AS THE LAST remnants of summer heat force us to keep our fans and air conditioners on, there’s a subtle change
taking place to the west of us. High in the Rocky and Sierra Mountains, the first chill winds are blowing and the
skies are growing dense. Soon the initial snowflakes of winter will fell, and in a moment’s notice, the ski
season will be on.
These idyllic moun-taintop slopes soon will be transformed into major thoroughfares, with brightly colored blurs
crisscrossing the virgin snow, making latticework out of white mountainsides. Many of these will be Lone Star
tracks. More and more Texans are taking to the slopes; and with traditional wanderlust, we’ve broadened our horizons
and set our sights on New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho-even Montana-as well as our favorite, Colorado.
Now is the time for plans to be firmed up, condos rented and plane tickets bought. Thanksgiving-the official opening
of the season-looms just ahead, and those who wait for last-minute bargains will find themselves out in the cold.
There are a number of Dallas ski clubs that make all the ar-rangements, taking the headaches out of skiing for
hundreds of enthusiasts. They do all the booking for lodging, air and ground transportation and serve as a social
center, hosting wine-and-cheese parties and group activities. Aprés skiing (drinking around a fire after a day on
the slopes) seems to be almost as popular as skiing.
But for those who like to plan their own trips or who find group travel smothering, we’ve compiled The D Magazine
Guide to skiing the West. Remember, most resorts advertise special packages, so to get the best buy, compare ads
and find out what each ski package includes; pay particular attention to ground transfers, the number of actual ski
days and trip cancellation insurance. Most resorts have clothing and equipment shops that can provide anything you
may need, but prices will be lower if you buy at home during the off-season. Condos still seem to be the best
lodging, providing that you can fill them up with people (the more people, the less the cost per person). Generally,
January is the best time for skiing all-around because the resorts are less crowded than during the peak
seasons-Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
1. Aspen is indeed Rocky Mountain high: Aspen Highlands, at 11,800 feet, is one of the highest mountains in
the state. Three other resorts are also here: Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk and Snowmass, all operated by
Aspen Skiing Company. Snowmass will celebrate its 16th year during the entire month of January. A hot-air balloon
race, ski races and a chili cook-off are among the planned events, along with discounts on skiing and lodging. This
resort caters to all types of skiers and says that lift lines are the exception rather than the rule. Accommodations
are situated on the mountain itself, so there’s easy access to the slopes. Snowmass also offers day- and night-care
programs for children, as well as a free bus system around the resort. Other activities include dog sledding, indoor
tennis, swimming (23 heated outdoor pools) and cross-country skiing.
The town of Aspen has some of the hottest nightlife in Colorado, with numerous discos and fine restaurants. Texans
especially like Aspen; last year, the Texas Ski Council hosted a week-long bash. January is the best time for
bargains, although February and March offer the best skiing conditions. Reduced rates are given for groups or skiers
who purchase multiple-day tickets. All major airlines service Denver; from there, take either Rocky Mountain Airways
or Aspen Airways directly to Aspen. Rental cars and buses are also available for the 86-mile trip. 1-303-925-1220,
Aspen Skiing Company; 1-303-925-9000, Aspen Highlands.
2. Beaver Creek/Vail. Although Beaver Creek often gets overshadowed by its lofty cousin, Vail, many Texans
say that Beaver Creek is an up-and-coming resort that’s still relatively undiscovered. The resort is located in the
heart of Colorado ski country. Lifts are available just out of the central village, and there are slopes for every
level of skier. With Vail just 10 miles away, Beaver Creek skiers can easily partake of that area’s celebrated
Ten square miles of skiing terrain await those who choose Vail, the largest single ski mountain in Colorado. Vail
has 13 double chairlifts, three triple chairlifts and one gondola that seats six. There’s a free shuttle bus within
Vail Village, a transportation center for visitor information and local and long-distance cab service. More than 70
restaurants, bars and nightclubs provide enough action for both mountains.
Avon Stolport, served by Rocky Mountain Airways, is less than a mile from the entrance to Beaver Creek, and the
110-mile drive from Denver on Interstate 70 takes two hours. For information on Beaver Creek and Vail, call
3. Breckenridge. Known as one of the most popular resorts in the state, Breckenridge encompasses two
mountains, 1,150 acres of trails and possesses what is reputed to be North America’s fastest chairlift.
Breckenridge, which dates back to 1859, is one of the oldest mining towns in Colorado. Streets are lined with
restored Victorian shops and restaurants; a ski lift that operates right in town is an extra convenience for skiers.
