Skiing at Loon Mountain
Skiing at Loon Mountain (Photo: Courtesy Joe Huzar/Loon Mountain)
2022 Winter Buyer’s Guide

The Ultimate Skier’s Road Trip

We’ve got your next car-based ski vacation dialed, complete with worthy detours and the best powder stashes

Skiing at Loon Mountain
Megan Michelson

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Depending on where you live, you don’t necessarily need to hop on an airplane in order to enjoy a week-long vacation exploring new ski hills. We’ve put together two road trips, one that starts in Boston and hits up four New England mountains and another that starts in Denver and hits up some of the best skiing in Utah, Colorado, and Idaho.

East Coast

This 740-mile route starts in Boston. In four or five days, you can hit up some of the finest skiing in the Northeast.

East coast road trip map

Sugarbush, Vermont

Sugarbush offers a throwback rural vibe with lodges designed to look like old farm buildings and a double chair that gets you to some of the ­mountain’s best terrain.

Ski: The east coast’s hardiest riders test themselves on the steeps off Castlerock or in Stein’s Woods. For mellow groomers, start at the Mount Ellen base area. Slide Brook Basin feels like backcountry skiing—you’ll need a mountain host to guide you there—but is accessible by lift.

Eat: The Lunch Box food truck and 802 Burritos are popular spots for quick to-go meals on the mountain.

Stay: The Mad River Barn (from $165) is a charming inn about six miles north of the mountain.

Tickets: Ski unlimited days on the Ikon Pass (from $779). A Mountain Collective Pass ($589) gets you two days. Day passes start at $69.

Stop at: Waterbury’s Cold Hollow Cider Mill for doughnuts, a bag of maple granola, or some hard cider.

Jay Peak, Vermont

Located near the Canadian border, Jay Peak averages 359 inches a year, which rivals many resorts in Colorado. Theories point to a hovering jet stream known as the Jay Cloud. The open glades, good backcountry access, and over 2,100 feet of vertical drop will make you feel like you’re out west.

Ski: Head up to the top of the ­3,968-foot mountain via the state’s only aerial tram. Face Chutes and Valhalla tend to hold snow after a storm. If you head into backcountry zones like Big Jay, be prepared with proper gear, knowledge, a plan, and a group.

Eat: Slurp ramen slopeside at Miso Hungry, inside an old tram car near the base of the aerial. Miso Toh Kome, at the base of the Jet Chair, serves onigiri rice balls stuffed with spicy tuna and braised pork belly.

Stay: Hotel Jay ($279 for two adults, lift tickets included) has 176 rooms at the base area, plus a pizza joint and an arcade.

Tickets: Ski two days on the Indy Pass (from $299) or pay $96 at the window the day-of.

Stop at: Franconia, New Hampshire’s Cannon Mountain aerial tram. It was built in 1938 and offers panoramic views of the White Mountains and Presidentials.

Loon Mountain, New Hampshire

This is the kind of fun-loving mountain that throws eighties costume parties. It also has six terrain parks, including New Hampshire’s only superpipe.

Ski: Head to North Peak for the expert glades in the Walking Boss Woods. On South Peak, don’t miss Ripsaw, a ­never-ending groomer under the chair. It’s the mountain’s only ­double-black ­diamond.

Eat: Ski over to Camp III, a cabin at the base of North Peak with a rotating menu of hearty cuisine.

Stay: Lincoln’s River­Walk Resort (from $279) has 138 suites with kitchens, and the pool transforms into an ice rink come wintertime.

Tickets: An Ikon Pass will get you five to seven days at Loon. Day passes start at $48.

Stop at: Moose Brook State Park in Gorham, New Hampshire, to stretch your legs on miles of groomed snowshoe and ­fatbike trails.

Cat skiing at Sugarloaf (Photo: Courtesy Tim Cutler/Sugarloaf)

Sugarloaf, Maine

Sugarloaf is known for its size: 1,240 sprawling acres, the second most of any ski resort in the east. With a 4,000-foot summit and alpine terrain in the Snowfields, it’s easy to score­ ­good-quality snow all season. You’ll also find rowdy reggae-themed spring festivals, a lively weekend après scene at the Rack, and a food truck at the Beach, a base-area zone filled with chairs and fire pits.

Ski: When snow conditions allow for Bracket Basin to open, get there first thing. This off-piste gladed zone off the King Pine lift feels like backcountry terrain but with fewer hazards.

Eat: Start your day with a hand-dipped doughnut from Eighty 8 Donuts in the base lodge and end it with raclette and prosecco at Alice and Lulu’s, a European eatery at the bottom of the mountain.

Stay: Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel (from $152) has slopeside rooms and hearty breakfasts. The sauna, steam room, and massive hot tub come in handy after a day of shredding.

