I have always wanted to ski the Rockies, but never made it either when I lived in the USA or flew somewhere for my annual ski pilgrimage. Rather spoilt since by living in mainland Europe and getting to visit dozens of excellent winter sports resorts, it is an omission I nonetheless wanted to address.
Which is better? US skiing or European. Perhaps only Vail or Whistler sound like they compete with the best European resorts in terms of size, but many smaller resorts in Europe offer unique experiences. The same is true of the USA. Additionally the USA has a reputation for great powder, although my trip is too early in the season to take advantage of the best off-piste.
Starting from Houston, I drove up to Taos in New Mexico - from Dallas following the route of Captain America and Billy in "Easy Rider" except in reverse. Taos is a small resort with a big reputation and a new lift that opens up a lot of terrain you previously had to walk to get to. Next up is Colorado, and Vail was my chosen destination. After that I drove up to Jackson Hole in Wyoming, across to Utah to try Snowbird and my final ski destination was Mammoth in California.
I would have liked to visit more resorts, but time and cost focused my mind on a few representative destinations. The weather got colder and if I was to do the trip again I would have ensured I had winter tyres and chains. A couple of the passes were pretty hairy and I must have seen at least half a dozen vehicles that had spun off the road along the way.
The route back to Houston from Southern California was a no-brainer. I skipped Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, which I have visited before (see here), and stuck as far as possible to the old Route 66 in Santa Monica heading East, once again largely following the route of the protagonists in Easy Rider. I cover this part of the trip in my C2C pages.
First up, however, were the ski states. Including Colorado for whom, appropriately, one of the official state songs is John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High".
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