Are your looking for an East Coast family vacation, an all-out western powder adventure, or something in-between? To make it easier to find the ideal resort that meets all your criteria, we organized 20 of our favorite resorts according to skier personality types.
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The Ring Leader Larry Pierce/Steamboat Ski & Resort
You've got your crew—all you need is great terrain, good nightlife, and plenty of off-mountain fun.
Steamboat, Colorado (1 of 4)
With 230 airports offering direct flights to Hayden, just 30 minutes away, Steamboat is one of the easiest places to meet up. It’s also flush with entertainment, including more than 100 bars and restaurants, like the Ore House (try the prime rib) and Saketumi Sushi. Rent a slopeside condo (from $153), then hit the Triangle Three, a 30-degree series of open glades. Those lead to the Four Points Lodge, a new 13,000-square-foot restaurant with panoramic views of the Yampa Valley. Or try something away from the slopes: Steamboat Flyfisher offers guided winter casting on the Yampa River (from $250) and Grizzle-T Dog Sledding will teach you how to mush (from $160).
Pairs well with: Grab one of GoPro's new Hero 3+ cameras ($399) so you don't miss the best moments with the crew. And don't forget to bring a new Hydro Flask water bottle ($30) to keep your adult beverage (or water) cold through every activity.
The Ring Leader evoo73/Flickr
Breckenridge, Colorado (2 of 4)
The party scene is legendary. Après places like the T-Bar, located right at the base of the mountain, and the more raucous Gold Pan go off every night. And each January the resort hosts Ullr Fest, a six-day bacchanalia with an on-stage dating game, events such as the frying-pan toss, and an annual attempt to break the record for world’s longest shot ski. Just don’t end up with the world’s worst hangover, because this year Breck opened 543 new acres of terrain on Peak 6. That includes two new intermediate bowls and another 143 acres of cliff-studded 40-degree hike-to chutes. Rent a condo at Mountain Thunder Lodge (from $239), close to the bars and the most direct lift to Peak 6.
The Ring Leader hyunlab/Flickr
Killington, Vermont (3 of 4)
This resort three hours from Boston, is home to the steepest trails on the East Coast, including the 1,185 vertical feet of moguls on Outer Limits and the 35-to-53-degree steeps on Ovation. That kind of skiing, along with lunchtime beers at the new 15,000-square-foot Peak Lodge, will wear you out. But don’t rest. Head to the Pickle Barrel, a Killington institution that has hosted thousands of acts, from Snoop Dogg to Blues Traveler. When you do need a bed, find one at the Killington Grand (doubles from $204). And if you need a rest day, try hooking up with Killington Snowmobile Tours (from $60) for a 25-mile ride through the Calvin Coolidge State Forest.
The Ring Leader Larry and Linda/Flickr
Canyons, Utah (4 of 4)
Road-trippers, take note—this summer, Vail Resorts will run the Canyons. That means the company’s $689 Epic Pass is good at four Colorado resorts, three California resorts, and, for the first time, this sprawling ski area in Utah. Stay at the Silverado Lodge (doubles from $94), a short walk to lifts that access 4,000 skiable acres, from easy groomers to open glades to Ninety-nine 90, a bowl at the top of the mountain with 45-degree shots. Also located at midmountain is the Winter Zip Tour, a 2,000-foot zip line that lets riders hit 50 miles per hour. In the village you’ll find first-rate southwestern fare at the Red Tail Grill and top music acts like Toots and the Maytals.
The Family Adventurer Tripp Fay/Copper Mountain
Resorts where the whole clan can have a blast—and you can escape when necessary.
Copper Mountain, Colorado (1 of 4)
Family-friendly ski resorts abound along Colorado’s Interstate 70 corridor between Denver and Vail, but only Copper Mountain has Camp Woodward, an indoor 19,400-square-foot ski, snowboard, skate, and bike park. This summer Woodward underwent a $500,000 renovation, adding to the ramps, jumps, pump track, foam pits, and trampolines that kids of all ages have been playing on for five years. Of course there are other reasons to take your brood here: if you book two nights of lodging, they’ll throw in a third, and kids ski free (from $184). Want to escape? While your kids get pro tips with a 45-minute lesson at the ski school ($79), beeline it to the experts-only chutes of the Spaulding Bowl and in Upper Enchanted Forest, accessed by a new direct lift.
