The Slopes Are Calling: Social Distance at These Spectacular Ski Destinations
As winter cloaks much of the country in sparkling snow and a new year begins, now is an ideal time to start planning a slope-side getaway. To help you out with any of those planning needs, we’d love to introduce you to one of our exciting tools on VacationRenter: the “ski-in / ski-out” filter.
After all, skiing and snowboarding already involve masks, gloves, fresh air, and wide-open spaces. There are also plenty of other activities available for those less inclined towards the slopes. Of course, before picking your perfect mountain escape, be sure to check the latest safety procedures and ski reservation policies.
Rocky Mountain Magic: Breckenridge, Colorado
Sky-high altitude doesn’t mean a serious attitude at this mining-turned-ski destination. It’s a genuine town with actual locals, and western flair rooted in its mid-19th century, gold- and silver-spurred past. “Breck” sits at an elevation of 9,603 feet, and the resort’s base — a short hop from the charming historic town center — has five interconnected and lofty peaks (the highest of which tops out at 12,998 feet).
Steep-and-deep diehards with a soft spot for narrow chutes and cliff-hopping terrain may opt for Peak 6, site of the annual freestyle skiing GoPro Big Mountain Challenge. For safety, be sure to always check the latest advisories and reserve ski days before hitting the slopes. And good news for Epic passholders: Breck is part of the Vail Resorts family of pass-accessible mountains.
Beyond the slopes, Breckenridge has fat-tire biking, Nordic, and sledding fun galore. For those hankering for chef-prepared eats, the quaint town has plenty of restaurants with curbside options. While safety protocols have put the brakes on some of the town’s indoor offerings this winter, BreckCreate still has al fresco happenings for art enthusiasts as well.
Midwest Lake Effect: Traverse City, Michigan
Thanks to chilly air flowing in from Canada and a massive lake in its midst, the Wolverine State is graced with a skier’s No. 1 wish: plentiful snow. Roughly 50 resorts are scattered throughout Michigan, with several top-notch and family-friendly hills in the Traverse City area. What the Lower Peninsula lacks in vertical feet, it makes up for in Michigander hospitality. These folks are downright nice.
For ski-in/ski-out fun, hunker down at beloved Crystal Mountain, or set up basecamp an hour-and-a-half outside the city at the state’s largest resort, Boyne Highlands. Parents Magazine ranked Crystal Mountain one of the “10 Best Winter Resorts for Families,” plus there’s night skiing for hardy types who aren’t averse to cold. Boyne Highlands, which boasts tubing, a zipline, and a significant vertical by Lower Peninsula standards at 552 feet, is open to Ikon Passholders, season pass holders, and lodging guests.
Ski reservations are often required and recommended. Suit up with extra layers in preparation for subzero temps and enjoy the gorgeous lake views from the snowy hilltops.
Uncrowded, Powder-Hound Heaven: Ogden, Utah
Three spectacular resorts surround up-and-coming Ogden, Utah: swanky Snowbasin, which launched onto the map as a host to several 2002 Olympic events; learner-friendly Nordic Valley; and rustic, “Pow-Mow” (a.k.a. Powder Mountain), which makes the most of the Beehive State’s feather-light, deep snow.
For skiers and riders who crave vast terrain and serious depth, Powder Mountain is a must. Cruising 8,464 acres means there’s ample room to social distance and for the powder hungry. Don’t miss a cat ride up to Lightning Ridge for off-piste splendor. Snowbasin is bedecked with similarly fabulous terrain, plus seriously posh lodges. Be sure to take a ride up to the top of Allen’s for jaw-dropping views and to peer down on Grizzly or Wildflower, the Olympic downhill runs. Part of the Powder Pass collection, this affordable resort is a great launching pad for beginners and caters to skiers and riders of all abilities.
Those looking for alternative activities from the slopes should be sure to check out Ogden. Back in 1869, Salt Lake City’s neighbor transformed from a Mormon pioneer settlement to Transcontinental Railroad hub, complete with wild west shenanigans (ahem … booze and outlaws). Since then, Ogden has grown into a wholesome college town with an increasingly urban-chic side.
Wilderness Getaway: Big Sky, Montana
To the southeast, lies Yellowstone National Park. To the northeast, sits Gallatin Canyon. Smack-dab in the heart of gorgeous, unspoiled nature, Big Sky is, well, big. With 5,850 skiable acres, a vertical drop of 4,350 feet, and an 11,166-foot summit at Lone Peak, there’s plenty of room to breathe. The views aren’t too shabby, either.
Accommodating everyone from beginner to advanced skiers, Big Sky Resort has terrain aplenty (roughly 2,000 acres, in case you were wondering). Experts particularly dig the chutes, bowls, and couloirs accessed via the cloud-touching tram. Seven terrain parks keep the young — and young-at-heart — happy. The climate may be chilly and dry, but that’s what creates the snow’s beloved champagne-light consistency. This season, book lift tickets in advance, given the mountain’s potential to limit capacity. Even Ikon and Mountain Collective pass holders should check their pass’ respective reservation policies, so as not to be left sans access on a busy day.
For off-hill activities, try snowmobiling up Buck Ridge or get a Nordic workout on the cross-country tracks of nearby Lone Mountain Ranch. Of course, a short road trip to Yellowstone promises geologic and wildlife wonder — even in the heart of winter.
White Mountain Majesty: North Conway, New Hampshire
Perched at a gateway to the 700,000-acre White Mountain National Forest, the New England town of North Conway has been touted as a top ski destination by both USA Today and National Geographic. Complete with 18th-century colonial architecture, covered bridges, country stores, and a hearty strip of outlet shops, this buzzing town along Route 16 is steeped in early ski history. In fact, the first runs were cut in the 1930s and located within striking distance of seven ski resorts (plus a half-dozen Nordic centers).
Sister resorts, Attitash and Wildcat — both part of the Epic Pass collection — are the bigger players in the area with 68 and 48 trails, respectively. Comprising two mountains, Attitash has a New England-style mix of narrow, old-school trails and wider runs, plus a freestyle terrain park. At Wildcat, the frills are few, but the skiing is legit. The resort has challenging steeps, exceptional views of Mount Washington, and a variety of terrain for beginner and intermediate skiers, too. Closest to North Conway is the oft-overlooked local hill, Cranmore. This petite resort has been operating since 1939 with 170 acres of family-friendly skiing — plus tubing, zip-lining, giant swings, and a mountain coaster to round out the family-friendly action.
Plan Your Next Ski Getaway
There are just so many great options to choose from! Wherever you may go this winter, be sure to check all health and safety protocols in advance, pack a little patience, and check out our “ski-in / ski-out” filter when you look for your perfect rental on VacationRenter.
Being the first to know feels great, don’t you think?
Sign up below to be updated on all the latest news, collections and trends.