If you want to make a snowboarding trip, where should you go? One factor may be how close the mountain is to an airport. Mountain roads can be hazardous, and there’s something to be said for being able to make a quick trip from the airport to the base lodge.
The ideal ski resort will be close by a major airport, which will allow many people to take a non-stop flight from home. It will also be accessible by wide, open roads, to make surface transportation easier. It will also be open early in the season, and late in the season, and not leave its customers susceptible to altitude sickness.
Unfortunately, there is no ideal ski resort.
Easily accessible from many parts of the USA
Two clumps of ski resorts stand out for being easily accessible by air for a large percentage of the U.S. population. These clumps are served by airports that receive direct flights from many different airports, meaning direct flights.
Summit County, Colorado is an obvious first choice. It is roughy 100 miles from Denver International Airport, a major airport that is served by discount airlines as well as the big ones. It is home to some popular resorts, including Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper, Keystone, and Loveland. A-Basin and Loveland are usually among the first resorts in the country to open. But there are two ways in which Summit County resorts are not idea. As the name suggests, Summit County is at a very high elevation–over 9,000 feet at the base. So altitude sickness may be a problem for some people. Also, the drive up to Summit County, along I-70, can be hazardous and crowded. Still, Summit County is worth a look.
Salt Lake City, Utah is another popular easy-to-get-to destination. It’s at a lower altitude than Summit County, which helps with altitude sickness, but it’s very accessible, with various resorts within a short drive, or even bus ride, away from the airport. The downside is that its resorts tend to open later. Pick from Brighton, Canyons, Solitude, and Park City, or another area somewhat farther away.
Big Sky, Montana, is about 40 miles from the Bozeman airport. That airport receives direct flights from Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York, among other cities.
Easily accessible from selected cities
Some clumps of ski areas, or specific resorts, may be served on a seasonal basis by airlines, usually a regional airline that shares marketing and code-sharing services with a major airline. Often, these areas have plenty of air service, but only if you’re coming from one or two cities. For example, Mammoth Mountain is a good choice if you’re flying from Los Angeles. But if you’re coming from the Midwest or East, you may need to take a connecting flight in Reno or Salt Lake.