The 8 Best Ski Resorts to Visit This Holiday Season: Finding Your Snow Globe
Looking for a Christmas or New Year's ski getaway? This guide by Ski Expert Tess Hollister breaks down the early-season resorts certain to delight!
The holidays are fast approaching, and that means the ski season is here! Like many of us, you are in dire need of a vacation, but where should you go? Can you picture yourself nestled by a crackling warm fire with a good book, peppermint hot chocolate in hand, and great company around you after a wonderful day spent skiing?
What about singing Bing Crosby’s song, “White Christmas,” as you enjoy a sleigh ride through the park, excellent après-ski drinks, and fabulous downtown nightlife? If your answer is “Yes, sign me up!” then you have come to the right place. Spend the holiday season skiing or snowboarding at some of the most idyllic resorts in the country!
With so many options, it can definitely be hard to choose. Below you will find a list of the top places to visit this holiday season. The rankings have the following considerations:
- Where will the snow be the best over the holidays? What is the annual average snowfall?
- How easy is it to get there (where are nearby airports/what is transportation like)?
- What is there to do après-ski? What is the town vibe?
With these factors in mind, let’s dig into the top ski destinations for the holiday season!
8. Stowe, Vermont
Stowe is easy to access; only a 40-minute drive from Burlington International Airport (BTV), you’ll have access to the slopes in no time. Enjoy the après-ski nightlife within the Spruce Peak Village. Entertain yourself at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center or walk downtown to explore the numerous boutiques and idyllic storefronts.
If you are looking for skiing Santa, holiday lights, beautiful snow, sleigh rides, Zip Tours, Gondola SkyRides, and the Auto Toll Road—look no further. Can't go to France, Switzerland, Italy, or Austria this holiday season? Celebrate at the next best destination—visit Stowe for a magical ski getaway!
Now, what about skiing? Nestled under Vermont’s tallest peak (Mount Mansfield), Stowe has so many runs to choose from. With a 2,360-foot vertical drop and 40 total skiable miles, you will not be disappointed. If you are on the East Coast this holiday season, be sure to check out this wonderful ski resort!
7. Steamboat, Colorado
Steamboat Ski Resort is located in northwestern Colorado in Steamboat Springs. Steamboat recently announced that it will be investing $135 million in making the resort a dream destination. From après-ski drinks, beautiful ice rinks, cookies and hot chocolate, unique restaurants, idyllic storefronts, and incredible skiing—Steamboat has it all!
Additionally, Steamboat has all the access points. Travelers can fly into Yampa Valley Regional Airport (HDN) with just a quick drive to downtown. More economically speaking, travelers can fly into Denver International Airport (DEN) with about a four-hour drive to this dreamy skiing destination. With numerous chalet accommodations, everyone can find what they are looking for. Skip the lift lines at Vail and Aspen this season and explore Steamboat instead.
Now, let’s talk skiing! Out of all the resorts in Colorado, Steamboat is unique. With 368 inches of annual snowfall per year, this resort has great early-season skiing. Its precise location attracts many early-season storms, allowing it to steal deep snow before it reaches the other resorts. With ski and snowboard lessons available, you will always have fun learning new things!
6. Big Sky, Montana
Welcome to Big Sky country! Enjoy a rustic, yet contemporary, Montana getaway by visiting Big Sky Resort. Big Sky Resort is massive, with fun skiing for all. Between plenty of hotels, condos, and the resort itself, you will have no issues finding a wonderful place to stay.
Situated between Bozeman, Montana, and Yellowstone National Park, you will find plenty of fun things to do in Big Sky after skiing. The town itself is small and quaint with a few great bars and tasty food locations. This is definitely a more “off-the-grid” getaway for those looking to relax, rejuvenate, and skip the crowds. After all, more skiing is always done with fewer crowds. With a resort as massive as Big Sky, you might even have a few runs all to yourself!
The access point to Big Sky is fairly simple. Travelers can fly into Bozeman International Airport (BZN) and enjoy a scenic 45-minute commute through Gallatin Canyon (along the Gallatin River) to Big Sky Resort.
Now, let’s talk skiing. Like many Rocky Mountain-centric resorts, the skiing is steep and deep! From greens to triple blacks, Big Sky has it all. The resort village also offers ski and board lessons for those who wish to learn. The resort gets an annual average snowfall of 400 inches, which makes early-season skiing a definite.
5. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
We can’t talk about early-season skiing without naming Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort. Looking for an ultimate big mountain experience? Look no further than Whistler! With over 8,100 acres of skiing, you will never be bored. Whistler also is home to one of the most lively après-ski scenes. From buzzing bars to authentic restaurants to torchlight parades to rejuvenating spas, Whistler is a must-visit!
What makes Whistler and Blackcomb unique is that they are two separate mountains in close proximity to each other. Ski Whistler one day, Blackcomb the next, and your legs will be sore for days. The surrounding area also offers backcountry skiing, heli-skiing, and night skiing—why not try all three? With a quick flight to Vancouver International Airport (YVR), you will be skiing in no time.
