Direct to Snow
Find the best rocky Mountain skiing trip for your slope-side style.
Thanks to an avalanche of nonstop flights from San Francisco and Oakland, you can hop an early-morning plane and be in the Rocky Mountains in time for lunch and an afternoon of skiing. All you have to do is decide which mountain is right for you.
Breathtaking scenery in the mountains.
Best slopes: Beginners can try Telluride Ski Resort’s Galloping Goose, a double green that is Telluride’s longest run (4.6 miles) and has views of Black Iron Bowl and Palmyra Peak. For intermediates, See Forever is a legendary groomer starting at 12,570 feet that follows a ridgeline on the eastern side of the mountain. tellurideskiresort.com.
Eat: At 11,966 feet, Alpino Vino is the highest elevation fine-dining restaurant in North America. Guests travel via an enclosed snow coach near the top of Gold Hill for a five-course Italian–themed menu, with an optional wine pairing. In Telluride, Cosmopolitan dishes out seasonal fusion fare alongside a revolving selection of wines on tap. tellurideskiresort.com/events-activities/dining/alpino-vino, cosmotelluride.com.
Play: For 365-degree panoramic views, take a free ride on the 13-minute gondola that links Telluride and Mountain Village. For a scenic trek with a bonus, ride through snow and stream crossings on an all-weather Fat Tire Bike Tour, which ends at Telluride Brewing Company. bootdoctors.com, telluridebrewingco.com.
Stay: Book a room at The Inn at Lost Creek, a 29-room boutique hotel located slope-side in the Mountain Village core. Amenities include rooftop hot tubs and a ski valet.
Detour: Telluride Helitrax hosts trips to the San Juan Mountains for expert and intermediate skiers. It’s a bucket list experience that may become a yearly necessity. And Glide Telluride offers 30- or 60-minute flights in a Stemme motor glider. Soar above the town of Telluride and the San Juans. helitrax.com, glidetelluride.com.
How Long to Snow
Fly from SFO to Montrose/Telluride in less than three hours, then drive from the airport to Telluride in about 75 minutes.
Wyoming: Jackson Hole
Adventure on and off the slopes.
Best slopes: Powder hounds love Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Rendezvous Mountain for its advanced on-piste and off-piste terrain, backcountry, chutes, and steeps. Ride the aerial tram to Rendezvous Bowl, then take the Sublette chair to Laramie Bowl for wide-open leg burners. jacksonhole.com.
Eat: Located in the Rendezvous Lodge, Couloir has stellar views of the valley and hearty regional dishes such as duck wings and wild game chili. In Teton Village, Il Villaggio Osteria offers excellent Italian, including braised pork shank over creamy polenta and pappardelle with elk ragu. In the town of Jackson, head to Snake River Grill for crispy goose leg confit or curry-braised Idaho lamb. jacksonhole.com/couloir-restaurant.html, jhosteria.com, snakerivergrill.com.
Play: To experience Jackson Hole’s Western roots, peruse Cayuse Western Americana, where you’ll find art and cowboy country antiques. And Made and Mountain Dandy both feature rugged, made-in-America products. After shopping, go dancing at the infamous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Town Square, where all seats at the bar are horse saddles. cayusewa.com, madejacksonhole.com, mountaindandy.com, milliondollarcowboybar.com.
Stay: To sleep slope-side, reserve a room at Hotel Terra Jackson Hole, which features contemporary Western artwork from local and regional artists. In Jackson, try the Wort Hotel, a historic boutique property right near Town Square. hotelterrajacksonhole.com, worthotel.com.
Detour: Head to Turpin Meadow Ranch—an hour north of Jackson—for a night in a beautifully remodeled cabin. The next morning, hit the ranch’s Nordic trails. turpinmeadowranch.com.
How Long to Snow
Take a two and a half hour flight from SFO to Jackson’s newly improved airport. Then, it’s a 30-minute drive to the ski resort.
Colorado: Steamboat Springs
Heaps of powder among evergreens.
