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Outdoor Destinations

Our Three Favorite Ski Spots This Winter

January 15, 2017
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Our three favorite ski destinations this winter span the range of accessibility – from a weekend destination just outside Bend, to a bit of a longer drive in Lake Tahoe, and a destination resort in Idaho. We polled our team and three spots rose to the top, with some local insights for each.

Mt. Bachelor – Oregon

Bend, Oregon is one of the best places to live for outdoor enthusiasts. Not coincidentally, Mt. Bachelor is just 22 miles away. 6th largest ski resort in the country just down the road? Convenient.

What’s it good for?

 Well, Bachelor is the 2nd largest single-mountain ski resort in the country (behind Vail) so it’s got something for everyone. That said, the powder and backcountry skiing is tough to beat.

Our favorite run?

Dilly Dally Ally is a fun groomer all kids love, and then for a powder day, Devil’s Backbone and the West Bowls are stellar.

Best bar on the mountain?

Clearing Rock Bar….local brews and new fireplaces outside.  In Bend, any of the breweries are great for après. Beer is the game in Bend!

Best non-skiing activity?

There’s great hiking, mountain biking and fly fishing in the area.  Once February rolls around you can ski in the morning and fish all afternoon.

We’ll leave you with a little fun fact:

Mt. Bachelor was called a Butte for over 100 years until the forest service did a survey and found the elevation is 9,009 ft., which qualifies it for mountain status.  You have to be careful since it is a dormant volcano there are still many steam vents throughout the mountain.  The mountain stays open through Memorial Day and some years has reopened for July 4th!

 

Squaw Valley – Lake Tahoe, California

Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the easternmost edge of California (the state line between Nevada and California splits the lake itself), Squaw Valley is a legendary resort serving Olympians (1960), year round locals and hordes of San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area weekenders.

What’s it good for?

It’s great for ridiculously steep runs. That said, there is plenty of terrain for the whole family to enjoy.

Our favorite run?

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Squaw Valley features an incredible collection of steep and mellow terrain

Anything off of KT or Granite Chief. West Face, or Mosley’s (named after 1998 Olympic moguls champ and local god Jonny Moseley), is steep, long, and chock-full of moguls. The Emigrant lift gives access to mellower terrain, but be warned, the chair lift can be very windy.

Best bar on the mountain?

On the mountain or in the world? Some would argue that both apply to the Chammy. Le Chamois isn’t actually on the mountain but it’s tucked down an alley in Squaw Village at the bottom. You should probably order a Budweiser, because they serve the second-most Budweisers annually in California (just behind Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, which holds over 17,000 people and hosts over 200 events every year).

Best non-skiing activity?

Snowshoeing! The incredible hiking in the summer gives way to snowshoeing all over the Lake Tahoe area. Oh, and beer drinking. People love to have a beer or three in Tahoe. Try Pete and Peter’s in Tahoe City or the Mellow Fellow in Truckee (incredible selection of over 40 craft beers) for some local flavor.

We’ll leave you with a little fun fact:

The earliest recorded snowfall at Lake Tahoe was on September 11, 1952. But more apt right now is the fact that since January 1st of this year, the Tahoe area has GOTTEN OVER 14 FEET OF SNOW!!!

 

Sun Valley, Idaho

Located in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, Sun Valley is perhaps the most classic and quintessential American ski resort, having hosted Hollywood stars, politicians and rock stars for nearly 90 years. Ernest Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bells Tolls while there. Sun Valley is known for being hard to access, but that’s the allure.

The resort features two mountains – Dollar for beginners and Bald Mountain for everyone else – that sandwich the town of Ketchum. Everyone may call it Sun Valley, but in reality that’s just the mountains and the hotel.

 

What’s it good for?

Though they’ve built a terrain park on Dollar in the last few years, Sun Valley is definitely known for its long, wide, expansive, incredible groomers. But lest you think they’re boring, guess again. Olympic medalists Picabo Street, Christin Cooper and Gretchen Fraser grew up there, and Sun Valley will host the US Alpine Championships in 2016 and 2018.

And they may not get a ton of snow, but Sun Valley has one of the biggest best snowmaking systems in the world, guaranteeing that you won’t be shut out. And when it does snow, hustle out to the back bowls for some fresh tracks first thing in the morning.

Our favorite run?

First thing in the morning, it’s hard to beat College top to bottom. A beautiful groomer in the sun is the perfect way to start the day. But when there’s powder, definitely hit the bowls.

Best après spot?

At the bottom of the Warm Springs side of Baldy, Apples is a classic for a cold beer and a burger (and cheese tots, definitely cheese tots). Local legends / brothers / X Games gold medalists Zach and Reggie Crist grace the walls in some fantastic ski photos.

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The last day of the season at Sun Valley features some pretty wild costumes.

And if you’re up for more on the way home, Grumpy’s in town serves a fantastic greasy burger and schooners of beer (heroic goblets is probably more accurate). “Local dive” was coined in reference to Grumpy’s (Editor’s note: not at all true but it applies).

Best non-skiing activity?

There are three separate trails for fat tire snow biking, which is a great way to break a sweat on your day off. The local minor league hockey team – the aptly-named Sun Valley Suns – plays at the resort rink on Friday nights. Games are entertaining if not skillful. Expect more fights than goals.

We’ll leave you with a little fun fact:

The world’s first chairlift was installed in Sun Valley at Proctor Mountain (no longer used for skiing) in 1936.

 

 

 

 

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