Pairs well with: Bring the kids into the backcountry with Burley's ski trailer kit ($275) and get everyone in the family a new Giro Edit ($180) helmet so you don't have to worry when they cruise down in front of you.
The Family Adventurer Squaw Valley/Flickr
Squaw Valley, California (2 of 4)
This 6,000-acre resort—merged with neighboring Alpine Meadows-—is probably still best known for the steep chutes off the KT-22 chair- lift, but its reputation as an experts-only mountain has softened dramatically. In 2011, the resort opened the SnoVentures Activity Zone, offering snow tubing, mini snowmobile tours for six-to-12-year-olds, and con- certs. Last season, Squaw built two new chairlifts on moderate slopes and added a low-angle boarder-cross course for up-and-coming daredevils. New this year, Squaw introduces the Teaching Tykes program ($169), an hour-long lesson for parents and their three- to- five-year-old kids, during which the adults can learn tips to help their youngsters. Bonus: for $196 you get two nights of lodging at The Village at Squaw Valley, two adult lift tickets, and s'mores.
The Family Adventurer trailsource.com/Flickr
Crested Butte, Colorado (3 of 4)
Crested Butte already had the hike-to steeps and cat skiing at Irwin lodge, so this summer the resort focused on intermediate and beginner terrain. In the Painter Boy area of the mountain, crews cut three new kid-friendly trails. And for those ready for real gladed skiing, the resort thinned ten acres near the East River lift, creating mellow, 20-degree, 1,750-vertical-foot shots. Head to the Butte between December 13 and 26, when a family of four can get four nights of lodging at the Grand Lodge and three days of skiing for $1,000. Hot tip: starting this season, United Airlines will fly direct to Gunnison (31 miles south) from Chicago O’Hare on December 21 and 28, January 4, February 15 and 22, and March 1, 8, 15, and 22.
The Family Adventurer Smart Destinations/Flickr
Jay Peak, Vermont (4 of 4)
Over the past five years, this extra-snowy throwback resort along the Canadian border has seen some $330 million in upgrades to entice visitors north. For expert skiers, there are famous glades like Timbuktu, which has well-spaced poplar and maple trees and a 25-degree fall line. For novices, most of the lower mountain is a well-groomed beginners’ paradise. And starting this year, the Mountain Kids Adventure Center will feature a Plexiglas- covered ski slope so little rippers can learn while being shielded from northern Vermont’s often grumpy elements. Then there’s the village, which has added an ice rink, two massive hotels, several restaurants— including Mountain Dick’s pizza joint—and a 60,000-square-foot water park. Best of all? A family of four can ski and stay at Hotel Jay for $229 per night.
The Spring Breaker Dave Humphreys
Cut loose at the coolest events, concerts, and festivals taking place this March and April.
Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia (1 of 4)
For ten days each April, Whistler Village goes nuts during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival. Competitions draw top skiers and boarders, while bands like Nas, Chaos, and the Swollen Members play free concerts that blur into all-night dance parties at every bar in the village. Of course April is also one of the best times of the year to ski in British Columbia. If there’s fresh snow, as there was last year, head to the Harmony Zone on Whistler Mountain or the Crystal Zone on Blackcomb Mountain (the secret powder stash for locals). Afterward, decamp to the Crystal Lodge, right next to all the action at the base of the mountain (doubles from US$95).
Pairs well with: Look out for new helmets with a built-in spot for Skullcandy earphones like the Smith Gage ($80); and when the helmet comes off, throw on a pair of Spy Optic Sunglasses ($160) to be the light of the party.
The Spring Breaker Zach Dischner/Flickr
Vail, Colorado (2 of 4)
The resort’s Spring Back to Vail series, which lasts April 7–13, is one hell of a party. There are concerts from acts like O.A.R., Sublime with Rome, and Jimmy Cliff and “sports” events like the World Pond Skimming Championships. The skiing’s not bad, either. Head to Mongolia Bowl in early afternoon when the sun has baked the snow into crunchy corn, then launch off the cornice into Red Square, a 35-degree, 750-vertical-foot plunge. When you’ve had enough, slip into the heated swimming pool at the Lodge at Vail (doubles from $200) before dinner at Mountain Standard, the new chophouse from the owners of Vail mainstay Sweet Basil.
