Pick the Right Weekend
Every resort has one weekend when the entire mountain goes off — epic parties and pro athletes putting it all on the line. There's no predicting what conditions will be like, but with so much going on, skiing is just a bonus.
Wintersköl, January 12–15, Aspen, Colorado
Like everywhere, New Year's Eve is Aspen's biggest rager. But any local will tell you that the most fun weekend of the year is Wintersköl, the town's annual "toast to winter." Now in its 66th year, the festival includes events like a canine fashion show, a soup cook-off pitting Aspen's top chefs against one another, and snow sculpting, as well competitions such as a fat-tire bike race. This is what Aspen was like two decades ago.
Sundance Film Festival, January 19–29 Park City, Utah
It's the hottest week of the year in the most happening mountain town in the Rockies: A-list celebrities, million-dollar corporate bashes, TMZ-worthy scandals. And because everyone is hoping for a DiCaprio sighting, you'll have the slopes to yourselves (though nowhere to stay). And you might catch a few good movies, too.
Taos Freeride Championships, March 2–4 Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico
Taos has long been the country's hidden gem, with steep terrain and sugar-smooth powder. The season's highlight is when pros compete for spots on the Freeride World Tour. So when your legs turn to mush, you can grab a beer and watch some of the best skiers in the world hucking giant backflips off 40-foot cliffs.
World Cup Ski Racing, March 9–12 Squaw Valley, California
This winter, Squaw will host the first World Cup ski race in California since 1998 — and it will be on Red Dog, the same run where the 1960 Olympics were held. Racers will include Squaw Valley's own Julia Mancuso and Mikaela Shiffrin, the world's top slalom racer. In addition to the pros: a giant opening après-ski party with concerts and fireworks, a Pro-Am race, and an elaborate benefit auction. It will be Squaw's biggest weekend in years.
Closing Weekend, Mid-April, Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley has the world's best spring skiing, with abundant sunshine, long runs, and wide-open bowls. Closing weekend brings the best party of the season, too. Live music is everywhere, and costumes are the norm — expect to see dancing dinosaurs, plenty of bikinis, and far less than that. Champagne corks can be heard popping on the chairlifts as the summit area turns into a huge dance party. Meanwhile, the skiing is usually going off, and it's not rare to log 40,000 vertical feet on the last day of the season.