Why waste time traveling? These three stellar towns, with their perfectly carved mountains, are just a snowball’s throw from a major airport.
Will Cockrell 1 / 4
So you’ve scored some precious days off and want to spend your time on the slopes, not in a hundred-mile convoy from the airport. Good news: These three top ski spots boast nearby airports with early flights, so you’ll be waist-deep in powder the day you fly in. (Soon, one destination, Heavenly, in South Lake Tahoe, will have a stoplight-free drive from the airport to the resort.) Plus, they’ve spent millions on upgrades and partnered with town businesses, so the terrain, amenities, dining, and entertainment options are world class. Let’s just say you won’t mind sitting out a storm day.
Considered by many to be the biggest, baddest ski spot in America, Jackson Hole is also one of the easiest to get to. The quintessential Old West mountain town, it’s a place where you can shred black diamonds while wearing your favorite cowboy hat.
THE SLOPES: Expect a few butterflies as you board Jackson’s iconic tram, then glide up over the craggiest, steepest lines in the Rockies. The brand-new Teton Lift accesses 200 untapped acres of expert terrain, but lately Jackson Hole has also made a big push to open up its more intermediate Casper area, allowing skiers and riders to experience that big-mountain feel without the vertigo.
THE VIBE: Jackson Hole’s odd mixture of millionaires and ranchers gives it a small-town Western feel but with a subtle urban edge. Saddle up for at least one beer at rowdy hangout Cowboy Bar, then have a steak the way it’s meant to taste at new restaurant Local.
THE STAY: Hotel Terra has full-frontal views of the mountain and free shuttles into town.
THE TRIP: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is about a half-hour drive from the Jackson Hole Airport, which has more direct flights and connections than any other remote mountain airport in the country. (Planes land right in Grand Teton National Park.) jacksonhole.com
Starting this season, neighboring ski areas Park City and Canyons combined to turn themselves into the largest ski area in the country, with 7,300 acres blanketed by Utah’s notoriously light, fluffy snow (350 inches per year!).
THE SLOPES: On a powder day, Jupiter Peak is the place to be. (Hiking the 10,000-foot summit is a fun mission in itself.) When you’re cooked, ski intermediate blue runs down to the Quit’n Time trail, which will spit you out onto buzzing Main Street.
THE VIBE: The Sundance Film Festival has turned Park City into a mini metropolis with a seriously interesting dining scene and quirky cultural offerings but still plenty of ski-town charm. Don’t miss the daily whiskey tasting at High West saloon, where the resident sommelier tour is a must.
THE STAY: Snag a room at the tony Washington School House, a converted hundred-plus-year-old stone boutique hotel.
THE TRIP: Park City is 40 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport, with its several daily nonstops from almost every major city in the country. parkcitymountain.com