Nirvana For Pure Skiing
Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah: The adjacent old-school resorts of Alta and Snowbird feel frozen in time, but they have terrain that will challenge even the world’s best skiers — and plenty of it. Both are bucket-list mountains for expert alpine and telemark skiers, and in addition to great runs and vast bowls, the real appeal is the microclimate, producing reliable and deep ultradry powder that many pundits consider the best skiing snow on earth. For those who take pure skiing literally, some visitors love the fact that Alta Ski Area bans snowboarding, which is allowed at Snowbird. If for some reason these world-class slopes are not enough, Snowbird is also home base for one of the nation’s oldest and busiest heli-skiing operations, Wasatch Powderbird Guides, which offers endless untracked powder runs outside the resort boundaries.
Crested Butte, Colorado: Authenticity is key in a place nicknamed “Colorado’s Last Ski Town,” and Crested Butte is famed for its Old West-meets-Bohemian flair, where Stetsons and duct tape are considered more fashionable than cashmere. But avid skiers and boarders come here mostly because it has the most lift-accessed double-black-diamond expert trails in Colorado, a whopping 542 acres of them, with most of them located in the deep powder-filled bowls around and above tree line. Groups of mixed abilities can still enjoy Crested Butte, which offers plenty of less-aggressive terrain with green and blue trails on the mid to lower mountain. Local celebrity and ski icon Wendy Fisher, an Olympic racer and World Champion extreme skier, offers private lessons on an individual basis for intermediate and expert skiers visiting her home mountain.
Hidden Gem: Powder Mountain RESORT, Utah: The least-known great resort near Salt Lake City has little in the way of lodging or dining, but it does have the nation’s largest amount of skiable terrain, more than 7,000 acres, including rare in-bounds snow-cat skiing and the unique 1,200-acre “Powder Country.” Skiers enter this trail-free, backcountry-style area through a gate and pick whatever route they want through the vast area of trees, open faces, and ravines before hitting a road where they are picked up by shuttle buses.