Chasing Powder: Where to Ski Every Month of the Year

Newsroom Featured Travel Chasing Powder: Where to Ski Every Month of the Year

Powder days are what skiers and snowboarders live for during the winter. However, timing a ski trip around good ski conditions, and especially timing it on a powder day, is easier said than done. The percentage of powder days that a ski resort has, even in the snowiest destinations, is pretty low in comparison to the number of days it’s open. However, if you have the means and time to do so, you can extend your ski season by chasing winter around the world. All of a sudden your number of days skiing is multiplied.

In the following ski travel guide we share some of our top picks of where to ski around the world by month. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we can’t guarantee powder days, especially during the Western Hemisphere’s late summer and early fall months. However, our guide of where to ski every month of the year can help maximize and extend your ski season.

Where to ski every month of the year around the world

January

By the time January arrives, the ski season is in full swing around North America and throughout the Western Hemisphere. The following resorts are by no means the be-all and end-all, but a few of the ski areas and regions where you can often find some of the best conditions during the heart of winter.

Mt. Baker, Washington

This stratovolcano in Washington State’s North Cascades is a legendary powder magnet. Mt. Baker even has a world record to prove it, receiving a whopping 1,140 inches of snow during the 1998-1999 ski season. Mt. Baker is a true snowboarder’s mountain, which Craig Kelly called home, and where the Legendary Banked Slalom is the longest running snowboard contest in the world.

Mt. Baker WA, powder day.
©Jason Matkowski/Mt. Baker Ski Area

Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Utah claims it has the “The Greatest Snow on Earth,” and many skiers and riders who’ve experienced skiing in Utah won’t dispute that claim. Cottonwood Canyon resorts have some of the highest snowfall averages in North America. Plus, it’s a short drive from Salt Lake City, although powder days can extend that drive significantly. Consider Solitude and Snowbird, located on the Cottonwood Canyon side of the Wasatch Range, and which have some of the highest snowfall totals in Utah.

Snowbird Utah, powder skiing bluebird day.
©Scott Markewitz/Snowbird Ski Resort

Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada

Revelstoke bags some of the biggest snow dumps in Canada and you can quickly get to the pow by flying into Kelowna International Airport, 120 miles from the town of Revelstoke and its revered ski mountain. There are direct flights from Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. Revelstoke picks up 500-plus inches of snow each year and has the longest vertical drop (5,620 feet) in North America. Nearby Kicking Horse has even higher and steeper terrain, and lighter powder, though not in the same quantity as Revelstoke.

Revelstoke Canada, powder skiing.
©Royce Sihlis/Revelstoke Ski Area

Japan

It’s a bit of a trek, but skiing and riding in Japan in January is almost always a blessing with its deep, fluffy, light snow. Most of the bounty is found on two of Japan’s four islands: Honshu and Hokkaido. Hokkaido is famous for its fluffy slopes. Niseko, just west of Sapporo (site of the Winter Olympics), just may be the powder capital of the world. Hokkaido, on the north part of Honshu, is a powder skiing haven as well. Hokkaido receives over 670 inches of snow per season. See our article here of the top ski resorts in Japan.

Niseko Japan powder skier.
Backcountry skier on the island of Hokkaido, Japan ©Shutterstock

February

Alta, Utah

Look for dry, floaty snow in Utah, especially in powdery February. Alta gets a lot of snow (500 inches per season on average), especially during the 2022-2023 season, when it received a whopping 903 inches. Indulge in cat-skiing and heli-skiing too. But note: Alta is one of a few ski resorts that doesn’t allow snowboarding. Alta is near Snowbird, Solitude, Brighton, and a number of Utah’s most iconic ski resorts.

Alta, Utah, powder bluebird day.
©Lee Cohen/Alta Ski Area

Telluride, Colorado

Telluride offers so much terrain for every level of skier and rider: Moguls, tree runs, powder bowls, and long groomers, all with beautiful views of the San Juan Mountains. In fact, OnTheSnow users rated Telluride the top ski resort for all-mountain terrain in our 2022-2023 Visitors’ Choice Awards. Proficient skiers can look for the trees at Prospect Bowl where there’s often perfect powder. Take a right off the Prospect Lift and drop in past the High Camp hut.

Telluride Ski Resort skiers on run in powder.
©Telluride Ski Resort

Baldface Lodge, British Columbia, Canada

British Columbia is a great region to find backcountry skiing with its diverse and generally endless powder during the heart of winter. For a unique experience, look no further than Baldface Resort, an all-inclusive snowcat ski lodge that’s a 10-minute helicopter ride from Nelson. Advanced skiers have access to a massive 32,000 acres of terrain high amidst the Selkirk Mountains.

British Columbia, skiers make their mark on pristine powder, helicopter, heli-ski, backcountry.
Skiers make their mark on pristine powder in British Columbia ©Sherri Harkin

Stowe, Vermont

February is peak powder skiing season in many regions of North America, and New England is no exception. Stowe, or Killington, to the south, are probably your best bets for New England powder days. However, you’ll find no shortage of great ski resorts throughout New England. Stowe benefits from its location on Mount Mansfield, which receives 314 inches of average snowfall. Skiers and riders have a lot to choose from at Stowe, with 116 trails serviced by 12 lifts.

March

Wolf Creek, Colorado

The slightly remote ski resort of Wolf Creek, near those warm hot pools at Pagosa Springs, gets the most snow in Colorado thanks to the north-facing slopes that account for 65% of its terrain. Wolf Creek’s base of 10,300 feet, and a summit of nearly 12,000 feet, make it a powder collector. Its location, and rather light end-of-season traffic, makes it a great Colorado destination for spring skiing.

Wolf Creek, CO, skier deep in powder.
©Scott DW Smith/Wolf Creek Ski Area

Chamonix, France

While the ski season is starting to wind down at many North America ski resorts in March, it’s the perfect time to ski Chamonix, which benefits from a high elevation and long ski season. Chamonix’s ski area (at an elevation of 1,035-3,842 meters) is spread across five mountains: Grands Montets, L’Aiguille du Midi, Le Brévent and La Flégère (lift linked) and Le Tour. Don’t miss Vallée Blanche, a 20-kilometer off-piste run with a 2,800-meter drop. That’s right, a 9,000-foot descent.

Steamboat, Colorado

Steamboat, and its 3,000 skiable acres, calls itself Ski Town U.S.A., and owns the trademark Champagne Powder. Gladed areas of Pioneer Ridge, Sunshine and Storm Peak are Steamboat’s particular claim to fame, with that champagne pow in the trees awaiting powder hounds. It’s no wonder why OnTheSnow’s users rated Steamboat the top overall ski resort for the 2022-2023 season.

Steamboat CO, female skier in powder bluebird day.
©Steamboat Ski Resort

April

Palisades Tahoe, California

Few lake views rival the one from the summit of Palisades Tahoe in the High Sierra on a cloudless bluebird spring day. Cold nights, sunny days, and April storms keep these 4,000 skiable acres soft and white from 400 inches of annual snowfall. As such, Palisades Tahoe is open later than most ski resorts in America. It’s a powdery spring haven at the lake, where you can ski in the morning and then head to North America’s largest alpine lake in the afternoon.

Tram Palisades / Tahoe
@Grant Kaye / Palisades-Tahoe

Mt. Bachelor, Oregon

Mt. Bachelor is spring bucket list worthy. It’s arguably even better in spring than winter, thanks in part to the Summit chairlift, and not to mention the glorious après-ski patio hangs (we named it one of the best for spring après-ski). Bachelor’s Summit chairlift, accessing 1,700 vertical feet—all above treeline—can be closed at times during the winter as storms roll through. However, in the spring the terrain is wide open and ready for skiers and riders chasing soft spring snow.

May

Timberline, Oregon

Timberline Lodge, on Oregon’s Mt. Hood, is home to North America’s longest ski season. In the past, they’ve stayed open until September, while the season now often comes to a close in August. The winter ski season extends until Memorial Day, which means that a majority of the terrain is fair game for May skiing. If you’re lucky, you may even enjoy a May powder day. Once June arrives, the summer ski season begins, and operations head up the mountain off the Palmer Express.

Timberline Lodge Mt. Hood sunset romantic.
Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood @Shutterstock

Mammoth Mountain, California

Mammoth is typically California’s last ski resort to close. During the 2022-2023 season it was open a few days into August. Few North America ski resorts are this skiable for summer holidays like Memorial Day Weekend and the Fourth of July, so take advantage of skiing in shorts and a t-shirt. Afterward, take your après-ski to any of the great nearby hot springs.

June

Perisher, Australia

While Australia and New Zealand may not have the steep and deep that many skiers and snowboarders are after, it has plenty of fun ski resorts, like Perisher, to ski and ride at. Perisher, Australia’s largest ski resort, spans 7 peaks and has 1,245 hectares of skiable terrain. Bonus: Perisher is on the Epic Pass.

Cardrona, New Zealand

The New Zealand ski season typically kicks off in mid- to late-June, and extends into October. Cardrona, on the South Island, and less than an hour from Queenstown, is typically open in mid-June. One of New Zealand’s most popular ski resorts, Cardrona is a well-rounded resort, although the headliner here is its terrain park, which is considered one of the most extensive terrain parks in the Southern Hemisphere.

July

Las Lenas, Argentina

Go south, to South America, once summer officially kicks off. The terrain found within Las Lenas is some of the best you’ll find in the Southern Hemisphere. The legendary Marte chairlift makes it all accessible. Las Lenas highlights include easy access to 48-degree couloirs, incredibly steep bowls, and cat skiing tours known as Extreme Expedition.

Las Lenas, Argentina view of the mountain.
Las Lenas, Argentina ©Shutterstock

Cerro Catedral Alta Patagonia, Argentina

Located in Argentina’s Lake District, Catedral Alta Patagonia is South America’s most developed ski resort and the only one with a full-service base village. Thanks in part to a summit of 7,152 feet, Cerro Catedral often sees a healthy number of powder days. Those looking for vertical will find it, as it features more than 3,000 feet of vertical. Just plan accordingly, as July can mean long lift lines.

August

Thredbo, Australia

Located inside Kosciuszko National Park, Thredbo boasts the highest lifted point in Australia, and is home to the longest and steepest trails in the country. Don’t miss the Supertrail Run, a 3.7-kilometer (2.2 miles) long run that’ll give you a run for your money. Thredbo is just over an hour from Perisher, so you can easily combine a trip to both New South Wales ski resorts.

Skier and snowboarder going down groomed slope at Thredbo Resort on a bluebird day
©Thredbo Resort

Ski Portillo, Chile

Portillo is filled with beautiful natural features that make for a playground just steps from its famous yellow hotel. You can find a number of fun intermediate to advanced runs, including Garganta, Condor, and Roca Jack. Portillo also has one of the best ski schools in South America. August 2023 was one for the books, with a late-August snowstorm that’s brought feet of snow to Portillo and many other South America resorts.

September

Tres Valles, Chile

Tres Valles is the place in South America if you’re looking for quick access to powder in South America. Valle Nevado, La Parva, and El Colorado make up this winter wonderland that features an incredible 7,000 acres of terrain, and all within 60 kilometers of Santiago. If you’re lucky, you can enjoy skiing here late into September and early October.

Skiers riding chairlift up Valle Nevado
©Valle Nevado

Treble Cone, New Zealand

Treble Cone is the South Island’s largest ski area, and therefore has a little bit of something for everything, from long groomers to steep drops to natural half pipes in the Saddle Basin and on the summit slopes. Advanced skiers, meanwhile, can enjoy plenty of New Zealand’s best off-piste terrain at Treble Cone. Not to mention that the views are some of the best you’ll find at any ski area.

October

Arapahoe Basin, Colorado

This popular Colorado resort actually has the longest ski season in the Keystone State. Arapahoe Basin, known affectionately as A-Basin,  typically opens in October and keeps lifts turning until early June most seasons. While you shouldn’t expect deep powder days in October, Arapahoe Basin makes some magic happen in late October. It’s called The Legend for a reason.

What's new in 21-22 Rocky Mountains Arapahoe
Arapahoe Basin @Dave Camara

Whakapapa, New Zealand

While operations at most Southern Hemisphere resorts are wrapping up by the end of September, the season continues well into October at Whakapapa, which boasts New Zealand’s longest ski season. Located on the North Island, on the slopes of Mt. Ruapehu, Whakapapa is one of New Zealand’s largest ski areas, and has the country’s premier beginner facility. Bonus: It’s one of the few places in the Southern Hemisphere with night skiing.