Best slopes: When the powder is deep, Steamboat Ski Resort offers some of the finest tree skiing in North America. Shadows and Closet are among its most celebrated runs. For a shorter and less crowded experience, try Hot Cakes in Morningside Park. Bonus: Thursday through Monday, show your boarding pass at the resort’s ticket office, and ski free on your night of arrival. steamboat.com.
Eat: For breakfast, try the coconut-fried chicken and Belgian waffles at the slope-side Paramount, or malted waffles at family-friendly Creekside Cafe and Grill located downtown. For dinner, you can’t beat the Four Points Lodge, an on-mountain, five-course meal with a snowcat ride to get there. theparamountcolorado.com, creekside-cafe.com, steamboat.com/winter/dining/four-points-lodge.aspx.
Play: To learn how to navigate the terrain sans skis, head to Bridgestone Winter Driving School, which offers on-snow driving instruction. Love craft beers? Grab a pint at Storm Peak Brewing Company or Butcherknife Brewing Company, which are both new this season. winterdrive.com, stormpeakbrewing.com, butcherknifebrewing.com.
Stay: Choose from slope-side One Steamboat Place, a ski-in, ski-out resort steps from the gondola, or Steamboat Grand, which is decorated with Western accents and also situated at the base of the skiing area. Moving Mountains offers chateau-style private homes around Mountain Village. onesteamboatplace.com, steamboatgrand.com, movingmountains.com.
Detour: Soothe away your cares and sore ski legs in heated mineral waters at Strawberry Park Hot Springs’ spring-fed pools, or soak at Old Town Hot Springs, which also boasts two 230-foot waterslides. strawberryhotsprings.com, oldtownhotsprings.org.
How Long to Snow
With a two and a half hour flight and 30- to 45-minute drive to the resort, you’ll have plenty of time for an afternoon of skiing and lounging.
Idaho: Sun Valley
No crowds, no lines, no hurry.
Best slopes: Sun Valley is the perfect escape for a quieter skiing experience. Get on the slopes early with a private instructor, and have Baldy to yourself before lifts open to the public. The Warm Springs run offers a 3,100-foot vertical drop with a constant pitch. Ride up to the Lookout triple, where you can drop into big bowls for black- and blue-rated runs. sunvalley.com.
Eat: The Roundhouse at the top of the gondola is a Sun Valley favorite, known for fondue by the four-sided fireplace. At the charming Cristina’s Restaurant, the restaurant’s gregarious owner serves uncomplicated Tuscan fare. And in Ketchum, head to Enoteca or Ketchum Grill for wood-fired pizzas and fresh fish highlighted by local produce. sunvalley.com/dining, cristinasofsunvalley.com, ketchum-enoteca.com, ketchumgrill.com.
Play: Tubing Hill sits conveniently on Dollar Mountain by the Half-Dollar lift, where it’s easy to get in some old-fashioned fun. Sun Valley’s Outdoor Ice Rink has great views of the valley, and attracts Olympic and world-class skaters. For live music and dancing, stop by Ketchum’s Whiskey Jacques. sunvalley.com, whiskeyjacques.com.
Stay: While the grand Sun Valley Lodge is under renovation until spring, a good alternate is the convenient but more modest Sun Valley Inn. In Ketchum, the recently renovated Knobb Hill Inn includes a restaurant specializing in Northwest cuisine. sunvalley.com, knobhillinn.com.
Detour: Enjoy a romantic horse-drawn sleigh ride from the Sun Valley Inn to Trail Creek Cabin, built in 1937, for dinner. facebook.com/trailcreekcabin.
How Long to Snow
Fly from SFO to Sun Valley in less than two hours. Flights are met by a courtesy shuttle that takes you to Sun Valley Resort, which is less than a 30-minute drive from the airport.
Glitzy slopes and Killer Nightlife.
Best slopes: For a challenge on Aspen Mountain, Traynor Ridge, Rayburn’s, and Bingo Glades offer wild, ungroomed terrain with variable conditions and natural obstacles. At Snowmass, the Hanging Valley Wall has numerous challenging lines, and the Cirque drops precipitously through cliffs, rock bands, and steep headwalls. Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands offers an average pitch of 40 degrees, and Buttermilk’s gentle and wide-open trails cater to beginners. aspensnowmass.com.
