Aspen Aspen's reputation precedes it; the name is synonymous with glitz, glamour, unparalleled skiing and spectacular mountain scenery. Most reviews would have one believe that it is a resort exclusively for the rich and famous.
Although this elite resort does see super stars such as Jack Nicholson and Cher, anyone with a lot of cash can experience the powder snow, superb skiing, sophisticated accommodation as well as good dining and high-society shopping, with an unrivalled range of winter and summer activities. Summer is more affordable; prices are lower at this time, and there are numerous trails for hiking, biking and horse riding, as well as renowned cultural festivals of dance and music.
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A major resort in Colorado, this upmarket ski haven is great for families, couples, even a few celebrities, as it offers good skiing, fine dining, world-class shopping and fantastic accommodation. Beaver Creek has a very European feel to it, styled similarly to Switzerland's St. Moritz, Italy's Cortina and Spain's Val d'Aran, and exudes the sense of luxury that complements the resort's maxim: Not Exactly Roughing It. The resort hosts three villages with mountain access from all. The Beaver Creek Village is the heart of the resort and has plenty of shops and restaurants in its surrounds, whereas Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead are more secluded but with great access to the slopes. Beaver Creek is part of Vail Resorts and ski packages can include access to Keystone, Vail, Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin and Heavenly (California), all of which (excluding Heavenly) can be accessed via an efficient transport system in the Summit County Area.
The skiing conditions are often excellent thanks to the efficiency of resort handlers in maintaining the slopes. In 1989, the resort hosted the World Ski Championships, and offers a variety of levels for beginners and intermediates, even something for the pros. The resort also keeps park-lovers entertained with three parks, including a beginners park, Park 101, and Moonshine for those who can handle the rails, tables and half-pipes. Beaver Creek also boasts two bowls, Rose and Larkspur, allowing a playground for advanced skiers and riders.
Apart from offering a wide selection of skiing and snowboarding gear, shopping in Beaver Creek includes jewellery, clothing, furniture, arts and crafts and much more throughout the villages. Base Mountain Sports is the premier ski and snowboard servicing shop for all tuning and waxing needs, while All Mountain Sports offers the latest in ski technology equipment and gear. A variety of gift shops offering Beaver Creek memorabilia are located throughout the resort while other boutique stores offer everything from fine wines to Swarovski Crystal.
There is something for every taste and price tag, and for any time of day. Restaurants are located all across the resort and on the mountain. Popular choices for breakfast include Bivans or The Café, and for fine dining, Toscanini makes exceptional Italian food, while SaddleRidge offers fantastic seafood and venison. A meal on the mountain may well be worth the price and what better way than arriving on a sleigh to a five-course meal at Beano's or Allies Cabin. There are plenty of delis, pizza parlours and burger joints spread across and up the mountain for an in-between snack or light lunch.
Beaver Creek, though not renowned for an incredible nightlife, does offer quieter, more sophisticated evenings at the Beaver Creek Chophouse or Whiskey Elk. The Coyote Café is probably the only place to get some dancing in and is popular with the locals.
For those not interested in skiing or snowboarding, or simply needing a break from the daily routine, the resort also offers snow-shoeing, dogsledding, telemark, ice skating, cross-country skiing, and even hot air ballooning. And for something more relaxing, Beaver Creek is noted for its spas spread across the resort. The Vila Center for the Arts hosts live performances, comedy, and musicals for a passive night in. And once the snow has melted and summer has arrived, Beaver Creek offers a fantastic golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and a variety of other activities including rafting and kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, tennis and fly fishing.
The resort is pricey compared to others in the area.
Montana's leading holiday destination is a fantastic year round resort offering the best skiing to be had in the state. Situated between Bozeman and West Yellowstone, Big Sky sits among some of the most gorgeous scenery in the United States and the ever increasing number of tourists to the resort is testament to this.
