USA Ski Holidays Guide

USA Ski Holidays Guide

The US of A. The country of endless possibilities and the land in which dreams come true. And for the keen skier or rider, a holiday in the United States really is what dreams are made of. With a vast and growing selection of resorts to chose from, there’s sure to be a resort to suit your party, no matter what the differing level of ability may be. And with favourble exchange rates, accommodation and food prices that tend to be cheaper than in European resorts, the USA is attracting more and more European ski travellers each year. So check out our guides, decide on the resort for you and your group, and get booking!

Contents of this guide:

Skiing & Snowboarding in the USA

Much like Canada, the US’ resorts are famed for their organisation. Due to the fact that many of the resorts are new and purpose built for skiers and riders, the lift infrastructure is spot on, with fast, efficient lifts ferrying winter sports enthusiasts to the top of well groomed or well maintained terrain. Likewise, restaurants are well organised and cater to all tastes and budgets.

In fact, the organisation and ‘guest services’ are such that many of the resorts in the US offer hot drinks (such as hot chocolate or hot apple cider) and cookies at the top or bottom of the popular lifts. Perfect after an early morning, high speed cruise on a freshly groomed piste!

Away from the slopes, the hotels in many of the USA’s resorts are world class, with all the modern facilities and creature comforts that many of todays winter sports holiday makers demand. Although the European resorts are catching up in this regard, North American destinations are still the preferred resorts for groups that include non-skiers, what with the availability of spa treatments and excellent shopping facilities.

But let’s not forget what it’s all about: away from the glitzy hotels, the spa facilities and good restaurants, the USA has some wonderful terrain, offering the pros steeps, bowls and glades, whilst beginners and intermediates can spend the day cruising about on wide open pistes beneath bright blue skies.

Aspen

If there’s one North American ski resort that you’re sure to have heard of, it’s Aspen. This resort, nestled high in Colorado’s hills, epitomises twenty-first century glamour. Celebrities, wealthy families, holiday makers and ski bums all vie for space in one of the most recognisable locations on Earth. What Monte Carlo is to the French Riviera, Aspen is to the ski resorts of North America.

This small town hosts fine restaurants, beautiful hotels and an array of expensive designer shops, making it a wonderful resort for those preferring off-slope activities. That being said, the four ski hills accessible from Aspen (Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Snowmass and Buttermilk) offer a vast array or terrain for all levels. Buttermilk’s low altitude, gentle pistes and family facilities make it ideal for first timers and families, whilst Aspen Highlands offers some of the best terrain a North American ski holiday can offer.

Whatever your group wants from a winter vacation, you’ll all be sure to get it in Aspen.

Vail

Much like many other North American resorts, Vail has attracted a reputation for being a somewhat glamorous town. Whilst this is a well deserved reputation, make no mistake of the fact that Vail is a great location for skiers and riders of all abilities. In fact, if it’s quiet groomers or untracked powder that you live for, then Vail may well be the winter destination for you. On a quiet day, the resort boasts an average skier to terrain ratio of just two skiers to each acre of terrain! Whilst not many other resorts publish figures with which to compare, we can assure you that on a visit to Vail you’ll never suffer from the feeling that the resort is overcrowded.

As with all North American resorts, the facilities are second to none, with on mountain dining ranging from sumptuous gourmet restaurants to fast food canteens – with everything in between! If you’re after good food and plenty of open space, we assure that you wont go hungry in Vail!

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is not a single ski hill, it’s a collection of seven different ski resorts all located on the shores of beautiful Lake Tahoe. Of the seven, Squaw Valley, Heavenly & Alpine Meadows would make fantastic destination in their own right: with all seven, Tahoe has to be towards the top of any list of those heading trans-Atlantic for their next winter holiday.

We won’t go in to the detail of what’s on offer. The seven resorts cover such a vast selection of terrain that, if you can’t fins what you’re looking for here, then you probably wont find it in any other ski resort! But think deep snow, steep chutes, corduroy groomers and gentle beginner runs overlooking the deep blue Lake Tahoe and you’ll begin to get the picture.

Jackson Hole

Boasting 2,500 acres of terrain split over 2 mountains (quaintly named Apres Vous and Rendevous), Jackson Hole ski resort has more than 100 groomed pistes. But it isn’t the pistes that really set Jackson apart from other resorts; it’s the awesome access to backcountry that attracts the expert skier and rider. For those that like to earn their descent with a hike, Jackson Hole is a great choice. There’s also a decent amount of terrain for beginners with almost 50% of marked terrain suitable for beginners and intermediates.

There’s plenty of nightlife in and around the Teton Mountains catering to groups of hard core party animals and families after a decent meal and a few drinks. March sees the Mountain Festival, a great event staged against an incredibly beautiful backdrop – and again, it’s a great event for all with various artists and performers.

Getting to the USA

Nearly all of the winter resorts in the USA are serviced by direct flights from the UK. One of the exceptions is Aspen and some of the other resorts located in Colorado, which will usually require a change at Denver International Airport, but don’t let this put you off as the journey will soon be forgotten when you emerge into the crisp mountain air.

Lake Tahoe is serviced by Reno-Tahoe International Airport, an hour or so away from Tahoe itself, and many UK visitors will first fly to one of the Californian/Nevadan international airports.

Due to the nature of the classic North American ski vacation, many of the package holidays will include direct flights and transfers designed to keep travel time to a minimum, allowing you maximum time on piste! Check out our individual resort guides for precise details on the best way to access each ski resort.

Traveling in or Between the USA’s Resorts

An option becoming more and more popular with holiday makers is to visit more than one resort during the course of a stay, partly due to the fact that ski tourists visiting from the UK will opt for ten days or a fortnight on the slopes, thus allowing time for a short road trip.

USA car hire from National firms like Alamo and Hertz allows you to pick up your car in one resort and drop off in another and as fuel prices are lower in the US than Europe this may work out an affordable transport option if you’re travelling with the family or in a larger group.

However, if you do decide to visit multiple resorts, we would suggest selecting only those that are easily accessible from one another. Due to the vast distances between some states, it will simply not be sensible to attempt to combine them in a short trip. That said, a week in Aspen followed by a week in Vail may be one of the best ways imaginable to spend 14 days! In fact, many of the tour operators now recognise that those making a trip across the Atlantic wish to see as much as they can in the time available and therefore offer multi-centre packages with travel between resorts organised. So kick back, study the piste map on the flight over and get ready for an epic winter holiday!