Our picks for the best ski resorts to experience or visit right now

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Whether you’re taking your job remote and moving to the mountains, or looking to plan a ski trip somewhere new, choosing the right ski resort comes with a lot of options and a lot of responsibility. Do you want to be nestled deep in a mountain range away from the madding crowds? Or do you need to be near a major airport and have fast, reliable Wi-Fi? What’s your preference when it comes to hitting the slopes: a big ski resort, a small local hill, or good backcountry access (or all three)? And can you contribute to the city community responsibly without adding to the housing crisis, congestion and staff shortages that many mountain towns are experiencing these days?

To determine our favorite ski resorts, we looked at a variety of factors, including accommodation, availability of accommodation, cost of living, and whether a wide range of accessible ski terrain for all abilities is offered. There isn’t a North American mountain center that hasn’t felt the crisis of the pandemic, but these places – from a White Mountains outpost on the East Coast to a relatively low-key gateway in Colorado – are quieter alternatives to the ever-popular ski destinations. .

North Conway, New Hampshire

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In the heart of the White Mountains, North Conway shines as a community-driven town with wide access to a wealth of downhill and Nordic skiing options. There are seven affordable family resorts within 30 minutes of downtown, including Attitash Mountain, Cranmore Mountain, Wildcat, Shawnee Peak and Black Mountain. Start your ski day with pastries at the Underground Bakery and Café and finish with nachos at the Shannon Door. While North Conway’s population has grown during the pandemic, which has taken a toll on housing, you can still find an apartment for rent near the heart of things, and the average home sells for around $360,000. On top of that, it’s the epicenter of East Coast backcountry skiing, with terrain above the treeline on Mount Washington and new association-maintained glade areas at North Conway-based nonprofit Granite Backcountry Alliance, which also hosts the Mt. Washington Backcountry Festival from Feb. 24-27.

Whitefish, Montana

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It might be the remote northern location of the town of Whitefish or the under-the-radar vibe of its ski area, but Whitefish Mountain Resort sees far fewer crowds than famed Montana destinations like Big Sky. With easy access to nearby Kalispell Airport and the wild vastness of Glacier National Park to the east, this location isn’t hard to get to but feels secluded. Housing availability is certainly an issue here too, and house prices have skyrocketed during the pandemic, but residents are banding together to create solutions, such as asking employers to provide housing for the workforce. The resort offers 3,000 skiable acres and an average of 300 inches of snow a year, so there’s plenty of powder to go around, or book a guided backcountry tour outside the gates with Whitefish Vertical Adventures. A new chair for six people in the base area should be installed next winter, speeding up access to the high mountains.

Huntsville, UT

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The nearby small towns of Huntsville, Eden and Liberty operate as a larger community in the greater Ogden Valley. Housing prices are on the rise, but it’s still much more affordable here, not to mention it’s less crowded, than Utah hotspots like Park City or areas closer to the canyons. Big or Little Cottonwood. Lots of people settle here for farming and ranching, not for skiing, but you can’t beat the access to skiing: Powder Mountain and Snowbasin for empty land and virgin snow, and Nordic Valley for kid-friendly slopes and beloved night skiing. Salt Lake City airport is less than an hour away and the town of Ogden is 20 minutes down the canyon. If you’re visiting, stay at the Compass Rose Lodge (from $219) in Huntsville.

Leavenworth, Washington

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If you love Bavarian architecture and deep powder, look no further than Leavenworth, a hidden gem of a ski resort in the Cascade Range, about two hours east of Seattle. Stevens Pass is the biggest ski resort nearby, but Leavenworth Ski Hill in town offers great beginner slopes and day tickets start at just $24. Or take a day trip to ski at Mission Ridge in Wenatchee, less than an hour away. In Leavenworth, you’ll find locals grabbing breakfast sandwiches at Argonaut Cafe before heading up the hill, then joining Yodelin for après-ski cocktails and bowls of rice. The RV Park (from $49) at Stevens Pass fills up with families and ski enthusiasts every weekend, offering one of the coolest ski-in, ski-out parking scenes in the Northwest.

