Just as the bicycle industry saw a surge in sales last summer due to Americans’ desire for outdoor recreation, alpine skiing and backcountry gear are currently flying off the shelves. With COVID-19 vaccines slowly making their way across the country, many people are turning to skiing and snowboarding as ways to get out of the house, exercise, and enjoy the fresh air.
Resorts across the country have been working to improve safety measures, capping the number of guests and improving sanitization. Here are some of the best ski resorts in TDS communities across the country to keep in mind for a day on the slopes.
To tourists, California is famous for its beaches, surfers, and Hollywood movie stars. But to skiers and snowboarders, the Golden State’s appeal lies in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, far from the coastline.
Badger Pass Ski Area – Mount Bullion
Although Badger Pass is closed for the 2020-21 season due to state-wide COVID-19 regulations, it’s a resort worth keeping in mind for a future getaway. California’s oldest ski resort is surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery in the Central Sierra mountain range, near the world-famous attractions of Yosemite National Park. The ski area includes alpine ski slopes as well as terrain reserved for cross country skiing, snow tubing, and snowshoeing.
Everyone who enjoys skiing knows that Colorado offers some of the best natural skiing and snowboarding in the country. Ski resorts range from world-class, vast resorts to single-lift, family-run operations. Regardless of what you desire, Colorado is a good place to start your research when planning a ski trip.
Eldora Mountain Resort – Nederland
Eldora Mountain Resort in beautiful Nederland, Colorado, is an hour-long, mountain-filled drive from Estes Park. From mellow beginner terrain to thrilling steeps and glades, Eldora has terrain for every type of skier and rider, including world-class Woodward terrain parks and learning progressions. Although the resort is encouraging visitors to order takeout, it is home to a several delicious restaurants and taprooms.
Purgatory Resort – Durango
Just west of Cortez, Purgatory offers you and your family a complete Rocky Mountain Colorado vacation—whether it’s summer or winter. The resort itself features accommodations that range from luxurious, slopeside, and vacation homes to value-priced lodge rooms. In addition to comfort, the resort’s skiing facilities are also fantastic. Ninety-two trails with 11 chairlifts make enjoying the spectacular scenery amidst the rugged San Juan Mountains easy.
Many people are surprised to learn that New Mexico, a state known for warm weather and dry conditions, has eight major alpine ski resorts to go along with multiple 12,000-foot mountains.
Ski Apache – Alto
While many of New Mexico’s high-end resorts are in the northeastern region of the state, there are plenty of elevated areas, too. Ski Apache is nestled in the slopes of the Sierra Blanca mountains, in the southcentral portion of the state. Ski Apache may be the finest resort to experience warm-weather powder skiing. Beneath the 12,000-foot peak of Sierra Blanca are open bowls and snow-capped trees—well served by 11 lifts. While there’s no lodging available at the mountain, you’ll find several luxurious options less than 30 minutes away in Ruidoso, New Mexico.
Bend and its surrounding central Oregon areas attract many winter visitors for its great skiing conditions.
Mount Bachelor Ski & Snowboard Resort – Bend
Mount Bachelor is Central Oregon’s most popular destination for a family ski vacation, offering diverse terrain, 400 inches of fresh dry powder annually, and 71 different runs for skiers and snowboarders. Built in the beautiful Deschutes National Forest just west of Bend, visitors will enjoy breathtaking views of several Cascade Mountain peaks and lakes. In addition to Mount Bachelor, there are other excellent nearby ski resorts to choose from—Willamette Pass Ski Resort, Hoodoo Ski Area in Sisters, Oregon, and Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort, Mount Hood Ski Bowl, and Timberline Ski Resort around Mount Hood.
No matter the time of year, the state of Washington is never lacking in outdoor recreational activities. During the summer months, the mountains of Washington cater to hikers, bikers, and overnight campers. But come winter, the skiers and snowboarders thrive in the Evergreen State.
Mount Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park – Mead
Just north of Spokane, and entirely encompassed by the Mt. Spokane State Park, this resort features 1,700 skiable acres, six chairlifts, and averages 300 inches of snowfall each year. It’s not just the quantity of snow the drier east side of Washington is known for—it’s the quality. It’s light and fluffy snow is among the best in the country.
Thanks to a combination of the Great Lakes and cold air from Canada, Michigan offers plenty of options for skiing and riding. In fact, no place throughout the state is more than two hours away from one of the 40 resorts. One of the great skiing areas in the state is the Upper Peninsula.
