Take a Hike

The lift-served skiing at these five resorts is fantastic. The terrain requiring a bit of extra effort? Icing on the cake.

Dec 9, 2009
Outside Magazine
Jackson Hole, Wyoming (Ian T. Coble/Digital Vision/Getty)

Jackson Hole, Wyoming    Photo: Ian T. Coble/Digital Vision/Getty

Big Couloir, the 1,450-vertical-foot no-fall zone that sits just inside Big Sky's boundaries, requires you to bring avy gear and check in with ski patrol. So don't start there—narrower but less-punishing lines begin from the knife-edge ridge that separates Big Sky from sister resort Moonlight Basin (above the Challenger Chair). bigskyresort.com

Jackson Hole gets credit for beginning the open-boundary trend over the past decade. A 15-minute hike along Pepi's Bench gets you to the steeps in Sheridan Bowl; longer slogs into the Headwall, Casper Bowl, and the uncontrolled Bridger-Teton National Forest beyond provide more diversity. jacksonhole.com

Keystone still has a reputation as a tame Denver family resort. For shame. The new 300-acre Independence Bowl opens 30-to-40-degree lines accessed by an invigorating hike on AT gear. Cat rides ($225 per day) serve the well- and sore-heeled alike. keystoneresort.com

Unbeknownst to the Brie eaters in Deer Valley's exquisite lodges, the resort's Empire Canyon has hike-to shots that rival any at its bro-ier neighbors. A short traverse gets you to the first of nine Daly Chutes—500-to-800-vertical-foot shots. Hike or sidestep along the ridge for the X Files Glades, wide-open avenues underneath a canopy of pines. Naturally, all runs wind up at the cozy Empire Canyon Lodge. deervalley.com

It's time to ski what you've been missing: Fernie's five lift-accessed bowls are chock-full of interior B.C.'s abundant (340-plus inches annually) powder—and bereft of people. Traverse skier's left along Cedar Bowl to the Snake Ridge for rock-lined chutes. Skier's right from the Timber Chair takes you to Siberia Ridge, where a ten-minute hike accesses 30-degree open bowls leading back to the base. skifernie.com