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Why a Ski Trip Around the World Should Be on Your 2018 Bucket List

PHOTO: Thredbo Alpine Village

This winter, make a point to try and visit as many ski resorts as you can.

Nearly 20 of the world’s best ski resorts have teamed up to offer Mountain Collective, a ski pass valid at all designated resorts for under $500. During the 2017/2018 season, riders can hit the slopes at resorts from Colorado to Chile. Lucky passholders get two days at each destination, plus 50% off any additional days on the slopes. Need a place to crash after all that deep powder? No problem. The Mountain Collective membership also includes 25% off some of the best lodging. This coveted pass goes on sale this fall, meaning it’s time to put a global ski trip at the top of your 2018 bucket list.

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Alta Ski Area

WHERE: Utah

Snowboarders stay home—or maybe just head to neighboring Snowbird, since Alta is exclusively for skiers. Open since 1938, Alta delivers an uncluttered mountain experience, where skiers can discover the slopes on their own terms.

Prepare for some serious quad burning on the steep, challenging terrain that boasts some of the best snow coverage in the world. Their geographical sweet spot gets dumped with a fluffy, dry snow. Combine that with roughly a foot of fresh snow every five days, plus 300 days of annual sunshine, and you’re looking at happy bluebird days. Seventy-five percent of the mountain is dedicated to intermediate and advanced skiers, yet there’s still room to get your ski legs in shape on beginner slopes.

The season runs from November to April, with an average snowfall of 551 inches and 2,200 acres of skiable terrain. Ski out of bed at their base lodges with ski-in/ski-out access to 11 lifts. For a pure, soulful skiing experience, this is your mountain. If you’re looking to party on the slopes, look elsewhere.

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Aspen Snowmass

WHERE: Colorado

With four mountains making up the 5,547-acre empire, Aspen lets you choose your own adventure. Each has its own personality. Family-friendly Snowmass is by far the largest; historic Aspen Mountain is known for its steep verticals; independent Highlands is where hardcore skiers go rogue; chilled-out Buttermilk brings out the parks, pipes, and everything in between.

First a town and then a resort, you’ll find a flourishing community that transcends the average ski destination. It’s the hub of winter events and the host of the X Games, World Cup Ski Racing, and a handful of culinary festivals. If Irish coffees and mulled wine are your idea of the perfect ski trip, Aspen’s got you covered with one of the best après ski scenes in North America. Recharge at Limelight Hotel, a family-and-dog friendly, 4-star contemporary property. Take it up a notch at the 5-star, 5-diamond The Little Nell. Behind all of this is some of the most breathtaking scenery in the state—the Maroon Bells.

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Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

WHERE: Wyoming

After a record winter with 593 inches of snow, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is praying for storms in 2018. In preparation for another epic season, they’ve invested in a new gondola and mid-station with a ski school, rental shop, and dining facilities.

Building on perfection, Jackson Hole is home to the Aerial Tramway—the longest continuous lift in North America. On average, snowfall runs 459 inches per year, meaning you’ll have plenty of coverage across the 2,500 acres of in-bound terrain. Beginner and intermediate trails account for half of the runs, so you can split from your party if they can’t hang on black diamonds.

For lodging, stay slopeside in Teton Village or head to the main town of Jackson, 12 miles from the resort. Less than three-square miles, Jackson town may be small in size but not in personality. With a trailblazing past and western flair, its proximity to the national parks of Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Bridger Teton is unparalleled.

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Mammoth Mountain

WHERE: California

SoCal snow junkies love Mammoth because, well, it’s awesome, and it’s only a five-hour drive or one-hour flight from Los Angeles. Plus, you can ski all day and never repeat a run. After big-flake storms, this is the place to ride off-piste and weave through the trees. Slopes are wide—as in football field wide—so no matter how busy it gets, you’ll never hit LA traffic. Dress to impress, since Mammoth has a strong surfer/skater influence that manifests in freestyle big air, endless hang time, and powder lines down vertical chutes. Don’t be surprised to see a pro unpacking a bag of tricks on any one of the four half pipes.

