Top Places to Ski Around the World

January 19, 2012 by

Australia & the Pacific, Guest Bloggers, North America, South & Central America

Editor’s Note: This post is from Diana Edelman, a travel writer and PR professional. Her popular blog, d travels ’round, shares entertaining stories from her travels, along with travel tips and photos from all over the world. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook for travel stories, news and more.

The Alps hold a certain charm that is undeniable. People from all over the world flock to this region in Europe at the first sign of fresh powder, aching to drop their skis or snowboards into the fluffy white snow.

But, the Alps are just one of many spectacular areas in the world where the skiing is world-class and the mountains are magical.

Because of the two hemispheres and opposite seasons, it is possible to plan a skiing vacation any time of the year. In the Southern Hemisphere, skiing normally runs from June through October; in the Northern, October or November (depending on weather) through late spring.

For people planning a ski or snowboard vacation in the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months, Canada has got some of the best skiing in the world.

Banff, Lake Louise, Alberta

Located in Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, are three ski areas – Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort and Lake Louise.

Sunshine Village, which opens in November and closes mid-May records an average of nearly 30 feet of snow a year. The resort has more than 3,300 skiable acres of mountain, 107 runs with names (and plenty more off-trail adventure opportunities), and a terrain park. Sunshine Village has an even split of beginner and advanced slopes – about 25 percent for each – and 50 percent intermediate.

lake louise ski

Ski at Lake Louise! photo courtesy of jorr81 via Flickr

Mount Norquay, which celebrates its 86th anniversary this season, was the first resort in the Canadian Rockies. Along the way, it has garnered recognition for being one of the best family ski resorts in Canada and also one of the best jumping and racing facilities. In addition to skiing and a terrain park, there is also the opportunity to go snow tubing and snow shoeing. The resort features more than 30 trails – with the largest number of trails designated for advanced skiers. Beginning in the new year, every second Thursday of the month, Norquay has been offering “Toonie Thursdays,” giving visitors passes for only $2.

Lake Louise is one of the largest ski resorts on the continent and offers 4,200 skiable acres over four mountain faces. With 139 trails and bowls, it’s a near even split between beginner and advanced runs. Around 45 percent of the trails are designated for intermediate skiers. Aside from skiing and snowboarding, visitors can enjoy dog sledding, ice skating and cross-country skiing.

For those who can’t decide between the three, there are options to “Ski Big 3” that include lift passes to all three, along with discounts or free rooms based on length of stay.

Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia

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Everyone in the family can ski at Whistler! photo courtesy of Scott Hughes via Flickr

It wasn’t the host for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games for nothing. Whistler Blackcomb, located about two hours from Vancouver, features some of the best skiing in North America. First established in February 1966 with dreams of hosting the Olympics, Whistler has grown into its own, merging with Blackcomb in the late 90s to create one of the world’s biggest resorts. It was the first mountain to be recognized by an American ski magazine as the best outside of America, and today has gained a reputation for its challenging runs, including “Couloir Extreme,” one of the top 10 steep in-bounds in the world, according to Ski Magazine.

Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

Opening for the 2012 season in June, Lake Wanaka features four parks, making the area the largest skiable terrain in Australasia. There is the family-focused Cardrona Alpine Resort, complete with an entire children’s facility to accommodate lessons and childcare. Known for its wide open trails, it breaks down to 25 percent beginners, 50 percent intermediate and 25 percent advanced runs.

Another option is Treble Cone, a challenging option for skiers and snowboarders. This mountain, which features a vertical drop of 2,312 feet, offers only 10 percent of the trails for beginners, and 45 percent for both intermediate and advanced visitors.

For those looking for skiing with less adrenaline but still a challenge, Snow Farm is New Zealand’s only cross-country resort, with more than 50 km of trails.

Finally, there is Snow Park, perfect for the free-style enthusiasts. It features a terrain park packed with challenges, plus a dedicated jump area. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, there’s also sledding to pass the time.

Valle Nevado, Chile

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Valle Nevado is great for advanced skiiers – photo courtesy of Brasileiro via Flickr

Selected by The New York Post as one of the best summer escapes in the world, Valle Nevado, near Santiago, Chile is one of the youngest in this bunch, having its first season in 1988. Valle Nevado has the largest skiable area in South America, with nearly 7,000 acres. Be warned: the trails here are challenging, and abundant. Only 10 percent of the trails are designated as beginners, with another 36 percent for intermediate skiers and 54 percent for the advanced athlete. In the off-season, there is hiking and biking to enjoy on the rough Andes terrain.

- Diana Edelman

Editor’s Note: This post is from Diana Edelman, a travel writer and PR professional. Her popular blog, d travels ’round, shares entertaining stories from her travels, along with travel tips and photos from all over the world. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook for travel stories, news and more.

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4 Responses to “Top Places to Ski Around the World”

  1. Costa Mesa CVB Says:

    Who wouldn’t want to go skiing in New Zealand?! These are definitely come fantastic places for skiing, but you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to find good slopes. There are lots of mountains where you can have a great ski vacation.

  2. SOTR Says:

    One that I have to include to your list is Park City. It really is a great place to ski.

  3. Aline C. Kennedy Says:

    Being the largest ski resort in North America, Whistler is a ski resort for all skiers; from beginners to pros and even non-skiers love to go there because of the nightlife in the village and with over 150 shops, it’s a place for shopaholics. And despite the glitz and glamor, Whistler is not luxurious making it’s place in the top ski resorts in the world. For more info about Whistler, this brief review is a good read: http://www.mountainyahoos.com/SkiResorts/Whistler.html

  4. Charles Says:

    Hi, My home country is Switzerland so I am biased and would have to say that you can find the best slopes for skiing in Switzerland! Especially Zermatt and Davros.

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