Mr. Luxury Ski
What do you look for in a ski destination? From the challenging terrain of Jackson Hole to the family-friendly Squaw Valley, we found 12 ski mountains with something for everyone.
Whether it's perfect powder turns or raucous revelry, there are certain attributes unique to each ski destination that keep regulars coming back season after season. Here, 12 mountains to choose from based on the type of trip you're looking for.
Best for Experts: Jackson Hole
There's one factor that consistently draws skiers back to Jackson Hole: the black diamond and expert terrain. The legendary steep slopes and accessible backcountry set the Tetons apart from all other destinations, and with more than 375 inches of snow to date, there is no limit to how many records may be set this year.
Best for Snow Lovers: Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek has a knack for crafting the perfect ski experience (take, for example, the fresh, complimentary cookies at après) and this season, the resort is truly raising the bar with an über-advanced "snowmaking refresh program." After two years of development by the Beaver Creek Snow Surfaces team, the mountain's three most popular trails—Red Tail, Centennial, and Gold Dust—are first groomed by snow cats to deliver legendary corduroy. Following that step, snow machines layer on an additional layer of fresh powder, just because.
Best for Celebrity Seekers: Aspen
Few destinations in the world are as synonymous with celebrity as Aspen. Could it be because residents like Jack Nicholson, Goldie Hawn, and Kurt Russell set the tone decades ago, inspiring others to follow? Between Aspen Film—the annual festival that screens Oscar hopefuls each fall—and the East Hyman Avenue shops that mirror those on Rodeo Drive, you can't shake a stick (or ski pole) on Ajax without spotting an A-lister.
Best for Those Who Want an Easy Commute: Park City
With 93 daily nonstop flights to Salt Lake City International Airport and only a 45-minute drive up I-80 to Main Street, Park City's accessibility has few rivals. Vail Resorts' purchase of Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort, unifying the two separate resorts under the Park City banner in 2015, makes it the single largest ski resort in United States. Head there and the 7,300 skiable acres are all yours.
Best for Untracked Snow Lovers: Powder Mountain
Like a throwback to the Ski School 80s, little has changed about Powder Mountain's infrastructure in the last few decades, but with $25 cat skiing and 8,600 acres of skiable terrain (2,800 of which are served by lifts), "Pow Mow," as it is affectionately called, has one of the lowest skier per acre ratio of any resort. Combine that with "the greatest snow on Earth"—its home state of Utah's motto—and you have a recipe for days of untracked terrain skiable to your heart's content.
Best for Adventure-Seeking Bargain Hunters: Lake Louise
With the Canadian Dollar at .75 cents to the greenback, skiing in Canada is ostensibly 25 percent off these days. Spectacular 360-degrees views and a ski area that's just 90 minutes from Calgary International Airport make Lake Louise one of the best bargains in skiing. Devour 4,200 skiable acres in Banff National Park with no limits except the stamina of your own legs.
Best for Skiers in Search of Something New: Solitude
Hate lift lines? No problem. Get yourself to one of Canadian Mountain Holidays' 12 heli-skiing lodges across British Columbia and Alberta and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime. Each lodge is known for a specific ski predilection—from trees, to face-deep powder, glaciers, and steeps. With eight million acres of skiable terrain you'll be 90 years old before you even scratch the surface.
Best for the Family: Squaw Valley
There are three key requirements for a successful family ski vacation: first, the ease of getting there; second, a top-notch ski school; and third, non-skiing activities. Squaw Valley has all of that, and then some. Easy nonstop national access from airports in San Francisco and Reno, and slope-side lodging means little ones get on the hill quickly and efficiently. The ski school (one of the country's best) even offers a program called "Teaching Tykes" where parents, children, and instructors can navigate the mountain together. Plus, activities like ice skating, snow tubing, crafts, and snowmobiling keep non-skiers more than satisfied.
Best for a Friendcation: Vail
Vail represents the perfect ski town balance of high/low, difficult/easy, high-end and down-to-earth. Whether it's a group of guys touring the terrain parks and hitting the famous aprés scene like Pepi's and The Red Lion, or a girls' trip focused on carving up the back bowls, spas, or one of Vail's female-focused ski clinics like Girlz on the Edge, Vail is great for groups of every size and skill level.
Best for Gastronomes: Whistler
Few ski resorts have access to the variety of fresh farm and sea-to-table ingredients like Whistler. With the international waters of Vancouver to the west, you'll find Pacific oysters in abundance and sushi-grade fish imported fresh from Japan. And to the east? Fine wines from Okanagan Valley and beef from the prairies of Alberta. Don't miss restaurants worth making the trip for: Araxi, Rimrock Bistro, and Sushi Village.