Mammoth almost has an endless winter, with the longest season in the country and some of the deepest snow. The Village, at the base of the gondola, is where it all goes down—food, drinks, shopping, and lodging. Average snowfall is 400 inches, with 150 trails, 28 lifts, 13 terrain parks, and 3,500 skiable acres … mic drop.

Ski-Trip-Around-The-World-Snowbasin
PHOTO: Bp Photography
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Snowbasin Resort

WHERE: Utah

You can ski in the path of Olympians at Snowbasin Resort, home to the 2002 Winter Olympics Downhill, Combined, and Super-G races. Foodies can make themselves at home; slopeside restaurants are consistently rated among the top in the nation. If you’d rather burn calories than consume them, they’ve got 3,000 skiable acres, 3,000 vertical feet, 106 trails, and 11 lifts. Average snowfall is 300 inches, so you’re sure to have solid coverage on those long, rolling, groomed runs and powder stashes. When it dumps, hit the wide open bowls, steep chutes, and forested gullies.

The closest lodging is 9-miles from the slopes at Lakeside Resort on Pineview Reservoir. For après music and craft beer, head to Cinnabar in Earl’s Lodge at the base. Additional lodging, restaurants, and shops are in nearby Ogden or Salt Lake City.

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Snowbird

WHERE: Utah

As the crow flies, Snowbird is located roughly 30 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport, making it one of the most accessible alpine resorts in North America. It’s got a loyal following for the world-class runs, steep-and-deep conditions, and Utah’s only aerial tram that will boost you to 2,500 acres of skiable terrain. Prepare to get buried in 500 inches of annual snowfall, giving Snowbird the longest ski season in Utah. Its claim to fame is having the greatest snow on earth; those who have touched flakes across the world would agree. Typical conditions range from immaculately groomed runs to deep powder.

For slope-to-slumber, stay at Cliff Lodge just a snowball-throw away from the Snowbird Aerial Tram. The Summit—located atop Hidden Peak at 11,000 feet—has taken slopeside dining to a whole new level with French rotisserie-inspired cooking by Snowbird’s Executive Chef, George Lackey.

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Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

WHERE: California

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has some of the country’s most advanced terrain, with 270 trails and 42 lifts across 6,000 acres (that’s not a typo). With 450 inches of average snowfall and plenty of big storms that deliver multiple feet of snow, Squaw boasts300 sunny days a year, making them the spring-skiing capital of the world. So when most people are slipping on bikinis and board shorts, they’re still grooming runs through July.

Despite the lure for uber-skilled riders, you don’t need to be a pro to hang here. More than 65% of the terrain is dedicated to beginners and intermediates, with 14 easy-to-navigate mountain zones. For some convenient shuteye, just head to the basecamp where you’ll find The Village at Squaw Valley—the hub for hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and over 50 bars for that après ski cocktail.

Ski-Trip-Around-The-World-Sugarbush
PHOTO: Hans von Briesen
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Sugarbush

WHERE: Vermont

For some sweet East Coast skiing, head to Sugarbush, which has 111 trails spread across two connecting mountains—Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen. Lincoln Peak’s Castlerock has narrow, winding, New-England-style expert trails, while Mt. Ellen draws jibbers to Riemergasse Park with 60+ features like C-rails, table tops, and wedge-style jumps. Between the two mountains is Slide Brook Basin, a 2,000-acre wilderness area open to backcountry skiing.  Independently owned and operated, Sugarbush is tucked into Vermont Valley, with darling farms, covered bridges, and a warm community to match. While they don’t get hit with as much snow as other parts of the country—average is 250 inches—they can lean on the promise of uncrowded slopes, cat skiing, and 4,000 acres of on-and off-piste terrain. Sleep deep at Clay Brook Hotel, Sugarbush Inn, or The Pitcher Inn—a Relais & Chateaux property. Empty bellies can find fulfillment at Rumble’s Kitchen, Chez Henri, or American Flatbread.

