The USA has about 500 ski areas spread across more than 40 states including many world famous resorts such as around Lake Tahoe, Aspen, Jackson Hole, Stowe and Vail.
Skiing developed here soon after it did in Europe a little over a century ago, indeed many famous ski resorts were started by European emigrees from ski nations. American resorts are famous for their high service standards, quality experience, friendly staff and we must also thank the US for inventing both the chairlift and the hot tub!
Although Brits have always skied in North America, it is only really in the last 15 years that a sizeable number of British skiers have started flying there.
Ski resorts in the USA are ideal for families, with the major resorts offering runs for all abilities and various activities and tuition for younger skiers. They all also offer plenty of snow, making ski holidays there a great choice.
There are many advantages for skiers travelling to the US compared to the Alps. An immediate advantage is that the baggage allowance on trans-Atlantic flights is normally much more generous so the usual physical impossibility of trying to get all your bulky ski kit within the baggage allowance on short haul flights to the Alps is instantly avoided. With extra leg room and more in-flight service, flights to the US also usually feel far more like being on holiday.
Once in America and in resort you will find spacious, high quality lodging, bigger and better food, well designed ski resorts and ski areas that are normally less-crowded, better groomed and provided with comfortable chairlifts and gondolas rather than drag lifts. People are friendlier and of course speak English. All in all the experience is usually of a higher quality and standard than in the Alps.
For the British market there are four main destination areas, New England on the east coast and California, Colorado and Utah on the west. There are few destinations in other western states like Jackson Hole in Wyoming and Big Sky in Montana that are also available.
New England includes resorts in Vermont (including Killington and Stowe), New Hampshire (including Loon), Maine and New York state. It is an area of gently rolling hills, most thickly forested. Snowfall in New England varies, but all resorts have extensive snowmaking to cover for bad winters, so long as it’s cold enough.
For skiers from the UK the advantages of New England include shorter flight times (typically 5-6 hours) compared to flying further West and resort costs can be lower, however the ski hills tend to be smaller too which may be less appealing to the most advanced skiers.
Colorado has the most famous resorts in the US including:
- Crested Butte
- Copper Mountain
- Winter Park and others.
The strong competition between these resorts drives already high standards ever higher. The resorts are also famous for huge snowfalls of light fluffy snow. The ski areas are amongst the highest in the world and altitude sickness can be a problem so it is best to take it easy for the first few days after your arrival.
Utah was host to the 2002 Winter Olympics and most of the famous resorts like Park City and Deer Valley are a short journey from Salt Lake International airport. The state’s motto is “The greatest snow on earth” in tribute to its light fluffy powder.
Most of California’s ski areas are clustered around beautiful Lake Tahoe. Here there are some of the most spectacular mountain views in US skiing. A famous exception to the Lake Tahoe rule is Mammoth Mountain, reputed to be the favourite ski resort of Virgin boss Richard Branson. Another famous celebrity, Arnold Schwarzennegger, the state’s former governor between 2003-2011, is a keen skier and actively promotes skiing in the sunshine state.