Winter Travel Guide 1996
KIRKWOOD RESORT, CALIFORNIA
What's New: The 19-condo deluxe Lodge at Kirkwood should be finished near the end of the ski season, part of a six-year plan to create a village with more lodging and shops. Also on track this year is top-to-bottom snowmaking.
Snowboarding: In the new snowboard center you can rent gear, sign up for lessons, and buy lift tickets. The mountain is full of gullies like Snowsnake and Hully, or you can veer toward the wide-open spaces under the Sunrise chair. The terrain park has quarter-pipes, table tops, and spine jumps.
Where to Party: The Cornice Cafe is the best on-mountain site, with local microbrews. Or out on California 88 is the 130-year-old Kirkwood Inn.
Where to Stay: On weekends and holidays lodgings are filled, so reserve early (Kirkwood Central Reservations, 800-967-7500). One of the newer condominium complexes is Sun Meadows (doubles, $125-$200; 800-967-7500), with big-windowed, high-ceilinged rooms. Two miles away is the Caples Lake Resort (doubles, $60-$100; 209-258-8888), with rooms overlooking the lake, and seven kitchen-equipped cabins ($100- $260) that sleep two to six.
Off-Slope Action: There are 80 kilometers of groomed trails with warming huts. Telemark gear and lessons are available, as is snowshoeing.
How to Keep Costs Down: Pick up your ticket for $5 off at Taco Bell. With a free Avid Skier card, each fifth day is free. After Easter, Kirkwood slashes lift-ticket prices by up to 50 percent.
Kid Stuff: At the new 4,300-square-foot children's facility you can park on one side, drop off your four- to 12-year-old, and walk out the other and onto the slopes. For $55 kids get a lift ticket, rentals, food, and lessons.
MOUNT BACHELOR SKI AND SUMMER RESORT, OREGON
What's New: The Northwest Express high-speed quad lift, Bachelor's sixth, will dump skiers out at 8,000 feet, where several new groomed runs and more than 450 acres of deliciously nasty backcountry skiing await.
Snowboarding: Bachelor was one of the first ski mountains in the West to open its own board store and rental program. A half-pipe complements large amounts of board-friendly natural terrain, including the new Northwest outback area.
Where to Party: Deschutes Brewery in Bend, where free-flowing Obsidian Stout eases pains and cleans drains, is the main hangout for skiers and locals.
Where to Stay: No slopeside lodging, but rooms and condos are available at Inn of the Seventh Mountain (doubles, $69-$119; condos, $139-$299; 800-452-6810) or mountain-village-style Sunriver Resort (packages, from $54 per person per night; 800-547-3922).
Off-Slope Action: Cross-country skiing through the towering white pines, either at the groomed facility across the parking lot from the ski area or at one of many public "Sno-Park" areas, is a treat. But you haven't lived until you've injected yourself into a fast-paced broom hockey game at the outdoor rink at Inn of the Seventh Mountain.
How to Keep Costs Down: Skiers on a week-long package should buy reusable "point tickets," which are good for up to three years. You're charged by the lift ride, so you can use up the rest of your ticket later if two trips up the Summit Chair leave your thighs begging for mercy.
Kid Stuff: Good ski school, ski rental, and other kids' programs.
Ron C. Judd
TELLURIDE SKI RESORT, COLORADO
What's New: An eight-passenger gondola goes into operation this season, connecting the Mountain Village with the town of Telluride.
Snowboarding: Telluride has two natural half-pipes, cultivated snowboard terrain, and great instructors. Take a surf down the Bushwacker or Gold Hill runs, look toward the glades off Lift 6, or just follow anybody with a board and a knowing look.
Where to Party: Check out the Swede-Finn, an 1890s-vintage watering hole where locals go for billiards and two-handed margaritas. Or sip martinis at the Cosmopolitan Restaurant.
Where to Stay: If you want soft beds, soft carpets, and soft water, try the ski-in/ski-out Hotel Columbia (doubles, $150-$350; 970-728-0660). Telluride Resort Accommodations (970-728-6621) can usually rustle up a one-bedroom unit for around $50 per person.
Off-Slope Action: Call Glider Bob for a glider ride over the town ($80 for a half-hour, $130 for an hour; 970-728-5424). There are also more than 20 kilometers of cross-country trails.
How to Keep Costs Down: Book November 27-December 20 or March 31-April 13 and most local lodges will pick up your lift ticket.
