Travel Guide, Winter 1995-1996
Wolf Creek, Colorado Straddling the Continental Divide on Wolf Creek Pass, this 1930s-era hill has one terrific natural gift: Wolf Creek gets an average of 465 inches per year, nearly twice the snowfall of Colorado's more famous haunts. This is powderhound heaven--floating, choking, chest-deep, sea-foam crystals-- with almost nobody there to share it. Why? Wolf Creek Pass sits astride the San Juan Range in south-central Colorado, hours from anywhere. Closest bunking is in Pagosa Springs, 23 miles west, and South Fork, 18 miles to the east. Call 970-264-5639.
Bridger Bowl, Montana Lift tickets are still $26 a day at this funky, friendly, community-owned mountain 16 miles from Bozeman. It's got 2,000 feet of vertical, forested intermediate cruising, and some of the gnarliest rock-strewn couloirs anywhere. Take on chutes with names like Sometimes A Great Notion and The O's (short for orgasms), and hike-to terrain that nurtured the careers of extreme skiers Scot Schmidt and Doug Coombs. Call 406-587-2111.
Arizona Snow Bowl The San Francisco Peaks erupt suddenly out of the high desert just north of Flagstaff. Sacred to the Hopi and Navajo, whose reservations lie to the east, they're also cherished by swarms of Phoenicians who fill this wide-open timberline bowl every winter weekend. But pull in on a weekday, and you'll have dibs on 2,300 vertical feet of genuinely steep skiing, views halfway to the Mojave, and an out-of-bounds backside run called the Inner Basin that drops 5,000 vertical feet through three habitat zones. Call 520-779-1951.
Snowbasin, Utah Snowbasin is Alta without the name recognition or the crowds. About 55 miles north of Salt Lake City and blessedly condo-free (comfy, cheap rooms are available in staunchly middle-class Ogden, 20 miles west), Snowbasin has the full-on crags-to-valley terrain to stage the downhill and super G races for the 2002 Winter Olympics. That vaunted Utah powder is pretty good, too--more than 2,400 feet of vertical and a constantly challenging roller-coaster pitch. Call 801-399-1135.