Winter Wonderlands: North America's Top Ten Ski Resorts
Forget what you've heard about overcrowded ski resorts. North America boasts more than 600 snowy playgrounds, and some of the best remain relatively unharaldedand surprisingly uncongested. The following resorts in particular all have something to offer skiers at any level; each resort excels in challenge, terrain variety, and snow quality. Whether you seek an adrenaline fix or just want to cruise on the world-class runs with excellent snow conditions, these are the places to go.
Below an impressive two-mile ridgeline of big-drop cornices and narrow shoots, Mammoth Mountain, California (800.626.6684. www.mammothmountain.com) in a wide-open, above-tree-line playground for advanced skiers. Aptly named, Mammoth (and everything about it) is bigincluding a ski season that often lasts until June or July, a ski school with some 300 instructors, a life system that spreads out to heavy crowds, and the largest fleet of Snowcats in the world. The latter maintain high-quality groomed snow all season long.
The crown jewel of Tahoe ski areas, Squaw Vally, California (800.545.4350. www.squaw.com) spreads out over six peaks. For expert skiers, Squaw has it all: chutes, cornices, steeps, and bumps. The editors of Skiing magazine named Squaw the number one for expertsparticularly for its out-of-bounds runs, which have served as a training ground for such extreme skiers as Scott Schmidt. Permanent light fixtures have been installed for night skiing, while KT-22 Expressa high-speed, quad chairliftprovides access to Squaw's longest big-bump runs.
With its many black-diamond runs and steep, narrow trails twisting down through the trees, Aspen Mountain, Colorado (800.525.6200. www.skiaspen.com) offers some of the most callenging conditions in the Rockies. The show quality, terrain, and combination of powder and steep drops guarantee Aspen a hot spot up on the list of North America's superlative ski areas. Comprising a little more than just 600 skiable acres, Aspen is relatively small. Its numerous expert runs, however, deliver as big a challenge as any you'll find at larger U.S. resorts.
An excellent choice for families, the terrain at Vail, Colorado (800.525.2257. www.snow.com) is evenly distributed among beginner, intermediate, and advanced slopes. The legendary powder bowls on the mountain's back side constitute a destination for serious powder hounds. Veil also offers superb advanced-intermediate cruising runs and bump conditions.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication