We know the snow isn’t quite coming down in heaps just yet, but we think it pays to plan ahead—especially when it comes to ski and snowboard season. So the question is, where should you go this year?
You could consult our list of the best ski resorts from last year, but if you’re hoping to ski into a state-of-the-art on-mountain restaurant or if you’d like to skip the long line at the lift, you should head to a mountain that has recently completed some notable updates. We rounded up 10 U.S. resorts that have some big projects in the works for this season. These are the places you absolutely need to visit.
Without a doubt the most buzz-worthy update for the 2015-16 season is taking place in Utah, to the tune of $50 million. Vail Resorts (of Colorado) now owns Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort and is combining the two to create Park City—the largest ski resort in the U.S. The merge is marked by a complete rebranding and construction of the new eight-passenger Quicksilver Gondola, which will reportedly be ready by the end of December 2015. The combination will make Park City the largest resort in the country with 38 lifts and whopping 7,300 skiable acres. How’s that for a reason to visit?
This legendary Wild West resort will be celebrating 50 years of world class skiing this season and although they’re well-loved for their signature old-time feel, the mountain will be getting some brand new upgrades. On top of exciting anniversary events, the most noticeable change for this season will be the addition of the new Teton Lift. The high-speed quad lift will take skiers and riders 1,600 vertical feet to an area that was previously only accessible on foot.
Last year Crested Butte opened roughly 50 acres of challenging terrain and plans to expand even further in the future, but this year the notable upgrades for the mountain are happening in the culinary sector. The new Ten Peaks restaurant and bar will feature elevated food and drink selections alongside breathtaking 360-degree views. The building will have glass walls, a 35-foot diameter retractable umbrella roof and a 2,400-square-foot deck area.
This season is a big time for improvements at Okemo. From the addition of a second bubble chair to a new trail, there’s a lot going on, so now is the time to visit. The newest bubble chair, called the Quantum Four, is a high-speed lift that protects skiers and riders from the elements. Add those improvements to the snowmaking expansion and the new convenient RFID ticketing system and Okemo becomes one of the top options on the east coast for the 2015-16 season.
Squaw Valley is getting a handful of on-mountain upgrades this season that should make a big difference for skiers and riders looking for quick access and high-quality snow. In terms of speedy access, the mountain is replacing the Siberia Express quad with a high-speed six-pack, which should make the lift more reliable when facing high winds at the summit. And when it comes to top-quality snow, Squaw is offering a brand new “worry-free guarantee” for season pass holders, allowing them to roll over up to four unused days during the 2015-16 winter season for credit toward the purchase of a 2016-17 Tahoe Super Pass.
There are major improvements in store for Taos over the next decade. Under new owner Louis Bacon, more than $350 million will be put toward improvements for the mountain and surrounding area in the coming years—but some upgrades are already in place and that’s why you should visit this season. The addition of a new chairlift to the 12,481-foot-tall Kachina Peak led to a 50 percent increase in advanced and expert lift-serviced terrain. Other advancements already made include 35 acres of new gladed terrain and improved snowmaking.
One of the best ski resorts on the east coast, Sugarloaf is a great big mountain that’s constantly improving. This year, they’re putting in a new state-of-the-art terminal at the bottom of the King Pine chairlift, which means King Pine “will, in essence, be a completely new lift,” according to Sugarloaf General Manager Karl Strand. The change should improve safety and efficiency, when it opens in December 2015.
This past spring Deer Valley, one of the top luxury ski resorts in the U.S., took ownership of Solitude Mountain Resort and major changes are coming to the mountain. The first step will be removing the current summit double chairlift and replacing it with a new high-speed quad. After that, skiers and riders can expect a new trail, quicker travel times to Honeycomb Canyon and an updated restaurant in the lodge. Major improvements have already started, it’s sure to be an exciting season at Solitude.
This season skiers and riders will have access to an expanded and upgraded mountaintop restaurant—the only one of its kind in the state. This improvement comes just after the resort added the Flower Point Triple Chairlift, which helps skiers and riders access an additional 200 acres of intermediate and expert terrain on the north side of the mountain. Those are two huge reasons to head to Whitefish this year and when you get there, enjoy a recently expanded base lodge.
Replacing and realigning the High Alpine lift, adding snow making equipment to two more trails and working on trail and glade construction projects—Snowmass sure had a busy summer. These improvements should be set for this season, making Snowmass an even more attractive option now than it was in the past.