Now, let’s talk skiing. Whistler and Blackcomb are in close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, which means it dumps and doesn’t stop! With 200 marked runs, 16 alpine bowls, and three glaciers, your skiing dreams will become a reality. Lastly, with an average snowfall of 458 inches, this is a great resort to visit in the early season.
4. Palisades Tahoe, California
Celebrate the holidays at Palisades Tahoe, one of California's most spectacular resorts! Palisades Tahoe has it all, from ski festivals to wonderful food, music, art, and culture—you will not be disappointed. If you are looking for deep chutes, steep skiing, long tree lines, or mellow groomers, this is the place to be! The Village at Palisades Tahoe has authentic wine bars, coffee shops, bakeries, and shopping. Olympic Valley made its claim to fame when it hosted the 1960 Olympic Games. Take a step back in history and learn about all the legendary skiers and deep Austrian/Swiss history that brought skiing to life.
Lastly, the area has many vibrant and lively festivals such as Merry Days and Holly Nights, a holiday festival that features farm-to-table dinners with seasonal fruits and vegetables, glorious ice gardens, and Christmas carolers. Only an hour's drive away from Reno International Airport (RNO), access to Palisades Tahoe is simple.
With an average snowfall of 500 inches, Palisades Tahoe is the place to be early in the season. The snow-covered peaks and dramatic landscape make this destination a must-see for those who want a truly authentic ski holiday!
3. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Celebrate this holiday season at Jackson Hole, Wyoming! With too many holiday lights to count, Jackson Hole is your dreamy winter wonderland getaway. After a full day of skiing, explore downtown with its numerous art galleries, delectable restaurants, picturesque western vibe, and lovely accommodations. With great beer and good company, Jackson Hole has it all.
Getting to Jackson Hole is so easy, with nonstop flights from 14 major U.S. cities and one-stop flights from other cities around the world. Additionally, you have access to some of the most picturesque wilderness in the country: Grand Teton National Park, National Elk Refuge, Bridger-Teton National Forest, and Yellowstone National Park. Lastly, if you want to trade your resort skis for backcountry skis, Teton Pass does not disappoint. Celebrate Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve in this charming, world-class ski destination!
Now to the fun part: the skiing! Jackson Hole is known for its challenging and technical terrain, including the famous Corbet’s Couloir. With over 4,000 feet of vertical skiing, Jackson Hole has some of the steepest, most consistent slopes in the United States. With over 526 inches of annual average snowfall, the skiing will not disappoint.
2. Alta, Utah
Alta, Utah, is a mecca for skiing and that is why it is ranked in the top two! It has one of the easiest and most affordable access points in the West—Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). With a quick drive through Cottonwood Canyon, you will be there in no time. Alta is also one of three “ski-only” ski resorts in the country, meaning that snowboarders are not allowed to ride in the regular season.
A cozy resort situated in the Wasatch Mountains, the skiing options are endless at Alta Ski Resort. With steep chutes, classic trees, sloping bowls, and easy corduroy, there is something for everyone here. Alta is also known for its deep, deep powder! Skiing heritage and history runs deep here, and rightfully so. All you have to do is step into one of the grandiose lodges to learn about the 84-year history of this resort. If you are looking for a place that is more about hardcore skiing than the fancy amenities, this is it. Skip the lift lines at Park City and Deer Valley and celebrate a resort to yourself.
Now, let’s talk skiing. Alta boasts a crazy 550 inches of average annual snowfall. This means deep and soft early-season snow that stays consistent all year long. Start working out your legs before taking this holiday trip—you will thank me later!
1. Mt. Baker, Washington
Lastly, #1 on my list this year goes to Mount Baker Ski Resort. Mount Baker is a special gem and if you are from that area, you know why. With fun trails for every ability level, you will not be disappointed! Getting here is easy; you can fly directly into Bellingham International Airport (BLI) or Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Access to this resort is slightly harder at two hours and 45 minutes of driving time, but with lovely accommodations, great food, and a Pacific Northwest vibe, this is a ski area you will never want to leave.
The resort is perfectly situated geographically in that it dumps some of the largest amounts of snowfall in North America. The average annual snowfall is a whopping 655 inches! This means you are guaranteed to ride over the holidays. Ski history runs deep in this picturesque, snow-globe-like resort, so why not celebrate the holidays with good company and deep snow?
Out of all the resort options above, one thing is certain: you will get a cozy, snowy, and delightful ski vacation this holiday season. Find your own snow globe this December and take that well-deserved vacation. Planning your epic ski adventure has never been easier because now you have the necessary tools to chase that early-season snow. If you have any questions or want to find the best gear for your trip, reach out to a Ski Expert here on Curated!
Whatever resort you choose to visit and whether you are a beginner, expert, or intermediate skier, celebrate the history of skiing with long runs, good food, and great company at the incredible resorts that make it happen. Happy Holidays!