June 1, 2020
Due to travel restrictions, plans are only available with travel dates on or after
Due to travel restrictions, plans are only available with effective start dates on or after
For many, the Great Outdoors are best enjoyed atop a few feet of packed powder.
And while your neighborhood mountain can provide a few thrills and spills, destination ski resorts around the country offer an elevated experience not just in terms of double diamonds and chairlift technology — but in terms of dining and lodging, too.
Plus, with few exceptions, ski resorts — and skiing itself — comes with built-in social distancing. In the words of Darcy Selenke, the medical director of Colorado’s Grand County Public Health and staff physician for Denver Health: “Skiing is such a low-risk activity, and it’s a low transmission activity… It’s pretty hard to ski consistently within six feet of anybody.”1
That said, travelers should know a few things before booking their trips to ski resorts around the country:
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a sampling of top-rated ski resorts across the United States that should be on your vacation radar.
You might as well start at the peak when profiling U.S. ski resorts. And according to awards and popular sentiment, Breckenridge is the place. Also, when we say “peak,” it’s really “peaks.” That’s because the ski resort runs across five peaks, with Peak 9 ideally suited for beginners and Peak 6 catering to experienced ski bums.4
One of the features that make this Rocky Mountain resort a top choice for skiers and all travelers is that it’s not just a mountain and resort; it’s an entire town. The former mining enclave of Breck experienced more than one metamorphosis — first flipping to a showcase for Victorian architecture before becoming a winter recreation destination. So, in addition to having the highest ski lift in North America, a terrain park, and ample lodging designed to accommodate a range of budgets and needs, there’s also a living museum dressed up like town. In fact, it’s the largest historic district in Colorado, and it’s now chock full of shops, eateries, and other inviting spaces.5, 6
Know that Breckenridge is one of many ski resorts taking steps to manage crowds by limiting lift ticket sales, so be sure to book early (if you’re not a pass holder).7 And while you’re making plans, if you’re looking for an immersive Breckenridge experience and not just a place to crash at the end of the day, check out Gravity Haus. Designed from top to bottom for adventure travelers, it’s not just a hotel. It’s a community where members can handle co-working, personal training, and take off on guided adventures.8
Head way out west to Olympic Valley, California for two-for-one fun.
We’re talking about Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, the tandem Lake Tahoe ski resorts that take the cake as the largest in California.
Squaw Valley, which played host to the 1960 Winter Olympics, is known for its top-notch terrain and state-of-the-art operations. Meanwhile, Alpine Meadows is a bit more of a turn-back-the-clock experience, with throwback lifts, smaller crowds, and postcard-worthy views.5
Working together as Squaw Alpine since 2011, the ski resorts boast a combined 6,000 acres of skiing, 42 lifts, and 270 trails. And that’s just the mountain. The Village at Squaw Valley is the cherry on top — providing 60-plus shops, restaurants, galleries, and more to give you the convenience of “bubble” living.9
Unlike many other ski resorts, Squaw Alpine has not opted to use a reservation system to manage crowd control, but they have taken a number of measures to increase physical distancing and keep spaces sanitized, from installing partitions across the resort, to adding cutting-edge electrostatic sprayers, and outfitting the resort with plenty of outdoor seating.10
Modern ski resorts are so much more than slopes and chairlifts — they’re snow-covered playgrounds built for kids of all ages.
One northeastern resort embodies this concept more than the pack: Vermont’s Okemo Mountain Resort, which has been named a top U.S. ski resort for families and kids.
With a highly rated ski school, plenty of beginner-friendly slopes (including Hot Dog Hill Terrain Park), snow tubing, and space-age “bubble-covered” chairlifts, Okemo is a G-rated winter wonderland.11
Okemo resides in Ludlow, a lively town listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its claims to fame include being the home of Black River Academy, a prestigious school where President Calvin Coolidge once studied.12
Note that Okemo is another resort using a new reservation system. You’ll want to scout out lift ticket availability early.13 But once you punch your ticket, 667 acres of terrain and 36 miles of trails await the entire family.14
Ski resorts can be a breath of fresh air when trying to navigate a safe and sound vacation itinerary. With proper planning and research, you can find a ski resort that fits your needs as well as a travel insurance plan that packs peace of mind.