With the Summer and Fall Road Trip Planning now safely behind you, you might think you’re ready to rest through the Winter, content to hole up with only the holiday forays to consider. But…hibernation is for bears… not people, and especially not outdoor people. The postman’s motto, "Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night will keep me from my appointed rounds" could just as easily apply to outdoor enthusiasts if you substitute “rounds” for “road trips”.
So as much as you might initially think those woolly slippers are destined to toast your toes all Winter long, pretty soon, images of blue-white slopes, roaring lodge fires, and rosy cheeks start flitting across your mind and you remember…there’s a whole Winter Wonderland waiting to be explored! So you fire up that Road Trip Planner again, this time aimed towards the nearest Ski In, Ski Out Resort. Imagine how delicious it will feel when you slip your tootsies into a pair of mukluks after spending the day out in the snow.
The following three top the “short” list of favorite ski in, ski out resorts for ardent back country skiers. All are already known for their grand summer offerings but skiers know these areas stand out during the winter as well. Choose one that’s closest to your home base for your road trip planning or, if you’ve got the time (& money) plan one trip per month and hit all three this Winter!
- Tioga Pass Resort, California – During the summer, you can take the Tioga Road all the way from Yosemite National Park’s west entrance out through the park’s east entrance (a wonderful road trip, by the way). But from November – May, this upper road is closed due to snow and the only way to reach the rustic lodge (9,641 feet elevation) is to ski in, ski out (from the east entrance). This is not a cushy resort like you could find at Aspen or Vail, Colorado, but it’s a favorite among die-hard plankers. You’ll find rustic cabins, a roaring fire in the store/lodge and a restaurant that probably seats no more than 25 folks at a time. I stayed there during the Summer and can attest that their food is particularly hearty, freshly made, and generously portioned. Their winter rates are charged per person & include 3 meals per day. Guests must travel over snow under their own power to the Resort, usually between two and six miles over moderate uphill and flat terrain. Terrain varies from gently rolling open meadows to sheltered, north-facing powder glades to 50-degree, 800-foot icy couloirs for the vertical extremists. Expert-only runs have names like Cocaine Chutes, Dana Couloir, Ellery Chutes and Powerhouse, a 4,000-vertical-foot descent that has skiers coming back every winter.
- Jackson Hole, Wyoming: Some visitors use their road trip planner to come here during the summer for the pristine mountain landscape and abundant wildlife but it also offers world-class ski terrain. There’s a power to this place that’s touched and inspired many. And there seems to be a fundamental connection with nature here that makes this a particularly good travel choice. One big plus to skiing in this area is that you have many choices for your accommodations, which vary from supreme luxury to hostels. The terrain surrounding you remains the same; it’s only the “after hours” experience that shifts according to your preferences and budget. If you prefer the extreme terrain, then runs like Corbett's Couloir can test your last steely nerve. Bonus Resort: Nearby, in the Grand Teton Village, you’ll find another ski in, ski out luxury spot, the Snake River Lodge & Spa which has 88 guest rooms and 46 luxury condominiums…and a 17,000-square-foot Avanyu Spa!
- Whistler, British Columbia – Picturesque, expansive, includes its own village…that’s the quaint part of your Whistler Road Trip. For “weak-kneed” parts, try the runs like the Couloir Extreme and Spanky's Ladder. The village has a European flavor, is user-friendly and very lively. The skiing is superbly varied and the new Peak-2-Peak gondola, linking Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains, will be the world's longest continuous lift system when it opens in December, 2008. “Whistler is an amazing resort,” David Reichman notes. “It tops my list of favorites”. You can choose among drive-up or ski in ski out accommodations ike the Residence Inn By Marriott Whistler Blackcomb. Of the three resorts noted here, this one is probably the best suited for families with guest suites that sleep up to 6 comfortably. Bonus Activity: Make this a Train Road Trip by taking the Whistler Star Express. This is Vancouver’s only door-to-door shuttle service from Vancouver International Airport to the world-famous Whistler Village and Resort.
Whichever one you add to your road trip planner, you’re gonna have a great time so grab your parkas, snow boots, and yes, those slippers and get thee to a mountain slope!