Waitsfield, Vermont

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Waitsfield is a quintessential New England farming town with excellent access to the ski slopes. Mad River Glen, with its historic skier-only vibe, and Sugarbush, with its slopeside hotels and legendary slopes under the Castlerock Chair, are nearby. The larger Mad River Valley is a worthy alternative to Killington and Stowe if you’re looking to avoid the masses and find untracked snow, but, again, accommodation is an issue here. Help cut through traffic by hopping on the Mad Bus for free service to ski areas during the winter. Grab a room at Mad River Barn (from $185), eat tacos at Mad Taco, and buy cans of Sip of Sunshine IPA at Lawson’s at the end of the day.

Nelson, British Columbia

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Nelson might be a ski town, thanks to its proximity to excellent slopes at nearby Whitewater Ski Resort and Red Mountain, but this place has so much more to do. Between music festivals and a thriving food and arts scene, Nelson feels like a fine little town in a stunning mountain setting on the shores of Kootenay Lake. You’ll enjoy charming historic homes, tucked away French bakeries, and lake-view hot springs. Start with a café in Oso Negro, then head to Whitewater, where you’ll come to ski but where you should stay for lunch: the Fresh Tracks Café in the base lodge serves good food.

Taos, New Mexico

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People forget that New Mexico has big snow-capped mountains, but in Taos those thorny peaks are hard to miss. When a storm hits the southwest, the steep slopes of the Taos Ski Valley ridge offer some of the best skiing south of the Rockies. Later in the season, you can take a lift up to 12,481 feet – the summit of Kachina Peak – or descend the groomers for a lunch of schnitzel and beer mugs on the terrace of the Bavarian restaurant. Stay slopeside at the Blake Hotel (from $425) or rent an off-the-grid Earthship for the night outside of Taos Town, a funky artist enclave. The gentler, kid-friendly slopes of Angel Fire are 40 minutes away, or head to Ski Santa Fe, two hours south, for mid-mountain green chili stew and a liberal climb policy.

Girdwood, Alaska

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Do you really want to get away? Welcome to Girdwood. Just 40 minutes from Anchorage, this ski resort located at the foot of the Alyeska resort town has a wild and unpretentious atmosphere. The mountain receives 650 inches of snow annually and you can ski in powder under the lights during a storm, as the bottom of the mountain remains open for night skiing until 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Post to the Alyeska Hotel (from $239), which features a new Nordic spa, mesmerizing saltwater pool, and easy access to the 60-person aerial tram that takes you to the top of the mountain. Don’t miss the bottomless soup and gooey cinnamon rolls at the Bake Shop at the base of the hill.

Truckee, California

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The main reason we love Truckee is the multitude of ski runs nearby. In one direction, you can ride a historic gondola and find empty tracks at Sugar Bowl or hit the park or practice your tricks on the trampolines at Woodward Tahoe in Boreal. In the other direction, you can rip the endless snow groomers at Northstar or head up Lake Tahoe to the legendary Palisades Tahoe Twin Mountains. Plus, there’s backcountry terrain off Donner Summit, Mount Rose, or the western shore of Lake Tahoe, all within easy driving distance of downtown Truckee. Access is key here too: you can be at the Reno airport in less than an hour or the San Francisco Bay area in three. Truckee’s food and drink scene has grown in recent years, with the addition of spots like Great Gold, Good Wolf Brewing and Como, all local favorites. Before you come, learn about sustainability efforts in the Truckee-Tahoe area, including park-and-ride services to ski resorts, electric vehicle charging stations, and sustainability gift cards. And hotel brand Gravity Haus recently took over ownership of the Cedar House Sport Hotel, so look for that option next winter.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

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Colorado has so many world-class ski resorts, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Still, Steamboat Springs stands out because it looks like a place where normal people can live. It has a thriving downtown with a vibrant western heritage, and everything from cabins, guest ranches and ski-friendly motels to suit a range of budgets. When it comes to skiing, there’s powder-filled glades at Shadows and Closets at Steamboat Resort, or learn to ski without losing big bucks: at Howelson Hill, the nation’s oldest continuously operating ski area , tickets start at $39, and it’s located right in town. . To earn your turns, head to Bluebird Backcountry, a ski area with marked trails and guided options 30 minutes southeast. And be that conscientious skier: learn how to visit responsibly, including leaving no trace, using public transport and supporting local efforts.