Eat: The chichi Ajax Tavern, just steps from the Silver Queen gondola at the base of Aspen Mountain, serves American and French dishes inspired by Colorado’s bounty. ajaxtavernaspen.com.
Play: Aspen Mountain hosts the world’s highest mobile champagne and caviar bar, The Oasis, which is transported by snowcats and relocated to a new slope every weekend in the springtime, weather permitting. thelittlenell.com/dining/bars-at-the-nell/oasis-champagne-bar.
Stay: In the heart of downtown Aspen, the 126-room Limelight Hotel is just steps away from the town’s finest shopping, outdoor activities, dining, and nightlife. The Little Nell, Aspen’s only five-star, five-diamond, ski-in, ski-out hotel, is Aspen’s ultraluxury lodging of choice. And The Sky Hotel, a boutique hotel located at the base of the mountain, hosts an “altitude adjustment” evening wine reception. limelighthotel.com, thelittlenell.com, theskyhotel.com.
Detour: Take a sleigh ride or Nordic ski to the Pine Creek Cookhouse, 11 miles outside of Aspen. There, you can indulge in gourmet locally sourced cuisine at the base of the Elk Mountain Range. pinecreekcookhouse.com.
How Long to Snow
Catch the two and a half hour nonstop flight from SFO, which departs around 9:30 a.m., seven days a week. With a 10-minute shuttle from the airport, you can be on the slopes just after 1 p.m.
Utah: Salt Lake City
Eleven resorts, endless options.
Best slopes: Tackle Deer Valley’s Stein’s Way, a groomed blue/black run named after the resort’s director of skiing (and Olympic medalist) Stein Eriksen, or explore the Aspen glades off Stein’s Way for powder skiing. At Canyons, check out the advanced and expert terrain, including gladed runs off the Dream Peak, Peak 5, and Ninety-Nine 90 lifts. deervalley.com, canyonsresort.com.
Eat: The prix fixe menu at Fireside Dining at Deer Valley’s Empire Canyon Lodge features dishes from the Alps served beside stone fireplaces. Arrive on snowshoes or by horse-drawn sleigh, and enjoy dishes ranging from warm Swiss raclette cheese and cured meats to fire-roasted leg of lamb and dessert fondues. At Canyons, The Farm offers fresh, sustainably sourced fare, including herb-brined pork chops and Idaho sturgeon served with cider- and bacon-braised cabbage. deervalley.com/dining/wheretoeat/firesidedining, canyonsresort.com/activities/dining/the-farm.aspx.
Play: Deer Valley’s All Seasons Adventures offers snowshoeing, dog sledding, sleigh rides, Nordic skiing, and hot air ballooning. Canyons has two mid-mountain zip lines: the 800-foot-long treetop Red Pine Zip Tour, which takes you through the Red Pine Lodge area, and the Lookout Zip Tour, which spans more than 2,111 feet and flies you across the canyon between Lookout Peak and Red Pine Lodge. allseasonsadventures.com, ziprider.com.
Stay: At Montage Deer Valley, take advantage of ski-in, ski-out lodging in Empire Canyon. Enjoy complimentary s’mores on the Vista Patio overlooking the slopes after a hard day of skiing. At Canyons, the Grand Summit Hotel, a AAA Four-Diamond resort, sits in the heart of the resort village for an ideal ski-in, ski-out experience. montagehotels.com/deervalley, canyonsresort.com.
Detour: Summit Meadows Adventures offers snowmobiling excursions at Graff Ranch. The guided tours explore more than 7,000 acres of groomed trails, with scenic views of the Wasatch Mountains. deervalley.com.
How Long to Snow
Less than two hours from Oakland, Salt Lake City is a direct-to-snow Nirvana. Two of the best resorts are Park City’s swanky Deer Valley and family-friendly Canyons, both a 35-minute drive from the airport.