Ski Resorts: Best-Ever

by Dom Nozzi

The ski resorts found on this list represent the ski resorts I have visited that are, in my opinion, the best places I have ever skiied. These resorts excel in the quality and quantity of snow they reliably see, the quality and quantity of their ski runs (particularly the quality of their “glade” or tree runs), the quality of the views of the surrounding mountain ranges, and an extensive collection of black diamond runs. The best ski resorts, in my view, are those that feature a large and diverse number and type of runs, preferably including glade (tree) runs and back bowls. Lifts are relatively fast and lift lines are relatively short. Directional signs and trail signs are found throughout the ski resort so that skiers tend to know where they are and where to find trails and destinations. The resort tends to have high quality and high quanitity snow, preferably dry and fluffy. Design of the mountain tends to minimize skiers having to waste a lot of energy to pole uphill. Views of the mountain region are outstanding, and ski runs tend to be relatively long. The resort has a large number of challenging Black Diamond (expert) runs. Restaurants on the mountain and apres ski opportunities are plentiful, affordable and vibrant. The ski village, if present, is charming, compact and walkable.

The list is not ordered from best to worst (of the best). I am well aware of the fact that there are many, many other ski resorts in the world that belong on this list, and I hope to be able to ski them and confirm that someday.

Best-Ever Ski Resorts Skied By Dom Nozzi

  • Vail CO (First skied April 1997). Vail is remarkable in size, and is properly considered the “Cadillac” of US ski resorts. On the front side, the skier finds an 11,570-foot peak elevation, a vertical rise of 3,450 feet, 193 runs, and 5,289 acres of skiable terrain. It boasts back bowls and glade runs that are said to be the best in the world. On average, Vail gets 350 inches of snow a year.
  • Panorama, Canada (First skied February 2003). With more than 2800 acres of terrain, it’s not until you reach the summit of Panorama that the scale of the resort becomes apparent. Panorama has a 7,875-foot peak elevation, a vertical rise of 4,000 feet, 120 runs, and 2,847 acres of skiable terrain. It includes excellent back bowls. On average, Panorama gets 188 inches of snow a year. This resort has impressive cruiser runs and surprisingly short lift lines (an undiscovered gem).
  • Breckenridge CO (First skied January 2005). Breck has a 12,998-foot peak elevation, a vertical rise of 3,398 feet, 155 runs, and 2,358 acres of skiable terrain. It boasts very good glade runs. On average, Breckenridge gets 300 inches of snow a year.
  • Aspen CO (First skied January 2006). Aspen has a 11,212-foot peak elevation, a vertical rise of 3,267 feet, 76 runs, and 675 acres of skiable terrain. On average, Aspen gets 250 inches of snow a year.
  • Snowmass CO (First skied January 2006). Snowmass has a 12,510-foot peak elevation, a vertical rise of 4,406 feet, 91 runs, and 3,132 acres of skiable terrain. It boasts back bowls. On average, Snowmass gets 300 inches of snow a year.
  • Aspen Highlands CO (First skied January 2006). Aspen has a 11,675-foot peak elevation, a vertical rise of 3,635 feet, 118 runs, and 1,028 acres of skiable terrain. It boasts back bowls. On average, Aspen Highlands gets 300 inches of snow a year. This resort excels in long, enjoyable, high-speed cruiser runs.
  • Bormio Italy (First skied March 2006). Bormio is not a ski town. It is a medieval village that happens to have a ski hill. Bormio has a 9,882-foot peak elevation, a vertical rise of 5,862 feet, and 18 runs. Bormio Village is spectacularly romantic and charming. The ancient Roman baths nearby are unforgettable.
  • Livigno Italy (First skied March 2006). Livigno is known for having a relatively high elevation, affording spectacular panoramic views of snow-peaked mountains in the region. There are 76 runs at the resort.
  • St Moritz Switzerland (First skied March 2006). St Moritz has a 10,837-foot peak elevation, a vertical rise of 5,194 feet, and 108 runs. Many call this the best ski resort in the world. My experience with their fast, high-tech lifts is that they certainly have the best lifts in the world. The runs and the views of the Swiss Alps was spectacular.
  • Sun Peaks, British Columbia (First skied February 2008). Sun Peaks has a vertical rise of 2,891feet, which is the biggest vertical drop in the interior of British Columbia. The mountain has 121runs, and 3,678 acres of skiable terrain. It boasts back bowls. On average, Sun Peaks gets 220 inches of fluffy snow a year. I found some of the best, most enjoyable runs here that I have ever skied, including excellent glade runs.
  • Crested Butte CO (First skied February 2009). Crested Butte has a 12,162-foot peak elevation, a vertical rise of 2,775 feet, 121 runs, and 1,167 acres of skiable terrain. It boasts back bowls. On average, Crested Butte gets  221 inches of snow a year.
  • Steamboat Springs CO (First skied February 2010). Steamboat Springs has a 10,568-foot peak elevation, a vertical rise of 3,668 feet, 165 runs, and 2,965 acres of skiable terrain. It boasts back bowls. On average, Steamboat gets 343 inches of snow a year.
  • Axamer Lizum Mountain, Innsbruck Austria (First skied February 2007). Axamer Lizum hosted the 1976 Winter Olympics with the legendary skier Franz Klamer (who I still recall from my childhood days watching the Olympics on TV). The runs here are relatively demanding (which one would expect).
  • St Anton Austria (First skied February 2007). An enormous mountain with a bewildering number of runs and lifts that would take months to explore fully.

__________________________________________

I urge you to email me (dom@walkablestreets.com) or leave a comment if you have a suggested addition or subtraction from this list. Or if you have any other thoughts about this list.

About

Each list in this blog contains my own personal opinions based on my personal experiences. I acknowledge that there may be a need to add or subtract from these lists (or to create a new subject list), and I welcome such suggestions. The lists are not ordered from higher to lower quality. Each list is a work in progress.

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About Dom Nozzi

Urban designer, Complete Streets instructor, smart growth specialist, town planner, walkable & bikeable streets & trails specialist, writer, editor, speaker, world adventurer, skier, kayaker, SCUBA diver, bicyclist, hiker, dancer, book reader, urbanist. Make my own beer, wine, pasta, bread. Live by the motto that it is the things we do NOT do that we later regret. Life is too short to not live it to the fullest.
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