Put in those vacation days, strap your skis and snowboard onto the roof of your car, pack your bags and plenty of road snacks, and get ready to cram in as many vertical feet of pure joy as you can.
We’ve compiled some of the best road trip itineraries to maximize your time on the slopes and garner the most gnar. From the west coast to the east, here are some of the best ski road trips in North America.*
*Note: these trips are designed to not only hit the most well-known resorts, but also include some smaller resorts you may not be so familiar with. Each route can be customized to your own particular ski dreams.
1. PNW route
Total drive time (one-way): approx. 13 hours
Resorts visited: 5
The Pacific Northwest has some amazing skiing that, in places, can continue well through spring and even summer. Here’s an itinerary to sample some of that snow from south of Seattle to the border and beyond.
From Seattle: head south (it’s a bit of backtracking, but it’s worth it) and start at White Pass. From there, hit Crystal Mountain before making your way to The Summit at Snoqualmie. Stevens Pass is the next resort to conquer before venturing to Mt. Baker, just south of the Canadian border.
Did you bring your passport? Cross the border and tackle the…
Western Canada add-on
Total drive time (one-way): 4.5 hours
Resorts visited: 4
2. Powder Highway
Total Drive Time: 14 hours +
Resorts and outfits visited: 8
If you’re a skier or snowboarder, chances are you’ve heard of the Powder Highway. Located in British Colombia’s Kootenay Rockies, this snowy route along Canada’s 95A is a snow lover’s dream. This is not a long-weekend thing if you want to visit all of the resorts; give yourself all two weeks of built up vacation time for this one.
Fly into Spokane and drive to Red Mountain (about 2.5 hours away). From Red Mountain, head to Whitewater Ski Resort. From Whitewater, Kimberley Alpine Resort is the next stop, then Fernie. From Fernie, head to Panorama and then Kicking Horse before you finish your tour at Revelstoke. It’s a lot of snow to contend with, but if you’re up for it, it’s the ultimate ski road trip.
Total drive time (one-way): 10.5 hours
Resorts visited: 4+
Have you heard the news? California has finally gotten its share of snow—plus some. Yeah, digging out lodges and lifts was necessary, but that also means that there is plenty of snow to go around.
Starting at LAX, you can be at Mammoth Mountain in less than six hours. You could skip Mammoth and fly into SFO, but why would you do that? Have you seen the photos? So, start at Mammoth. When you’re satisfied, head north to Kirkwood and then make your way to the Lake Tahoe area. Here, you can go to south to Heavenly and Homewood or head to the north and ski Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley and Northstar before finishing at Diamond Peak and Mt. Rose—if your legs can handle it.
4. Montana to Idaho (to Montana)
Total drive time (one-way): 6.5 hours
Resorts visited: 5
Northern Idaho and western Montana are sleepers on most people’s radars. However, when the snow is good, it’s very, very good and there are fewer crowds to contend with. This is the perfect route for a long weekend.
Starting at Missoula, stop at the Montana Snowbowl to get your skis under you. From there, it’s a straight shot on I-90 to Lookout Pass and then Silver Mountain Resort. Spend some time at Silver and admire beautiful Coeur d’Alene before heading to Schweitzer Mountain Resort and the summer resort town of Sandpoint. Want a few more runs? Visit Turner Mountain Resort in Montana before heading out.
The Whydaho Experience (plus Big Sky)
Total drive time (one-way): 2 hours (6 hours if you add Big Sky)
Resorts visited: 3
Sure, Jackson Hole Resort is legendary, but you can spend a long weekend in the area and never get beyond the resort. This time, take a day (or two, you never know) and explore beyond Jackson Hole.
Start at Snow King in Jackson—it’s small, but it’s a true locals’ mountain and is worth a visit. Spend as much time as you like at Jackson Hole Resort, but be sure to cross over Teton Pass into Wydaho. You’ll travel between states here, from Idaho back into Wyoming, to visit Grand Targhee Resort, a small resort that skis big. Be forewarned—it might become your new favorite.
Still not satisfied? Point your car north and head towards Montana. A less than four hour drive from Jackson, Big Sky Resort is huge. With the addition of Moonlight Basin, it held the title of largest resort in the country for a hot minute. While it recently lost the title to Park City, it’s worthy add-on to a trip.
Total drive time: less than 3 hours
Resorts visited: 6
As far as road trips go, you’ll get a ton of bang for your buck in Utah. Fly into Salt Lake City and you have access to six resorts in less than an hour’s drive time. The rub? You can’t reach them in a nice, rational line. So here’s what you do:
• From Salt Lake, head south and hit Snowbird and Alta. Drive time: about an hour.
• After these two, head to Solitude Mountain Resort and Brighton. Drive time: another 45 minutes or so.
• Then, head to Park City and Deer Valley. Drive time: about an hour.
With this routing, you can shred as much snow as you can handle. While this seems like it could be accomplished in three days, give yourself more time to explore these resorts. You’ll be glad you did.
6. Colorado: the I-70 Slam
Drive time: 4.5 hours
Resorts visited: 8+
There are a plethora of ski resorts in Colorado and, as a result, several different road trips you can tackle. The most basic one is the straight shot along I-70 from Denver International Airport. Yes, the traffic will be bad on the weekend; yes, these resorts can get crowded because of their popularity and ease of access. However, if you want to knock some of Colorado’s most well-known resorts (as well as some lesser known gems) off your list in one fell swoop, here you go.
From Denver, head west on I70. Visit Loveland Ski Resort, one of the first resorts to open in the country each year. After Loveland, head over Loveland Pass to Arapahoe Basin, the other contender for “first to open” each year. From ABasin, hit the rest of the Summit County Resorts: Keystone, Breckenridge and Copper. From Copper, you can take a quick tour to Ski Cooper in Leadville before arriving in Eagle County for Vail and Beaver Creek. This ends the 4.5 hour (approximately) tour.
From Beaver Creek, you have choices. Go north from Wolcott and you’ll reach Steamboat Ski Resort in about 1.5 hours. Continue west on I-70 until Glenwood Springs, make the turn and you’ll be in Aspen in 45 minutes (from Glenwood) to sample its four mountains. Continue on I-70 and you’ll reach Powderhorn in Grand Junction. There are so many options…and so little time.
7. Ultimate New England Swing
Total driving time: 14.5
Resorts visited: 10
New England is perhaps one of the most densely packed areas, when it comes to ski resorts. From iconic resorts to smaller family-run mountains, the east coast is the perfect area for a long-weekend road-warrior trip. You can hit four states to ski, if you are so inclined, without breaking much of a sweat.
Start your trip at Hunter Mountain in New York. From there, head upstate to Gore Mountain before ending your New York swing at Whiteface Mountain. From there, cross the border into the Green Mountains and stop at Jay Peak, Vermont. Stay in Vermont and head to Mad River Glen. Then head south to Killington before wandering up through New Hampshire; you can hit resorts like Loon and Bretton Woods before ending at Sunday River, Maine.
This is just an overview of some of the routes that you could explore for a vacation or, in some cases, long weekend. However, this run-down doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of these trips. For that sort of in-depth discussion, we’re leaving the choice to you: which of these routes do you want to hear more about? Which ones really strike your fancy, where you want to learn how to pull of this trip?
Let us know in the comments and we’ll provide a more in-depth look at your top three trips.