Where Is the World’s Best Skiing and Snowboarding? From the Alpine terrain of Vail to the powdered tips of northern Japan, here are the peaks that pique our interest.
1/8 Alta and Snowbird, Utah Just 45 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport, these two side-by-side areas in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon swim in 500 inches (1,270 centimetres) of snow every winter. The nightlife in town is best described as laid-back, and you won’t find much here in the way of maîtres d’s or furriers. But what the destination lacks in bling it more than makes up for in exciting terrain, with a skiers-only haven at Alta and 2,500 acres (1,012 hectares) for both skiers and snowboarders at Snowbird.
2/8 Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming Jackson combines the best of both worlds. Boasting the largest elevation drop in the world (4,139 feet/1261.5 metres), the resort receives 459 inches (1,165 centimetres) of snow each year on its 2,500 acres of serious terrain—plus another 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares) through the gates. Plunging into Corbet’s Couloir is a rite of snow sports passage, and you’ll find ridiculously cushy service at the base—not to mention boot-stomping, cowboy-hat-wearing nightlife.
3/8 Vail, Colorado For many powder-seeking pilgrims, Vail is the Holy Grail of Alpine ski vacations. It’s the largest single resort in the U.S., with 5,289 acres (2,140 hectares) of terrain, 193 meticulously groomed runs and seemingly endless bowls, such as Blue Sky Basin and China Bowl. Chances are, you’ll have a blue bird day—the sun shines 300 days a year—followed by an evening out at the abundance of bars and restaurants in expansive Vail Village.
4/8 Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada Long before it hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 2010, Whistler earned a gold medal in winter-vacation performance thanks to its sky-high glaciers and storybook village, which is equal parts charming and cosmopolitan. After tackling some of the 8,000 acres (3,235 hectares) of terrain, relive your day on the slopes over dinner and drinks in Whistler Village.
5/8 Val d’Isère, France This is the quintessential destination for realizing your dream of skiing the Alps. An annual stop on the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, the destination boasts 186 miles (300 kilometres) of slopes, 94 lifts, 158 runs and a charming après-ski scene promising countless reasons to indulge in escargots and a bottle or two of Bordeaux.
6/8 St Anton, Austria Serving the Arlberg Region—a vast swatch of such interconnected areas as Lech, St Christoph and the Stuben Glacier—St Anton hosted the world’s first ski school in 1921, and though it’s favoured among expert skiers and riders, it still offers lessons today. Among its many claims to fame is its world-renowned après-ski scene.
7/8 Niseko, Japan Averaging more than 590 inches (1,500 centimetres) of snow a year, Niseko is known for having some of the deepest, lightest powder in the world. This area in northern Japan actually includes four resorts—with plenty of ego-stroking cruisers. At night, 2,560 vertical feet (780 metres) of skiable terrain is illuminated, and lifts stay open until 9:00 pm. After, enjoy a sushi dinner in town or soothe sore muscles in one of the area’s famous hot springs.
8/8 Queenstown-Wanaka, New Zealand In the southern hemisphere, the area of Queenstown-Wanaka offers fresh powder and prime skiing from June to October. The area between these towns—the former is New Zealand’s adventure capital and the latter a charming small-town retreat—includes the largest heli-ski terrain outside of North America and four marvellously varied ski resorts, including Treble Cone and its legendary off-piste skiing.
Photography courtesy Treble Cone
Updated January 27, 2014—Each winter, millions of adrenaline junkies grab their gear and flock to snow-covered ski resorts around the world. With towering mountains and picturesque villages, destinations from Japan to Jackson Hole are renowned for their fresh powder, beautiful vistas and lively après-ski scenes. It’s a temptation that’s tough to resist, and the options are plenty, with as many as 2,100 ski resorts worldwide. We’ve sifted through the snow and gathered the best spots for enjoying a day on the slopes, whether by ski or by board.
Flip through the gallery above to see our picks for the world’s best peaks, and share your own in the comments section.
Many of you shared your picks for the world’s best skiing and snowboarding on
Facebook. Here’s what some of you had to say.
“Whistler, British Columbia”
“Closest that I have come to Val d’Isère has been Courchevel”
“Blue Mountain, Ontario”
“Wolf Creek, Colorado, USA”
“St Anton am Arlberg, Austria”
—James Stone Plan Your Visit
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Four Seasons Magazine
The best of luxury travel, style and culture from thought leaders and tastemakers
Issue 3 2014