Kid Stuff: There's nursery care for kids two months to three years old in the Mountain Village, and an Adventure Club offering free child care before and after ski-school sessions. The ski school has half- and full-day programs for three- to 12-year-olds.
STOWE MOUNTAIN RESORT,VERMONT
What's New: Stowe is close to completing a land-swap deal to acquire 25 acres at the bottom of Spruce Peak. In the works: a base lodge and a much-needed transfer lift to move skiers from Mount Mansfield to Spruce.
Snowboarding: The Jungle, a terrific terrain park on Mount Mansfield known for its challenging jumps, hits, and obstacles, is a favorite with hipsters from Burlington.
Where to Party: After the lifts close, head for the Den in the Mansfield base lodge for pitchers. Later, drive down the mountain road a mile or so and stop in at the always-chaotic Matterhorn.
Where to Stay: The only on-slope lodging is the deluxe Inn at the Mountain (doubles, $110-$145; condos, $200-$385; 800-253-4754), which has its own fitness center. The pretty stone-and-timber 18-room Butternut Inn (doubles, $85-$130; 802-253-4277) serves Tex-Mex and New England fare; no children allowed.
Off-Slope Action: There are four fine ski touring centers, including the Trapp Family Lodge (802-253-8511), with 100 kilometers of trails and a complete retail and rental shop; and the secluded Edson Hill Touring Center (802-253-7371), with 40 kilometers of wooded trails. There's indoor ice skating at the Jackson Arena in Stowe.
How to Keep Costs Down: The Stowe Card ($20-$45) gets you 20- to 25-percent discounts on single-day lift tickets Sunday through Friday. The Stowe Vacation Card, free when you book lodging packages, shaves ten percent off multi-day tickets.
Kid Stuff: Good day care and Mountain Adventure programs for kids ages three and up.
Meg Lukens Noonan
CRESTED BUTTE MOUNTAIN RESORT, COLORADO
What's New: With the proposed 11-lift, Crested Butte North expansion onto Snodgrass Mountain temporarily dead in controversial wetlands water, 1996-1997 will see few changes.
Snowboarding: The snowboarders are as good as the skiers, and can be found in the same dicey places. If you're not up for Body Bag Glades in Phoenix Bowl, consider the manicured, blue-square Forest Queen off the Paradise quad. There's also a terrain park with two quarter-pipes, two gap jumps, and a 20-foot rail slide.
Where to Party: The Avalanche at the foot of the mountain lets you warm your toes by the fire and down pizza by the slice; at the Artichoke, a big deck faces the slopes, and there's beer from the Crested Butte Brewery.
Where to Stay: Fanciest of all is the Grande Butte (doubles, $110-$300; 970-349-4000), a full-service hotel at the slopes with private balconies. You also can walk to the lifts from the Manor Lodge (doubles, $65-$135; 800-544-8448), which has rooms with fireplaces. In town, check out The Last Resort bed-and-breakfast (doubles, $85-$100; 800-349-0445).
Off-Slope Action: The new No Limits Center is a clearinghouse for those interested in ice climbing, winter mountaineering, and winter survival courses (970-349-6130).
How to Keep Costs Down: Free lift tickets can be had from November 27 to December 21 (you must show proof of lodging at Thanksgiving) and April 7 to April 20.
Kid Stuff: The all-day child care or ski school takes kids from six months to 17 years. You can shadow your little one during an innovative but expensive ($115 an hour) Tag-A-Long lesson.
BIG SKY SKI AND SUMMER RESORT, MONTANA
What's New: A new high-speed quad replaces one of two small, slow gondolas on the front side of Lone Mountain, speeding access from the base village to the tram.
Snowboarding: There are hundreds of acres of long, often very steep groomed runs for the hard-boot crowd; hundreds more of open-bowl cruising or packed crud-blasting for soft shoes.
Where to Party: Slopeside Whiskey Jack's is a good unwinding spot where you can fill up on beer and burgers and listen to live music. Head for the deck-- if it's above 30 degrees outside.
Where to Stay: The spacious, Western-style Huntley Lodge (doubles, $160-$200; 800-548-4486) and adjacent Shoshone Condominium complex (one-bedrooms, $240-$350; 800-548-4486) are slopeside units at the base of Lone Mountain.
Off-Slope Action: Take a winter tour to see Yellowstone's geysers, hot springs, and wildlife (guided snowcoach and ski trips, $60-$85 per day; 800-858-3502). Also, more than 65 kilometers of groomed cross-country trails await at nearby Lone Mountain Ranch (406-995-4644).
