It may sound far-fetched, but there are plenty of choices for zipping from the friendly skies to the powdery peaks within an hour.
That first moment standing atop a mountain, goggles clear and skis waxed, can be the ultimate winter bliss. But there’s a whole lot of transportation leading up to that snowy perch. Not to mention travel pitfalls like long drives in rough weather, missed air connections, and baggage claim snafus.
Luckily, several of the country’s best summits aren’t far from major runways, where you can find yourself schussing from plane to slope in no time. Check out these prime ski resorts, all within an hour’s drive from well-served international and regional airports.
1. Solitude Mountain Resort, Utah
From Salt Lake International Airport (SLC), skiers and boarders will love the bevy of world-class mountains all within a tight 60. (They don’t call this town “Ski City” for nothing!) Even better, SLC is a major hub for Delta Airlines, and serves nearly a dozen more carriers big and small – including United, Southwest, Alaska, jetBlue, Frontier, KLM, American, and other airlines.
You don’t have to ski to recognize some of the area’s famous winter destinations, like Park City, Deer Valley, Alta, and Snowbird. But head to Big Cottonwood Canyon to check out Solitude Mountain Resort, home to eight chairlifts, 80 runs, three bowls, and 500 annual inches of snow. Historic Solitude has been going strong since 1957, and now encompasses 1,200 acres; condos and townhomes; plus a Bavarian ski-in/ski-out lodge with heated outdoor pool and hot tub, spa, and easy access to shops, bars, and restaurants. Don’t miss the special dining experience of trekking via snowshoe to The Yurt, where chefs serve a four-course dinner inside a Mongolian yurt in the forest.
2. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Fly into Nevada’s Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO), drive southwest about 55 minutes into California, and find yourself at one of America’s largest ski resorts. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is home to 30 chairlifts and more than 170 trails across 3,600 acres – plus a Scenic Aerial Tram that climbs 2000ft high to an altitude of 8200ft, yielding magnificent mountain and Lake-Tahoe panoramas. Known for its lengthy ski and snowboard season and daily sunshine, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows earned fame when it served as the host site of the entire 1960 Winter Olympics.
3. Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont
Vermont may be small, but Burlington International Airport (BTV) stays busy year-round, thanks to direct flights from about a dozen cities on a variety of airlines. From there, access to slopes around Mount Mansfield is a cool 55 minutes, either to Smugglers’ Notch, or luxurious Stowe Mountain Resort. Stowe stands out for its 11 lifts and a sightseeing gondola, which take riders up to Vermont’s highest peak (Mt. Mansfield) and sister mountain Spruce Peak. The base lodge anchors Stowe’s New England–village vibes, complete with spa, performing arts hall, ice skating, and an indoor rock-climbing center.
4. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming
The only airport within a national park, Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) is just 21 miles/35 minutes from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. And what spectacular site for each, boasting views of the Teton Mountains in the south end of Yellowstone National Park. Skiers, boarders, and other winter-sports fanatics may find a bit of frosty heaven here. There are 17 lifts and 130 runs over 2500 skiable acres and 3000 backcountry acres; plus loads of other sports and leisure activities on the slopes and in posh downtown Jackson Hole. Easy access comes year-round, with directs on several airlines from a dozen major cities into its regional airport.
5. Aspen Snowmass, Colorado
So you want a quick ride from the airport to the slopes? Central Colorado’s Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) may have them all beat with a speedy seven-mile, 15-minute drive to Colorado’s Snowmass Village. True, Apsen/Pitkin is a smaller regional airport, but nonstop service from major US hubs make it an easy port even in winter. (You also can opt for the Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE), about 80 minutes north, which also serves Vail and Beaver Creek mountain villages).
Among the more vibrant Rocky Mountain resorts, Aspen Snowmass is a sprawling resort that draws skier, boarders, and other snow lovers from around the world. From its prime location in Snowmass Village, the resort offers 40 lifts and more than 330 runs over 5,300 acres, plus access to a town rich with events, dining, and nightlife.