I asked a pool of people, “If you could go skiing or snowboarding anywhere in North America – all expenses paid – where would you go?” I didn’t hear the same mountain twice, and I was excited by what I found out about peoples top picks when it comes to hitting the slopes. Some of these places I’d never even heard of, let alone thought about checking out. One obvious finding right off the bat: if you live in or around Colorado, you’re in luck.
I picked four of the mountains at random to profile in search of what is was about these places that made them one person’s number 1 pick. I found out some pretty awesome stats. Without further adieu, let’s dig in.
About a two-hour drive west of the Denver airport, Breckenridge is the full package. A picturesque Colorado ski town surrounded by snow, shopping and breathtaking views, Breckenridge guarantees there will not be a dull moment spent – regardless of whether or not you’re an avid skier or snowboarder.
PowHounds, be sure to check out the Imperial Express: the highest chairlift in the U.S. At 13,000 feet you’ll be crushing the alpine bowls and some of the best advanced terrain around.
- Base elevation: 9,600 ft
- Summit elevation: 12,998 ft
- Lifts: 31
- Trails: 155
- Longest trail: Four O’Clock, 3.5 mi
Ready for some Breckenridge nightlife? Check out Main Street, where you’ll find some of the best local restaurants and pubs around. An après ski session awaits your arrival at Breckenridge Brewery, where you’ll find award-winning brews on tap and tasty pub fare at a reasonable price. And if you’re looking for some of the best live music around, swing by Three20South before the night is over. They guarantee you'll be enjoying the best vibes, the best sounds and the best stage around.
Winter Park, Colorado
Calling all snow-lovers: about an hour and a half west of the Denver airport sits Winter Park, a skiers and snowboarders paradise. Four mountains, adjacent and connected by an impressive network of lifts and trails, offer an insane amount of terrain to cover. Got all day? Good, because you’re going to need it. Winter Park, Mary Jane, Vasquez Cirque and Vasquez Ridge offer a combined 3,081 acres of skiable terrain, including 1,212 acres of off-piste terrain. The four mountains combined boast some very challenging trails, with Advanced trails accounting for 19%, Most Difficult, 50%, and Expert Only, 3%.
- Base elevation (Winter Park): 9,000 ft
- Summit elevation (Winter Park): 10,700 ft
- Lifts (combined): 25
- Trails (combined): 134
- Longest trail (Winter Park): 2 mi
Looking for a unique night out? Hop on the Zephyr Express, which is modified after-hours to accommodate 20 gondola cabins that will zip you straight to The Lodge at Sunspot every Friday and Saturday night from Dec 21, 2012 – March 30, 2013. Make reservations in advance, because they do fill up quick.
Two-hours north of the Vancouver airport lays over 8,000 acres of skiable terrain and 200 marked trails on the steeps of Whistler Blackcomb. Known for having more skiable terrain than almost all of the largest, most popular ski mountains in North America, and boasting over 20 feet of snow to-date, you really can’t go wrong with a visit to this winter wonderland.
Today, all 200 trails are open, 159 of them groomed. Looking for some great terrain parks and pipes? Whistler and Blackcomb have over six of them. 99 acres, 1 Superpipe, 1 Snowcross and over 150 features with more than 40 jumps. Whew! If you're not too sure where to start, check out Whistler Blackcomb's very own creation: The Wonder Routes. The Wonder Routes were created with you in mind: follow the routes and you're sure to discover all the best that Whistler Blackcomb has to offer.
- Base elevation: 2,140 ft
- Summit elevation: 7,494 ft
- Vertical drop: 5,354 ft
- Lifts: 37
- Longest trail: 7 mi
This place is sounding pretty awesome right about now. Add to all of that a historical average of nearly 40 feet of snow per year, over 11 feet recorded in Dec of 2012 alone.
Ready to jump from the mountain to the après events? Check out Cinnamon Bear Bar, located right in Whistler Village at the Hilton Resort and Spa. Play pool, watch sports or just sit back and relax next to the fireplace. Looking for a little more action? Check out Brandy’s, attached to The Keg, and located right in Whistler Village. At Brandy’s there is a live DJ spinning every Friday and Saturday night.
Telluride was ranked #1 Ski Resort in North American by Condé Nast Traveler in 2012, and is known to be one of the least crowded mountains around. It’s also been said that Telluride is the most beautiful place you’ll ever ski. Telluride offers over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain, and averages over 25 feet of snow and over 300 days of sunshine every year. In summation, Telluride offers great terrain, and one breathtaking backdrop.
- Base elevation: 8,725 ft
- Summit elevation: 12,570 ft
- Vertical drop: 4,425 ft
- Lifts: 18
- Trails: 125 (41% Advanced / Expert)
- Longest trail: Galloping Goose, 4.6 mi
Take an afternoon break at High Camp Warming Hut, right at the top of Prospect Bowl. Serving hot drinks, sandwiches and soups, High Camp is the perfect recharging station. After a long day on the slopes, check out one of Telluride’s most popular spots, Tomboy Tavern. Recently remodeled, this restaurant and bar offers sports coverage, a beer garden with craft and international beers, a full, wrap-around bar, and some really great food. Apres ski, Tomboy Tavern is the place to be.
Wow. Talk about some amazing ski resorts in North America! So, next time you find yourself in Colorado or Canada, you better be sure you have time to visit one of the hot spots above.