The Spring Breaker Atlantic Link/Flickr
Mount Bachelor, Oregon (3 of 4)
Skiing through May. A roughly $139 pass for April and May. Local bands playing in Bachelor’s West Village. Twenty local craft breweries in Bend, 20 minutes from the mountain. The question isn’t whether you should spring break at Mount Bachelor, but how. Try this: Book the Riverhouse ($105) in downtown Bend, which offers a free third night, then head for the Cone, a ten-minute hike from Red Chair, that funnels into trees and skis best in the spring. At two, when the snow turns to slop, head to lower elevations and even warmer climes for golf at Widgi Creek, 15 minutes from the slopes, mountain biking from Phil’s Trail, several hundred miles of buffed singletrack, or fly-fishing on the Deschutes River.
The Spring Breaker eliduke/Flickr
Arapahoe Basin, Colorado (4 of 4)
In April, part of the Early Riser parking lot known as the Beach—turns into a massive tailgate party, complete with grilling, kegs, and music. Of course, April can also be snowy—last year the resort received 13 inches on April 23. If that happens, head to the East Wall area for 45-degree powder turns. Then make your way to the newly ex- panded Sixth Alley Bar and Grill for green-chile stew or a lamb burger. If you ski the resort in May, try to catch the Saturday concert series, which features local acts—from bluegrass to eighties music—or the Festival of the Brewpubs, which gets you all the local beer you can drink for $25. Regardless of what you do, cash in on the Elevation 4 pass—four days of skiing at around $119.
The Powder Fiend Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Where to find the best snow—both in and out of bounds.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming (1 of 4)
There’s a reason the best skiers and snowboarders in the world—guys like Travis Rice and Tommy Moe—live in Jackson Hole. The place gets 369 fluffy inches annually and is flush with expert terrain like the 50-degree Corbet’s Couloir, six inbound bowls, and 4,139 vertical feet of powder pillows and cliffs. And now, with direct flights from 11 major cities in the country, it’s easier than ever to get there. That said, flights are pricey. Average airfare to Jackson last year was $680. If you want to do your trip on a budget, book a private king room at The Hostel ($99), then hook up with backcountry guides through the Jackson Hole Mountain Sports School, who can get you on an early tram ahead of the crowds and lead you to the chutes and glades in Cody Bowl, just outside the ski area boundary ($595).
Pairs well with: Snag a pair of Armada TSTs ($850) to glide through chest-deep powder. Download the Ski and Snow Report App (free) so you won't miss another epic day.
The Powder Fiend Aspen/Snowmass/Flickr
Aspen, Colorado (2 of 4)
Highland Bowl, the snowcat-and-hike-accessed pinnacle of Aspen skiing, consistently delivers fluffy pitches as steep as 48 degrees. Last January the Aspen Skiing Company also pumped up the expert terrain on Snowmass Mountain, adding 243 acres of glades and powder. And if all the good snow gets skied off the resort, there’s cat skiing on the backside of Aspen on 1,000-foot runs through bottomless powder ($419 per person). Off the mountain, Aspen is still one of America’s top party towns, with a stream of bands like Vampire Weekend and Grouplove playing venues like Belly Up Aspen every weekend. Splurge on the St. Regis (doubles from $869).
The Powder Fiend rtadlock/Flickr
Revelstoke, British Columbia (3 of 4)
With lift, heli-, and cat skiing, and an annual snowfall of 480 inches, Revelstoke already offered unparalleled access to powder. This winter the resort expands its cat-accessed terrain, adding even more gladed and alpine meadow skiing to the existing 1,500 acres. Book a room at Sutton Place (doubles from US$300); which recently added a heated outdoor pool and sits just steps away from the chairlift and heli pad. From the Stoke chairlift, tick off the Last Spike, Devil’s Club, and Snow Rodeo. At 5,620 vertical feet, they’re the longest trails in North America (from US$300 for cat skiing; from US$797 for heli-skiing). For beers, try the Last Drop pub.