Tūroa is another ski area on Mount Ruapehu, featuring Australasia’s longest vertical descent. It, too, typically closes in October. Just don’t expect powder days in October in New Zealand.

Sölden, Austria

Fall may not typically be synonymous with skiing, however, adventurous travelers can enjoy autumn skiing on Sölden’s glacier in Tyrol. Covering an area of more than 20 square kilometers, the Sölden glacier ski area is one of the largest in Austria. Sölden opens by mid- to late-September, so you can expect fun conditions throughout the fall and on into the winter season.

Sölden Austria ski resort covered in snow with a skier skiing down a run

Beyond Sölden, other European ski areas are operating during the fall months. Pitztal, also located in Tyrol, typically opens in September. It’s home to the highest lifts in Austria. Elsewhere, Zermatt, in Switzerland, is actually open year-round for skiing, while Saas Fee opens in July. See more early-season Europe skiing options here.

November

Killington, Vermont

Killington, with a 3,050-foot drop, is well-known for both having the highest vertical and being the largest ski area in the Eastern U.S. What’s more, it also boasts one of the longest seasons in the East, since it’s one of the first to open and last to close. For East Coast skiers, Killington is your best option for both early and late-season skiing. Bonus: A spring pass gives you unlimited access to nearby Pico Mountain too, as long as it remains open.

Killington powder day.
©Killington Ski Resort

Loveland, Colorado

While Arapahoe Basin is often the first ski area to open in Colorado, Loveland, one of the snowiest ski areas in the state, usually isn’t far behind it. Loveland is typically open by the first week of November, if not the last week of October, and enjoys a long ski season that typically goes until May. Loveland features 1,800 acres of remarkable terrain, an additional 100 acres of hike-to terrain, and free snowcat skiing. Plus, it’s one of the most convenient Colorado ski resorts, located just 60 miles from Denver.

Sunshine Village, Alberta

Sunshine Village, Canada’s highest ski area, is typically one of the first ski resorts to open in Canada, often opening in early November. It has an incredible 3,300 acres of skiable terrain and receives a generous 30 feet of snow on average. It sees nearly 100 days of snowfall per season. If you plan your trip late enough in November, then you can also ski nearby Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay. All three resorts make up SkiBig3, and they’re typically all open by mid-November.

December

Once December arrives, the majority of North America ski areas have opened, or are opening soon. While this is not an exhaustive list, these are a few ski destinations in a few different corners of the U.S. where you can expect favorable conditions, lots of terrain, and if you’re lucky, some December powder days.

Park City, Utah

Historically, skiers can’t go wrong in Utah, especially early in the season. Above, we mentioned the Cottonwood Canyon resorts, some of which are the snowiest ski resorts in North America. Most of their ski seasons are well underway by December, including Brighton, which is located at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. For a great ski town vibe, however, especially around the holidays, stay in Park City. Here, you’ll have easy access to a couple of the most popular ski resorts in America, Park City Mountain and Deer Valley.

Deer Valley Resort skier standing by lake in red ski outfit.
©Deer Valley Resort

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, located near Grand Teton National Park, is consistently ranked by OnTheSnow users as one of the best resorts for expert terrain. It features the longest continuous vertical rise of any ski area in the U.S., rising 4,139 feet from the valley floor. Corbet’s Couloir, which the aerial tram flies right by, is legendary, and not to be missed for advanced skiers and snowboarders. While you’re there, don’t miss waffles from the 10,450-foot Corbet’s Cabin.

Crystal Mountain, Washington

Crystal Mountain, Washington’s largest ski resort with 2,600 acres of skiable terrain, sees an impressive 415″ of annual snow on average. For early-season Pacific Northwest turns, Crystal Mountain, is one of your best options. While many Pacific Northwest resorts rely on Mother Nature for their snow coverage, Crystal Mountain has snowmakers they take advantage of when temperatures allow for it.

Jay Peak, Vermont

Jay Peak is a natural pick on the East Coast for early-season skiing since it historically receives more snow than any other resort in the East. On average, Jay Peak receives 347” of snow per year, while snowmaking covers 80% of the mountain. The resort has 50 miles of trails, with 100+ acres of gladed terrain. Jay Peak has a little bit of everything, and is ranked by OnTheSnow users as one of the top family-friendly ski resorts.

Photo header credit: Steamboat Ski Resort

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