Resort Picks: Gems

Five refreshingly undeveloped resorts

EASTERN PROMISES
We love the steep, off-piste terrain and mellow vibe. But what makes Jay Peak, Vermont, our favorite New England area is the snow. It consistently gets about 20 percent more than other eastern resorts. jaypeakresort.com

STEEP THRILLS
A winding dirt road and two antique double chairs keep the crowds away from Nelson, British Columbia's Whitewater, so you get plenty of snow to yourself. Fifty-plus feet a year falls on steep slopes dotted with trees straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. The locals call it Kootenay Gold. You should sample some. skiwhitewater.com

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
With more than 900 vertical feet of legitimately steep terrain, a base area that consists of three interconnected yurts, and not a single groomed run, Michigan's Mount Bohemia is the Midwest's most challenging resort. The only catch? It's in the Upper Peninsula, a six-hour drive from Minneapolis. mtbohemia.com

UTAH'S SECRET
It's huge (5,500 acres total) and sees just a fraction of the skiers that Utah's better-known resorts do. But here's the best thing about Powder Mountain: For 12 bucks, you can catch a cat ride to Lightning Ridge, where 700 sparsely gladed acres of 2,200-foot-long runs await. powdermountain.com

OLD-SCHOOL CALI
Kirkwood is small—two high-speed quads, 2,300 acres—but it's also steep and gnarly. (The annual Subaru North American Freeskiing Championship is hosted here.) Nightlife? Bub's Pub is a hole in the wall with a jukebox and a pool table. kirkwood.com

Resort Picks: Steeps

Bring your A game to these fall-line meccas

Steeps Squaw Valley
Squaw Valley Headwall powder (Nathan Kendall/courtesy, Squaw Valley Ski Corporation)

TRAINING GROUND
Want to get a better handle on steep skiing? Taos's ridge and west basin—which are pinstriped with 500-vertical-foot chutes, many with trees—dish up the type of bowling-lane-wide rodeo skiing that's great for improving your technical skills. skitaos.org

HIGH VARIETY
With easily accessed shots like the Big Couloir off Lone Peak, Montana's Big Sky has long held some of the steepest above-treeline skiing in North America. And Moonlight Basin, which runs lifts up the other side of Lone Peak, opened up next door in 2003. Now that you can ski them both on the same lift ticket, there's effectively twice as much expert terrain. bigskyresort.com, moonlightbasin.com

SHOWTIME
The birthplace of America's extreme movement, Squaw Valley's cliff-strewn KT-22 and Palisades areas used to be the exclusive habitat of deranged locals and huck-for-money pros. But today's rockered powder skis (see page 24) make these slopes accessible to the rest of us. squaw.com

THE STEEPEST CAT
Most cat-ski operations serve up uniformly low-angle powder skiing. Not Chatter Creek, whose lodge is a short heli-ride outside of Golden, British Columbia: It's run by a bunch of adventure guides who aren't afraid to bump up the pitch. From $1,395 for three days; chattercreek.ca

HELI-HEAVEN
Because British Columbia's jagged Coast Range gets blanketed every winter in wet dumps, it has a more stable snowpack. Translation: Bella Coola Heli Sports can safely guide clients down steeper terrain than outfits in other ranges. From $7,230 per week; bellacoolaheli­sports.com

Resort Picks: Sidecountry

A little bit of effort at these resorts offers big rewards

Sidecountry Copper Mountain
Snow daze at Copper Mountain (courtesy, Colorado Ski Country)

BIG START
At over 12,000 feet, Copper Mountain's Copper Bowl is perfect for testing your legs and lungs. A free snowcat ride (tip not included) and a short hike take you to the top of Tucker Mountain, where you can line up wide, 30-to-35-degree chutes.
Tip: It can get wind-scoured quickly, so try to hit it just after a storm. coppercolorado.com

GO WITH PROS
Most European resorts have guides to take you beyond the pistes. In the U.S., forget it—unless you're at Jackson Hole, where the resort's in-house pros lead customers to the same drainages the locals ski. Guide not in the budget? Plenty of hike-to terrain awaits in Cody Bowl. Guides from $370 per half-day; jacksonhole.com

NEW KID IN TOWN
Canada's newest mega-destination, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, consumed an existing snowcat operation, a heli-skiing outfit, and a smaller ski area to create one big sidecountry experience—it's avalanche-controlled but wild. Pay for the bird or the cat or explore the 3,000-acre resort on your own. revelstoke­mountainresort.com

LIMITLESS OPTIONS
There's literally a lifetime of skiing within striking range of Whistler Blackcomb's perimeter—all of which is fair game. If you don't have the skills, you might be better off hiking for your powder turns above the controlled Blackcomb Glacier, a perfectly pitched (35 degrees) playground. whistlerblackcomb.com

ACROSS THE LINE
The best in-bounds skiing at Alta—Devil's Castle, East Castle, Catherine's Area—requires quad-burning sidestep traverses or boot-packs up aprons. Tracked up? On the other side of the rope, you're almost guaranteed to find fresh snow. Alaska Mountain Guides offers half- and full-day ski tours. From $115; utahmountainguides.com

Resort Picks: Lodges

Make the most of winter at these snowy getaways

ONE-STOP SHOP
Just 40 minutes by floatplane from Anchorage, your backcountry castle awaits. Chugach Powder Guides' swanky, 5,600-square-foot Tordrillo Mountain Lodge is open most of the year, but if you wait until June, you can heli-ski, fish for king salmon right out your door, and whitewater-raft—all in the same trip. $8,200/five days; chugachpowderguides.com

UNPLUG AND PLAY
Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness can be a zoo in the summer, but come winter it's deserted. The family-owned Bearskin Lodge's 11 rustic cabins have neither televisions nor phones and sit beside 48 miles of groomed skate-skiing and classic trails. From $115; bearskin.com

PRIVATE PENINSULA
With its lakefront views, supple leather armchairs, and chiseled-stone fireplaces, your lavishly appointed "cabin" will be tough to leave. But staying indoors would be crazy. The Point, a former Rockefeller Great Camp, sits on 77 acres of pristine Adirondack real estate and is stocked with snowshoes and cross-country skis. From $1,350; thepointresort.com

THE BIG PAYOFFLooking for something more adventurous? Sun Valley Trekking's Coyote Yurt is a six-and-a-half-mile, 2,300-vertical-foot haul from the trailhead. Your reward: a wood-fired sauna, sweeping views of the Boulder and Pioneer ranges, and endless terrain for backcountry skiing in the surrounding Sawtooth National Forest. From $150 (guides available); svtrek.com

NORTHWEST ESCAPE
Washington State's Methow Valley has more than a million acres of wilderness, with 110 miles of cross-country-ski trails. Take it easy and stay at Mazama Country Inn, which has a great restaurant, a rental shop next door, and quick access to the nearby overnight-hut system. From $115; mazamacountryinn.com

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