Gas likely will continue to be expensive this winter, and parking won't get any cheaper, or less of a headache at the world's destination ski resorts. The 17 regional editors of OnTheSnow.com, based in alpine regions around the world, have chosen what they consider to be ten of the best "no car needed" resorts.
1. Saas-Fee, Switzerland: You can drive to it and park your car in one of the garages outside the village. But, why bother? Saas Fee – as charming as it gets ("the pearl of the Alps") with a mix of old and new on narrow streets – has been car-free since the highway got there in the 1950s. Mountain access is easy and the Metro Alpin subway is unique and fun. Saas Fee, by the way, has become a favorite of snowboarders. Best bet is the train from Geneva and Zurich, Switzerland, or Malperesa, Italy (all between 2-2.5 hours). Get off at Brig, and take the usually waiting bus to Saas Fee. Zermatt, one of Switzerland's largest ski resorts is nearby and also car free. It is easily reached from Zurich and Geneva airports by train.
2. Vail Valley, Colorado: Vail long has had an efficient and convenient bus transportation system in the village. It is considered the largest free bus system in America. There's a modest fee for the bus ride between Vail and Beaver Creek resorts, about 12 miles apart. A car is totally unnecessary at what is among the world's most popular ski resorts. Transportation from Denver International Airport (121 miles away) is easy. Colorado Mountain Express is one of several dependable ground carriers. Another option is to fly into Eagle Airport, 30 minutes from the village (20 minutes from Beaver Creek). Plenty of shuttles and taxis are available from that little airport, and some lodges provide courtesy pick-ups as well.
3. Serfaus, Austria: Serfaus in the Austrian Tyrol is a terrific choice for those who want to bring the family and forget about driving, though the village name may not roll off a ski traveler's tongue. The resort, which won the Family Dorf (Village) Tirol honor, has a huge children's entertainment center (Kinderschneealm) in the center of town. Numerous lodges cater to the kids. Parking is outside the village and driving is not allowed inside. You'll ride in an air-cushioned funicular subway called the Dorfbahn Serfaus and ski or snowboard at Serfaus, Fiss, and Ladis. The train from Innsbruck to Landeck takes about an hour. Catch the bus from there (25 minutes).
4. Banff, Alberta: Stay high in the Canadian Rockies in the town of Banff and ski at Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, and Mt. Norquay. Go directly to the lifts using the Big Three pass. Getting to and from the ski areas is easy on the Banff Shuttle that picks up and delivers at most of the hotels. The Banff Airporter is a good bet from Calgary International Airport and makes numerous round trips. The skiing is world-class and the scenery literally breathtaking.
5. Les Arcs, France: So much to ski or ride, so why drive? The four avant-garde Les Arcs ski villages and mountains in the French Savoie are all inter-connected from Bourg-Saint-Maurice via funicular, free shuttle buses, a cabriolet, and to La Plagne via the double-decker Vanoise Express cable car. Choose to stay and ski or ride at Arc 1600, 1800, 1950, 2000 or La Plagne. Traveling from London via Eurostar through the "Chunnel" is a popular choice for British visitors. Airport transport is available from Chambery (cheap flights from U.K. and the closest to Les Arcs), Lyon, Grenoble, and Geneva.
6. Park City, Utah: Car? What car? Not in this hopping mountain town that entertained rowdy miners long before skiers and snowboarders. There are several reliable shuttles from the Salt Lake City International Airport, including Lewis Bros. Stages, Park City Transportation, and All Resort Express. Just grab the free city shuttles once you are in town to get to Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, and The Canyons. Tip: Plan a little extra time and catch the "express" bus. There's plenty of slopeside lodging at each resort.
7. South Lake Tahoe, California: No need to gamble with a car in winter on the famed South Shore of Lake Tahoe. Pick up the Reno-South Lake Tahoe Express from Reno-Tahoe Airport. There are numerous departure times. You'll ski at Heavenly Ski Resort that looms over Stateline, the town that straddles two states, and you can ride the gondola from the center of town. The Heavenly Shuttle picks up skiers and riders at most lodges (look for the blue Shuttle Bus Stop signs). The BlueGO shuttle will get you to and from the casinos and nightlife at night. TART (Tahoe Area Regional Transit) connects the north shore with the other ski regions of the area on the South and West Shores of the lake.
8. Stowe, Vermont: The classic New England ski resort of Stowe in northern Vermont truly can be carless from the start of your trip. Fly into Burlington International Airport and share a taxi. Or, ride the Amtrak Vermonter that begins in Washington, D.C., runs through Baltimore, Philadelphia, Manhattan, and ends up at Waterbury/Stowe station, 15 minutes away with a free shuttle on the hour. Boston skiers pick it up the Vermonter at Springfield, Mass. Now that you are there, no worries. There's a free trolley running regularly between the quintessential Vermont village, legendary Mount Mansfield, and Spruce Peak, but there's plenty of on-mountain lodging, too.
9. Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy: So stylish and so "no car needed." The elegant, trendy Cortina village is pedestrian-oriented. You'll play "dress up" night and day here. Cortina is a two-hour bus ride from Venice. The closest rail link is Calalzo, 35 km. south. Access from Munich, Innsbruck, or Klagenhut (the closest) airports is easy to arrange. There are four distinct ski areas spread around the large valley, all connected by lifts and busses.
10. Stratton Mountain, Vermont: The Stratton Mountain Village will keep you busy shopping and dining day and night. No need for a car once you get here, but it remains the easiest way to get there. A free shuttle takes you all around the resort area, so park and put away the keys. Bus transit is available from New York, Boston, and other cities. Closest major airport is Albany, N.Y., (two hours) with Vermont Transit and Greyhound service. The only time you'll need a car is to take advantage of the shopping in Manchester, about 25 minutes away. An alternative is to stay at the beautifully restored Equinox Hotel in historic Manchester Village and use the free hotel shuttle to Stratton or Bromley ski areas. Other motels and lodges in the area also provide van shuttles.