Denver (dpa / tmn) – Skiing in the Rocky Mountains: This is the dream of many winter sports enthusiasts. Vail, Aspen, Park City, and Lake Tahoe aren’t the only ski areas in the United States that draw you up the slopes – or the terrain further away.
This is indeed one of the biggest differences between the Alps and North America: in the local areas from 4 Vallées to Obertauern, one counts kilometers of slopes, in the USA and Canada, it is a “ski acre” – the area where you can ski and go skiing. In some areas, the backcountry is larger than that of the groomed slopes.
Unusual front runner
Surprisingly, neither Colorado nor California has the most popular ski resorts in the United States, even if the most famous spots are there. Utah, with some of the largest resorts and their dry powder snow, also lies at the lower end with 14 districts.
According to statistics from the National Association of Ski Areas, New York State already ranks first – with 51 areas. Michigan, which borders Canada, has 40 individuals, and Wisconsin and Colorado each have 31.
In total, winter sports enthusiasts have access to the slopes in 470 resorts and regions in the United States – some of them found in Alabama, Missouri and southern Tennessee.
Take advantage of the ski pass
In addition to New York and Rocky, New England is a good starting point for skiers. Territories in all six states: Massachusetts (13), Connecticut (5), Rhode Island (1), Vermont (23), New Hampshire (30) and Maine (18). It is interesting to see who owns the ski areas. Because sometimes, the ski pass is not only valid for the area where you buy it, but also in other resorts of the operator. It’s also a good idea to always look at the ski area website to have discounts with you, because ski lanes in the USA are much more expensive than in alpine ski areas.
The nation’s oldest ski area is the Howelsen Hill Ski Area in Colorado, where people have descended from the mountains since 1915. Sun Valley, Idaho, built by businessman and politician W. Avril Harriman in the late 1930s, is said to be the first true winter sports resort. In addition to being beginner-friendly, Dollar Mountain was also the first mountain in which mobile lifts were installed.
Lots of snow and frequent weather changes
Ski areas in the United States aren’t always particularly high, especially on the East Coast. In Arctic Alaska you can drive almost up to sea level. However, many areas experience massive snowfall. The number one runner is Mount Baker in Washington state, which has an average snowfall of 16.8 meters per year. However, indoors, in Colorado or Utah, the snow is drier and therefore more fun to drive.
In general, the ski areas in the United States experience different weather phenomena from their European counterparts. There are only two large mountain ranges, the Rocky Mountains in the west and the Appalachian Mountains in the east. Both extend from north to south. Only a small ridge in Utah, the Winta Mountains near Salt Lake City, stretches east-west. Temperatures change faster, too. While it rains one day, the weather can change in a very short time and snowfall for several days.
The largest ski area in terms of coordinated slopes is Park City in Utah, where the Park City Mountain and Canyons areas have been connected to a lift several years ago. Its huge area is about 2,100 meters above sea level, and the air is thin and cold throughout the winter. The highest point in the ski area is 3056 meters.
The second largest ski area in the United States is also located in Utah: the Powder Mountain area near Eden has more driveable hectares, but fewer slopes. District Three is well known in Utah, but is independent and does not allow downhill skiing: Deer Valley.
Skiing fun from Alaska to Hawaii
The ski area is located in the far north of the largest state. In the early 1960s, Chris von Imhof came from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Alaska, what he called a “developing country for winter sports”. There was a lift chair and some kind of hut, nothing else.
But the Alyeska Resort, from which you can enjoy great views of Cook Inlet, the North Pacific, mountains and glaciers, has been developing continuously – as has the hotel that Imhof has run for many years. Today it is the largest winter sports district in Alaska, with 76 races and plenty of acres of countryside.
Perhaps the most unusual way to ski in the snow in the United States is the smallest state, Hawaii. However, there is no infrastructure in the extinct volcano of Mauna Kea on the Big Island.
You need 4WD to reach the summit at 4,207 meters. You should also be a good skater or snowboarder, because at White Mountain – hence the translation – conditions can change quickly. The temperatures in the mid-winter range between minus four degrees, but strong winds often cause cold ears on the tropical island. And for good snow.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210208-99-354468 / 2