Ski Vacations

North American winter getaways

As winter sets in, you soon find yourself bored and longing for a getaway. This time of year goes by so slowly; all you want to do is enjoy some outdoor recreation and get a bit of fresh air again. Maybe you live in a climate far too warm to bring you the joys of winter fun. Planning a winter getaway is a great way to beat the "blah" feeling of the season.

Ski vacations are a wonderful way to bring the spirit of the season to life. Skiing is relatively easy to learn, lots of fun and guaranteed to bring you a gorgeous scenic view. Ski lodges often offer many activities the whole family can enjoy. There are vacation packages available designed to suit the needs of almost everyone.

The hottest spots for ski vacations are Colorado and Canada. Both have breathtaking views and a good quantity of snow, and both offer a large selection of resorts, ski vacation packages and sensational opportunities for advanced or novice skiers.

Canadian Ski Destinations

Skiers will marvel over Canada's wondrous peaks, rocky cliffs, sparkling rivers and crystal-clear lakes all covered in a thick blanket of fluffy snow:

  • Whistler ski vacations are the most popular. Located in British Columbia, Whistler / Blackcomb has earned a reputation as the perfect setting for winter sport enthusiasts, with a vertical rise of 5,200 feet, over 7,000 acres of skiable terrain and majestic mountains. Several resorts in this area have won prestigious awards for being the best in North America. Whistler includes the chance to learn heli skiing which has been gaining popularity due to the Winter X Games.
  • Alberta is set in the natural beauty of the Canadian Rockies, providing resorts that offer night-time skiing, 90 percent snow-making capabilities, skiing in Banff National Park, and 3,200-foot vertical drops. The host to the 1988 Winter Olympics, Calgary is located in Alberta as well.
  • Quebec is known for its heavenly atmosphere for prime skiing. Their resorts offer children's centers, cross-country and downhill options, and horseshoe-shaped valleys. Many resorts in this area also provide a wide range of alternative actives such as mountain climbing, snowmobiling, ice skating and dogsledding.

Colorado Ski Destinations

There's no place like Colorado for the skiing enthusiast. With a total of 41,648 feet of vertical rise, an annual snowfall of 4,241 inches and over 4,000 lodging options, it's a winter paradise:

    Aspen is world-renowned for its skiing accommodations, with five-star lodging and dining, active nightlife and ongoing events for all ages. Aspen is also host to the 2008 Winter X Games.
  • Telluride is a window to the Old West mining days. This unforgettable mountain setting is the ultimate backdrop for a Colorado ski vacation getaway. If an inspiring scenic view is what you're looking for, this town is perfect.
  • Copper Mountain is the host of the 2008 Suzuki U.S. Freeskiing Open. Since this resort town is on the rise, it offers budget deals. The prices here are some of the best available in Colorado.

Other Ski Destinations

There are so many hot spots for skiing, you can't just limit your options to Colorado or Canada:

  • Lake Tahoe, CA – Since 1930, this resort town has been going strong. Lake Tahoe ski vacations are one of California's best-kept secrets. The terrain is perfect for any skier. Mt. Pluto is known for its well-groomed runs and mild pitch, perfect for a family ski trip. The area receives optimal sun exposure, making it a great place to improve your skills. Lookout Mountain gives you an excellent view of Martis Valley, with plenty of steep inclines and trees for skiers with plenty of experience.
  • Other notable states with optimal skiing conditions and resorts are: Maine, Vermont, Washington, Oregon and Michigan. These states are not so heavily populated with skiing tourists. Most of their revenue comes from the locals, leaving the slopes uncrowded. Skiing opportunities are plentiful and cheap – if you're on a tight budget, you may want to research your options in these areas.

Planning and Booking

Planning your vacation is the hardest part. Do a little research first and decide what location suits your family best. After you have chosen which state to visit, you should ask for a few travel guides from the surrounding towns and ski resorts. Choose a travel agent to help you with the legwork or pore over search engine information online.

Online travel sites are a good way to get started on planning. Many online resources allow you to find deals that fit your budget and tastes. Reserving your planned vacation at your chosen venue months in advance can help you get the best deal. Start searching for deals in the summer months. Since most resorts are anxious to attract customers for the upcoming season, most will offer promotions and inexpensive rates if you book your vacation in advance. Last-minute booking makes it difficult to find desirable accommodations and pricing. Choosing a ski vacation at the beginning or the end of the season can also get you an attractive price. Choose a less-traveled resort for affordable rates if you're planning your vacation in a hurry.

For Beginners

If you're a beginner or are planning a family ski vacation, be sure to choose a resort with suitable terrain and services geared towards a beginner's level. Some resorts are based on satisfying the challenges of advanced skiing. Nothing kills your trip faster than a bad experience on the slopes. Sometimes high-flying, fast-moving experts can scare the first-timers. Finding a resort dedicated to new skiers is fairly simple – just look for keywords such as "learning areas," "gentle slopes," "slow and easy," and "small group lessons."

By Chloe Cole