6 of the best ski resorts in North America

Nights are drawing in and frost is in the air.  Time to be thinking about where to ski this season. Forget Brexit, forget the US election; get out the wax and get planning. For the best skiing in North America  you have to head to the west, to the Rockies and beyond.  Here is where you can find unlimited powder, wonderful lift systems, almost no queuing just miles and miles of wonderful groomed runs often surrounded by bowls and bowls of untracked snow.  Heli-skiing is available in many of the resorts just to add the icing on the cake. Once the sun is down, the apres-ski begins with any number of watering holes, restaurants and night clubs to tempt you.

Jackson Hole in the early morning

I have chosen just six resorts which between them reflect the variety of North American skiing.  From the natural beauty of Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies to the glitz and glamour of Aspen, there truly is something for everyone.

Whistler, B.C.

Ski Magazine voted Whistler #1 in North America again for 2017, adding to the multitude of awards the resort has won since its inception. And no wonder; over 200 beautifully groomed runs, powder-filled back bowls and the longest and highest gondola in the world are just the tip of the iceberg (metaphorically speaking!)  There is heli- and cat-skiing, the chance to the see the bobsleigh and skeleton courses from the 2010 Olympics, ziplining, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and dozens of other activities for the skier and non-skier.

Whistler 7th Heaven

The village is split into three sections each with its own lift systems combining at various points to allow seamless skiing over both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.  Whistler Creekside is the quietest part of the resort with some of the best restaurants. If you want to be part of the action, then Whistler Village is the place to be with myriad bars, restaurants, shops and night clubs.  Blackcomb has most of the self-catering accommodation as well as the best of the hotels.  Both the Four Seasons and the Fairmont are in the Upper Village as it is known.  Much of Whistler’s accommodation is ski-in/ski out and on the free shuttle route.

Breckenridge, Colorado

Colorado is known for its “fourteeners”; 53 peaks that rise 14,000 feet or higher.  From Breck (as it is known locally)  you can see three of them, Quandary, Grays Peak and Torreys Peak. Breckenridge is the epitome of a Western town with its gold mining heritage and superb skiing that makes it the American resort most popular with British skiers.  The 2,908 acres of skiing is spread over 5 peaks all serviced with high speed lifts and immaculately groomed.  29% of the resort is groomed each day but if your preference is for some off-piste excitement head for the glades and bowls.

Breckenridge

The atmosphere of Breckenridge is lively and yet laid back.  There are some luxury properties such as One Ski Hill Place as well as a good number of condos, plenty of restaurants to choose from and a thriving craft beer industry.  There is also  the Breckenridge distillery in town which offers an apres-ski tour with a difference.

Lake Louise, Alberta

We all know that mountains are beautiful, but for me Lake Louise is the most beautiful of them all.  Deep in the Canadian Rockies, the peaks are jagged poking their heads up into an impossibly blue sky, the lake is frozen and the dogs are waiting with their sleds to take you for a ride.  Add to this the other two resorts skied on the Tri-Area Pass, Sunshine Village and Mount Norquay and you have a winning combination.  Lake Louise prides itself on its lack of queues. They have the promise that if you have to wait more than 10 minutes to get on the lift from the base, the price of your ticket will be refunded.  Apparently, this has never been claimed.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise is an excellent resort for families with a renowned day care centre for infants as young as 18 days old and ski school for the older children. Accommodation can either be in the village where the Swiss-owned Relais & Chateaux property, the Post is a favourite, or up at the lake is the classical Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.  Neither is far from the ski slopes and your lift tickets includes the cost of the transfers from your hotel.

Revelstoke, B.C.

Revelstoke is a resort for keen and accomplished skiers.  Most of the accommodation is in the town which was founded in the late 1800s when the railway was being pushed through to the west, it then became a mining town and only fairly recently became a ski town.  For a long time, Revelstoke was only known by the lucky locals and heli-skiers but in 2007 Revelstoke Mountain opened with a new gondola and the most vertical in North America. It also has a heli-ski operator and a cat-skiing operator so there is a wealth of skiing and boarding as well as a funky town to explore.  The luxurious Sutton Place is currently the only on-mountain hotel; the town is a 7-minute drive away.

Revelstoke

Aspen, Colorado

Ski resort to the stars but the sky is definitely not the limit for us mere mortals. Aspen came into existence as a mining town, silver this time not gold as is the case for so many resorts.   But that was 130 years ago;  today it is home to dozens of restaurants, bars and hotels of all standards all of which have access to its 5,500 ski acres spread across four mountains.  One of Aspen’s many joys is that it is only 10 minutes from the airport – a sheer delight after a long flight. To add to the pleasures of skiing are night time dinners such as the Cloud Nine Alpine bistro with access only by snowcat or perhaps leaning about the mountain ecology, flora and fauna by snowshoe.

Aspen

As befits its celebrity status, there are wonderful hotels such as the legendary Little Nell and the St Regis in Aspen village as well as very comfortable condos over at Snowmass; quieter and better suited to families.  It really does not matter where you stay as everywhere is within easy reach of the four mountains all of which can be skied on the one pass.

Jackson Hole

One of the most iconic of all US ski resorts.  Set in the middle of the beautiful Teton Mountains, Jackson Hole has stunning and challenging skiing which can be combined with time in Yellowstone National Park watching wolves, a trip to Hawaii or even Los Angeles. Jackson Hole is two villages. Teton Mountain Village is at the base of the skiing and where you will find the Four Seasons Hotel and the Snake River Lodge plus a good selection of restaurants and bars.

Jackson Hole Corbets

Shops include the Wool and Whiskey where men can select their clothing whilst tasting some excellent whiskeys. Jackson Hole village is the historic centre, very busy during the summer months with visitors enjoying the mountains and scenery but rather more peaceful in the winter months. The historic hotel here is the Wort built in 1941 and famous for its Silver Dollar Bar.

Jackson Hole Tram

It was hard to choose just six resorts out of the dozens that exist but I hope you enjoyed reading about them.  Please let me know your top 6.

Sandra Potter is Founder of Frontier Travel.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Dana Freeman says:

    Don’t discount Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont! In the last several years they have transformed the hotel and resort area to include amazing amenities that are on par, if not better, then with the aforementioned ski areas. Give skiing on the east coast a try.

  2. Phillip says:

    I really enjoyed reading these suggestions. Jackson Hole gets my vote, especially as I am reading about this exciting general area in the Lewis and Clark expedition.

  3. Sandra Potter says:

    Hi Phillip, Thanks for that – Jackson Hole is indeed a special place, winter and summer.

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