How to Keep Costs Down: Ski and Stay Free package deals at slightly off-site accommodations such as the Best Western Buck's T-4 Lodge in town (406-995-4111) can save you up to $100 a day. Lodging prices throughout the region are slashed between opening day and the week before Christmas.
Kid Stuff: There's a noted ski school and "Ski Day Camps"; plus, kids ten and under ski free (two kids per paying adult).
COPPER MOUNTAIN RESORT,COLORADO
What's New: The tape was cut on Copper Bowl and Western Union last season, adding 900 ski-acres to the resort. This year the new Blackjack lift will let you ski farther down-valley into Copper Bowl without having to hike to catch the Bowl's only other chair.
Snowboarding: One of the best lines is directly below the American Flyer run: The open-tree terrain below has natural obstacles that make a designated run superfluous. Beginners who want to ward off base-area traffic jams can practice underneath the upper-mountain R lift.
Where to Party: Grab a local microbrew at Kokomo's bar and sit out on the big deck, or hang inside and listen to ex-pro-racer and general Copper legend Mo Dixon strum on his guitar.
Off-Slope Action: There are 25 kilometers of groomed nordic trails and gobs of backcountry on Arapahoe National Forest land. There's also an outdoor ice-skating rink in the Center.
Kid Stuff: Kids ages five to 14 are provided with all-day lessons and lunch for $56, which goes down to $46 on consecutive return visits. The Belly Button Bakery is Copper's cookie-creating child-care center for kids ages two months to four years ($49 per day).
MOUNT HOOD MEADOWS SKI RESORT, OREGON
What's New: The resort is catching its breath this year after a three-year building spree. However, they are installing a new double chairlift at Heather Canyon.
Snowboarding: Mount Hood and the midmountain snowboard town of Government Camp were snowboard magnets before the sport went mainstream. New lifts and better access to Heather Canyon are luring even more riders.
Where to Party: A major skiers' crossroads is the Mount Hood Brew Pub, 12 miles west in Government Camp. For a world-class coffee drink in a WPA-built structure, venture an additional six miles up the mountain to Timberline Lodge.
Where to Stay: The closest rooms are in Government Camp, where the Mount Hood Inn has comfortable, chain-hotel rooms (doubles, $105-$165; 800-443-7777) that offer the added option of skiing at nearby Timberline.
Off-Slope Action: There's great cross-country skiing on the east slopes of Mount Hood, and polar-fleece shopping in Hood River.
How to Keep Costs Down: Twenty-dollar lift tickets are an incentive to book lodging at a Hood River hotel or bed-and-breakfast (800-929-2754).
Kid Stuff: The KidSki center next to the South Lodge has a children's lessons area. Alas, no day care is available.
SILVER STAR MOUNTAIN RESORT, BRITISH COLUMBIA
What's New: One of Silver's more charming touches, Brewer's Pond ice-skating rink, was recently expanded and fitted with night-skating lights.
Snowboarding: Silver Star's snowboard park is designed and maintained by competitive riders. The largest in Western Canada, it has a half-pipe and a wide variety of challenging hits, jumps, and obstacles.
Where to Party: The Vance Creek Saloon is the hot spot, with live music Wednesdays through Sundays. Quieter parties convene at Putnam Station Hotel's wine cellar.
Where to Stay: Try the ski-in, ski-out Putnam Station Hotel (doubles, $71-$96; 604-542-2459), or Vance Creek Hotel (doubles, $71-$124; 604-549-5191). Privately owned slopeside vacation homes are also available (call central reservations, 800-663-4431).
Off-Slope Action: The resort is a major cross-country skiing center. Canada's national team trains here, drawn by the early opening season (mid-November), a major training facility, and the extensive trail system (37 kilometers, with another 50 at nearby Sovereign Lake). There's also a tube and toboggan run.
How to Keep Costs Down: Lift tickets come with lodging during ski-free weeks in early December and mid-January.
Kid Stuff: The Starduster Children's Center offers day care for kids 18 months to eight years old. Nine- to 18-year-olds can take lessons, and participate in various programs.
Information/Reservations: 604-542-0224/800-663-4431 R.C.J.
STRATTON MOUNTAIN, VERMONT
What's New: A 150-million-gallon pond, constructed last summer, will feed snowmaking guns and provide coverage for 80 percent of the terrain. In addition, 50 acres of glade skiing, for all abilities, have been opened.
