May 2, 2009

Rocky Mountain Ski Resorts to Experience

There are dozens of ski resorts throughout the Rocky Mountains. Many of them are small such as Beaver Mountain Ski Resort just a few miles from my home. But, there are others that warrant at least one visit in a lifetime. Some of these resorts may offer star gazing, while others showcase the magnificent beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Whichever the case, here are my picks for the top resorts. (These are not listed in any particular order.)

Park City Mountain Resort: Park City, Utah

One of the sleepy town ski resorts that transformed to a mega resort in my lifetime. Growing up, the mountain wasn't crowded and it wasn't overly expensive. There was a mountain top lodge with views that never stopped and runs with moguls that would swallow the timid. Later on, Jupiter Bowl was opened (when weather permitted) and had some runs that would begin an adrenalin rush that would last for the next week. After all of these years, it is still one of my favorite resorts for the variety. From some of the most difficult to pleasant runs for the beginner, Park City Mountain Resort offers skiing for all abilities.

Other reasons that you may want to visit Park City Mountain Resort is for the Sundance Film Festival held every January. If you go during this time, be prepared for crowded restaurants, crowded runs and non-existent hotel rooms. The star gazing may be a premium during this time, but so are the people. After the crowd has left, take a stroll down Main Street for some great restaurants, gift shops and an architectural glimpse of the old mining towns of the west.

Sun Valley Ski Resort, Ketchum, Idaho

In the middle of nowhere and that is why people love it. The rich and famous fly into the Hailey, Idaho airport on their private jets (and they are lined up), or people like me can drive in from Boise, Idaho (3 hours), or Salt Lake City, Utah (about 5 hours). There are regional flights from both Boise and Salt Lake City if you would rather fly into Hailey.

Sun Valley has a rich history of the resort life. It did begin as a sleepy resort town with a luxurious hotel, huge log lodges at the base of the mountain and on the summit. Once you enter one of these lodges, it is almost impossible to want to return outside to the cold. With small hotels, large condominium developments and cabins that rival the ski lodges, there is something for everyone. In the evenings, there are hundreds of restaurants, movie theaters and bars to keep people busy. The town fathers have managed to keep a feeling of openness with most of the area. But there is no mistaking that there is a ton of development hidden behind those pines.

Vail, Colorado

Can you picture a camera focused on a single skier in the middle of a mogul run with nothing but white surrounding them? Now, the camera begins to zoom out with the picture getting wider and wider. Another second and the skier is just a spec on a field of white. With this picture in mind, you may begin to feel the immensity of some of the bowls of Vail. This is a place that I only dreamt of and now I dream of returning.

With a narrow valley that includes an interstate (I-70) and the town of Vail, everything is at the base of the mountain. The resort area seems to go on forever with the feel of small villages every so often. Hidden in these villages are restaurants, hotels, condominiums, ski schools, rental offices and the essence of Vail.

Back to the picture of the lone skier in the middle of the mogul field. Sitting at the top of the mountain, the sun was shining on me and my two friends with me. There wasn't just one of these vast fields of moguls, but three. Each was as large as the next. It was pure heaven for a mogul nut. However, beyond was something that everyone should experience at least once ... the view across the top of the Rocky Mountains. The heavens touch to the tops of the mountains and you realize the majesty of the mountains.

Lee Everton lives in the Rocky Mountains and publishes Strictly Rocky Mountain online magazine (http://www.strictlyrockymountain.com/) to promote the beauty and uniqueness of the Rocky Mountain states. He has traveled in all of the Rocky Mountain states experiencing the sites and sounds of the Rockies.

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