Tickets: Ski five to seven days on the Ikon pass, and two days on the Mountain Collective Pass. Or buy day tickets at the window, starting at $65.

Mountain West

This route starts in Denver and travels nearly 1,000 miles across the Rockies.

West coast road trip map

Steamboat, Colorado

Steamboat is far enough from Denver (about 155 miles northwest) that you’ll enjoy shorter lift lines and more of the light, fluffy powder this mountain is known for.

Ski: The hike from the Morningside Lift to the top of Mount Werner is worth it for the descent through empty aspen groves. Looking for powder? You’ll find it in the trees between the glades of Shadows and Closets.

Eat: A converted snowcat called the Taco Beast roams around with snacks like elk chorizo and squash tacos.

Stay: Near the base of the mountain, the Ptarmigan Inn (from $184) has ski rentals and a restaurant.

Tickets: Ski unlimited on the Ikon Pass, or pay from $119 for day passes.

Stop at: Glenwood Springs’ Iron Mountain Hot Springs, which has 16 thermal pools.

Aspen Snowmass, Colorado

Four mountains on the same lift ticket means there’s something for everyone in Aspen, whether you want to hike up Aspen Highlands’ ­12,392-foot bowl or ski groomers and glades at ­Snowmass.

Ski: Hit Walsh’s to Gent’s Ridge off the gondola at Aspen Mountain, or anything under Highlands’ Deep Temerity Lift, and your legs will be quivering.

Eat: The Alpin Room, atop Snowmass’s Alpine Springs Lift, sells spätzle, schnitzel, and tartiflette.

Stay: Limelight Hotel Aspen (from $285) has a ski shop and live music for ­après.

Tickets: Ski seven days on the full Ikon Pass ($1,049), or two days on the ­Mountain Collective Pass. Day passes start at $164.

Stop at: Dinosaur National Monument to spot Stegosaurus fossils and petroglyphs.

Skiing at Park City
Skiing at Park City (Photo: Courtesy Vail Resorts)

Park City, Utah

At 7,300 acres, Park City Mountain is the U.S.’s largest resort. It’s known for immaculate groomers but also has plenty of challenging terrain, like the chutes under McConkey’s. Neighboring Deer Valley Resort offers skiers uncrowded runs and curbside valet. (Sorry, no snowboarders.)

Ski: Deer Valley’s Mayflower triple chair has gems like Mayflower Bowl and Free Thinker glades. At Park City Mountain, don’t miss the bootpack up Murdoch Bowl.

Eat: Harvest, near the Town Lift, serves fancy toasts and grain bowls.

Stay: Yotelpad Park City (from $112) offers compact rooms at Park City Mountain’s Canyons Village base area.

Tickets: Ride Park City Mountain on the Epic Pass ($799) or Deer Valley on the Ikon Pass. Day ­passes start at $153 and $179, respectively.

Stop at: The Perrine Bridge over the Snake River—you might see some BASE jumpers. (It’s legal here!)

River Run Lodge at Sun Valley
River Run Lodge at Sun Valley (Photo: Courtesy Sun Valley Resort)

Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley gets around 154 inches of snow a season, and has over 2,500 skiable acres. Experts head to Baldy for its steeps and rolling groomers. Newbies and park purists can hit up the smaller Dollar Mountain. Lift lines? Not here.

Ski: Last winter, Sun Valley opened 380 acres on the southern flanks of Baldy. Ski Sunrise Bowl to the dense Glades, then ride up on the Broadway Quad.

Eat: Dine on fondue and truffle fries at the Roundhouse, atop the gondola.

Stay: The Sun Valley Lodge (from $270) is a ­five-minute shuttle ride from the mountain and has a yoga studio.

Tickets: Ski seven days on the Epic Pass. Day tickets fluctuate.

Road School

Tips from winter road-trip pros

Downtown Park City
Downtown Park City (Photo: Courtesy Vail Resorts)

A few tricks can make all the difference between a great trip and a miserable one.

Carry Old Outerwear

Sophia Rouches, a Washington skier who used to live in a camper van, always packs a grungy jacket and pants for when she needs to put on chains or check the propane tank. “I’m usually laying in slush, so having clothes that I’m not afraid to get wet is key,” she says

Warm Your Feet

“Nothing is worse than putting cold feet into wet ski boots,” Rouches says. Splurge on down booties and a portable boot dryer.

Take a Seat

Connor Ryan, a Lakota pro skier who truck-camps through the winter, uses a folding camp chair for booting up in the morning.

Bring a Stove

Even if you’re not sleeping in your car, a small camp stove can be nice for roadside coffee or grilled cheese sandwiches.

Post Up

If you need to dry your gear after a stormy ski day, look for a coffee shop or hotel lobby with a fireplace. “I’ve been known to wear wet gear into a coffee shop and chill until it dries,” says Ryan.