Just 14 miles from downtown Flagstaff, Arizona, Snowbowl is a laid-back resort that's fresh off a $2 million renovation, which expanded snowmaking capabilities and added its first new chairlift in 30 years. In other words, the 777-acre mountain is primed for the coming El Niño winter. The resort sits on a giant volcano cinder cone (with a summit of 12,600 feet), with an inner horseshoe-shaped basin that holds its seven lifts, located just south of the Colorado plateau — and an hour from the Grand Canyon — the mountain's 2,300 vertical has a little bit of everything: vast Ponderosa Pine forest and groves of Aspen hold killer tree skiing; experts pick up serious speed on wide open bowls. Lift tickets are $79; buy two full-priced tickets and get free accommodation at a participating Flagstaff hotel.
Where to Stay: It's worth the 30-minute travel time to base yourself at the historic century-old Hotel Weatherford in downtown Flagstaff, for a genuine western mountain town experience.
Insider Tip: Get your Route 66 honky-tonk on at Flagstaff's Museum Club, an 80-year-old country western bar, with trees growing up through the center of the dance floor and recording contracts from Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash on the wall.