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5 Spots Where You Can Actually Ski This Winter

Yes, you can still find powder somewhere

Chest deep at Fernie Alpine Resort, British Columbia (Courtesy Nicholas Nault/Kicking)
adam laurin

Yes, you can still find powder somewhere

Unless you live in New England (or, oddly, Florida), this winter feels like it’s off to a very slow start. It’s bone-dry in places around the West right now, with record-low snow conditions in typically snow-drenched locales in the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada. Taos, New Mexico, just saw some of its first snowflakes of the season, and Park City, Utah, has less than 50 percent of its average snowfall for this time of year. But it’s not all bad news. Resorts in the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and much of Europe are off to a fine start. Here’s where to go if you’re craving a dose of deep winter.

Whitefish, Montana

Montana’s Whitefish Mountain Resort has been coated in more than 13 feet of snow so far this season. There are direct flights into the nearby Kalispell airport from ten major cities, or you can ride Amtrak into town from places like Chicago, Seattle, or Minneapolis. The 86-room Firebrand Hotel (from $139) opened in downtown Whitefish in 2016 and has ski-and-stay packages with lift tickets, an on-site spa, and a rooftop hot tub. A free shuttle will take you from town to the ski hill.

Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier is the perfect place to eat fondue in mountainside cabins and ride endless trams over vast, glaciated peaks. This winter in Switzerland has proven plentiful, with a 100-plus-inch base at upper elevations and good early season conditions. The Central Hotel Verbier (from $235) is located right next to the Medran lift and has boot dryers and croissant breakfasts. Tbar, the hotel’s in-house watering hole, serves sushi and après-ski drinks.

Jay Peak, Vermont

Jay Peak somehow gets more snow than anywhere else in Vermont. The area has welcomed 190 inches so far, with a base depth of 46 inches. Sure, there have been rain and high winds on a few days, but you might have a better chance of scoring a powder day here than in the Rocky Mountains this winter. The Hotel Jay is walking distance to the tram, and if you’re traveling with kids, they’ll appreciate the indoor water park, arcade, and pizzeria downstairs in the hotel.

Mount Baker, Washington

Mount Baker once broke the record for most snowfall in a season when 1,140 inches fell in 1999, and while it isn’t having that kind of winter, the snow is still dependably deep. The mountain currently has 114 inches and counting—115 percent of the average for this time of year. Stay in the tiny town of Glacier, at the bottom of the ski resort access road. The Blue T Lodge has basic, clean rooms (from $119) and is about 25 minutes from the hill. It’s also next door to Chair 9 Pizza, a local favorite.

Kicking Horse, British Columbia

Interior British Columbia is having a stellar winter—or at least one that looks better than we’re seeing seeing in the United States. Kicking Horse has gotten more than 236 inches of snow—right on par with average. Stay at the Copper Horse Lodge (from $124), steps from the gondola, for upscale rooms and a European-style breakfast spread. Don’t miss the slopeside Double Black Café for coffee in the morning and beer in the afternoon. You can fly into Calgary, and twice-a-week shuttles—new this year—will take you from the airport to Kicking Horse, 2.5 hours away.

Filed To: Washington / Montana / Whitefish / Vermont / Utah / Switzerland
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

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(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.

Plaza2Peak

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(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.