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The Best Ski and Snowboard Destinations in the U.S.

Best Ski Vacations

If you didn’t have a chance to make it to the mountain yet this season — it’s not too late. While it may be heating up in some cities and states, it’s still prime ski and snowboard season at many resorts in North America. So quit delaying. Grab some friends, or fly solo, and head to any of these late-season ski and snowboard destinations. With views this breathtaking, terrain this challenging, and conditions so incredible, good luck picking just one!

Heavenly Mountain

Photo by Corey Rich

1. Heavenly

Location: South Shore, Lake Tahoe
Open for snow sports from November until April, Heavenly has the highest summit in the Lake Tahoe region. Think 4,000 acres of the longest runs and for advanced skiers there are numerous technical courses filled with steep chutes and moguls upon moguls. Guests can choose from the many lakeside resort options like The Landing Resort and Spa or MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa. At Heavenly, you’ll find a perfect mix of natural beauty on the slopes, followed by lively nightlife in the casino atmosphere, gambling or dancing the night away.

Squaw

Photo by Jeff Engerbretson

2. Squaw Valley

Location: North Shore, Lake Tahoe
Spanning 6,000 acres, this mountain, in conjunction with it’s sister resort Alpine Meadows, gives visitors the largest skiable terrain for a single lift ticket (most require more). Squaw was even home to the 1960 Olympics because if it’s world-class skiing reputation. One of their resorts, The Village at Squaw Valley, underwent room renovations just this season, adding luxuries like full kitchens and fireplaces. They also recently unveiled a new Wanderlust Yoga Studio. Or, for some extra pampering, choose to stay at the Resort at Squaw Creek where you can enjoy numerous spa treatments après ski.

Vail

Photo by Jack Affleck

3. Vail Mountain

Location: Vail, Colorado
Vail is one of the largest ski resorts in the U.S., known for it’s legendary Black Bowls and Blue Sky Basin terrain. Just this year, the mountain replaced two chairlifts with new ones on the east side of the mountain, the Highline Express Lift and the Sourdough Express Lift — totaling 31 lifts. Pros like Lindsey Vonn come to train at Vail during the early season, though the 193-run mountain stays open until the end of April. Terrain ranges from beginner to expert and extreme so there’s something for everyone. And for their 50th anniversary last season, they opened the state-of-the-art Gondola One, the first and fastest in America with heated seats and Wi-Fi.

Snowmass, Aspen

Photo courtesy of Snowmass Mountain

4. Snowmass

Location: Aspen, Colorado
What used to be a ranching community now is home to one of America’s favorite mountains. Snowmass is the largest of Aspen’s four mountains with a whopping vertical drop of 4,406 feet. Translation: Traveling to the top of the hill’s 154 miles of trails could take close to a half hour to ride down. That means you won’t spend all day on the 21 chairlifts. Snowmass has three terrain parks, one superpipe and one beginner pipe as well.

Deer Valley

Photo courtesy of Deer Valley

5. Deer Valley

Location: Deer Valley, Utah
Calling all skiers! Deer Valley is one of the last ski-only mountains that still remain (sorry Shaun White). With over 2,000 acres of terrain and 21 chairlifts, you won’t find yourself waiting in line too long to reach the peak. And for the foodies: Deer Valley is known for having some of the best meals of any ski resort in Utah. Grab a bite at base in their Snow Park Restaurant or mid-mountain at Silver Lake Restaurant. Deer Valley was also home to the 2014 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup from January 8 to 11.

Canyons Resort

Photo by Scott Markewitz

6. Canyons Resort

Location: Park City, Utah
Canyons is the largest snow sports mountain in Utah with a summit elevation of almost 10,000 feet. The diversity of runs attracts a wide range of clientele from first-timers, to families, to pros (with 10 percent beginner runs, 44 percent intermediate, and 46 percent expert). The mountain is a half-hour from the airport as well as a half-hour from downtown Salt Lake City. (Beware: If you’re headed out there at the end of January, Sundance Film Festival is in session so expect a lot of people and a lot going on). Canyons gets an average snowfall of 355 inches a year, almost definitely bound for good conditions all season long.

Steamboat

Photo courtesy of Steamboat

7. Steamboat

Location: Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Three hours northwest of Denver you’ll find a complete mountain range, with about 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. Though a few of Steamboat’s 165 trails are set for beginners, almost 90 percent of the runs are labeled intermediate or advanced. The mountain’s superpipe, Mavericks, is 450-feet long and 56-feet wide — perfection for those looking to focus on tricks during the day. Enjoy Steamboat’s Sunday tradition of brunch on the mountain, or ride the Gondola up the hill to toast Sunset Happy Hour.

Breckenridge Mountain

Photo by Liam Doran

8. Breckenridge

Location: Breckenridge, Colorado
Breck is home to the highest chairlift in North America, which takes you to the mountain’s longest run, “4 O’Clock,” 3.5 miles in length. The mountain is family-friendly, offering a good split between beginners, more difficult, most difficult and expert trails. Just this season they opened Peak 6, the largest resort expansion in the last decade (550 new acres), including lift-to and hike-to terrain. Breck is open from November to April, with an average of 300 days of sunshine a year. There’s nothing like shredding the gnar on a gorgeous, sunny day.

Jackson Hole Mountain

Photo courtesy of Jackson Hole Mountain

9. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Location: Teton Village, Wyoming
If you’re looking for a real challenging mountain, head out to Jackson and have the option of skiing or boarding either Rendezvous or Après Vous, totaling 116 runs. In-bounds terrain for the mountains takes up about 2,500 acres, plus they have open backcountry access of over 3,000 acres. The hill’s Aerial Tram, aka Big Red, takes visitors up more than 4,000 vertical feet in nine minutes. Boarding is allowed on the entire mountain, plus there’s a superpipe and two terrain parks, one beginner and one expert, which skiers can use as well. The mountain offers ski school as well as tours of the mountain.

Whistler

Photo courtesy of Whistler

10. Whistler

Location: Coast Mountain Range, British Columbia
Between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, visitors can experience a premier snow sport destination of more than 8,000 acres of terrain, linked by the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Talk about a good view! And even with 37 lifts for the 200-plus trails, it would take way more than one trip to ride them all. Being that Whistler is in British Columbia, there’s an average snowfall of about 39 feet a season, so you’re bound to ski some fresh powder. Hoping for a lengthy run? With a vertical rise of over 5,000 feet, you’re looking at a seven-mile run from top to bottom. The majority of both mountains’ runs are intermediate, though there are beginner and expert trails as well.

Mount Snow

Photo courtesy of Mount Snow

11. Mount Snow

Location: West Dover, Vermont
For those east coast riders who are looking to stay “local,” Mount Snow has 588 acres of trails with 20 lifts mountain-wide. This is the perfect place for a comfortable skier or boarder, as 70 percent of the runs are intermediate. And if the weather isn’t cooperating when you decide to visit, Mount Snow is able to “make” snow for 80 percent of the mountain. The resort also has a tubing park just below the Grand Summit Hotel in case you need a break from being on your legs all day. Just keep in mind, the lifts close at 4 pm.

What’s your favorite ski or snowboard destination? Find out more about these mountains and get help planning your trip by heading to ski.com.

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