Marquette Mountain – Marquette
Twenty-four minutes west of Sand River in Michigan’s snowy Upper Peninsula lies Marquette Mountain—169 acres of terrain with a vertical drop of 650 feet. The resort is a great spot for experienced skiers and riders, as 35% of its 35 runs are found in a back-country ski zone. A large portion of the runs are lit for night skiing, and the on-site White Water Café and “T” Bar offer some great refreshments.
Despite the relatively flat topography state-wide, there’s a reason Minnesota has produced some of the best alpine skiers in the country. Part of the reason is that the shorter tracks give skiers the ability to do hundreds of quality runs each day. Another is due to the strong ski culture in Minnesota, along with community and governmental support for the sport.
Buck Hill Ski Resort – Burnsville
A widely known area just outside the Twin Cities is Buck Hill—where ski stars like Lindsey Vonn and Kristina Koznick got their start. The ski and snowboard area offers multiple surface tows, three chairlifts, and lighted night skiing. For freestylers, they also have a new airbag jump which includes a 50-by-50-foot safety cushion to catch riders launching off the 15-foot high snow jump.
Afton Alps – Hastings
One of the best spots in the Midwest for winter outdoor recreation is Afton Alps. Situated in the gorgeous St. Croix River Valley, Afton Alps is owned by Vail Resorts. This ensures state-of-the-art snowmaking and four impressive terrain parks, along with 300 skiable acres, 48 trails, and 18 lifts. Just 30 minutes from the Twin Cities, they also offer rentals, lessons for all levels, and race training.
While the moniker of “America’s Dairyland” makes people think of flat fields and agricultural land, there’s still plenty of downhill action to be had in Wisconsin.
Granite Peak Ski Resort – Wausau
Granite Peak is one of 30 ski and snowboard resorts across the state. It’s also the biggest and the best—complete with a 700-foot vertical drop and over 400 acres of terrain. Due to considerable investment over recent years, it’s now one of the largest ski resorts in the entire Midwest. Granite Peak, located in the beautiful Rib Mountain State Park, also has one of the best lift networks in the region. Its 75 trails are easily accessible to skiers and riders of all abilities, and the extensive snowmaking and north-facing slopes ensure beautiful ski conditions for at least six months of the year.
High up in the northeastern corner of the U.S., Maine enjoys stacks of snow during the winter months and has some impressive mountains to ski. The Appalachian Mountains run through the west side of the Pine Tree State, where ski resorts take full advantage of the steep verticals.
Sugarloaf Mountain – Carrabassett Valley
Thirty minutes northwest of North New Portland is the Sugarloaf Mountain—Maine’s biggest winter sports resort and the only one offering lift-serviced ski terrain above the tree line. From the 4,237-foot summit you’ll enjoy stunning views overlooking Carrabassett Valley. The ski village may be small, but it’s well-equipped. There are winter gear shops, delicious restaurants, and a slope-side hotel complete with a massive outdoor hot tub.
New Hampshire’s White Mountains include the tallest peaks in the northeastern U.S., along with plenty of natural snow. One of the many reasons New Hampshire is one of the best states to plan a ski vacation is because many of the major ski resorts are close to one another. Here are a few located near TDS communities.
Mount Sunapee Resort – Newbury
Mount Sunapee, consistently listed among New England’s top ski resorts for snowmaking and grooming, packs 233 acres of skiable terrain onto its 1,500 feet of vertical. The 66 trails are served by 10 lifts, including two high-speed quads to the summit. Snowboarders appreciate Bob Skinner’s 603 Terrain Park, with 50 terrain features, a 4,000-watt sound system, and dedicated triple chair to access the park.
Mount Sunapee is also a fantastic place to learn to ski or snowboard, complete with a designated learning area on South Peak, separate from the main mountain.
King Pine – Madison
Thirty minutes northeast of Melvin Village lies one of the sweetest little ski mountains in the northeast. King Pine, part of an old-fashioned, family-oriented resort called Purity Spring Resort, is a popular destination due to its impeccable beauty. The runs are short (only a 500-foot vertical) but each one is a beautiful trail carved through pine woods, offering a surprising variety of terrain and difficulty levels for skiers and snowboarders.
As expected at a family resort, the learning program is excellent. An alpine ski ticket also includes cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating.
Gunstock Mountain Resort – Gilford
Eighteen minutes northwest of Alton is the Gunstock Mountain Resort—a four-season mountain resort that offers authentic eastern mountain skiing and riding. With panoramic views over Lake Winnipesaukee—New Hampshire’s largest lake—Gunstock Mountain makes the most of its 1,400-foot vertical drop. In addition to skiing and riding, Gunstock has a massive tubing park. When the weather is warmer, the mountain is also home to one of the nation’s longest ziplines and a weekend mountain coaster.
By Garrett Seymour, TDS Communications Intern