Book a Hotel

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Sun Valley

WHERE: Idaho

Opened in 1936, American’s first ski resort has aged gracefully. A major draw is its accessibility, with nonstop flights from six major cities, free shuttle service, and no lift lines. Top that off with a remarkable skiing and snowboarding experience, and suddenly you can capitalize on stats like 2,154 acres, 121 runs, 220 inches of snowfall, and access to two mountains—Baldy and Dollar. Tree dodge and timber bash on Baldy or cruise with the family at Dollar.

If Nordic skiing is your game, they’ve got 25 miles of groomed tracks for classic, skate skiing, and ski touring. When conditions are just ehh, they’ll turn on the largest snowmaking system in North America and you can indulge in fondue at the on-mountain Roundhouse Lodge, with unbelievable views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Head to the historic Sun Valley Lodge for  cocktail in the Duchin Room, and spend the night at the boutique Knob Hill Inn, conveniently located close to the restaurants (like the iconic Pioneer Saloon), bars (like the classic Ernest Hemingway haunt The Casino), galleries (like the modern Gilman Contemporary), and shops (like the must-visit Gold Mine Thrift Store) of downtown Ketchum.

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Taos Ski Valley

WHERE: New Mexico

Unpretentious and authentic,Taos Ski Valley is for those who want a pure mountain experience far from the corporate giants. At 1,294 acres, it’s a small resort with a big heart. Located in the Sangre De Cristo mountain range, it brings Native American, European, Hispanic, and regional influences to the slopes.

Long known as a skier’s mountain, Taos has everything from beginner slopes to hike-in terrain. Its claim to fame is the Kachina Peak lift, one of the highest chairlifts in the country, dropping skiers at 12,450 feet (don’t look down). As a high-altitude mountain resort, the snow is light and fluffy post-storm, with plenty of bluebird days thanks to the New Mexico sun. On slushy days, Taos keeps rocks at bay with some of the industry’s most effective snowmaking machines. Get your beauty sleep at The Blake, an 80-room slopeside boutique hotel. For a sublime stein, visit The Bavarian at the base of Lift 4, famous for their goulash, Wienerschnitzel, and German beers.

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Telluride Ski Resort

WHERE: Colorado

Forty-five minutes from the nearest stoplight sits Telluride (elev. 8,750 feet), a National Historic Landmark surrounded by the highest concentration of 13,000 and 14,000-foot peaks in the United States. Above the old mining town of Telluride is a modern mountain village connected by a free pedestrian gondola, the only one of its kind in North America.

Imagine a ski resort where lines are non-existent, where average snowfall hits 300 inches, and where 148 trails and 2,000 acres serve as your playground. Just when you say, “nahh, get outta here,” you find out they’ve got more than 300 days of sunshine. Grab 40 winks at Madeline Hotel or The Peaks Resort. Fancy it up with dinner at Alpino Vino, the highest elevation fine-dining restaurant in North America. At nearly 12,000 feet, watch out for nosebleeds. For something lower in altitude and price, head to Altezza or Smugglers Brewpub.

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Banff Sunshine

WHERE: Canada

Two towns + three resorts + one lift ticket = yes please. The fact that Banff and Lake Louise sit on a UNESCO World Heritage Site tells you that you’re in for a memorable trip. The three resorts are surrounded by pristine and protected wilderness, with thousands of kilometers of un-matched mountain scenery. It’s the call of the wild with 8,000 acres of skiable terrain, 2 gondolas, 26 chairlifts, and 30 feet of annual feather-light powder. Consistent winter temperatures dump glorious fluff into the back bowls of Lake Louise Ski Resort. With a green run from every lift, you can ditch the beginners (or be ditched) for some of the more challenging terrain. Slopes are only a 90-minute drive from the Calgary International Airport. Big spenders can hit the hay at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, The Rimrock Resort, or the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. For on-hill dining, there’s Kuma Yama, Eagle’s Nest at Sunshine Village, and Lone Pine Bistro at Mt. Norquay.

