It’s that time of year when the air is getting colder and the snow is starting to fall. Let’s head to the mountains. Before you start planning your family ski trip or weekend snowboard getaway, check out these most-searched destinations on Yahoo.
10. Lake Tahoe (California): A Lake in the Mountains
Squaw Valley’s major claim to fame is being the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. (Photo: Squaw Valley)
Surrounding one of the deepest and largest lakes in the country are a number of popular and picturesque mountain resorts. Just about three hours from San Francisco, Squaw Valley was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Because of the state’s drought over the last year, snow conditions at the resorts have been low, but skiers are optimistic about this season. You’ll want to head to local favorites like Heavenly, Homewood, Kirkwood, and Northstar. Before you plan your trip, check the schedule for dates and conditions.
9. Park City (Utah): History on the Snow
Park City Mountain Resort is under new ownership. (Courtesy: Park City Mountain Resort)
Utah’s most popular ski resort town, Park City has been home to the well-known Park City Mountain Resort since the late 1800s. During the 2002 Winter Olympics, the resort hosted a number of events. A legal dispute between the owners of the mountain and the owners of the lifts and facilities at the bottom nearly stymied the ski season this year. But the ski park is now owned by Vail Resorts, and it opened in November. The new owners will also combine Park City with the nearby Canyons Resort.
8. Snowbird (Utah): Powdery Fresh
There’s no shortage of fresh powder at Snowbird. (Photo: Matt Crawley/Snowbird/Facebook)
Outside Salt Lake City, in the Rocky Mountains, Snowbird is a community that houses the Snowbird Ski Resort and the Alta Ski Area. This destination is known for its powdery snow; it gets about 500 inches a year. Snowbird has 10 chairlifts and 2,500 acres of skiable area. If that’s not enough, you can buy a joint day pass to Snowbird and Alta, which gives you nearly 5,000 acres to explore. Snowbird also has a one-of-a-kind tunnel that takes skiers from one area to another.
7. Sun Valley (Idaho): Baldy Near Boise
Sun Valley (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
In central Idaho, a few hours from Boise, Sun Valley is a small community of just 1,400 people. It primarily serves visitors who come for the snow and mountains — or, in the summer, the cycling and hiking. Experienced skiers love heading down Bald Mountain at Sun Valley, while beginners can visit the adjacent Dollar Mountain, which is also home to a snow tubing park. “Baldy,” which reaches an elevation of more than 9,000 feet, is known as one of the best ski mountains in the country because of its many varied runs.
6. Telluride (Colorado): Remote, but Not Too Remote
Telluride is worth going the extra mile. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
A former mining town in Colorado turned world-class ski location, Telluride is a favorite because its remoteness leads to short lines and attracts serious skiers. Fortunately, the Telluride airport still has direct flights to major cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and Dallas. Once you’re there, you’ll want to check out the powder and tree skiing at Telluride Ski Resort. Get to the top of the Gold Hill Express to enjoy the amazing views. A gondola connects the two towns of Telluride and Mountain Village, and the area is also becoming known for its festivals and mountain biking events throughout the summer.
5. Aspen (Colorado): Luxury in Colorado
Aspen is as famous for its luxury town as it is for its mountains. (Photo: Dave Amirault/Snowmass)
A few hours outside Denver, Aspen has become known as a high-end ski town with some of the best runs around. The region gets more than 300 inches of snow most years and attracts skiers and snowboarders from across the country. Check out any or all the ski areas, depending on the amount of time you have. Buttermilk and Snowmass are best for beginner and intermediate skiers trying to get a feel for the Colorado mountains. Aspen Mountain (also called Ajax) is famous for its black diamond terrain and 3,000-foot vertical; it has no beginner terrain.
4. Mammoth Mountain (California): A Mammoth Park
With two huge half-pipes and much more, Mammoth Mountain’s Unbound terrain park is all about the big air. (Photo: Mammoth Mountain/Facebook)
The massive Mammoth Mountain is located right in the center of western California, in the Sierra Nevada mountain range — making it a go-to spot for the West Coast. Because road closures make it less accessible from the north in the winter, Mammoth tends to be most popular with visitors from Los Angeles and Southern California. The resort opened last weekend. Along with 3,500 acres of skiable terrain, Mammoth has eight terrain parks, a super pipe, and a rare super duper pipe. You can also visit the smaller nearby June Mountain, which reopened last year after a brief closure. Check snow conditions before you go.
3. Breckenridge (Colorado): A Clear Spot High in the Mountains
Breckenridge (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Not far from Denver, Breckenridge is famous for its amazing views, clean air, and small-town mountain feel. In the summer, it’s a popular spot for mountain biking and outdoor adventures. In the winter, it’s all about the skiing. The Breckenridge Ski Resort is one of the most visited in the country. Its five peaks are open for the season, with a range of runs for different abilities. A note: Breckenridge is at 9,600 feet — at the bottom of the mountains. If you’re not used to the thin air, be prepared to take it easy or spend some time getting used to the elevation.
2. Vail (Colorado): The Crown Jewel
There’s a reason why the Vail slopes are known worldwide. (Photo: Vail Ski Resort/Facebook)
There’s a reason Vail, near Breckenridge, is synonymous with skiing. The Vail Ski Resort is the biggest in the country, so whatever you’re looking for in snow sports, you’re likely to find it there. There are four base areas, with many of the beginner trails near Golden Peak. The back of the mountain is home to seven massive bowls; Blue Sky Basin is a whopping 650 acres. Understandably, that can all be a bit overwhelming and, on peak weekends, the crowds are quite large. Hiring an instructor, which can be expensive, or opting for a small guided group lets you cut lines and navigate the huge park more easily.
1. Jackson Hole (Wyoming): Wild in Wyoming
Jackson Hole is exciting, but it’s not for beginners. (Courtesy: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort)
Near the Idaho-Wyoming border, Jackson Hole is not close to a major metropolitan area, but that’s part of its appeal. (Still, the Jackson Hole airport is the busiest in Wyoming, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting there.) With the Grand Teton National Park nearby, the Teton Range rises majestically above the valley. The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort takes advantage of all that wild terrain and those massive peaks. Because it has one of the biggest vertical drops in the U.S. (over 4,000 feet) and large expanses of out-of-bounds terrain — accessible to expert skiers with avalanche gear — the area has become known for some of the best free skiing in the country. With very little beginner terrain, though, Jackson Hole isn’t for the faint of heart.