Skiing in the Rocky Mountains is a dream of many winter sports enthusiasts. But Vail, Aspen, Park City, and Lake Tahoe aren’t the only ski resorts in America that attract skiers to their slopes or restricted areas.
This is indeed one of the biggest differences between the Alps and North America. While in Europe, from 4 Vallées to Obertauern, kilometers of slopes are counted, in the United States and Canada they talk about “skiable acres,” that is, the size of surfaces on which traditional skiing and snowboarding can be practiced.
In some areas, backcountry ski areas, which are not specially designed for exercise, are much larger than those on traditional (groomed) slopes.
Surprisingly, neither Colorado nor California has the most popular ski resorts in the United States, despite the fact that it is home to the most popular.
Even Utah, which has 14 ski areas, some of the largest resorts and has powder snow, has fallen in the top spots.
According to statistics from the National Ski Area Association, New York State tops the ranking with 51 ski resorts. Michigan, on the Canadian border, has 40, while Wisconsin and Colorado each have 31.
Winter sports enthusiasts enjoy a total of 470 ski areas and resorts in the United States, some even in southern states like Alabama, Missouri, and Tennessee.
Besides New York and the Rocky Mountains, New England is a good starting point for skiers. Ski resorts can be found in all six states: Massachusetts (13), Connecticut (5), Rhode Island (1), Vermont (23), New Hampshire (30), and Maine (18).
It is interesting to know who owns each post because the ski pass is not only valid for the station purchased but also in other resorts of the same operator.
It’s also always a good idea to check the ski center’s website for discounts, as ski passes are much more expensive in the US than in the Alps.
The nation’s oldest ski resort is Howelsen Hill Ski Area, in Colorado, where you can climb up the mountain in early 1915 to enjoy the snow.
However, Sun Valley, Idaho, is considered the first true winter sports center, which was launched in the late 1930s by businessman and politician W. Avril Harriman.
Dollar Mountain in Sun Valley was not only suitable for beginners, but it was also the first mountain in which mobile elevators were installed.
Ski areas in America, especially those on the East Coast, are not particularly high. In Arctic Alaska, you can ski almost as far as sea level.
However, many areas experience a massive first snowfall which is Mount Baker, in the state of Washington, with snowfall of 16.8 meters annually. Indoors, in Colorado or Utah, the snow is drier and thus more fun to ski.
Ski resorts in the United States are exposed to weather events other than those that affect their European peers.
The country has only two major mountain ranges, the Rocky Mountains in the west and the Appalachian Mountains in the east. Both cross the nation from north to south. Only one small hill chain in Utah, the Winta Mountains near Salt Lake City, runs through the area from east to west.
Temperatures also change faster. It rains one day, but in a very short time the weather can change and then it snows nonstop for several days.
The largest ski resort, measured by coordinated slopes, is Park City in Utah, where the Park City Mountain and Canyons areas were connected to a ski lift a few years ago.
The giant ski area is 2,100 meters above sea level, and there is lighter and cooler air throughout the winter. The highest altitude of the ski resort is 3056 meters.
The second largest station in the United States is also in Utah: Powder Mountain. Located near the city of Aden, the ski center has hectares more slippery but fewer slopes.
Deer Valley Station is also popular in Utah, but it is independent and does not allow skiing on its slopes.
The ski resort is located in the far north of Alaska. In the early 1960s, Chris von Imhof came from the German city of Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Alaska, which he called a “developing country for winter sports”. At that time there was an elevator and cabin, nothing more.
But the Alyeska Resort, from which you can enjoy a dream-like panoramic view of Cook Inlet, the North Pacific, mountains and glaciers, has developed more and more, as did the hotel, of which von Imhof had been its manager for many years.
Today it is the largest winter sports resort in Alaska, with 76 slopes and many acres of countryside.
Meanwhile, the most unusual ski destination in the United States is located in its smallest state, Hawaii.
The extinct Mauna Kea volcano has no infrastructure and an off-road vehicle is needed to reach the 4,207-meter summit. You also have to be a good skater or handle a good skateboard to go down the white mountain – as translated – because conditions can change at any time.
During the winter, temperatures range from four degrees below zero to just above zero, but the strong winds that usually blow over this tropical island guarantee cool ears and good snow.