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Whether you’re taking off from New York, LA or even London (if you’re switching up your routine holiday to the Alps), here are the best US ski destinations for powder, sunshine and après with less crippling price tags than Aspen and Vail and fewer people.
Bored of Aspen? These are the best ski resorts in the US
1. Telluride, Colorado
Despite attracting a high-end clientele, Telluride remains one of the US’s more laidback ski resorts – its low profile and fantastic skiing is precisely why its devotees return time and time again. The pistes here are renowned for being steep, so make sure to hit the black-diamond Bushwhacker to show off your daredevilish side. To fuel up for ripping down groomed trails and weaving between trees, start the day with some blueberry pancakes at Butcher and Baker Café in town. Right on the ski trails, Alpino Vino is the best place for a long lunch à la Chez Vrony in Zermatt, or for a five-course meal and copious amounts of wine at dinnertime thanks to a nighttime gondola and snow coach to take you there (and back again).
2. Beaver Creek, Colorado
A classic Colorado destination, Beaver Creek is a gorgeous cluster of wooden gingerbread houses nestled at the mountain’s base. The area enjoys 300 sunny days a year, so bluebird days are a staple of skiing here. When you’re not making the most of the resort’s groomers, you can ice skate in the centre of the village or go Nordic skiing for a spot of cross-training. Come dinnertime, we’re extremely partial to Beaver Creek’s snuggly mountain cabin meals, reachable by sleigh ride.
3. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Renowned for its wide-open spaces, imposing Teton mountains and free-spirited cowboys, Jackson Hole offers a unique combination of gnarly ski trails and Western aesthetics. Following a day on the slopes, sidle up to The Rose (dreamt up by the team behind New York City’s Death + Co) or Snake River Brewing in the town of Jackson for après cocktails and light bites. If you’re less keen on the local specialities that tend to be meat-heavy, head to Cultivate Cafe for a vegan take on all your favourites like the buffalo jackfruit sandwich or to fill up with a smoothie bowl chock-full of almond butter and cacao nibs before you hit the peaks. Take the glamour up a few notches and swoop into the area’s latest stay, Caldera House, kitted out with outdoor firepits to sit by while swathed in fur blankets and a members-only Alpine Club.
4. Taos, New Mexico
With its unique New Mexico location, Taos is a nice change of pace from the typical Colorado and Utah track while maintaining impeccable skiing conditions. Its high desert surroundings are also reminiscent of the colours and landscapes of Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, making this location an out-of-the-box ski destination. A source of artistic inspiration, and an art colony in its own right, Taos is steeped in culture. Just one mile from Taos Pueblo, is the oldest continuously inhabited indigenous community in the US. Suffice to say, Taos is one of the most unexpected experiences you can have on a ski holiday and will certainly make a mark in a way that partying on tables in Chamonix won’t.
5. Lake Tahoe, California
Split between California and Nevada and ringed by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe is centrepoint of a number of surrounding ski resorts. Squaw Valley and Northstar are two of the best, the former having hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics and the latter offering over 3,000 acres of ski trails. At Squaw Valley, après is done at the beer garden at High Camp, while Northstar’s village has an entire “après alley” in the lower part of the village. For something more laidback, head to Après Beach to roast s’mores and clink Moscow mules.
6. Jay Peak, Vermont
Jay Peak is worlds away from the glitzy resort towns scattered across many of the other skiing states – something its die-hard fans couldn’t be prouder of. Its location, near the Canadian border, wards off certain fair-weather holidayers, but braving its chilly temperatures is worth it for the untracked glades and abundance of drops and off-piste tracks through the forest for thrill seekers. There is a strong ski-bum culture here, alongside devoted families and ski racers who would choose the raw atmosphere and lack of pretentiousness here over most other mountains. If you’d rather skip the icier months, come here in spring for chilled tailgate barbecues, soft powder and pond skimming competitions.
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