodge Hostel offers one of the best deals in town. Whether you’re in the dorm or a private room, rates include a simple breakfast and access to the hot tub, sauna, and shared kitchen. If you’re unfamiliar with the resort, the staff will set you up with someone who can show you around the hill. Or kick back by the fire in the great room and you’re likely to meet a like-minded skier to rip around with for a day or two.

Must Ski

Symphony Chair WB carving groomers
  Photo: Paul Morrison/Whistler

Start the day on the Blackcomb side with a warm-up lap on the Wizard Express. From there, make your way into the alpine on the Glacier Express lift. Go hard left off the chair and line up at Spanky’s Ladder for the five-minute bootpack to access the Garnett, Sapphire, Diamond, and Ruby Bowls, an enormous zone of bowls, chutes, and features, and ground zero of Whistler’s steep-skiing scene. This area is steep and deep and can be complicated, so you might want to hire a guide or go with a local. Keep in mind that Whistler offers a complimentary daily orientation tour at 11:15 a.m. for intermediate and advanced skiers. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, this is well worth your time.

From the bottom of any of the aforementioned bowls, ski all the way down to Whistler’s base via Glacier Run and start to make your way to the Peak Express chair on the Whistler side of the resort, which accesses Whistler’s killer high-alpine terrain. Go left off the chair and hit the Couloir, an approximately 1,000-foot coulie with a sustained 40-degree pitch, sometimes hairy entry, and one of the gnarliest inbounds runs in North America. Go right off the chair and hit Whistler Bowl, a wide-open zone loaded with snow, or take Upper Peak Creek to Bagel Bowl, a local favorite for secret powder stashes and sweet tree skiing on the far skier’s left of the lower bowl, near the resort’s boundary line.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. You could spend a lifetime exploring Whistler’s bounty.

Must Eat

  Photo: ruthanddave/Flickr

Delicious Belgian waffles are a Whistler phenomenon, and Crystal Hut on Blackcomb serves up some of the resort’s best. Try the Fully Loaded, stacked with berries, whipped cream, chocolate chips, and maple syrup. Located at the top of the Crystal Ridge Express, Crystal Hut is small and cozy. The hut also does a three-course candlelit fondue dinner accompanied by live music. Accessed by snowcat or snowmobile, this is one dining experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Poutine is Canada’s national delicacy, and no trip to the Great White North is complete without a heaping serving. (For the uninitiated, poutine consists of french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds.) Head to Zog’s at the base of Whistler for some of the best poutine around, grab-and-go-breakfast sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs.

After winning bronze in the downhill at the 2010 Olympics, Bode Miller celebrated with dinner at Sushi Village. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, we don’t know what is. People come for the food and stay for the scene, which is laid-back and fun, with the low din of tables slamming sake bombs echoing in the background. Try the sake margarita, the fish ta-cone, and mango caterpillar roll. Top that off with a few sake bombs of your own.

Must Drink

Roundhouse WB Whistler Whistler Blackcomb food
  Photo: Matt Walker/Whistler

With a sprawling patio, huge fireplace, and live music, the Garibaldi Lift Co. (or GLC) is the spot to kick back and drink a cold Kokanee come day’s end. Just feet from the Whistler Village gondola, the GLC is the hub of Whistler’s après scene and where locals go to get their drink on. The GLC gets busy fast, so get there early to snag a table.

Into 35-cent wings? Hit up the Happy Hour at the super low-key Crystal Lounge. You'll also find plenty of drink deals and tons of events like karakoke, ski giveawaya, open mic mights and live music. Grab a Jenga set and a whiskey jack ale and settle in for the night.

More club than bar, Garfinkel’s has been a Whistler drinking institution for more than 20 years. That’s largely due to its long-running local’s night, sizable dance floor, and the big-name DJs who roll through, like Major Lazer’s Walshy Fire. Post up on a banquette or grab a pool table. Either way, you’re in for a show.

Must Do

Random - XTi
  Photo: matthosford/Flickr

Spearhead Traverse: A 20-mile ski tour that never dips out of the alpine, the Spearhead links Whistler and Blackcomb via a stunning horseshoe-shaped backcountry traverse. Though it can be done in a day, most people do it in three or four, taking time to pick off backcountry gems like Mount Trorey and Overlord Peak, and to soak in the splendor of the Spearhead and Fitzsimmons ranges. This tour requires travel in avalanche and glacial terrain and is best done with a guide, like Coast Mountain Guides

Why Serious Skiers Need to Visit Big Sky, Montana

Nightlife at Big Sky isn't exactly raging, but if you know where to look, you'll find cozy spots with great brews. Photo: Chris Kamman/Big Sky Resort

Why Serious Skiers Need to Visit Big Sky, Montana

Who needs nightlife when your days are spent tackling terrain like this?

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Montana, 50 miles south of Bozeman on the northwestern edge of Yellowstone, Big Sky serves up 5,800 acres of some of the biggest and burliest inbounds terrain in the United States—the kind where you have to sign in with ski patrol and bring a beacon, shovel, and probe. With hairball steeps, insane backcountry access, and more than 30 feet of Montana cold smoke each year, Big Sky delivers. What the small, purpose-built village at the base of the mountain lacks in charm, the skiing makes up for in spades. 

