The absolute best ski vacation is when you can literally ski right from your accommodations to the slopes Spend a few days and just get up each morning and ski over to the nearest ski lift. No driving, no parking hassles, no muss, no fuss.
Several ski areas in the Pacific Northwest are known for convenient lodging on the hill, or at least quite close to the action.
Here are some of the best places to ski in the PNW this coming season:
While it can be a harrowing drive to Sun Valley in wintertime, it’s an easy flight from many Northwest cities via Horizon Air. There are 80 runs over more than 2000 skiable acres and it’s an amazing world-class resort.
There is a range of rental properties offered at Sun Valley, from luxurious hotel accommodations at the historic Sun Valley Lodge to spacious condominiums right on the ski slopes. In some cases, the condos are just a block or so from the major lifts which still beats walking from your car to the lifts.
And for those who love glitz and glamor, Sun Valley is often frequented by celebrities. It’s not uncommon to bump into celebrities enjoying dinner or drinks in downtown Ketchum or perhaps at one of the excellent restaurants in Sun Valley.
Snow is always good at Sun Valley, and a huge lift capacity means you’ll be able to ski long runs in between chairlift mounts.
An especially good spot for ski-in, and ski-out accommodations in Big White, near Kelowna B.C. This is in the central part of British Columbia, not far from Lake Okanagan and about a four-hour drive north from Wenatchee.
Big White boasts more than 7,000 skiable acres with 15 lifts and a capacity to transport 28,000 skiers and boarders an hour. This area gets a lot of snow so you’ll likely enjoy exploring many different parts of the mountain.
Accommodations at Big White are in the village. There is a variety of accommodations including condos and homes and all are within a short walk of the lifts. The village also has 18 restaurants, cafes, and pubs, which means there is a lot of nightlife.
You can also fly on Horizon Air from Seattle, with airport transfers to the ski area available.
Whitefish Mountain Resort
Whitefish Mountain Resort, near Kalispell Montana, is one area you’ll want to look into for that extended ski or snowboarding vacation. You can take a train right to the small town of Whitefish, or you can fly into Kalispell.
Either way, the mountain is well worth spending several vacation days. Whitefish Mountain Resort has about 3,000 skiable acres including 105 trails. This area gets about 300 inches of snow a year so the skiing and boarding are always good.
The accommodations are in the mountain village and there is a variety available. For example, the resort has been advertising special rates at Hibernation House, where you can ski right to after your day on the mountain. And there is a short ski trail from the hotel to a lift to get you back on the slopes in the morning.
There are several eateries and saloons in the village, so it’s a fantastic place for apres ski activities.
If you want to stay in a historical lodge — one that has been used in a Hollywood movie — then plan a ski vacation at Timberline Lodge on Oregon’s Mount Hood. Timberline Lodge is a Historic Landmark and was built during the Depression as a government project. It has incredible charm and personality.
And it has a great look for the movies — it was used for the exterior hotel scenes in the Shining. The mountain-style lodge is one of the most scenic lodges in the country and its photos are used for all kinds of ski and mountain promotions.
There are 70 rooms available, most of them fairly small but with a lot of character. The ski area has five high-speed quad lifts to keep things really moving. And of course, you can ski right out of the lodge.
The mountain offers about a 3600-foot vertical drop. The lodge is located at the 6000-foot level of Mount Hood, which has an elevation of more than 11,000 feet. Because of its elevation, Timberline has the longest ski season in North America. It’s a great place to go if you still want to take a ski vacation in April or May.
The only place in Washington with true ski-in, ski-out accommodations in Crystal Mountain, near Mount Rainier and an easy drive from Seattle. The views from Crystal are amazing, especially if you take their gondola to the top and see an impressive panorama of the Cascade Mountain range.
There are 2,600 acres of skiing and lots of fast lifts to get you up the mountain. The overall capacity is about 20,000 skiers per hour.
Crystal Mountain has three hotels on the mountain that allow you to ski right to your door. There are also many other accommodations, all within 15 minutes of the area. Crystal also offers fine dining at the Alpine Inn Restaurant and the Snorting Elk Cellar. The base area has a fun village atmosphere and the feel of a big-time ski resort.
The nice thing about staying on the mountain at Crystal is you can beat the crowds — just stay a few days midweek and you can easily be on the mountain before just about everybody.
Those of us who are lucky enough to live in the PNW (or visit, if that’s you…) should take advantage of every amazing season we have.
There is something to do in every season and winter is the time to get out and enjoy skiing in our incredible mountains. We may not have the most challenging lines in the world but there is something in our mountains for everyone!