The Chosen Ones

WIDE OPEN: Vail, Colorado (Jeff Cirro/courtesy, Colorado Tourism)

WIDE OPEN: Vail, Colorado    Photo: Jeff Cirro/courtesy, Colorado Tourism

UP-AND-COMER
The Sundance set will rejoice over the fact that The Canyons, a once unknown Park City resort, now hosts a Waldorf Astoria, complete with a slick new Spruce Restaurant from celeb chef Mark Sullivan. Avoid the glitz by hitting the steep, open glades off the Ninety-Nine 90 Chair. thecanyons.com

ENDLESS OPTIONS
Vail's wide range of terrain parks and village shopping means the family will stay busy while you make laps. Everyone rushes to the 3,017-acre Back Bowls. You should, too. But when Chair 5 gets constipated, make for Chair 11 and duck over to the trees and cliff drops on the front side. vail.com

BEST NIGHTLIFE
World-renowned sushi chefs, an international clientele, and some 200 restaurants and bars make Whistler-Blackcomb the most raucous party scene this side of France. That's especially true this year, when the Olympics come to town February 12–28. That's no reason to shy away, though: Olympic host resorts often see a dip in visitation immediately following the Games—meaning hotel rooms (and bar­stools) can be had. whistler.com

FUNKY TOWN
Despite its A-list residents, Telluride manages to keep things low-key. Credit a hearty civic spirit: Locals recently raised $50 million to prevent a massive development on the one road leading into this box canyon. Sure, the Mountain Village is a little ostentatious, but any place with an in-town "free box" (where you can score discarded ski gear) is all right by us. visittelluride.com

SNOWBOARD HEAVEN
Its world-class terrain park might be the main attraction for some, but Mammoth's slopes are mostly fall-line, meaning very few traverses or flat spots. And since it's in the Sierra, the snow comes in fast, thick, and heavy (18 inches in a 12-hour period is normal). So bring your biggest board. mammothmountain.com

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.

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

BEST TESTPIECE
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

THE ORIGINAL
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

HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT
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

THE SURPRISE
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

THE GREAT NORTH
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

Classic Mountain Towns

Places where the eating and drinking and hanging out downtown is every bit as great as the skiing at the resort

Park City's Town Lift, Utah (Dan Campbell/courtesy, Park City CVB)
Park City's Town Lift, Utah   Photo: Dan Campbell/courtesy, Park City CVB

JEKYLL AND HYDE
When the spring-breakers roll in, Breckenridge temporarily becomes a snowy Cancun. But the 150-year-old village (pop. 3,500) has a more civilized side, too, and remains one of the most family-friendly resorts in Colorado, thanks to its effortless intermediate slopes and stellar ski-school instructors. breckenridge.snow.com

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
There's a reason so many stars flock to Aspen: It's an unbelievably fun place to ski (especially Aspen Highlands). And party. Downtown Aspen basically a four-by-nine-block rectangle has everything from dark, unpretentious places (Zane's Tavern) to lounges seemingly airlifted straight out of L.A. (like 39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel, complete with signature martinis, minimalist furniture, and outdoor fire pits). aspensnowmass.com

UNINHIBITED UTAH
Sure, Park City's skiing is great (check out the award-winning park, awesome groomers, and surprising amount of big-mountain terrain). But with a pumping main street packed with 54 bars and restaurants, it's without a doubt home to the state's best nightlife. pcski.com

REAL COLORADO
Steamboat's tagline is "Ski Town, USA" and town is the operative word. Unlike purpose-built ski villages, Steamboat is the real thing, with stores that still sell stuff like groceries and hardware. Tip: Start your evening at the Tugboat (located in Ski Times Square) before taking advantage of the shuttle system and walking the town. steamboat.com

EASTERN STAR
Not only does Stowe have some of the best terrain (and snowmaking capabilities) back east, but it's also one of the oldest ski towns in the U.S. Pop into the old-school Vermont Ski Museum (vermontskimuseum.org), in the village, then head over to the Rusty Nail (rustynailbar.com), a bar and grill with some of the state's best live music. gostowe.com

Winter Retreats

Whether you're looking for expert backcountry skiing or a romantic weekend that may or may not involve snowshoes, we've got you covered

OLD-SCHOOL NORDIC
With 90 miles of trails out the front door, Stokely Creek Lodge, a 25-room Scandinavian-style resort in the Algoma Highlands of Ontario, is all about the skiing. And with no phones or TVs in the rooms, your nightlife options are refreshingly analog: sauna, moonlight ski, or fireplace reverie. From $100; stokelycreek.com

MONTANA CHILL
The nearby Gallatin and Madison rivers flow swiftly enough to offer fly-fishing all winter long from the ridgetop lodge and 24 cabin Lone Mountain Ranch, and with Yellowstone National Park only minutes away, backcountry skiing and snowshoe tours at the park are always an option. Seven nights from $2,475; lmranch.com

NORTHWEST GLAMPING
Each of the six new one-bedroom cabins at Rolling Huts are simple (cork floor, wood stoves) but decidedly modern (laser-cut topo-map artwork, modular furniture, Wi-Fi) affairs. Even better, they've all got perfect views of the North Cascades and are just minutes from some of the Methow Valley's 110 miles of rolling cross-country trails. From $80; rollinghuts.com

KING OF SKI CABINS
Because it overlooks some of the province's choicest big-mountain terrain, the 20-person, helicopter-accessed Bill Putnam Hut (also known as Fairy Meadow), near Golden, B.C., just might be the most sought-after backcounty cabin in all of Canada. From $550 per person per week, not including guide or cook (both of which we recommend); alpineclubofcanada.ca

ROMANTIC WISCO
Almost every room at Northern Wisconsin's Canoe Bay/Relais Châteaux has a beautiful view of Wahdoon Lake, which makes it even harder to leave your digs. A complimentary continental breakfast is brought to you every morning, and should you want to trade your jacuzzi tub for the frozen trail, snowshoes are provided at the reception desk. From $350; canoebay.com

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