Must Stay

  Photo: Courtesy of Buck's T-4 Lodge

If you’re looking for sheer convenience, stay slopeside at one of the many resort-owned properties.  If it’s a little flavor you’re after, try Buck’s T-4 Lodge down in Gallatin Canyon. About a 15-minute drive from the resort, Buck’s is an old Montana roadhouse and former dancehall converted into a hotel and restaurant known for its wild game (try the New Zealand red deer). Save big with its ski and lodging packages.

Must Ski

Big Sky09/10
  Photo: Lonnie Ball/Big Sky Resort

In 2013, Big Sky bought its neighbor, Moonlight Basin, and now offers the largest amount of terrain on one ticket in the United States. That’s on top of delivering one of the biggest vertical drops in the country at more than 4,350 feet. Needless to say, there is a lot of very good skiing to be had.

Warm up with mellow tree runs on Andesite Mountain before making your way over to the Lone Peak tram, which accesses some of the most extreme inbounds terrain in the States. Marvel at the 360-degree views. Slicing down right under the tram and serving up a 1,400-vertical-foot descent, a 50-degree sustained pitch, and a hairy entrance, the Big Couloir is Big Sky’s marquee line. To ski it, you must sign in at the patrol shack at the top of the tram, go with a partner, and carry a beacon, shovel, and probe.

On the Moonlight Basin side, the Headwaters is a ridge accessed by a 20-to-30-minute hike from the top of the Headwaters lift. Tons of steep, gnarly chutes drop off from it, many featuring gullies, cliffs, and mandatory drops, all of which funnel about 2,000 feet down into Stillwater Bowl. A qualification round for the Subaru Freeride Series is often held here; after a lap in the Headwaters, you’ll understand why.

But Big Sky’s backcountry access is what sets it apart. Like the resort, it’s immense. Duck out the backcountry gates at the top of the Lone Peak tram, or forgo the resort altogether and head to Beehive Basin, a classic Big Sky ski tour that delivers varied terrain accessed from the Beehive Basin trailhead, about a 15-minute drive past the resort.

Must Eat

  Photo: Blue Moon Bakery

Start the day with a breakfast sandwich at the Blue Moon Bakery, where the bagels and bread are made fresh in house. Grab a Benny, a bagel loaded with eggs, cheese, and Black Forest ham, and you’ll be fueled up and ready to hit the mountain.

Purveyor of choice wieners, Yeti Dogs has legions of fans in Big Sky and beyond—you can’t go far in Montana without seeing one its stickers plastered onto a fender or lift tower. Located in the Mountain Village base area, Yeti is perfect for an easy lunch. Be sure to try the Yeti sauce—and to wrap one dog in foil to munch on later.

Down in the canyon, the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill has seen many incarnations over the years, but these days, it’s dishing up all-star barbecue, specialty cocktails, and live music. Situated along the Gallatin River in a giant log cabin–like structure, the vibe is pure Montana—saloon meets roadhouse filled with rednecks, cowboys, and hippie ski bums all looking to have a rowdy time.

Must Drink

  Photo: Chris Kamman/Big Sky Resort

Head to Scissorbills Saloon, Big Sky’s locally owned après joint. You can literally ski into its back door from Andesite Mountain. Post up there for Montana craft brews, burgers, and live music.

Located right next to each other in the Blue Mall, Milkie’s and the Broken Spoke anchor Big Sky’s nightlife. People jump between the two all night long. Warm up at Milkie’s with cheap pitchers of beer, pool, and slices of brick-oven pizza. When it’s time to turn up the dial, head next door to the Broken Spoke, which often has live music, DJs, and dancing. It’s pretty much the only “club” in Big Sky, so if you’re looking to get down, this is your spot.

Must Do

  Photo: Backcountry Adventures

Yellowstone in the winter is a nature lover’s dream, and there’s almost no better way to see it than by snowmobile. Closed to vehicular traffic in the winter, Yellowstone delivers 17 million acres of pristine wilderness, which, come winter, you’ll largely have to yourself. Sign up for a snowmobile tour with Backcountry Adventures, owned by Jerry Johnson, the former mayor of West Yellowstone, and visit Old Faithful while cruising by elk, bighorn sheep, and bison.

Make a Pilgrimage to Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Get to the tram early on powder days, or hike to Cody Bowl (only if you're an expert skier). Photo: Courtesy of Jackson Hole

Make a Pilgrimage to Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Behold! A holy place mandatory for any snow devotee.

Jackson: 2,500 acres of some of the steepest inbounds runs in the United States, arguably the rowdiest lift-accessed backcountry skiing in North America, and hardcore ski mountaineering in its backyard. A trip there is mandatory for any serious snow devotee. With more than 250 inches of white stuff this season to date, Jackson is currently slathered in the most snow of any resort in the country, and this winter is shaping up to be all-time. Now is the perfect time to make the pilgrimage to Jackson Hole. Go.

