For those of us with limited vacation days each year, making the most of every day of a trip is essential. Luckily, some of North America’s most beautiful wild places aren’t far from some of our nation’s best places to hit the slopes. Whether you’ve got a full day or just a few extra hours during your next ski or snowboard vacation, consider visiting a ski resort close to a national park to maximize your outdoor recreation opportunities.
1. Winter Park Resort & Rocky Mountain National Park
Though Colorado’s Rocky Mountains are home to a number of ski resort areas, Winter Park Resort‘s proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park makes it ideal for a multi-sport and multi-destination adventure. Winter Park resort is Colorado’s longest continually operating ski resort, and for 75 years, they’ve been an ideal winter destination for state residents and visitors alike. With over 3,000 acres of terrain, 29 feet of annual snowfall on average, 143 designated trails and 1,200 acres of off-piste terrain, the Winter Park has something for everyone. View Winter Park lift tickets.
When you’re off the mountain, Rocky Mountain National Park is only a short drive away. It’s one of our nation’s most popular parks, and as such, winter is an ideal time to experience the Rockies without the crowds. Ranger-led snowshoe tours, cross country skiing, and wildlife viewing are all great winter activities in Rocky Mountain National Park. Check with park rangers before you go to stay up to date with road closures and park activities. The National Park Service also keeps a list of winter hikes, but give these a try if you need additional options.
2. Sunshine Village & Banff National Park
If you’re planning a visit to Western Canada this year to ski, combine a visit to Sunshine Village with time exploring Canada’s oldest national park. Sunshine Village boasts up to 35 feet of snowfall on average annually, and with 115 named runs along with gladed areas and off-shoots, there’s plenty to keep you busy. The base of the resort sits at 5,440 feet while the skiable terrain tops out at 8,954 feet, and there are over 3,300 acres to explore. View Sunshine Village lift tickets.
Sunshine Village is a short 15 minute drive from the town of Banff, Alberta, and is right in the middle of one of the most stunning national parks in Canada. Banff National Park is home to over 2,500 square miles of beautiful mountains, numerous glaciers and ice fields, coniferous forests, and wild alpine terrain. Drive the Icefields Parkway, pay a visit to Lake Louise and the surrounding area for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or just to take in the view, stop at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, and/or check out Banff Upper Hot Springs.
3. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort & Grand Teton National Park
Nestled in the northwest corner of Wyoming, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is home to 116 named runs, half of which are designed for experts, and 13 lifts. With 2,500 acres of in-bound terrain and a 4,139 foot vertical drop, it’s tough to want to do anything but to spend your entire trip on your skis or snowboard. View Jackson Hole lift tickets.
But the resort shares a home in the Jackson Hole valley with Grand Teton National Park, one of the most awe-inspiring and photogenic national parks in America’s national park system. Though it’s hard not to see the Teton Range from just about any road in the area, getting into the park to explore is an ideal way to experience it. From easy day hikes to overnight backpacking trips, the park is home to hundreds of miles of trails, including some around Signal Mountain I visited on a winter trip to the area. Spend some time on the park’s winter trip planning page to help you plan your visit.
4. Mammoth Mountain & Yosemite National Park
California’s Mammoth Mountain Ski Area covers 3,500 acres of terrain, gets over 400 inches of snow annually, and with over 150 named trails, there’s plenty of fun for skiers and snowboarders regardless of ability level. Nearly 20 miles of cross country and snowshoe terrain along with snowmobile and snowcat tours make it tough to want to leave the ski area. View Mammoth Mountain lift tickets.
However, the Eastern Sierras are also home to Yosemite National Park, and you’d be remiss to visit Mammoth Mountain without spending a bit of time at Yosemite, too. Keep seasonal road closures and other considerations in mind while you’re planning your trip, but don’t let the winter weather stop you. Hiking is a great way to see parts of one of America’s most iconic national parks in the off-season.
Have you been to any of these resorts, or national parks? Both on one trip? What other park or forest and ski destination combinations do you recommend?