Free bus service from the town is provided daily every 15 minutes; the Gold Flake Nursery offers full-day child
care, ski lessons, and lunch. Breckenridge is located 86 miles west of Denver and is easily accessible by car on
interstate routes (there are no mountain passes to cross). Continental Trailways has frequent buses from Stapleton
Airport and downtown Denver. Taxi service is available at the airport, and a free in-town and county-wide shuttle
service is also offered. Call 1-800-525-9189 for reservations.
4. Copper Mountain is known for its variety of ski lessons, ranging from a Newcomer Package (which includes
equipment, all-day ticket and lesson) to racing workshops for advanced skiers. Special programs for cross-country
and racing skiers, in addition to group and private lessons for any level of skier, are also offered. For racers,
there are national standard races (NASTAR), workshops and a coin-operated racing system (you simply drop your coins
in a slot, take off through the gates and check your time at the finish line). The night-life consists of several
nightclubs and restaurants. To get to Copper Mountain, fly to Denver and take a bus or limousine to the resort,
which is 75 miles west of Denver. Note: Copper Mountain, Keystone and Breckenridge are serviced daily by a free bus
5. Crested Butte bills itself as The Great Unknown-a , fact that it announces with pride rather than
embarrassment. Though it’s been in operation for more than 20 years, Crested Butte remains uncrowded. Those who
favor more skiing and less people-watching should like this place. The town of Crested Butte, a national historic
district, has been restored to its earlier Victorian days. A century ago, Crested Butte served as a railhead and
supply station for mining camps. Since there were heavy snows to contend with six months out of the year, legend has
it that everyone in Crested Butte learned to ski-a tradition, the locals say, that has remained to this day. A
favorite spot of the Texas Ski Council, Crested Butte is popular with other skiing organizations as well. From
Denver, take a rental car or bus the 230 miles to the resort. Call 1-800-525-4220.
6. Keystone Resort has two mountains: Keystone Mountain, with beginner and intermediate trails; and Arapahoe
Basin, with an emphasis on expert trails. Arapahoe Basin, at 12,450 feet, is the highest lift-served ski area in
America. A single lift ticket will take visitors up both mountains. The skiing here begins early (in mid-October)
and ends late (in early June). A hotel, condominiums and houses are close to the resort village; within the village
are shops, restaurants, nightclubs, an ice-skating center, a touring center, indoor tennis, 10 pools, saunas and
Jacuzzis. Guests receive Keystone charge cards that allow them to charge all their dining, shopping and skiing to
their lodging bill. Free shuttle buses run between the two mountains as well as to Breck-enridge and Copper
Mountain. Seventy-five miles west of Denver, Keystone is accessible by chauffeured van (call Keystone Central
Reservations for details), rental car or bus. Keystone Central Reservations, 1-303-468-4242; Keystone Information,
7. Purgatory/Durango, in the southwest comer of Colorado, has added some new attractions to an already
popular resort: a new snow-making system, an area for novice skiers, a restaurant and more chairlifts.
Purga-tory/Durango also offers group discounts and discounts on multi-day lift tickets. For crosscountry skiers, the
Purgatory Nordic Center has 7.5 kilometers of groomed paths. Lessons for cross-country beginners and Telemark
instruction are other options. Intermediate and expert skiers also can try helicopter skiing (skiers are transported
to difficult slopes via helicopter) in the San Juan Mountains. Coin-Op, the self-timing race system, is available,
and standard races are held daily. From Denver, fly to Durango via Frontier, Sun West or Pioneer airlines, or travel
by rental car, bus or Amtrak Ski Train. Once you’re in Durango, rental cars, shuttle buses or a limousine service
will take you to Purgatory. For reservations, call 1-800-525-0892.
8. Steamboat, located in northwestern Colorado, has 78 runs: half are for intermediate skiers; the rest are
split equally between beginner and advanced. This resort is especially well-known for its light, fluffy snow, called
“champagne powder” by the locals. Steamboat also offers one of the best deals for families who ski together:
Children under 12 ski free and stay free when accompanied by parents who purchase five- or six-day lift tickets and
who stay at specified lodges. Also, children under 12 whose parents rent equipment can use rental equipment free.
From Denver, take a Rocky Mountain Airways flight to Bob Adams Airport (three miles from Steamboat). You can also
take a bus (Steamboat Trailways Express) or rent a car. For reservations, call I-303-879-0740.
