Most people consider snow sports to be purely seasonal, and for diehard skiers and snowboarders the summer months can seem like a curse, but fear not, there are ways to indulge your snow cravings year round.
January: Cortina, Italy
Cortina is one of the oldest ski resorts in Europe, not to mention one of the most scenic. This ski resort is tucked away in a valley surrounded by powdery slopes. Cortina hosted the 1956 Olympic Games, and many of the snow facilities are still in use. One of the most unique elements to Cortina is the quirky pubs and hotels nestled in the slopes, which can provide hearty, traditional Italian fare for lunch. There are several high end hotels, some over 150 years old, and restaurants that offer the finest in Italy's culinary tradition.
February: Tignes, France
This ski area is in a collection of small, austere French villages. There isn't a lot of fuss and pomp to Tignes, but there is a lot to say for the skiing conditions. While going in February will ensure you a wealth of fresh powder, Tignes is also open during the summer months, as the Grande Motte glacier is opened year round. There are a host of hotels and restaurants, but this sleepy ski village doesn't support a lot of nightlife. This destination is for the truly dedicated snow enthusiasts.
March: Vail, Colorado
Vail is one of America's most sought after ski resorts. The whole town was modeled after Zermatt, Switzerland, which gives the area an old European feel. Vail is located in Colorado's Rocky Mountains, giving skiers and snowboarders some of the most rugged slopes in North America. The town hosts some of the state's best dining, accommodations, and nightlife. March is a great time to visit Vail, as the temperature warms up a bit, but the snow is still powdery and fresh. Vail has a variety of activities for those who want a break from the mountain, as well, including biking, a gondola, and hiking.
April: Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler was home to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, and boasts a collection of winter accommodations and activities. This ski area is located in the Coast Mountains of BC, and is just two hours north of Vancouver. Whistler has been rated the number one mountain resort in North America several times, and for good reason. There are two mountains that provide rugged skiing and snowboarding conditions. April is a great time to visit Whistler, as the snow is still plentiful, but the harsh Canadian winter has started to fade. There is also tons of hiking, biking, spas, and shopping.
May: Mammoth Mountain, California
This mountain lives up to its name with 3,500 acres of terrain for all ability levels of skiers and snowboarders. Mammoth gets over 400 inches of snowfall each year, resulting in great summer skiing conditions. There's also cross country skiing, snowmobiles, and Snowcat tours available. Mammoth has plenty for kids to do as well, with children's ski classes and day camp activities.
June: Tsaina Lodge, Valdez, Alaska
This destination is not for the faint hearted, as it's located in southeastern Alaska among some of the harshest skiing conditions. The lodge was closed for six years, but has been newly reopened to offer extreme skiers heli-skiing and free-skiing. The new lodge is a 24-room, upscale, boutique lodge built in Thompson Pass, but it still boasts some of the rowdiest skiers in the world.
July: Girwood, Alaska
While summer is in full swing elsewhere, in Alaska winter can be found for snow enthusiasts. Girwood is off the beaten path, and is for the truly serious skiers and snowboarders. The former gold-mining town is a Mecca for hippies and ski bums because of its laid back atmosphere. Many of the roads in Girwood are not paved and there is a sort of frontier ambience that pervades the town of 2,000.
August: Mount Hood, Oregon
Skiing and snowboarding on Mount Hood is a great way to beat the summer heat in August. There is year round skiing on Mount Hood, which reaches a dizzying elevation of 11,239 feet. During the summer months, storms rolling off of the Pacific coast layer the dormant volcano with powder. Mount Hood also boasts the only year round ski lift in North America. Slopes are groomed and salted overnight, for the best conditions.
September: Ischgl, Austria
The skiing at Ischgl is legendary, and they start the ski season off right with plenty of specials and celebrations, making September a great time to visit. This ski area is becoming more and more popular, so going in the calmer month of September is a great idea for your wallet and your sanity. There is an extensive lift system, allowing riders to go almost anywhere on the mountain. The resorts and town have a romantic European charm, but have seriously luxurious accommodations for those seeking a little pampering after a long day on the slopes.
October: Santa Fe, New Mexico
This ski area gets over 300 inches of snow per year, and over 300 sunny days—resulting in pristine skiing conditions in October. There are plenty of competitions and winter festivals for skiers and snowboarders to take part in. This ski area has plenty of slopes for beginners, but it also has challenging runs for the most advanced skiers and snowboarders. Santa Fe itself has a myriad of galleries, boutiques, and fine dining.
November: Zermatt, Switzerland
This ski area is considered the goldmine of all mountains. Zermatt is situated among the Alps, and offers world-class skiing. There are 29 peaks over 13,100 feet tall, and are the highest mountains in Europe. At 10,000 feet in elevation, all the ski resorts offer unbeatable snow conditions year round, but November is the prime time to go. The mountain has conditions for all levels of skiers, and there are classes for beginners and children.
December: Mont-Tremblant, Quebec
This ski town is in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, Canada, and about 80 miles northwest of Montreal. The ski resort is a combination of old-Canadian logging town and old European flavor. It's consistently ranked as the number one ski resort in eastern North America. Beyond snow sports, there are loads of interesting local eats, including smoked meats and microbrew beers.
With this guide to skiing and snowboarding year round, the avid snow enthusiast can stay satisfied all 12 months out of the year. Remember to prepare for your international ski trip with the correct passport and visa documentation, local currency, and carefully packed snow equipment. There are a variety of tools that can help you travel abroad with ease, including TravelEx currency exchange, and Backcountry Beacon's advice on how to safely pack your skis and snowboards
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