From challenging slopes to tranquil snowscapes, visit some of the best places in America to stay active this winter.
Fresh powder could be just the ticket for a fresh perspective on 2017. Snow transforms the landscape and offers opportunities for both quiet contemplation and test-your-mettle adventure. Whether you live in warmer climes or are seeking a vacation spot that’s snowier than your hometown, there are destinations all across the United States to satisfy your craving for a meditative hike or an adrenaline rush. These locales offer the perfect setting for winter activities, from skiing and snowboarding to snowshoeing and ice climbing to keep you outdoors and active in the colder months.
With 26 ski resorts throughout the state, Colorado is often considered America’s No. 1 destination to hit the slopes. There’s high-end Aspen, college-kid-favorite Breckenridge andchallenging Telluride, but the granddaddy of Colorado resorts is Vail.
With 5,289 acres of skiable terrain and 193 runs, Vail is the largest ski and snowboarding resort in the state. The village at the base of the mountain is as well-known as the slopes for its good food and charming streets, making it the perfect place to unwind after a long day on the hills.
Ski enthusiasts on the East Coast need go no farther than Stowe, Vermont, to get their winter fix. Stowe offers a respectable 116 trails — 87 of which are suitable for beginner to intermediate skiers and snowboarders. The resort is only a several-hour drive from most of New England, making it ideal for quick weekend trips. If you’d rather head up the hill than slide down, check out the many options for ice climbing, including lessons for first-time climbers.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a dream destination for more experienced skiers and snowboarders who are looking for a challenge. Fifty percent of the resort’s trails are rated expert, 40 percent are intermediate and only 10 percent are for beginners.
For thrill-seekers itching for more hang time than the natural slopes allow, Jackson Hole has two terrain parks, four Burton Stash parks and a half-pipe. Jackson Hole is also a great destination for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and hiking at the surrounding Grand Teton and Yellowstone national Parks, as well as the National Elk Refuge.
Powder Mountain, Utah
As of 2016, Powder Mountain boasts the title of largest ski resort in the United States. The park spans more than 7,000 acres of skiable terrain with 144 runs. Adventurers who want to go off the beaten path can opt for back-country tours, accessing the park’s steepest terrain with drops up to 3,400 feet. At only 55 miles outside Salt Lake City, the park is as accessible as it is expansive while still offering enough activities to warrant a multi-day visit.
Don’t want to ski or snowboard? Hit the park’s multiuse trails on a “fat bike,” mountain bikes with oversized tires meant to traverse snow, for a unique physical challenge.
Alpine skiers have three choices for slopes a mere stone’s throw away from downtown Anchorage: Hilltop Ski Area, Arctic Valley Ski Area and Alyeska Resort. Naturally, skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only activities enjoyed in the snowy winter months.
Visitors to Anchorage can elevate their heart rate with a glacier hike or kayak trip — just be sure not to fall in the water as you take in the icebergs and other gorgeous landscapes. If you’re lucky enough to be in Alaska on a cloudless night, you might even see the vibrant green ribbons of the Northern Lights.
Yosemite National Park, California
Most people visit Yosemite in the warmer months, but visitors who aren’t afraid of the cold can see a wholly different side of the national park — not to mention, avoid the summer crowds. While parts of the park are closed in the winter, Yosemite Valley and Wawona remain open all year.
Barring unusually heavy snowfall, Bridalveil Fall, Lower Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake and the Vernal Fall Footbridge should be accessible in the snow. Whether you travel on foot, cross-country skis or snowshoes, hiking the park is a great way to work up a sweat and enjoy the serenity of winter.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock, ver0nicka.