9. Telluride. Families should like this resort, situated in the Colorado Uncom-pahgre National Forest.
Children aged 12 and under ski free with parents, and a nursery for children aged 7 and under is provided. Although
the resort is noted for its ample beginner terrain, there are also plenty of runs for more advanced skiers. “Learn
to Ski” and “Never Skied Before” packages are available for novices, as well as special programs in Ski Alchemy,
Steep and Deep classes, racing clinics, NASTAR races, video workshops, Tel-emark and Nordic instruction and free
technique evaluation. Telluride offers free in-town and mountain shuttle service for its guests. From Denver, fly to
Montrose on Frontier or Trans-Colorado airlines. Telluride train service will take you from Montrose to the resort
(you must call and make reservations in advance). 1-800-525-3455.
10. Winter Park boasts 800 acres of wide, well-groomed slopes in central Colorado and a balance of expert,
intermediate and beginner slopes on its two mountains. Winter Park and Mary Jane. Winter Park also has an
outstanding handicapped ski program, the largest of its kind in the world. Most lodging is in the town of Winter
Park, three miles from the slopes, which is accessible by way of free shuttle busing. Ice skating, ice fishing,
snowshoe-ing, cross-country skiing, sleigh rides and snow tubing are also available. From Denver, travel by bus or
rental car to the resort, 67 miles away. For reservations, call 1-303-726-5587.
11. Wolf Creek on the Continental Divide in southern Colorado receives some of the heaviest snowfall in the
West-500 inches or more annually (more than 100 inches by Thanksgiving). Wolf Creek Mountain has 22 runs and is a
favorite of Texans-40 percent of the clientele comes from Texas. Hotel or motel lodging is also available in nearby
Pagosa Springs. Apr?s-ski activities include live music and dancing, moonlight cross-country skiing, swimming, hot
tubbing, ice skating and snow-mobiling. From Denver, take a bus or rental car or fly on Frontier Airlines to Alamosa
or Durango (both are about 80 miles from Wolf Creek). From either town, buses or rental cars will take you to the
resort. For information or reservations, call 1-303-264-253
I D A H O
12. In Sun Valley, short lift lines and a self-contained skiing resort with lodges, con-dos, bars and
restaurants await Texas skiers. The ski season begins December 15 and lasts through the end of April; the peak
season is usually in February and March, although great skiing began at Christmas last year. The summits of Baldy
and Dollar mountains receive 100 inches of snow annually. There’s a lot of wideopen skiing that cross-country skiers
enjoy, and 180 ski instructors are available to help skiers of every level. No cars are necessary; free
transportation is provided from the hotels to the lifts. After dark, the resort boasts two bars, seven restaurants
and horse-drawn sleigh rides. Playschools and nurseries are also available. One of Sun Valley’s most attractive
features is that the entire resort is under one management; therefore, all purchases and lodging can be combined on
one bill. Fly to either Boise, Idaho, or Salt Lake City, Utah; then take the commuter Transwestern Airlines to
Hailey, Idaho. A complimentary limousine service will take guests the remaining 12 miles, and daily buses run from
Boise. For reservations, call 1-800-635-8261; in nearby Ketchum, call the Chamber Resort Association at
M O N T A N
13. Big Sky in southwestern Montana is the state’s best-known resort. With more than 400 inches of snow
annually, this spot is ideal for both early-bird and late-comer skiers, in addition to the regular winter crowd. Its
skiing season starts at the end of October and concludes in early May. The resort also features a mall with shops,
bars and restaurants; Yellowstone Park is 47 miles to the south. Big Sky is is about 40 miles south of Bozeman,
Montana, which is serviced by Northwest Orient, Western and Frontier airlines. The resort is an hour away by bus or
rental car. For reservations, call 1-800-548-4486.
N E W M E X I C O
14. Red River, with its Old West atmos-iphere, is a tourist attraction in itself. Located in northern New
Mexico not far from the Colorado border, this resort offers a variety of activities, from nightclubs to tours of New
Mexico. The ski season runs from November to April. Despite numerous lodges, condominiums and town houses, lodging
can be hard to come by at peak times, so make your reservations early. Fly Southwest Airlines to Albuquerque, then
take the bus that runs daily from the airport to Red River. For information and reservations, call 1-800-762-6469.
15. Angel Fire, 26 miles east of Taos, is similar to Red River with its off-season activities such as golf,
tennis, horseback riding and fishing. If you have access to a private plane. Angel Fire has its own airstrip, or you
can fly commercial to Albuquerque and travel to Angel Fire by bus or rental car. For reservations, call
16. Slide Mountain (on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe) professes to be “the best-kept secret in the Sierra.”