Must Stay

jackson hole
  Photo: m01229/Flickr

Located in Teton Village, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is about 15 minutes from downtown Jackson. Buses run regularly between the two. When it comes to lodging, stay in town. That way, you can make the most of all the off-hill activities, of which there are many. 

The area’s best-kept lodging secret is the Alpine House, a charming, Euro-style hotel in downtown Jackson. Owned by former Olympians Nancy and Hans Johnstone, the Alpine House delivers delicious organic food (breakfast is a treat and included with your room), affordable rates, and family-style hospitality. Plus, Hans is one of the Teton’s preeminent ski mountaineers and an unparalleled source of backcountry beta. 

Must Ski

  Photo: Courtesy of Jackson Hole

On a powder day, the line at the tram can be massive, so either get there early (like 7 a.m.) or start off with a lap on the Bridger gondola while the crowd dissipates. From the top of Bridger, ski the perfectly gladed, fall-line trees right under the gondy, or head to the Crags, an inbounds hike-to zone full of big-mountain, backcountry-style terrain that’s a 10-to-15-minute hike from the top of the gondola. No place on the hill stays fresher than the Crags.

Of course, the tram is Jackson Hole’s crowning jewel, and no trip is complete without some serious time spent lapping its steeps. Go skier’s right from the top of the tram and drop into Corbett’s, the Jackson cliché that every skier should at least try. From the bottom of Corbett’s, bang a hard right through the gate as you head toward the Cirque to access Expert Chutes, a series of eight to 10 steep and technical mini couloirs set right under the tram. Most people drop into the first or second chute; keep traversing to get the goods.

Another option from the top of the tram is the hike-to terrain in Cody Bowl, an unpatrolled side-country zone that requires expert ski and avalanche assessment skills, as well as a beacon, shovel, and probe. Hike to iconic lines like Twice Is Nice or Once Is Enough, a 45-to-50-degree chute that sometimes requires a rappel to access.

Accessed via a hike from the top of the Bridger gondola, Granite Canyon delivers some of the best lift-accessed backcountry skiing in the United States. Be prepared for 2,000 to 3,000 feet of huge, north-facing terrain that drops you into Grand Teton National Park. Getting back to the resort requires some skating and sidestepping along the east side, but no skins. This is serious, unpatrolled terrain and should be tackled only if you have advanced avy assessment skills, a beacon, probe, and shovel.

Must Eat

  Photo: Courtesy of Jackson Hole

If you’re a breakfast person, don’t miss Nora’s Fish Creek Inn. Located in Wilson, about 10 minutes by car from downtown Jackson, Nora’s serves up tasty breakfast dishes (the huevos rancheros are killer) and bloody marys, making it the perfect stop after an early morning lap on Teton Pass or a late night on the town.

There’s so much to ski and no time to waste in Jackson, so we suggest picking up a sandwich from the gourmet Pearl Street Market and eating it on the lift (or in the backcountry). The Cranturkey—basically Thanksgiving on two slices of bread—will keep you fueled as you pummel Jackson’s legendary pow.

Morning, noon, and night, Lotus Cafe offers delicious organic fare including fresh, gluten-free baked goods, smoothies, and elk lasagna—a welcome respite after greasy ski food. Try one of its lunch bowls—the Bombay is our favorite.

For dinner, hit Thai Me Up, a Jackson staple. Founded by a ski bum in 2000, Thai Me Up is a restaurant and brewery that serves delish Thai classics (try the drunken noodles), award-winning beer brewed on site, and a fun scene.

Must Drink 

jackson hole
  Photo: Steve Casimiro/Jackson Hole

Start off après with a spicy margarita and nachos at the Mangy Moose, one of the best après-ski bars in the West. With great drink deals, live music, and a lively mix of locals and tourists who like to ski hard and party even harder, the Mangy Moose in Teton Village is classic Jackson Hole—rowdy. Or head next door to the Village Cafe, home of the gelande quaffing championships (an annual drinking competition), for PBR tall boys and slices of pizza with locals.

Equal parts tourist attraction and locals’ haunt, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is Jackson’s iconic watering hole. With saddles for barstools and Western dancing, it has a fun, laid-back atmosphere. Come midnight, head to the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson for quarter games of pool, cheap PBR, and a local crowd of cowboys, and ski bums. If you’re in Jackson on a Sunday night, check out the hootenanny hosted by Bill Briggs, the legendary 83-year-old ski mountaineer who pioneered first tracks down the Grand Teton in 1971 and now hosts a weekly jam at the Stagecoach.

Must Do

Nature Mountains Wyoming National Forest 2013
  Photo: Jeff Gunn/Flickr

Home to some of the rowdiest backcountry skiing in the United States, Grand Teton National Park features iconic lines like the Apocalypse and Sliver couloirs. Maximize your backcountry satisfaction by hiring a guide from Exum Mountain Guides, one of the best guiding outfitters in the States. Or sign up for one of the company’s ski camps and develop lifelong backcountry skills. Held throughout the winter, the camps are suited for everyone from backcountry beginners to experienced ski mountaineers and will prepare you to ski some of the Teton’s gnarliest routes.