USA: Lots of thrills with no frills

By Jennifer Ennion

There are some great skifields in the States that won't cost you a fortune, writes Jennifer Ennion.
Simon Louisson skis on the 'Cloud Nine' run in Blue Sky Basin at Vail. Photo / Colorado Ski Country
Simon Louisson skis on the 'Cloud Nine' run in Blue Sky Basin at Vail. Photo / Colorado Ski Country

Avoid the glitz of Aspen and the lure of mighty Mammoth and consider skiing with the locals at a boutique resort for the next northern winter.

Silverton - Colorado

Locals pride themselves on the no-frills skiing at Silverton in Colorado.

No bling and fur coats here. This resort is for hardcore skiers and boarders. You'll need avalanche gear to be allowed on the lift, so novices should look elsewhere.

Powderhounds.com describes Silverton as "very rough around the edges", but that's what makes this place so good. That and the average 10m of snowfall each season.

There are 736ha of terrain, serviced by an old chairlift, so it's best if you're up for some hiking and backcountry exploring.

Schweitzer - Idaho

Schweitzer is one resort that should definitely be on your powder list, with 1173ha of skiable terrain and 7m of snowfall.

There are 92 trails to choose from, two bowls, 32km dedicated to nordic skiing and three terrain parks. The resort also has slopes suitable for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, with nine lifts to get you around.

Kids will love the tubing park and zip line, while adults will rush to try out the cat skiing and snowmobiling.

Sugar Bowl - California

With 12m of snowfall, Sugar Bowl is a worthy destination. It has 13 lifts and 667 skiable hectares. It is ideal for intermediate riders, with 45 per cent of terrain catering to their level.

White Pine - Wyoming

It may be tiny but don't ignore White Pine Ski Area in Wyoming. This is a great resort for beginners and intermediates searching for easy groomers and uncrowded trails.

There are just 149ha, with 20 per cent suitable for beginners and 60 per cent for intermediates. Cross-country skiers will also enjoy it here, with 35km of trails to choose from.

If you're on a budget, you'll be impressed by the price of lift tickets - just $45 for an adult's full-day pass and $33.50 for children.

Whitefish - Montana

For laid-back and family-friendly skiing, head to Whitefish (formerly Big Mountain).

Across its 1214ha are great beginner facilities, as well as plenty of impressive groomers for those who like their snow fast and compact.

It can get foggy here but the problem is solved by ducking into the trees, and when the weather's clear you can take turns hitting up four terrain parks.

Snowboarders may wince at the cat tracks but there's some decent off-piste they can launch into to avoid them.

Whitefish has had a mini-facial, with new bars and accommodation, and word is that the resort is becoming trendy. It's just another reason to visit now, before everyone else does.

CHECKLIST

Getting there: Air New Zealand flies daily to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Further information: See DiscoverAmerica.com for more USA winter holiday ideas.

- AAP

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