The resort offers three mountains to suit all levels of skiers and snowboarders. Lone Mountain is perhaps the most famous and at over 11,000 feet has enough variety for all. Andesite Mountain suits the intermediates while Flat Iron Mountain arguably has more diversity than Lone Mountain; the backcountry skiing is particularly good at Big Sky. The terrain park has all the usual suspects: boxes, rails, ramps and slides for all enthusiasts as well as those starting out.
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There are enough shops offering ski and snowboard rentals and associated ski equipment purchases, notably Big Sky Sports, as well as gift and souvenir shops with some unique Montana-made oddities and grocery stores for the self caterers.
Restaurants: No one will go hungry in Big Sky with a number of great steak joints and pizza parlours and even a few Mexican spots available including Milkie's Pizza and Pub, Allgood's Bar and Grill, La Luna and Lone Mountain Ranch. For fine dining options there is First Place and Edelweiss, both offering some fantastic continental cuisine.
The après ski atmosphere, though not the best of many other ski resorts does have a few pubs and bars that stay open for some good times and socialising. Chet's Bar has some great happy hour specials, while the Carabiner is a quieter venue worth relaxing with a good drink. Some of these venues include Black Bear Bar and Grill, Bugaboo Café and the Alpine Lounge. There are fireworks every Saturday evening from Christmas until close.
Taking a break from the skiing and snowboarding, one can try tubing, sleigh rides, ice skating or snowshoeing. Even horse riding and fly fishing, for which Montana is especially famous, remain popular in the winter. And if all this activity is too much, there are plenty of spas to relax in.
The beautiful Colorado high mountain valley of Breckenridge first attracted settlers back in 1859, when the glitter of gold drew hundreds of hopeful prospectors to the banks of the Blue River. The gold wore out in the 1940s, but Breckenridge soon boomed again, this time as a world-class ski resort where visitors come seeking thrills and spills on the white powdery slopes. When it comes to snow-sports, Breckenridge is acknowledged as one of the finest places in the USA to experience them all, and it has a reputation for being the best place to learn to ski, with more than 600 professional instructors and gentle beginner slopes available. Breckenridge is also a haven for snowboarders, having been one of the first resorts in the country to cater for this booming sport. The quaint mining town with its charming preserved Victorian buildings forms the nucleus of the Breckenridge resort, and has become a year-round popular holiday destination with a host of activities on offer during the summer months as well as its exceptional skiing in winter. The resort's popularity is enhanced by its easy accessibility from Denver via the Eisenhower Tunnel, the drive taking about an hour and a half.
The high altitude of the slopes means abundant, long lasting snow. While largely a paradise for intermediate skiers and snowboarders, there is terrain suited to all levels from beginners to expert skiers. Peak 8 and the area between Peaks 9 and 10 is excellent for beginners with a variety of long, flat trails and Peak 7 has gentle, but more difficult runs to progress to. Intermediates can enjoy moguls, wide-open bowls and miles of groomed trails, while the steep canyon between Peaks 8 and 9 is one of the expert slopes for advanced skiers along with Lake Chutes, tree skiing on Peak 9 and Horseshoe or Imperial Bowl. The longest trail in the area is Four O'Clock, a four-mile (6km) run.
Avid shoppers are extremely well catered for in the historic town of Breckenridge. Although downtown is fairly small with the main street less than a mile long, there are more than 250 shops and boutiques offering a vast array of goods, from log furniture to wigs! A good percentage of the stores offer sports goods and outdoor clothing, so visitors have a wide choice from which to equip themselves for the slopes. Speciality, jewellery and gift shops also abound, along with a crop of galleries, pure pleasure for browsing if you want to take home a genuine Stetson, Navajo rug or one of hundreds of trinkets, novelties, paintings or pots.
Eating out is essential in Breckenridge because there are just so many good options to choose from. Expensive, but worth it for the panoramic view, is the Top of The World restaurant, serving up delicious native American dishes like grilled buffalo ribs and Rocky Mountain trout. The locals out for fine dining favour the Café Alpine, which has an eclectic menu and a highly reputable Tapas Bar. Those craving Alpine fare will enjoy the fondue and rosti potatoes at the Swiss Haven, while any sweet tooth will be well satisfied with the delicious desserts for which The Hearthstone is renowned. One of the quaint historic buildings on Main Street, The St Bernard Inn, offers northern Italian cuisine with fine wines. Cheap meals can be grabbed at spots like Angel's Hollow, serving up burritos and burgers, or try Mi Zuppa for soup and fresh bread. There are also several pizzerias that deliver.