The Powder Fiend TheSkiLife/Flickr
Snowbird, Utah (4 of 4)
Some of Snowbird's best lines—shots like Steeper Than Hell, a 1,100-vertical-foot, 40-degree drop—will be twice as easy to get to this year. That’s because the Gad 2 lift has been replaced with a high-speed quad. Snowbird also expanded their cat skiing by 2,000 acres in Marianna Gulch, offering powder turns on 459 inches of fluff per year (half-day $330) When you’re tired and hungry, retreat to the Cliff Lodge’s three giant hot tubs and their Aerie restaurant, which serves up everything from sushi to steak (doubles from $253). Remember that Snowbird offers a half-priced lift ticket and a free shuttle from the airport on the day you arrive.
The Escapist Deer Valley Resort
Take it slow where the snow's great and the lifestyle even better.
Deer Valley, Utah (1 of 4)
The resort that’s known for meticulously manicured trails will offer a few more this year, on upper Deer Hollow and Little Baldy Peak. But if you stay at one of the Montage’s 400-to-4,000-square-foot residences (from $865), you may not even make it outside. The hotel, which was opened in December 2010 and is right at the base of the Empire, Ruby, and Lady Morgan chairlifts, is home to Utah’s largest spa, which includes a 75-foot indoor pool and an array of treatments. Deer Valley is also home to one of the best restaurants in Park City, the Mariposa, serving local pork, lamb, and bison. Afterward head to High West, which distills its own whiskey and vodka, and order a Dead Man's Boot.
Pairs well with: Check out our women's yoga essentials if you like to skip the slopes in the morning; and decorate your wrist with one of Highgear's new Axis-XT ($130) watches, so you're always on time for dinner reservations.
The Escapist TheSkiLife/Flickr
Alta, Utah (2 of 4)
There’s nothing more relaxing than being unplugged from the rest of the world—and there are few places more isolating than Alta. Though it’s only 40 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport, it’s tucked way in the back of the Little Cottonwood Canyon, completely protected from everyday stresses. Stay at the Snowpine Lodge, home to a new Wasatch Powder Bird Guides helicopter pad. When it dumps some of Alta’s 514 annual inches, stick to the resort and head to the open bowls of East Greely or the trees and cliffs in the Keyhole. Days after the storm, book a day in the heli with Powder Birds for everything from big-mountain lines to chutes to sprawling trees—as well as a lunch of steaks, salads, and soups (from $1,190). In the afternoon, throw on some slippers and head to Snowpine's lounge for an Epic stout, a local Utah brew.
The Escapist discosour/Flickr
Beaver Creek, Colorado (3 of 4)
How’s this for lift service: chefs at Beaver Creek dispense warm chocolate chip cookies while you’re waiting to get on the chair. And new this year, the resort will unveil more decadent treats like Colorado lamb burgers and strawberry-rhubarb cobbler, all served at the new 500-seat, midmountain Talons restaurant. Want groomers? Head to Latigo’s 1,300 vertical feet of corduroy. Looking for something more challenging? The bumps on Bald Eagle will fry your quads. That’s when it’s time to head to Allegria, a full-service spa in the Park Hyatt hotel that can hot stone you into shape for another day of skiing (doubles from $700). For dinner, try Maya, a high-end Mexican restaurant at the base of the Beaver Creek access road that opened this summer.
The Escapist leisuretime/Flickr
Stowe, Vermont (4 of 4)
The white chapel and gingerbread village are still there, but these days you’ll also find the new Stowe Mountain Lodge, a 450,000-square-foot slopeside hotel and spa with 360-degree views of the Green Mountains (doubles from $700). Your room is a stone and timber design with a marble bathroom and a goose-down feather bed. Downstairs at the spa, soak in tiled Jacuzzis or choose from treatments, including (naturally) a Vermont maple syrup and brown sugar scrub. At the lodge’s Solstice restaurant, fill up on truffled pot roast. Be prepared to ski, too. The mountain poured $3.4 million into snow making this summer, meaning Stowe’s famous Front Four trails will be well covered.
Locked in a big city? Maximize your slope time by dialing in your gear and fitness before you even get on the plane. Check out some of our big-city tips, including resources for New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Dallas.