Travel insights from Taylor Coulson, contributing editor of The Compass

6 Domestic Ski Towns with Serious Slopes

Discover what these six domestic ski towns have to offer, just steps away from their snow-covered slopes. Once you make your choice, be sure you read up on these airlines’ ski and snowboard policies.

1. Vail, Colorado

Vail, situated at the bottom of the Rockies in Colorado, acts as a gateway for winter sports and is probably on every skier’s bucket list. Its small-town vibe combines the Old West with a traditional European ski town feeling for every visitor. Here, 8,150 feet above sea level, you’ll discover fun activities that revolve around winter, souvenirs and snow like the Colorado Snowsports Museum and brand new après-ski traditions that began this year in Vail and Lionshead Villages. This is a kick-back for the adventurists that want to explore the alpine villages and reminisce on a satisfying day on the powder.

If you’re visiting Vail, you should fly into the Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE) with plenty of daily flight options, but Denver International Airport (DEN) will give you more flexibility. You can rent a car at the airport or take a shuttle from companies like Peak 1 Express, with options starting as low as $54 per person. For lodging, The Pines Lodge, a RockResort, has access to Beaver Creek Mountain’s 1,800+ acres of skiable terrain. Or right in the heart of Vail at The Arrabelle at Vail Square and walk to the Eagle Bahn Gondola.

2. Aspen, Colorado

Aspen reinvents itself again and again, from historic mining town to its current reputation as a ski mecca for celebs, elites and professional skiers. It’s renowned for its annual Winter X Games and Winterskol festival and so much more. Framed by four mountains: Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands, this ski town has something for everyone, whether it’s your first or hundredth time on the terrain. The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) is only a few miles away from town, so it’s super easy to get to.

Ski-in and ski-out access with direct access to the ski slopes if you stay at the Westin Snowmass Resort. Or recharge at Element Basalt, just 22 miles from Aspen where state-of-the-art fitness center, a refreshing pool and healthy food options are available so you can be at your best when you’re shredding on the slopes.

3. Truckee, California

Skiers and winter warriors don’t have to fret when the season comes to an end in Truckee because of its northern-facing slopes, high summit and elevation. Truckee is like an extreme campground with daily events ranging from snowshoe tours to film festivals; there’s always something going on. Visitors can switch gears at its surrounding recreational parks (Truckee River Regional Park, Riverview Sports Park, Meadow Park, Bill Rose Park and Shoreline Park), reservoirs, campgrounds and surrounding lakes like Lake Tahoe and Donners Lake.

Reno Airport (RNO) is your best bet to fly into if you’re going to be in Truckee. The area around the Lake Tahoe is filled with high-end resorts and authentic scenery everywhere you turn. Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino is a private oasis that overlooks Lake Tahoe’s North shore. It’s located minutes away from 16 downhill ski areas and just 25 miles away from the airport.

4. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole is located just minutes away from Grand Teton National Park’s entrance in Wyoming, with 485 square miles of wilderness and recreation areas (Yellowstone National Park isn’t far, either). Some say that this place is the “last of the Old West” because of its cowboy flair and authentic ranches in the valley. It’s truly a playground year-round for winter sports fanatics, horseback riders and fishers. Skiing around the Tetons is a world-class experience and Forbes magazine says you’ll find the best skiing here.

Fly into the Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), right at the base of the Tetons. The rustic and elegant Spring Creek Ranch has you covered if you’re interested in an all-inclusive guest ranch experience that consists of private wildlife tours, luxurious spa treatments and winter dinner sleigh rides. Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa’s laid back style combines quiet elegance with the warmth and rustic details adventure travelers look for on their Rocky Mountain adventure.

5. Bend, Oregon

Bend, the cosmopolitan mountain town, is in the high desert plateaus of Central Oregon, between the snow-capped peaks of the Cascade Mountains. Go to a winter concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, trek the largest beer trail in the West, Bend Ale Trail, or glide down the slopes Mt. Bachelor, which will quickly show whether you’re a professional on the powder or taking it all in for the first time. Visit Hoodoo Ski area if night skiing is on the agenda; it’s the only place in Central Oregon that offers it!

Fly into the Redmond/Bend Airport (RDM) and stay at The Lodge at Eagle Crest Resort. It’s located on a river in Redmond, steps away from Eagle Crest Golf Courses and just a 4-minute drive away from Cline Falls State Park.

6. Taos, New Mexico

Just 50 miles south of the Colorado border, sacred wilderness filled with multicultural vibes thrives in Taos Ski Valley. Not many people expect New Mexico to be a hub for skiers, but with more than 300 inches of snowfall and sunny days every year as well as countless natural chutes and trails to glide over, beginners and intermediates can uncover its untouched, snow-filled charm. The Taos region is a place where cultures intertwine, it’s the longest continuously inhabited Native American community in the U.S. With that said, there’s no doubt that everyone is welcome to hit the slopes; whether it’s with one or two boards.

Hotel Don Fernando de Taos is moments away from the Enchanted Circle, where Taos Ski Valley thrives. This hotel features a casual on-site restaurant, Palettes, where food meets local artists’ work that frames the scene. WorldMark Taos is a perfect place for art fanatics, since this hotel is located behind renowned artist Nicolai Fechin’s home; now home to the Taos Art Museum.

Bonus destination:

7. Park City, Utah

You’re just a lift ticket away from Park City, Utah, where many consider this place’s powder the best in the world. From helicopter skiing, backcountry skiing to performing like an Olympian, there are ski classes galore here. Shopaholics unite along historic Main Street. Eco-tourists can spend a day at the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter. Kimball Art Center is where winter camps and art classes enhance every visitor’s imagination. Staying busy off the two famous slopes (Park City Mountain and Deer Valley Resort’s terrain) gets easier every day.

In Park City, 25 miles southeast of Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), Westgate Park City Resort offers a full service serenity spa with a fitness center and yoga plus free ski valet-ski butler and ski storage. Or choose from one or two bedroom condominiums at Jupiter Inn Condominiums which are just one mile from the Park City Mountain Resort and easy access to Park City’s free city-wide bus system. Here’s one more great option: Grand America Hotel, inspired by the world’s grand hotels of the past, is located in downtown Park City.

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