Ski-Trip-Around-The-World-Coronet-Peak
PHOTO: Arrowsmith Media
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Coronet Peak and The Remarkables

WHERE: New Zealand

Half an hour from downtown Queensland are two mountains and 2,138 acres to get your groove on. Coronet Peak and The Remarkables have deep, challenging bowls and some wide, steep, varied runs. It’s the mountain that keeps on giving, with night skiing Fridays and Saturdays at Coronet. Across the valley, The Remarkables is renowned for its family-friendly, chillaxed atmosphere loved by everyone from munchkins to shredders. Credit goes to the three parks, the off-piste terrain, and free lift tickets for kids under five. With 123 trails and 19 lifts between the two mountains, you’ll have plenty of room to practice those S-turns.

The season runs from June to October, so when you’re fiending for skiing come summer, there’s always New Zealand. Take a break at Coronet Peak Restaurant or Heidi’s Hut (unexpectedly serving Italian cuisine) at the base of the Rocky Gully T-bar. There are over 30 hotels where you can melt into the sheets in nearby Queenstown, Arrowtown, and the surrounding areas.

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Thredbo Alpine Village

WHERE: Australia

Let’s just start out with the fact you’re in the Australian Alps at the base of the country’s highest mountain. From there, you’ve got access to the best skiing and snowboarding in Australia, not to mention the longest runs in country. The other stats are less than impressive—77 inches of snowfall, 1,186 acres, and 50 trails—but again you can ski, surf, and dive the Great Barrier Reef in the same week. Friday Flat is Thredbo’s bunny slope that progresses to yellow and green runs. Around 65 percent of the mountain is dedicated to intermediates, with long and wide tree-lined runs for easy cruising. Experienced riders can play with a massive fall line, natural wind lips, powder bowls, and acres of backcountry terrain. Choose from lodges, hotels, and on-snow chalets in Thredbo’s alpine village, or hang at any one of the 30 bars and restaurants in town.

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Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

WHERE: France

All roads lead to Chamonix Valley. Located at the foot of Mont-Blanc, Chamonix may just have one of the most dramatic skiing landscapes in the world. Jagged peaks, crystal glaciers, and the legendary Vallée Blanche and Grands Montets attract some of the world’s best skiers. With ninety percent of the slopes above 6,500 feet, you’re in for a long season and around 377 inches of annual snowfall. The Mountain Collective Pass will grant you access to 762 acres, 42 lifts, and 73 trails. The authentic alpine town has 250 years of mountaineering history, with sidewalk cafés that invented après-ski. Just one hour from Geneva’s international airport, Chamonix is one of the few resorts to have its own train station. Free transportation throughout the valley drops you directly at the slopes.

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Valle Nevado

WHERE: Chile

Valle Nevado in the towering Andes mountains is 90 minutes from the Santiago Airport at 10,000 feet in the Andes Cordillera of Chile. Altitude and orientation of the

south face dish up plenty of powder and sunshine. If the 200 trails are not enough, head off-piste to carve your own lines. Powder at Valle Nevado can last for days, given the ratio of skiers to the resort’s 2,300 acreage. Agro borders can challenge gravity on jumps at the snow park, considered the best in the Southern Hemisphere. Groomed runs, steep moguls, and rich-man heli-skiing—you name it, they’ve got it. For a buenas noches, stay at ski-in, ski-out Valle Nevado Hotel, or Puerta del Sol popular with families. There are half a dozen restaurants on the slopes, including Bajo Zero that hosts a dine-and-ski experience on the torch-lit mountain.

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Hakuba Valley

WHERE: Japan

At the base of Japan’s Northern Alps, Hakuba pushes 10,000 feet in elevation with thick, deep powder averaging 472 inches of snowfall per year. Within the Hakuba empire are 10 alpine resorts sprawling over 2,362 acres. Mountain Collective pass holders are granted access to all 10 zones around Hakuba Village, Otari Village, and Omachi City. This means you can sit back, relax, and cruise the 5-mile-long runs—as in take a break mid-mountain. It’s like a candy store with delicious beginner slopes, terrain parks, high moguls, and steep vertical drops. Three hours from Tokyo, Hakuba remains Japan’s largest and most renowned alpine resort. Most hotels and restaurants are concentrated in Echoland and the Happo ski area.