Well, when it comes to ski resort vacation choices, there are plenty of options. Many people want to go skiing where everything is big. Others like the more intimate places.
The good news is you can find either one in the region of North America where you call home. But, be sure, what’s called big in the U.S. East or Midwest isn’t BIG like it is in the U.S. or the Canadian Rockies. So, what.
We have some “big” choices for you across North America. You decide what “big” means to you.
Eastern U.S. and Canada:
Killington, Vermont: 1,509 skiable acres
It’s the “Beast of the East” in Central Vermont. Add its sister ski area, Pico Mountain, down Route 4 a piece, to the totals and 2,000 skiable acres and 92 miles of trails are on your agenda. The K-1 gondola takes you to Killington Peak’s 4,241-foot summit and you’ve got all that vertical on the way down. Killington’s Bear Mountain will give your legs the ultimate bump burn with its Outer Limits run. Killington has a village of its own and an access road lined with lodging, bars and restaurants for big-time nightlife. There are plenty of motel-like accommodations in nearly Rutland.
Mt. Tremblant, Quebec, Canada: 754 skiable acres
Head north from anywhere in the Eastern U.S. and you’ll discover Mt. Tremblant in the Canadian Laurentians. This is the largest ski resort in Quebec. All three sides of the mountain are available to you and are served by chairlifts and gondolas. It’s high point is 2,871 feet and all the skiing and riding is below the treeline. The village at the base of the mountain is picturesque, comfortable and fun.
Lutsen Mountains, Lutsen, Minnesota: 1,000 acres
The American Midwest has lots and lots of ski areas, but on a “big” scale, they won’t cut it. That is, except for the 4-peak Lutsen Mountains Resort “Up North” in Minnesota overlooking Lake Superior.
That equates to a Great Lake and equally great skiing and snowboarding. There are plenty of acreages and as most skiers in the Midwest will attest: This is as close to big Western resort skiing and riding as you will get here in the way northern part of the Heartland.
Park City Mountain Resort, Utah: 7,300 acres
Vail Resorts bought Park City Mountain Resort, less than an hour from Salt Lake City International Airport, several years ago and soon added neighboring Canyons Resort to it.
That made the interconnected combo a 7,300-acre bonanza of skiing and snowboarding terrain. It also makes it a good debate over whether Park City or Whistler-Blackcomb is North America’s largest.
Big Sky Resort, Montana: 5,800 acres
Montana’s Big Sky is aptly named for “big” terrain beneath those endless blue skies. Big Sky is best known for its signature “big” terrain: Big Couloir, an experts-only in-bounds run that drops 1,400 feet from the summit of Lone Peak. The resort is located an hour south of Bozeman. It is the second-largest ski resort in the United States by acreage. The vertical drop is 4,350 feet.
Vail, Colorado: 5,289 acres
We’re talking big in the U.S: 5,200 skiable acres with seven legendary Back Bowls spanning seven miles, and more beautifully groomed terrain than you’ll find just about anywhere. Vail has been an extraordinary upscale winter vacation destination for skiers and snowboarders from all over their world. The resort has hosted two World Alpine Skiing Championships and is the flagship of Vail Resorts. Vail Villages Bavarian-designed set of condos, hotels, restaurants, shops and bars is one of the favorites anywhere.
Palisades Tahoe, California: 6,000 skiable acres
Palisades Tahoe will be connected for real in 2021 when this $63 million Alterras Resorts project starts to sail the gondola between the two resorts that joined together about a decade ago.
That means you can ski or ride 7,300 acres in this Lake Tahoe area paradise. Palisades Tahoe, you’ll remember, was host to the first fully televised Winter Olympics in 1960.
Heavenly, California: 5,289 skiable acres
The resort on Lake Tahoe’s south shore at Stateline is so big it straddles two states — California and Nevada. Heavenly features the highest elevation at 10,067 feet and the longest vertical drop in the Lake Tahoe region. With an average of 360 inches of snowfall per year, Heavenly gets some of the best snow in North America. It is also a Vail Resort property. And, when the skiing’s done, the casino nightlife at the base is just starting.
Mt. Bachelor, Oregon: 4,318 acres
Mt. Bachelor is the largest resort in the region – outstripping every other resort by more than 1,000 acres. It usually opens in November around Thanksgiving and runs through May, making it one of the longest ski seasons in the country. With already a fair amount of snow, the runs are bolstered by excellent snowmaking. Mt. Bachelor’s lodging options are mostly based out of Bend and Sunriver, and many of the properties offer transportation via the Mt. Bachelor Shuttle.
Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada: 8,171 acres
It really doesn’t get much bigger or better than this gigantic resort in British Columbia. Connected by the longest continuous lift system in the world, the Peak2Peak gondola ties Whistler and Blackcomb mountains together.
The village is a delight and, don’t forget, the Horstman Glacier, just to say you did. Whistler-Blackcomb is owned by Vail Resorts, so if you’re looking for big anywhere, it’s spelled V-A-I-L.
Lake Louise, Banff, Alberta, Canada: 4,200 acres
Lake Louise is one of three resorts to make up the Banff Big 3. The scenery over all those acres is magnificent and the Canadian Rockies are now your backyard. Banff is a truly delightful Western town with everything you need.
Sun Peaks, BC, Canada: 4,270 acres
Sun Peaks lays claim to the second largest skiable area in Canada. With perfectly groomed slopes, powder bowls, Alpine trees, steeps, park and backcountry options to suit all styles and abilities. Ski-in/ski-out hotels in the village centre provide easy access to the main chairlifts. This really is a massive ski resort ticket into the BC interior. It qualifies for the phrase, “hidden gem.”