President's Day weekend, February 15–17, is the peak of the ski season, which usually amounts to chaos on the slopes. With an 11 percent spike in visits last year in the United States – totaling 56.6 million people – and good snow so far in the Rockies, February 17 will be D-day for lift lines. Skip the crowds and hit these top resorts; even if you have to travel a bit farther, it's a small price to pay for first tracks.
Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire
One of the last community-owned resorts in the country, Cannon is a low-key mountain off the national radar. Its iconic red tram delivers 80 skiers at a time to 23 miles of trails over more than 2,000 vertical feet. If you feel hemmed in, visit 86 acres of lift-accessed backcountry at the adjacent, and now defunct, Mittersill resort – one of the greatest powder stashes in the East.
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