Alyeska, Alaska
One of the most beautiful places to ski anywhere. The slopes, suiting better skiers, overlook Prince William Sound and during the day you can watch icebergs coming and going in the 30ft-plus tidal swell. If you?re lucky the Northern Lights shine, you can take a helicopter over moose herds to a glacier, go on a wildlife cruise and more. Yet the sole hotel, the Alyeska Prince, is anything but backwoods. A sleek affair full of polished cherrywood, there?s even a plush gondola-top nighttime restaurant while the local town offers some colourful nightlife.
High point: The ever-changing view.

Aspen, Colorado
One hip town, four cool resorts. Aspen Mountain has challenging (certainly for a place frequented by the beautiful people) slopes plunging to the town centre. A couple of miles out (free bus) there?s Aspen Highlands, packed with extreme off-piste (try Highlands Bowl, a 40-minute hike up), and Buttermilk, an undulating area ideal for learners and snowboarders (the extreme X Games are held each January and this year the specially-crafted obstacles and jumps will stay open for the season). Bit further is Snowmass, a modern resort great for families with easyish runs all over, yet plenty to keep others occupied.
High point: The bar at the super-hip Sky Hotel.

Heavenly, California
Glorious setting trapped between shimmering Lake Tahoe on one side and the deserts of Nevada on the other. Lots of good skiing for everyone down both sides, lots of steep trees for experts and other fantastic stuff in the middle. By night you can take a dinner cruise on the lake or walk across the state line into Stateline, Nevada where the casinos and big-name shows could make you think you?re in Las Vegas.
High point: The Sky chair where, for an instant you can see the lake and desert at the same time.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Long-regarded as the place where men are men and skiers have to prove themselves. Lots of hard slopes and harder off-piste, this year made even better with the opening of the Crags, a huge area of bowls, chutes and trees area with 1,000ft of vertical. Good beginners area and lots for intermediates too. Stay in the growing Teton Village base area full of hotels and bars or, better still, in Jackson town. It?s 20 minutes by shuttle but a perfect Western setting with places like the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Snowmobile through Yellowstone National Park or take a sleigh ride in the National Elk Refuge.
High point: Watching (really) serious skiers leap off Corbet?s Couloir.

Sun Valley, Idaho
Hollywood on skis. At least it was long ago when the likes of Gary Cooper used to visit and Ernest Hemingway lived here. The Sun Valley Lodge is still the ultimate ski hotel, like something out of White Christmas, with a circular outdoor swimming pool where waiters serve apres-ski cocktails as guests wallow. Skiing?s excellent, too, with Bald Mountain for cruising and steep stuff, and Dollar Mountain a standalone beginners area.
High point: Nighttime sleigh ride through forest and scampering coyotes to dinner in cabin where Hemingway had his wedding reception.

Snowbird, Utah
Some of America?s most challenging terrain, perfect powder and most spectacularly craggy scenery, just 40 minutes from Salt Lake City. Moderate skiers stick to the endless runs, better skiers stay off-piste. Now linked with equally-impressive neighbour Alta creating one of largest ski areas in US. Excellent for boarders, except Alta where they?re still banned. Guided day-long Interconnect Adventure lets you ski from Snowbird to Solitude resort, via Alta and Brighton. Concrete and glass base area is smart inside, not a pretty picture from the snow...but you forget that when you?re taking in the view from the open-air rooftop pool at the Cliff Lodge hotel.
High point: Whooshing silently through the powder.

Stowe, Vermont
The classic New England town, all cute clapboard and twinkling lights, a place to stay and browse in the antiques shops any time of year. Skiing, 15 minutes away by shuttle, is a game of two halves. There?s Mt Mansfield, Vermont?s highest peak, where the scary double-black Front Four runs twist down below the lifts while other interesting and easy terrain falls off the back. And then there?s Spruce Peak, two minutes away, a whole mountain for learning. Stowe?s home to snowboard guru Jake Burton whose Burton Snowboards Learn To Ride school has its flagship here...this is the place to start.
High point: Carving your first turns on a board.

Taos, New Mexico
High up a narrow valley above the desert town of Taos, a mix
adobe-influenced Native American architecture and neon motel signs, this is an expert heaven. Al?s Run, a looong, steep bump run looms above the resort, but features a ODon?t Panic? sign telling of other ways down. But it?s been pretty much for good intermediates up until now - when work on some runs has made it more accessible to others. Not boarders, though, they?re still banned. The collection of hotels, bars and shops around the base is small but stylish; the new Edelweiss condos will bring a new restaurant, bar and spa this season. Take time out to visit Native American dwellings, buy chilis and rugs.
High point: Fighting down the steeps in desert-dry powder.

Vail, Colorado
America?s biggest ski area that?s improved radically in the past five years. Previously know for its long cruises and wide open ungroomed Back Bowls, the newish Blue Sky Basin opened up huge, tree-covered areas at the far end of the resort to give the impression of wilderness skiing, but still within the ski patrol areas. Loads of skiing for all levels. Pedestrianised resort hugs the slopes, from the faux-Tirolean original area to the unfortunate Lionshead (surely the work of the same architect as Stevenage) which is getting a massive makeover. Often viewed as up-market, Vail - as with its skiing - has something for everyone, from swish restaurants to loud bars.
High point: The long off-piste Minturn Mile starting in a snowbowl, rattling down a riverside path to the town of Minturn for apres-ski at the Saloon...and a bus home.

Winter Park, Colorado
One of America?s most under-rated areas, now coming into its own as a huge wood On’ stone base village takes shape finally giving the place the character off the slopes that it has always had on. The nearest major resort to Denver (an hour?s drive) it sits on the edge of the Continental Divide.Huge Discovery Park beginners area, lots of perfect pistes for intermediates and loads of steep, deep off-piste for experts. One area is called Mary Jane...and this is the only place you?ll find yourself skiing Mary Jane?s Backside. Tremendous snow and the huge log mountaintop Lodge at Sunspot has top food by day, posh nosh by night. Other bars and restaurants in the base area, and lots more apres-ski frolics in the town of Winter Park a mile away.
High point: Plunging through the powder and trees on Vasquez Cirque

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