For some people, winter means bundling up against the cold, chopping firewood, or waiting for the snowplow to come by and clear the road. But to others, the arrival of winter means that it’s time to hit the slopes! Skiers, snowboarders and other winter-sports enthusiasts simply love this time of year. And I’m one of them. So far, I’ve had opportunities to ski in California and Colorado but I’ve always dreamed of seeing the fresh powder in the Alps and Canada too. Here’s a list of some of the best places for around the world for skiing:
British Columbia, Canada
The slopes at Whistler Blackcomb are considered by many to be the best in the world. This is likely why Vancouver, only a two-hour drive away, was chosen as the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Originally two separate resorts, they merged in 1997 and now form the largest ski area in North America. At 8,171 acres (33 km2), the resort is 54% larger than the next largest in Vail, Colorado. Located high atop the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, over two million visitors come here to enjoy the skiing, snowboarding, and “great outdoors” every year.
With spectacular panoramic scenery all around, the French Alps are home to several world-class ski resorts. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is probably the most famous in the region, if not the world. Host to the very first Winter Olympic Games in 1924, it’s grown in popularity ever since. Mont-Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps and the second highest in Europe, with an elevation of 15,771 feet (4808 meters). There are countless fine resorts in the French Alps worth mentioning as well, such as Alpe d’Hues, Avoriaz, and Courchevel. If you’re looking for a ski holiday in France, there are definitely some great options there.
The Colorado Rocky Mountains feature fifty-five peaks that are higher than 14,000 feet (4200 meters) in elevation. It’s no wonder that the state offers so many opportunities for amazing skiing—from ultra-posh Aspen to the largest ski resort in the U.S., Vail. Other famous areas for outdoor activities in Colorado include Keystone, Steamboat Springs, and Telluride. So far I’ve been skiing in Winter Park and snowmobiling in Breckenridge, which are not too far from “The Mile High City” of Denver.
One of the most iconic images of Switzerland is undoubtedly the Matterhorn (known by the Swiss as Zermatt.) I’ve ridden on the Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction at Disneyland but how awesome would it be to ski next to the real thing? Besides Zermatt however, there are countless resorts in the Swiss Alps to enjoy. Options include Verbier; Grindelwald, at the base of the 13,025-foot (3,970 meter) Eiger; and world-famous St. Moritz, known as a playground for celebrities and royalty.
My home state of California may be more famous for sun and sand, but it also boasts some amazing locales with world-class skiing as well. Adjacent to Lake Tahoe in Northern California (at the border of Nevada) is Heavenly Mountain Resort. Another very popular option is located in the Sierras in Central California, Mammoth Mountain. Mammoth is a dormant volcano that usually gets incredible amounts of snow every winter (on average over 342 inches each season!) If you’re in Southern California, there are also several local mountain resorts, such as Big Bear, that are only about a two-hour drive from Los Angeles or San Diego.
Where are your favorite places to go skiing? Do you like my selections or do you prefer off-the-beaten-path places like Andorra? Or what about skiing in Scandinavia or Japan? Feel free to comment in the section below!
Photo Credits – Chamonix by Daniel*D / Wiki Commons; Whistler Blackcomb by hseikaly / Flickr Commons; Zermatt by jmj2001 / Flickr Commons