It has runs and lessons for every type of skier. Some slopes are groomed; others, like Gold Run, are left rough for
expert skiers who welcome challenges. For information, call l-708-849-0303.
17. Heavenly Valley, south of Lake Tahoe, straddles the Nevada/California border. In addition to spectacular
views of the lake, the Sierras and the Nevada desert, there’s good skiing at this 20-square-mile resort. With more
than 40 hotels, motels and condominiums, lodging shouldn’t be too hard to find. The larger hotels in this area have
casinos (open 24 hours) and showroom lounges. For reservations, call 1-702-588-4584.
18. Kirkwood Ski Resort (on the California side of Lake Tahoe) is 30 miles south of the lake. A
self-contained resort, it has condominiums and townhouses within walking distance of the lifts. If the hotels are
full, more rooms can be found at South Lake Tahoe, just a short ride away. Kirkwood is now open through June 3-a
month longer than other area resorts-to accommodate the demand for spring skiing. For reservations, call
To reach these resorts, fly into Reno and take a bus or rental car from ther
U T A H
19. Park City, once a silver-mining center, now booms with tourists. The area boasts 17 pubs, several
restaurants, indoor tennis and racquetball, swimming, boutiques, theaters, discos and plenty of lodging. One
interesting place to stay is an old mansion situated mid-mountain. Guests simply ski right out the front door of the
mansion to the mid-mountain lifts. Although the skiing here is for all levels, Park City has a reputation for
catering to intermediates. Night skiing is available on what is touted to be “the longest lighted run in the
Rockies.” Call 1-801-649-7150.
20. Deer Valley, a resort within Park City, bills itself as the luxury liner of Utah ski areas. Facilities
and service here are first-class (supposedly the lift attendants are trained in the manner of well-heeled doormen, a
la the San Francisco Stanford Court, which runs the place). But you pay a price for this kind of finesse, namely
expensive lift tickets. Both Park City and Deer Valley offer interchangeable lift tickets. Call 1-801-649-1000.
21. Alta may be the best bargain in western skiing. Reasonably priced lift tickets and phenomena] snowfall
(averaging 450 to 480 inches a year) make this resort a family favorite. There is no nightlife to speak of, so Alta
generally draws serious skiers, honeymooners, and families. Alta boasts deep powder and heavy snowfalls. Call
22. Snowbird, “the tomorrowland of west-ern skiing,” features a futuristic cable car that climbs to an
elevation of 11,000 feet and an avant-garde tram house that is the center of all base activity. Both Snowbird and
Alta are popular with early-season skiers because natural snow is virtually assured by Thanksgiving. Spring skiing
is also popular when conditions are right. Call 1-801-742-2222.
All the major airlines fly to Salt Lake City. From there, the resorts are 25 to 50 miles away by bus, rental car or
W Y O M I N G
23. The Jackson Hole/Teton Village Ski i Resort in western Wyoming offers much for the skier who dislikes
crowds. Besides its fantastic wilderness scenery, this resort offers guests such options as cross-country skiing,
helicopter skiing, snowmobiling, snowcoach tours to nearby Yellowstone Park and sleigh rides to the National Elk
Refuge. And there’s enough nightlife to satisfy even cosmopolitan travelers: country /Western saloons, rock ’n’ roll
bars or quiet continental dining. Visitors can stay in Teton Village accommodations or in nearby Jackson. Jackson is
serviced by Frontier, Transwestern and Western airlines. It’s only 12 miles from the slopes; you can reach the
latter by bus or rental car. For reservations, call 1-800-443-6931.
Getting In SHAPE
Unless you want to spend your entire vacation in the hot tub (and perhaps you do), it’s wise to loosen up those
muscles that will get a strenuous workout on the slopes.
Skiing experts agree that isometric exercises are best for getting those ankles, thighs, backs and shoulders into
shape. Some recommended exercises include standing in a doorway and pressing your thighs toward the frame without
moving your feet; leaning against a wall in a sitting position and holding the position for as long as possible;
standing on the edge of a step and raising and lowering your heels in rapid succession; and flexibility exercises
for the back and shoulders. Jogging and running can also be helpful to build up endurance for high altitudes.
Remember, though, that these exercises will only help if they are started early enough in advance; this means three
days a week for a month before a proposed ski trip if you’re in reasonably good shape, three days a week for two
months if you’re out of shape.
AS THE LAST remnants of summer heat force us to keep our fans and air conditioners on, there’s a subtle change