Right around this time of year, pow daydreams have me thinking of the many excuses I can use to skip out of work, throw the gear in the car and head to the mountains. You know, like calling in sick citing a vision problem when really, you just can’t see yourself missing a powder day. That one’s my favorite, but no matter how you lay it out for your boss, there’s nothing better than escaping to steep slopes, warm lodges and cold après beers. And here are excellent spots to ski and ride (a.k.a. sk’ride) this winter…
If you are looking to ski right now, a trip to Colorado is in order. Once again, Arapahoe Basin won this year’s #racetoopen campaign, becoming the first ski resort in the nation open up lift-accessed turns this winter. Check out the 468 new acres the resort has added with the expansion into the Beavers and Steep Gullies areas. Speaking of racing to open, Loveland Ski Area finished a close second, opening a week later, and will be commemorating their 80th anniversary with fun events all season long.
Aspen Snowmass is also celebrating an anniversary this year, their 50th, and will host Olympic qualifying events in mid-January as U.S. snowboarders and freeskiers descend on the mountain with their eyes set on Pyeonchang. Skiing and riding aside, Steamboat Resort has unveiled its Outlaw Mountain Coaster, the longest in North America, while Copper Mountain has beefed up their culinary experience with the addition of three new restaurants primed for your après shenanigans.
There’s so much going on this winter at the northeast’s top destination for skiing and riding. Vail Resorts’ acquisition of Stowe makes it the first east coast resort available on the Epic Pass while the purchase of Intrawest by the KSL Aspen Resorts group adds Stratton Mountain to their fleet of 13 renowned resorts. Last season’s record-setting attendance earned Killington a return visit by the Audi FIS World Cup, so head up Thanksgiving weekend and watch the best female skiers take on the beast of the east. Meanwhile, Mount Snow has completed a $30 million-dollar upgrade of its snowmaking system; what is now the most powerful system in the east should make for a much deeper season.
Looking to supplement your on-mountain fun? Jay Peak boasts a new 142-seat movie theater and climbing facility, and Smuggler’s Notch’s Fun Zone 2.0 includes a laser tag arena, climbing tower, slot car races and more. Finally, if you yearn to combine a fantastic culinary experience with some fun skiing and riding, be sure to hit up Okemo, where the new director of culinary services and newly promoted executive chef will look to take an already amazing food and beverage scene to Epic heights.
Having “the greatest snow on earth” is one thing, but it’s the proximity of the Utah resorts to Salt Lake City Airport that makes them must-ski destinations. With last year being the snowiest winter in half a decade, the Utah ski community is hoping for more of the same from Mother Nature to go along with all of their new additions this season. Recently named the top ski resort in the country by Ski Magazine, Deer Valley was acquired by the KSL Aspen Group and will only build upon their already great reputation. Meanwhile, Utah’s other skier-only mountain, Alta, is turning 80 this year, making it the oldest lift-served resort in Utah. So head over and celebrate by skiing some of their renowned terrain and celebrating with them all season long.
Eager to improve on your steeps game? Snowbasin Resort, host of the speed events in the 2002 Winter Olympics, is expanding their snow sports offerings for adults with a camp that will have you crushing the steep and deep over the course of three days. And, if you’re into après ski as much as skiing, Park City—both the town and the mountain—is your spot. Start early with the mega resort’s annual Snowfest Celebration on December 16th.
Jackson Hole received so much snow last winter that they actually had to close down at one point. With 593 inches of total snow, the 2016/17 winter goes down as the deepest in the resort’s 51-year history. That alone should be enough of a draw, but with a $30-million renovation and expansion of the Jackson Hole Airport, the ease and efficiency with which you can get to one of the gnarliest resorts in the U.S. has increased exponentially. JHMR is continuing its efforts to become more than a resort where the most seasoned experts visit for sick terrain, which is why the new Sweetwater gondola will offer lift service to the next phase of expansion, the Solitude Station. On track to be completed in 2018/19, this 12,000-square foot facility will include the ski school and rental area as well as new dining facilities. In other words, you’ll be able to happily bring the whole brood even if you are not, in fact, the Gnar-tridge Family.