Mark off some dates on your calendar and dig into our resort guide for the best snow out-of-state.
1. Big Sky/Moonlight Basin, Montana
NEED TO KNOW: Put together these two resorts in Montana’s Madison Range serve up over 5,800 skiable acres of first class terrain that includes everything from screaming groomers on Andesite Mountain to stashes in the trees on the Shedhorn lift to big scares up in the Big Couloir and North Summit snowfield. Oh, and most powder days you have the place to yourself—there’s no I-70 to bring the masses here.
Don’t Miss: The Big Couloir is the main attraction but the Patrol Gullies also provide big thrills with the whole lift line watching. Those seeking a bit less action can check out the newly gladed terrain off the Southern Comfort chair.
Good Stuff: Just down the road from the mountain, Buck’s T-4 (buckst4.com) is the best place to stay and eat casual or foodie-pleasing meals.
Passes: You won’t find a whole lot of deals off the $103 day rate, but some ski-and-stay packages offer discounts. Look for them at bigskyresort.com.
2. Snowbird/Alta, Utah
NEED TO KNOW: You come here because you want snow, goddamn it! And indeed you will find it,at the tune of 513 annual inches.
Don’t Miss: Do buy the pass to both resorts. They each have their own personality (Alta more core, Snowbird more scene), unless you are a snowboarder (still banned at Alta). At Snowbird, follow the locals down under the steep, long line that roughly follows the tram line. At Alta, the Baldy Chutes offer up big lines. The no man’s land between Alta and Snowbird often gets blown-in snow on the rare days it doesn’t dump here.
Good Stuff: Party options are limited, though the Peruvian at Alta is always abuzz. Your best bets are down in Salt Lake—try Squatters brew upb (squatters.com). Best of all, you can ride public transportation straight from downtown (and even now from the airport) to both resort base areas.
Passes: You’re in with the Mountain Collective (mountaincollective.com) or Monarch Pass.
3. Squaw, California
NEED TO KNOW: It’s feast or famine at Squaw—you could be in for the best day of your life or… it could be a bony winter like last season. But even if the snow gods do not cooperate, there is plenty or terrain here to keep you on your toes and more than enough scene at Tahoe to entertain.
Don’t Miss: The Palisades are where ski pornstars have been showing off their stuff since the days of Greg Stump. It’s worth watching the huckfest even if you don’t partake in it. If you are faced with hard snow, seek out southern exposures, like Powerline Face, and stick to them. Over at Alpine Valley, the scene is far more chill—but the terrain is not. Hop over the backside of Ward Peak for big open bowls. A shuttle bus links both resorts.
Good Stuff: Le Chamois right at the base hathe best be-seen scene of any mountain, anywhere.
Passes: The Mountain Collective (mountaincollective.com) gives you days here.
4. Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico
NEED TO KNOW: Taos is not all that far away. It’s also steep, and on a good day, it’s pure white room nirvana. On a bad day? Well few “ski towns” can compare to this one where you can see D.H. Lawrence’s banned art or feast on green chili.
Don’t Miss: The loclals are not thrilled about the new Kachina chair, which allows for a far easier hike to access the goods off the famed Ridge here. But you are not a local, so just enjoy lapping it. If the resort hasn’t seen snow in a while, you can head to the outstanding Enchanted Forest (enchantedforestxc.com) an hour north to get yournordork on.
Good Stuff: Head into town for real New Mexican food at the Guadalajara Grill (guadalajaragrilltaos.com), where they serve up big, casual portions. If you want to really blow it out, throw down at El Meze (elmeze.com), where “rustic comfort food” is a fine art.
Passes: Taos offers exchange days with Copper Mountain, Durango Mountain Resort, Crested Butte, Arapahoe Basin and Silverton Mountain (Powder Mountain in Utah, too). skitaos.org/page/
5. Powder Mountain, Utah
NEED TO KNOW: Every other resort in the Beehive State seems to get lots of love. For some reason, Powder still flies under the radar. It may be a bit more out of the way than the Salt Lake City and Park City resorts, but that’s a good thing. There are 7,000 acres of in- and out-of-bounds terrain here, all of it receiving snow at the tune of 500 inches every year. And, John Gault types rejoice—you don’t haveto share any of it.
Don’t Miss: Why stay in-bounds? You can dive into 700 acres of pow on the $18 per ride Lightning Ridge Snowcat. Or The Snowcat Powder Safari puts you out in 3,000 acres of white magic with a price tag of $450 a set in the high season.
Good Stuff: You came here for the snow, not the scene. The Powder Keg bar is all you’ve got.
Passes: There are no partner resorts but lift tickets run a reasonable $69/day.
6. Park City Mountain Resort/The Canyons, Utah
NEED TO KNOW: Since Park City and The Canyons are now owned by Vail Resorts, a whole lot of Utah just opened up to the Colorado faithful. Combine that promise of powder to the party scene of Park City (the only true place to rage in Utah) and you have the recipe for an easy vacation.
Don’t Miss: When it comes to Park City Resort, Jupiter Bowl is the place to hone in on. Hike out Pinecone Ridge when it opens up. Ski powder. Repeat. Ninety-nine 90 will bring you to the steep and deep at The Canyons.
Good Stuff: It’s difficult to find a cheap room during the Sundance Film Festival, but you will have the slopes all to yourself. You also have the chance to enjoy the fest. For booze, High West Distillery (highwest.com) is right at the bottom of the lift.
Passes: Unlimited skiing and snowboarding at both resorts on your Vail Epic pass!
7. Heavenly, California
NEED TO KNOW: Heavenly may not have the steeps or fame of other Tahoe resorts, but it has more action than any ski town around. Blame (or should we say, thank) South Lake Tahoe, a.k.a Vegas in the mountains.
Don’t Miss: As with all Tahoe resorts, its either on or… it’s cement. You can find the goods if you venture out the Mott and Killebrew gates off the summit of Monument Peak, even on down days.
Good Stuff: South Lake Tahoe is the type of place that can get you in trouble in a hurry—and who can resist Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo (harveystahoe.com).
Passes: The Vail Epic pass gets you in here.