Skiing: Summits and the cities

Research by 'The Independent Traveller' shows these are the six most popular North American destinations in terms of capacity from the UK. Patrick Thorne assesses their snow potential


Dozens of ski hills lie north of New York City, getting progressively larger the further out you go. The closest ski areas – and some of the oldest areas in New York State – are located in Orange County, in the heart of the Hudson Valley. Mount Peter (00 1 845 986 4940;, known as "The Friendly One", was founded in 1936 as a recreational base for staff from Macy's department store. Despite being small (11 runs, four lifts), there's plenty for all. Most resorts have at least one free lift for beginners but Mt Peter is relatively rare in offering free lessons too. There's also a great terrain park for all, plus floodlighting and night skiing until 9pm (except Sundays). Mount Peter is 64 miles north of JFK, an 80-minute drive or "2.5 hours in traffic".

Alternatively, aim for New Jersey. Sadly, North America's first indoor snow centre, the $2.3bn Meadowlands retail and entertainment complex ( still stand empty. However, the outdoor resort of Mountain Creek (00 1 973 827 2000; is set to open for the season on 11 December. It offers 45 runs served by 11 lifts, including four quads. Mountain Creek is 53 miles north-west of Newark airport, roughly 70 minutes' drive on a good day. The resort is also accessible via NJ Transit's bus 194 from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan (


The vast Los Angeles market is a key one for California's ski industry. With keen Austrian skier Arnold Schwarzenegger governing the state, little ski hills just won't cut it.

Step forward Mountain High (00 1 888 7547878;, marketing itself as "Southern California's closest winter resort" and only 90 minutes from LA. The ski area, which attracts half a million skiers and boarders each winter, consists of three separate mountains (Mountain High East, West, and North), which together offer 61 trails served by 16 lifts. Runs are up to a mile-and-a-half long, a third of them graded black including tough descents such as the Olympic Bowl.

Given the predominance of surf culture in the region, there are two world-class terrain parks, one with a huge half-pipe and the region's largest tubing area. Four out of five of the slopes have snowmaking cover, which has enabled Mountain High to be the first resort to open in Southern California for the past 14 years, including this winter – it opened a fortnight ago. It's easily found from Los Angeles International airport via Interstate 10 or the 60 Freeway to Interstate 15, past the town of Wrightwood.


Many skiers heading to the Rockies will have changed planes at O'Hare airport, but probably haven't considered a winter-sports holiday in the Windy City. Boarders should head 17 miles north-west from O'Hare on I-90 to Raging Buffalo (001 847 836 7243;, which in 1993 became what it claimed was the world's first boarders-only snow area.

Back then, resorts such as Aspen and even Park City in Utah (which went on to be the venue for the 2002 Olympic snowboarding events) were banning boarders from their slopes. In these more enlightened and cash-strapped times however, those Rockies resorts allow boarders. And, conversely, Raging Buffalo also now welcomes skiers. Slopes are modest, mostly one large terrain park complete with half-pipe, kickers and table tops served by two drag lifts. There are half a dozen other ski areas in Illinois including larger centres like Chestnut Mountain ( with nine lifts and 17 runs, but it's much further out: some 150 miles and three hours away in the same direction on the same road.


The largest city in the Sunshine State is one of America's most popular cities from which to begin a skiing trip, with the Florida Ski Council organising trips to Colorado, Montana and Italy's Aosta Valley this winter.

However, with the nearby artificial surface slope closed, the nearest proper ski areas is around a 12-hour drive away in the southern Appalachian mountains of Alabama. Cloudmont (00 1 256 634 4344; is around 770 miles north via the Ronald Reagan turnpike and I-75.

Florida is, alas, about the least-promising destination in North America for snow skiing (even tropical Hawaii has snow slopes on Mauna Kea). An impressive plan for a 550ft-high, green-powered indoor snow slope in the north of the city sadly appears to have fizzled out.

Away from the snow, there is ice-based fun is available at the Kendall Ice Arena (00 1 305 386 8288; Offering ice dancing to live DJs on Fridays and Saturdays, the 200ft-long rink is located 16 miles south-west of Miami International, and there are bus services which stop outside the ice arena (


Ontario is somewhat overlooked as a North American ski destination. There are few sizeable ski areas, but what they lack in quality they make up for in quantity. Numerically the province scores highly with nearly 90 small areas (10 per cent of the continent's total) to choose from. You could ski a different ski hill (almost) every day of winter.

The biggest of the bunch is Blue Mountain (00 1 705 445 0231; on the Niagara Escarpment, 105 miles north of Toronto's Pearson airport. The drive usually takes about two hours, 20 minutes to drive to, much of that on route 7. It's run by Intrawest, the owners of Whistler, but has only a 722ft vertical compared with Whistler's Blackcomb mountain's dizzy 5,280ft.

However, those precious feet are well served by four comfortable six-seater chairlifts (Whistler has more than a dozen quads but no chairlifts as big), and 10 other lifts. Fourteen of the 36 runs are graded black, including the intimidating Elevator Shaft run.


Boston is the main access point for Brits flying in to access the bigger resorts of New England to the north, most notably Killington (00 1 802 422 6200; in Vermont.

This is one of North America's largest, with 200 runs served by more than 30 lifts. But it's a three-hour drive north from Logan airport.

If you don't want to go quite that far, there are two dozen smaller ski areas to be found in Massachusetts. One of the closest to the airport (45 miles) is Ski Bradford (00 1 978 373 0071; It does suffer in comparison in terms of its ski area having about half the vertical of Killington, not to mention far fewer runs (11) and lifts (8), but the convenience of its location is a good trade-off, and it's certainly no slouch, managing a healthy 1,550 feet of lift-served vertical. The area tries hard to please with every bit of the terrain covered by snowmaking, evening opening – to 7pm on weekdays and 10pm at weekends – and a large base lodge in which to grab a snack and relax.

England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'