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Copper Mountain is the largest resort, in terms of area, in the whole of Summit County Colorado. The resort, owned by Intrawest, which also owns Winter Park (Colorado), Mammoth (California) and Whistler-Blackcomb (B.C, Canada) is incredibly popular and noted especially for its varying terrain and diverse runs. The resort has three villages filled with shops, restaurants, bars and a variety of accommodation. The Village at Copper is the centre of the resort and most of the action takes place around here. The East Village and Union Creek (on the west side) have fewer restaurants and shops. A few years back, Intrawest put a lot of money into the upgrading of the villages, with massive amounts of construction aiding to bring up the standard and reputation to where it stands today. Copper Mountain is now one of the most popular resorts in the whole of Colorado and continues to attract visitors from within the United States and worldwide.
Copper Mountain has a lot to offer skiers and riders of all levels. Towards Union Creek are the beginners' slopes where the ski school heads out to teach newcomers, or those simply in need of a refresher course, on the gentler green runs. The Village at Copper is more suited to intermediate skiers and riders while nearby the East Village hides some of the blacks and double blacks for advanced skiers and riders. There are four bowls: Copper, Union, Spalding and Resolution, for the confident and experienced.
There are shops located throughout the villages selling a variety of ski and snowboarding gear, clothing, jewellery and souvenirs. The Mountain Adventure Center rents and sells equipment and outwear for adults and children. Copper Mountain Sports is the number one rental store to demo out some new skis as well as handling tuning and waxing requirements. MTN Beach brings the surf to the mountain with popular lifestyle brands such as Quiksilver and Billabong clothing for sale. The Copper Clothing Company will provide all the memorabilia necessary or alternatively, just for gifts. Metals Rock sells a range of jewellery and watches and The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is a must for chocoholics, with a variety of chocolate infused eats and drinks.
With seven peaks and 87 miles (140km) of trails, Killington is the biggest winter sports resort in the eastern United States, earning it the nickname the 'Beast of the East'. Opened in 1958, Killington has five base lodges (all colour coded for convenience) and a huge variety of terrain. The resort boasts a wide range of accommodation, over 100 restaurants, plenty of nightlife and lots of après-ski activity, and attracts locals and foreigners alike. If looking for charm and a personal touch, however, there is little to be found. A sprawling enterprise, Killington is more about skiing than architecture and is run like the huge operation it is. There is also no defined centre to the resort. That said, the views are spectacular and the skiing offers something for everyone. Some visitors prefer to stay at the nearby town of Woodstock about 20 miles (32km) away, which has more atmosphere and some impressive buildings dating back over 200 years. With 1,209 acres (469 hectares) of skiable terrain, it is easy to get lost on the various trails, and a free tour of the mountain to get orientated is highly recommended.
Killington has excellent ski runs with 200 trails, 33 lifts and nine separate ski areas. The resort offers skiing opportunities for all skiers, from beginners and intermediates to experts, with ski and snowboarding lessons available for those just starting out. The ski season is long, lasting from about mid-October to late May/early June. One of the world's most extensive snowmaking systems means that snow conditions are outstanding. The terrain includes plenty of cruisers, high-altitude bumps, and a halfpipe to lure snowboarders. The craziest run is the Outer Limits on Bear Mountain and the 10-mile (16km) Juggernaut is the country's longest alpine ski trail. An excellent shuttle system delivers skiers and snowboarders to the various base areas and then back to their cars at the end of the day.
Shopping: There are a number of shops at Killington, including gift shops and antique shops, and a host of ski equipment shops. Shops at the Shack houses a group of boutiques including North Face and Nike. There are also shops that sell traditional Vermont specialities including maple syrup and local cheeses.