There’s one main reason to wait until the last minute to book ski trips: You can keep an eye on the weather forecast for a better chance of scoring a powder day. This strategy has its drawbacks, though: If you wait, you’ll pay top dollar on everything from hotels to lift tickets. For the best savings, most ski resorts and ski-town hotels incentivize you to book now, in the early winter months. Here are five dependably promising spots.
Powder Mountain is a secret giant. It’s bigger than Whistler Blackcomb, with 8,464 acres of skiable terrain, and has two newly added lifts, plus a massive zone for guided and inbounds cat skiing. More than 500 inches of snowfall a year and significantly smaller crowds than elsewhere in Utah (ticket sales are capped at 1,500 per day) mean you’ll be sure to get fresh tracks here. Fly into Salt Lake City and drive 80 minutes, or fly into the tiny Ogden-Hinkley Airport, 25 miles from Powder Mountain, on Allegiant Air’s new direct flights from Los Angeles and Las Vegas, with midweek flights starting as low as $35 each way. Book a house or condo in nearby Eden or a slopeside room at the Columbine Inn, starting at $125.
Now that Vail Resorts owns Stowe, you can use your Epic Pass to ski here starting this winter. The Spruce Peak base area has undergone a transformation, featuring a new $90 million adventure center with a climbing wall and an upscale 300-room hotel and performing arts center. With an average of 314 inches of snow a year, plus extensive snowmaking, you can’t go wrong here in January or February. No Epic Pass? Buy your lift tickets at least 48 hours ahead of your trip for the cheapest rates. You can ride Amtrak from Washington, D.C., or New York City into nearby Waterbury. Or book a seat aboard Tradewind Air’s eight-passenger planes for an hourlong flight from White Plains, New York, to a small airport 20 minutes from Stowe. (Tickets start at about $232.) Stay at Field Guide Stowe, where a breakfast basket is delivered to your room each morning. Rooms start at $139.
Nestled into the steep peaks of California’s snow-drenched eastern Sierra Nevada, Mammoth feels remote. But getting here for a weekend jaunt really isn’t that hard. It’s a five-hour drive from Los Angeles, 3.5 hours from Reno, or less than an hour when you hop a direct flight from San Francisco, L.A., or San Diego. Need to stay connected to the office? New this year is a co-working space called the Fort in the mountain’s base lodge, so you can squeeze in a conference call midday if duty calls. You’ll save 40 percent on lift tickets if you buy more than a week in advance, or a book a ski-and-stay package for tickets and lodging at resort-owned properties like the Mammoth Mountain Inn or Tamarack Lodge. Rooms start at $161 per person per night.
You may not think of Boise as a destination ski town, but that’s actually a good thing: Nobody else does, either, which means you’ll have the freshies all to yourself at Bogus Basin, 40 minutes from downtown. Last winter, the mountain had nearly 300 inches—one of the snowiest winters on record. You can fly directly into Boise, a low-key airport with direct flights from many major cities, including Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, and San Francisco. Stay at the Inn at 500 Capitol, a new boutique hotel that opened last January in the increasingly hip downtown Boise. It offers a ski-and-stay package that includes rooms with fireplaces, lift tickets, and après-ski cocktails delivered to your room, starting at $350 a night.
If you can handle the four-hour drive on I-70 from Denver to Aspen, you’ll be treated to vast, empty bowls at four distinctly different mountains. Hop on one of dozens of nonstop (albeit often expensive) flights from major cities to Aspen’s tiny airport, and you’ll be lapping the gondola at Aspen Mountain or bootpacking Highland Bowl that afternoon. The Mountain Collective Pass works here, or buy tickets at least a week in advance for the lowest rates. Book a slopeside room at the base of Snowmass’ Stonebridge Inn and you can get breakfast at the in-house restaurant, the Artisan, before walking to the lifts. Rooms start at $126.