Snowboarding: With a park surrounding a 380-foot half-pipe (groomed with a Pipe Dragon), 25 instructors, rental gear for kids as young as five, and some of the country's best riders attending nearby Stratton Mountain School, Stratton is snowboarder heaven.
Where to Party: The Bear's Den in the base lodge has live music every afternoon. Later, check out the lengthy beer list at Mulligan's in the village.
Where to Stay: Stratton Mountain Villas (one- to four-bedroom units, $170- $530; 800-843-6867), some ski-in, ski-out, allow guests access to the Stratton Sports Center. The Equinox (doubles, $169-$299; 800-362-4747) in Manchester is a lavishly restored grand hotel.
Off-Slope Action: The Stratton Nordic Center (802-297-4114) offers skiing and snowshoeing on 20 kilometers of groomed golf-course trails, and 50 kilometers of backcountry skiing in the Sun Bowl area. Lessons and guided tours are available. You can skate outdoors near the base lodge until 10 p.m.
How to Keep Costs Down: Pay $25 for a Frequent Skier card; you'll save $10-$17 every time you buy a ticket (except holidays). Thursdays are State Days: Depending on which state is designated, residents of New England, New Jersey, or New York can ride the lifts for $27.
Kid Stuff: There's a kids' learning park and children's ski school, where even two- and three-year-olds strap on nordic skis for snow-play.
Information/Reservations: 802-297-2200/ 800-787-2886
SUNDAY RIVER, MAINE
What's New: Not a lot other than new double-diamond glades cut between Oz and Aurora peaks. After last season's much-hyped opening of Oz, owner Les Otten spends his money elsewhere.
Snowboarding: Riders have their own park and half-pipe on White Cap Mountain, and share with skiers eight other playgrounds. Some patrollers and resort ambassadors are on boards.
Where to Party: First head for the Foggy Goggle at South Ridge Base Lodge, with its slopeside deck and local bands. Down the access road is the Sunday River Brewing Company, which gets jammed at twilight.
Where to Stay: The Summit Hotel (doubles, $80-$140 per person per night, including lift ticket; 800-543-2754) at the base of White Cap has 230 rooms, a health club, and an outdoor heated pool. For more Down East character, try the Bethel Inn (doubles, $75-$190 per person per night, breakfast and dinner included; 800-645-0125), a historic hotel and nordic ski center.
Off-Slope Action: There's free ice-skating outside at the White Cap base lodge (rentals are available). Ski 40 kilometers of groomed cross-country trails at the nearby Sunday River Inn (207-824-2410), or try dogsledding with Mahoosuc Guide Services (207-824-2073) in Grafton Notch, about 15 minutes away.
How to Keep Costs Down: The Ski Week Spectacular runs Sundays through Thursdays all season except for holidays. Pay $299 per person for five days of lift tickets and five nights' lodging at a slopeside condo or the Snow Cap Inn.
Kid Stuff: The South Ridge Learning Area has four lifts and 12 trails for beginners. The area is convenient to the rest of the resort and offers day care, rentals, and lessons.
What's New: Intrawest widened existing runs, blazed new trails, built five high-speed quads, and developed a third mountain face called The Edge.
Snowboarding: There are a quarter-pipe, half-pipe, ramps, and a new snowboard park on the south side.
Where to Party: After the day's run, anglo and franco yupsters ski to The Shack for beers on the sundeck. Post-25-year-olds head to La Diable, a microbrewery in a traditional Quebec house.
Where to Stay: With its dormered copper roof and brick chimneys, Canadian Pacific's new (opening November 18) slopeside Chateau Mont Tremblant (doubles, $180-$215; 800-441-1414) looks airlifted from Quebec City's historic quarter. The 127 efficiency suites at the new Marriott Residence Inn (doubles, $70-$170; 888-272-4000), another new ski-in/ski-out hotel, can stretch family budgets.
Off-Slope Action: There's nordic skiing on 90 kilometers of trails, dogsledding ten miles southeast through woods and farmland to Br‹beuf, ice skating on Lac Miroir, and snowshoe trips to observe whitetails at winter "deer yards."
How to Keep Costs Down: Come for 55-percent discounts before December 21 or after mid-March, and savings of 40 percent during January and early February. In low season, a five-night package at the resort's bed-and-breakfast-style properties starts at about $210.
Kid Stuff: A new indoor water park (slides, kids' beach, swimming and wading pools) is under construction, and the extended hours five nights a week at the Kids' Club (for kids four to 12) lets parents dine sans enfants.
Filed To: Snow Sports