Winter Resorts for Quick Escapes

Last year’s pitiful snow season left skiers and boarders starving for the white stuff. Which is why we’ve dug up a smorgasbord of new terrain, fresh trips, and killer deals that will have you ripping all winter long.

Jan 3, 2013
Outside Magazine

Jackson Hole.    Photo: Wade McKoy

Stowe just keeps getting better. There’s the new Stowe Mountain Lodge, a 450,000-square-foot, are-you-kidding-me hotel with the kind of spa that offers herb-infused showers (doubles from $399). There’s the town’s endearing European-style Alpenweiss charm. There’s the new FourRunner high-speed quad, which zips skiers to the summit in just six minutes, offering fast access to classic descents like the winding Nosedive and the five-mile Toll Road. But perhaps the biggest: if you live on the East Coast, you’re never more than five hours away. Stowe is a three-hour drive from Boston. Direct flights to Burlington, just an hour’s drive from Stowe, are available from New York City, Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, Toronto, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Skiers with a bit more time to spare can even find tickets on Amtrak for under $100 from New York and be dropped off right at the Waterbury-Stowe train station, just 30 minutes from the lift.

Two hundred and thirty: that’s how many airports offer flights into this old ranching town, making it arguably the most accessible destination resort in the country. New this winter are direct weekend flights on United from Los Angeles. Your best bet for last-minute lodging is the Rabbit Ears Motel (doubles from $109)—nothing special, but you can usually find a room. Drop your bags there, then plan your day: keep the clan together with a family lesson, during which your instructor will provide you with tips and drills to help your kids keep improving down the road. Or seek out Steamboat’s ample light powder on 1,790 acres of gladed trails (61 percent of the mountain’s terrain), including our favorite: Twilight, a long run with a decent pitch and perfectly spaced trees that hold snow for days after a storm.

Love tree skiing? Live in the New York City area? This winter, United adds a new direct flight from Newark to Bozeman, just a 45-minute drive from Big Sky, a resort where employees spent the summer creating several new gladed trails on Lone Peak and Andesite Mountain. Moderately pitched, with trees spaced a good 15 feet apart, the runs in the Dakota Territory and Bavarian Forest are perfect trails to warm up on. When you’re feeling more comfortable, move on to Shady Chute, a 40-degree pitch that covers 2,000 feet. At the end of the day, head eight miles down the canyon to Whitewater Inn. Doubles start at $114, but the hotel is always posting last-minute deals online. And it has an indoor waterslide.

Jackson Hole is generally known for great steeps, big snowstorms, and a vibe that’s Wild West meets ski party. The catch is that it’s always been a pain to get to, but new flights will soon make access much easier. Beginning this winter, United will operate nonstop flights on holidays and weekends from San Francisco and Newark, and Delta will fly direct from Minneapolis. What’s more, the slopeside, posh Hotel Terra offers Powder Guarantee packages, allowing guests to book early and adjust their trips in response to snowfall (from $200, including lodging and lift tickets). All of which should add up to you planning at least one weekend getting face shots in the resort’s six inbound bowls—not to mention the other 4,139 feet of cliff bands, powder pillows, and bumps.