Snow Much Fun

Jay Peak; Keystone Resort; Kirkwood Mountain; Mount Baker

Oct 9, 2003
Outside Magazine

Cold Play: Snowshoeing at Keystone    Photo: courtesy, Vail Resorts

Jay Peak, Vermont
If you’re looking for powder east of the Mississippi, Jay Peak is your place. In 2000, storms hit this remote resort, eight miles from the Canadian border, with 571 inches of the white stuff, a figure that many resorts in Colorado can’t match. Thanks to numerous hidden glades, untracked snow is common days after a storm.
BEST RUN: Skiing the trees on Everglade, the mountain’s one-and-a-quarter-mile-long signature run, is like running gates in powder.
OFF-SLOPE ACTION: After dinner, ice-skate on the outdoor rink near the base or sled down the Interstate run. Both areas are lighted and next to Hotel Jay, which has free sleds available to guests and rents skates for $2.
LODGING: Doubles at on-mountain Hotel Jay (802-988-2611) cost $339, including one dinner and two breakfasts.
Summit Elevation: 3,963 feet
Lift-Served Vertical: 2,153 feet
Skiable Area: 385 acres
Average Annual Snowfall: 357 inches

Keystone Resort, Colorado
With 20 lifts that can move 33,000 skiers per hour over three separate mountains, Keystone has something for everyone—greens and blues on Keystone Mountain, bumps on North Peak, and glades and bowls on Outback—as well as six-course dinners at the Keystone Ranch, Colorado’s top-rated restaurant according to the Zagat Survey.
BEST RUN: The open lines and 1,200-foot drop of The Windows, a big gladed area off the Summit Express on the back side of Keystone Mountain.
OFF-SLOPE ACTION: The Winter Adventure Passport (complimentary with lodging reservations made through the resort, 800-354-4386) gives you free access to everything from yoga classes to cross-country ski rentals and figure-skating clinics.
LODGING: The Keystone Lodge (doubles from $149; 877-753-9786, is quintessential mountain chic.
Summit Elevation: 12,200 feet
Lift-Served Vertical: 2,900 feet
Skiable Area: 1,861 acres
Average Annual Snowfall: 230 inches

Kirkwood Mountain Resort, California
With the highest base elevation of the resorts around Lake Tahoe (7,800 feet) and the fact that it faces northwest, Kirkwood gets pummeled by storms. And the expansive, treeless back bowl makes this Sierra gem feel bigger than it is.
BEST RUN: On a powder day, take Chair 4 and ski the playful drops off Thunder Saddle.
OFF-SLOPE ACTION: Fifty miles of machine-groomed trails with skate-skiing lanes cover the valley bottom and climb the surrounding hills. Call Kirkwood Cross Country ($20 fee; 209-258-7248).
LODGING: The Lodge at Kirkwood (doubles, $195; 800-967-7500) offers everything from studios to three-bedroom condos, all near the lifts.
Summit Elevation: 9,800 feet
Lift-Served Vertical: 2,000 feet
Skiable Area: 2,300 acres
Average Annual Snowfall: 500 inches

Mount Baker, Washington
This entire North Cascades resort is full of off-camber hills, gullies, and rocky drops, so skiers and boarders were happy to jib off natural features until the resort built a terrain park in 1999-2000. Add an average of 647 inches of snow each year (95 feet fell in the '98-'99 season) and the mountain transforms into a powder-padded playpen.
BEST RUN: On a powder day, locals head straight for the well-spaced trees of Canuck’s Deluxe.
OFF-SLOPE ACTION: Snowshoers seek the panoramic rewards of Artist’s Point. This 45-minute tromp from the base unveils views of jagged 9,720-foot Mount Shuksan and bluer-than-blue Baker Lake. For rentals, call the Mount Baker Mountain Shop ($10; 360-734-6771).
LODGING: Try the cute rooms and cabins—and free breakfast—at Glacier Creek Lodge (rooms from $50 and cabins from $85; 800-719-1414) in the town of Glacier.
Summit Elevation: 5,050 feet
Lift-Served Vertical: 1,500 feet
Skiable Area: 1,000 acres
Average Annual Snowfall: 647 inches

Filed To: Keystone, Snow Sports