Acres: 2,965 | Vertical: 3,668 | Snowfall: 349 | steamboat.com
Remote but accessible, vibrant but authentic, Steamboat manages a fine balancing act when it comes to mountain play. Tucked in northwest Colorado at 6,900 feet, the resort is 30 minutes from the Yampa Valley Regional Airport and has the third-highest vertical drop of any ski area in the state. It’s also almost entirely immune to the wind scouring that plagues Colorado’s high alpine resorts. Plus: A 2008 study by the American Meteorological Society found that Steamboat may actually have lighter, drier snow than Utah’s “Greatest Snow on Earth,” thanks to super cooled Pacific moisture that often has nothing to dump on until it hits Steamboat. Find your stashes of wispy stellar dendrites off 770-acre Pioneer Ridge. Shadows and Closets, between Storm and Sunshine peaks, is one of longtime resident Paige Boucher’s favorites. “Someone hung prayer flags among the trees,” she says. “I get back in there and it always feels so magical.”
What’s New: United, Alaska, and Delta are all expanding flights into Steamboat, with increased nonstop service from Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Newark, Seattle, and Washington-Dulles.
Down Day: Drive to the rock-lined pools at the open-air Strawberry Park Hot Springs, where the buff and the hairy let the sulphur soothe their legs (strawberryhotsprings.com). —Tim Neville
From the Early Winter 2015 issue.