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USATourist News Magazine by Elizabeth Blair
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USATourist News Magazine

January 2010 - U.S. Ski Resorts

In this issue:

Happy New Year from all of us at USATourist!

As I write this from my new home in Minnesota, the snow is falling outside and everyone is gearing up for the cold weather. There are a few ski hills around these Midwestern parts but if you're looking for "real" skiing you will want to head to the mountains and today we're going to point out some great options all across the country.

Skiing in Telluride

Some of the most rewarding ski runs aren't serviced by chair lifts. Skiiers hike their way to the top near Telluride, CO.
©Matt Inden / Weaver Multimedia Group / Colorado Tourism Office

Rocky Mountain High

The Rocky Mountains are home to some of the most popular ski resorts in the United States and run from British Columbia, Canada down to New Mexico. In between you will find Colorado which has a number of ski resorts but also towns with generations of history and year-round activities. One such town is located in Southwest Colorado.

Gunnison-Crested Butte is one of Colorado's best year-round vacation destinations. These 1880's Western and Victorian mining towns are home to Colorado's oldest rodeo, the official wildflower capital of the state, Colorado's largest lake and Crested Butte Mountain Resort ski area. Mountain biking, hiking, fishing, camping and RV'ing are tops here!

When planning your next ski trip, take a look at one of the largest online vacation rental and lodging sites in the world. From hotels to private homes, VacationRoost.com has over 100,000 lodging options across North and South America. Whether it's a ski getaway or a beach escape, you can find the perfect accommodation at wholesale prices! Search lodging now >>

Colorado has more than two dozen ski resorts from upscale Aspen, which is great for Hollywood movie star sightings, to the casual Steamboat Springs, an ideal family-friendly ski town. Colorado is simply known for its skiing and fresh powder. You can't go wrong with any of this state's resorts.

Colorado has two major airports: Denver International Airport and Colorado Springs Airport. Shuttle companies serve the ski resorts or you have the option of taking puddle jumpers into the mountain towns.

Skiing and Snow Boarding at Lake Tahoe

North Lake Tahoe is a popular destination for skiers and snow boarders alike.
© North Lake Tahoe Resort Association CVB

Riding Waves and Snow

Southern California is known for wave riding, but gain a little altitude over the winter and you will find people riding the snow. Just 75 miles northeast of Los Angeles is Mountain High Resort and about a 104 mile drive away are Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. These are affordable options with dozens of chairlifts.

Head north to the Lake Tahoe region and you will find California's premium ski regions with a dozen ski areas. Most locations are on the northern edge of the lake near Reno, Nevada and one of my favorite small towns, Truckee, California. The largest ski areas include: Heavenly Mountain Resort and Squaw Valley (host of the 1960 Winter Olympics) while the remaining ski areas range in size from small to medium. Many ski areas offer tubing hills but sledding hills are also popular in between the ski areas. You will also find plenty of terrific cross country skiing, snowmobile, and snowshoeing trails.

TIP: Familiarize yourself with ski run symbols: Green circles (beginner), blue squares (intermediate) and black diamonds (advanced). You might see similar signs in the airports. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) uses the same symbols at some airport securities to mark family, casual and expert passenger lanes.

Washington State

Head further north to Washington State and you will find yet more ski options. Crystal Mountain on the Cascade Range is promoted as "Washington State's largest playground" for good reason, it's the biggest ski area is the state, boasting 2,600 acres and over 50 named runs. No matter what your level, there is a run that's right for you from cruising runs for newbies to extremely challenging runs for the experienced. The longest run is 2.5 miles.

Cross Country Skiing

Cross-country Skiing at Sun Mountain near Winthrop, WA.
© Sunny Walter / Washington State Tourism

TIP: On weekends free live music is played on the patio and in the Bullwheel from 3pm-6pm. (There is a note to guests on the website that states "Dancing in ski boots not recommended" - That's probably good advice to follow.)

Don't think you have to visit the largest ski area for good skiing since there are plenty of other mountains in Washington. Two ski resorts close to Seattle (home to Sea-Tac International Airport) are Hurricane Ridge and The Summit of Snoqualmie.

Bargain: Olympic National Park's Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area is extremely family friendly, affordable and not nearly as crowded as some of the other Washington ski areas. An all-day pass is currently $25 which is a fraction of some of the other ski areas.

The Summit of Snoqualmie is located on Snoqualmie Pass, and has four base areas: Alpental, Summit West (formerly named Snoqualmie Summit), Summit Central (formerly named Ski Acres), and Summit East (formerly named Hyak and PacWest). The areas have been through ownership and name changes.

East Coast's Skiing

Vermont is home to Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, but that's not the only cold thing going for it. This region is one of the best ski areas in the eastern part of the country. There are twenty ski resorts within three regions: Northern, Central and Southern. But even if you don't swing into Vermont you will find other options in every Northeastern state. Similar to the Midwest, there aren't any giant mountains like you will find out west, but there are plenty of ski hills to play on. The good news is they are less expensive and not far from major cities.

Tips for winter sports

  • Let your body get used to the higher altitude before getting active. Bodies need a couple of days to acclimate to avoid altitude sickness. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol will help you adapt.

  • Dress warmly. Layers are the best way to keep your body insulated. Try to avoid cotton; it is preferable to wear silk because it will dry faster and help to avoid hypothermia.

  • Wear sunscreen. Faces will still burn even if the temperatures are low.

  • Keep all extremities covered. Hats and gloves are a must for venturing out in the snow.

  • Wear goggles to protect your eyes.

  • Pay attention to avalanche warnings.

  • Stay on your level ski run. Experienced skiers go extremely fast down ski runs and you don't want to get in their way.

  • Wear brightly colored ski gear to be easily seen by other skiers.

  • Do not stray from the marked ski trails.

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Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair

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