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 the best “no car needed” resorts.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.