With Halloween behind us and the holidays quickly approaching, snow fiends have another celebration in mind: opening dates at ski resorts across North America. Whether you’re a lifelong snowboarder or more adept at the après-ski aspect of this winter pursuit, we’ve rounded up our favorite resorts this season for terrain, scenery, and ambiance alike.
Jackson Hole, WY
Last year, the famous Wyoming ski resort celebrated its 50th anniversary by opening the new Teton lift, and clocked their second-best winter yet. This year, they’ll be opening the new Sweetwater Gondola in mid-December — with snow like this, the resort gets understandably crowded, and the new gondola aims to ease congestion and increase capacity out of base area. Suffice to say: there’s no better time to experience Jackson Hole than now.
A luxury ski and snowboard experience that eschews faux-Swiss chalets, Snowbird continues to deliver with top-notch terrain. Just opened last season, The Summit restaurant atop Hidden Peak embodies the Snowbird ethos: sparse design highlighting the stunning natural beauty. Take a quick rest to refuel, then get back out there to make the most of the 3,240-foot vertical, all accessible from the resort’s aerial tram.
Host to the 2010 Olympics and North America’s largest resort clocking in at 8,171 acres, Whistler-Blackcomb is a snow-lover’s dream. The lift system makes navigation of this monstrous range easy — take the Peak 2 Peak gondola to journey from Whistler to Blackcomb in just 11 minutes and experience each mountain’s unique snow profile. When you’re not shredding, you’ll find anything and everything you need in the village below. Fine dining and skiing’s biggest party scene mesh effortlessly here.
For a time out from the skiing “scene,” head to Steamboat, where authentic Western culture reigns supreme. Family friendly and ideal for intermediate skiers and snowboarders, 42 percent of the runs, which span six peaks, are blue. Plus, it’s tough to beat the down-home feeling this time of year: warm and fuzzy would be a good way to describe the ambiance walking through the town lit with twinkle lights and offering sleigh-ride dinners.
Lake Louise, Alberta
Smack dab in the middle of breathtaking Banff National Park, Lake Louise Ski Resort is a North American treasure. The Canadian Rockies’ biggest ski resort, you’ll find 4,200 acres of terrain (including tubing options, for the less ski/snowboard-inclined). It’s hard to overstate the natural beauty of this picturesque resort: by day, the pristine white peaks look plucked from a storybook, and by night, the sky seems to positively drip with stars.