My answer would always be, yes – for a number of reasons. The first, would be the virtually guaranteed snow and empty slopes that all of these resorts benefit from. Isn’t this something that we all want?
But this isn’t the only reason. The USA and Canada are renowned for their excellent customer service and family friendly resorts. Not to mention the great deals you can get on food, drink and the latest ski equipment.
So, which resorts should you head to and why?
Breckenridge, Colorado, USA
Breckenridge is all about the bluebird power days, with an average of 762cm of snowfall and 300 days of sunshine every year. It’s an old mining town in the Rocky Mountains and has kept all of its mid-western charm. Take a walk along Main Street and you’ll see not much has changed since the town was established in 1859. All of the shops are independently owned and you can pick up anything from a small handmade Christmas ornament to the latest set of skis.
On the mountain there are plenty of long, wide, beginner and intermediate runs that are fun for everyone, whatever your level. Looking for something a little more challenging? Head to the top of Peak 8 where you’ll find the highest chairlift in North America, the Imperial Express. At 12,840 feet, the views alone are worth heading up there for. And new for this year is the opening of Peak 6 which gives you an extra 400 acres of lift-served terrain.
One of the advantages of staying in Breckenridge is just how close it is to the other resorts that are included on your Epic Pass. With such easy access to Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Vail and Beaver Creek, you will always find new areas to explore. No two days need ever be the same.
Park City, Utah, USA
Park City is known for its snow. And whilst all ski resorts get snow, the snow in Utah is dry and there’s lots of it. The closest ski area is Park City Mountain Resort which is right in town and great for families. Park City is a large resort with 144 runs spread over 8 peaks and 0\9 bowls. For those people that want to practice their jumps or have a go at some rails, there are 4 terrain parks, including a mega park where you can get some tips from the pros.
Park City is also close to Deer Valley and Canyons. If you are a snowboarder you might want to take the opportunity to try the dark side, as Deer Valley is for skiers only – and offers some great runs. As all three are covered on your 3 Resort International Pass and with free transportation between them all, there’s no excuse not to pay them a visit.
A little further afield are the ski resorts of Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude. For those looking for the ultimate ‘steep and deep’ these are not to be missed.
Park City is a lively cosmopolitan town with plenty to see and do. Many people head to the town just for the shopping or to dine in one of the many restaurants. And although Utah is a dry state, there are plenty of bars to choose from for those looking for some after dinner drinks.
Heading to Park City in January? The Sundance Film Festival is held every year in Park City. With a host of celebrities attending, you never know which star will be standing next to you hidden behind their goggles.
Banff, Alberta, Canada
If you want a feel of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff has got to be on the top of your list. The town of Banff is only minutes away from the local area of Mount Norquay and a short shuttle bus ride away from the larger areas of Lake Louise and Sunshine Village. With an average of 30ft of snowfall every year, whichever area you choose to ski, you won’t be disappointed.
After the mountain closes, there are many different ways to spend your evening in Banff. The town has a wide variety of restaurants and bars serving everything from pub grub to world class cuisine. If at the end of the day, you still have some energy left, put on your dancing shoes and hit the floor at Dancing Sasquatch.
If you fancy a day off the mountain, there are plenty of other activities to do. One of the most popular tours is the guided ice-walks. Here you can view the ancient native pictographs or if you’re lucky, catch sight of moose, elk, coyotes or wolves which all inhabit this area. Or, if you prefer more of an adrenaline rush then snowmobiling is a must. It’s great fun, whether you are going on a family adventure or testing your driving skills against your mates.
Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada
Whistler Blackcomb is famous for amazing powder and huge snowfalls each year, and although it has been consistently ranked number one ski resort in North America, I am sure many people would argue it’s unrivaled across the world. Sitting side by side, Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain each boast over 100 runs and can get over 10 metres of snow in an average season.
Have you ever wanted to know what it feels like to have the mountain to yourself? Then make sure you book yourself a fresh tracks ticket. The ticket includes a delicious breakfast buffet at the top of the Village gondola. Then before the lifts even open to the public, the mountain is yours to explore. From here you can head to one of the freshly groomed runs, or make a first turn in the powder.
But it isn’t just the ski area that makes Whistler so special. Most of the slopes run directly down to the village area which is always lively with many skiers coming together for an après drink at the end of the day. One of my favourite nights out is the Fire and Ice show held every Sunday evening. At the village base, between the two gondolas, this free show sees Whistler’s best skiers and snowboarders hit a big air jump through a blazing ring of fire.
There is so much to do in Whistler, it should be on everyone’s list of places to visit.
Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
As soon as you arrive in Tremblant, it is obvious why so many people love it here and why Ski Magazine voted it the best ski resort in Eastern North America for 12 years running. All of the buildings in the pedestrian village of Tremblant are brightly coloured, making this a very unique and picturesque resort.
On the mountain, there is a good mixture of beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain with a number of wide, tree-lined runs. One thing Tremblant is particularly good at is grooming, and all of the runs are groomed daily. This extra care means you’re almost always skiing on corduroy runs.
The village of Tremblant has some lively après ski and there are a number of bars in the village if you fancy a drink on the way back to your hotel. There’s also a wide variety of restaurants offering food from many different nationalities. So whether you fancy trying some of the French Cuisine or just a pizza to share, there’s plenty to choose from.
One thing that shouldn’t be missed on a visit to Tremblant, if you fancy a day off the mountain, is a trip to the Scandinave Spa located on the Diable River. Using a hot & cold technique with different warming and cooling pools to relax and rejuvenate you, it’s the perfect way to rest any weary legs.
Although I have listed these 5 resorts as being my favourites in USA and Canada, it was a really hard task trying to narrow it down. There are so many different ski resorts in North America, each offering something very special and unique, making it almost impossible to choose between them. If you haven’t skied in North America, make it a priority, as every snowsport fan needs to experience it at least once.