Every season has its fervent fanatics. Some go to great lengths to hold onto the summer sun, while others count down the days until pumpkin-flavored everything takes over their local supermarket. But winter lovers have a few trump cards up their sleeves in the battle of the seasons. The magic of snow and the adventure of skiing can charm even the most zealous avoider of cold temperatures for a perfect winter holiday.
Looking for the right spot to ring in the most wonderful time of the year? Pick one of these four resorts for the best trails and most enviable mountain experiences.
For world-class powder without the world-class crowds you might find at Vail or Lake Tahoe, point your skis toward this Wyoming mountain resort. Unlike many popular ski towns, winter is low season at Jackson Hole, with most visitors to the area preferring sunny summertime hikes in Yellowstone National Park. They’re missing out though. At the end of those short, snow-capped lines lie expert guides ready to escort you on a snowshoe exploration of the Grand Tetons, a cozy yurt nestled in the back country, top-notch organic American grub, and, of course, unparalleled blankets of snow.
The Winter Olympics open ski lovers’ eyes to hot new resorts all the time, but the story was different in 2010. Whistler Blackcomb, less than two hours away from Vancouver, was already on sports fans’ radar thanks to its diverse terrain and huge variety of off-the-slopes activity. This Canadian resort is as expansive as it gets. In fact, you won’t find a skiing hotspot larger than this without going to Europe. In addition to its hundreds of trail options, you’ll find adventuresome heli-skiing, incredible views from the Peak to Peak Gondola, and lively nightlife.
Few mountain ranges rival the bucket list topper that is the legendary Alps. Elegantly sweeping through eight European countries, including France, Italy, and Switzerland, this most famous of ski regions is a dream vacation for serious powder hounds. And if you’re going to fly down an iconic mountain, you may as well do it at an iconic resort like Chamonix, the internationally renowned adventure playground at Mont Blanc. The possibilities are endless for skiers of all experience levels, and you can even bring along the kids. Resorts like Hotel Les Grand Montets offer kid-friendly amenities so snow lovers of all ages can enjoy a winter wonderland.
Resorts in North America and Europe may attract the most attention, but don’t think skiing is purely a sport for the West. Japan’s Niseko resort is a phenomenal alternative to the more heavily frequented slopes in the English-speaking world. Its courses may number in the double, rather than triple, digits, but they still offer a wide variety of styles, including tree runs, off-piste, and even night skiing, all of which enjoy huge falls of deep, dry snow. If you tire out and need a moment to relax, the quaint Niseko Village is filled with restaurants, cafes, and bars, and its stunning mountain backdrop makes for first-class photo ops.