There’s nothing quite like the rush skiers experience as they make their way down the mountain with the wind in their face and the snow flying off their skis on a brisk, sun-drenched day. Skiing is all about finding your own comfort level, and highly skilled skiers and riders enjoy the thrill of testing their mettle on the precipitous black diamond slopes that have moguls as big as Volkswagen cars. However, the majority of skiers and riders more often than not prefer cruising down the well-groomed, corduroy surface of trails that are wide enough to provide plenty of elbow room. And although the following ski resorts provide plenty of challenges for the advanced skier in your group, they also offer fabulous cruising terrain for the intermediate skier.
Stratton Mountain Resort, Stratton, Vermont
With 75% of its 99 trails designed for the novice or intermediate skier, Stratton is a cruiser’s paradise. Couple this with a vertical drop of 2,003 feet, wide trails, annual snowfall that can reach 180 inches, extensive snowmaking and expert grooming and you have all of the ingredients that are necessary for great cruising, run after invigorating run. Fast lifts, including four six-passenger chairs and the summit gondola, ensure that skiers spend more time on the mountain than they do waiting in lift lines.
Deer Valley, Park City, Utah
With perfectly manicured groomers, over 2,000 acres of wide-open terrain and runs full of Utah’s signature powder, ideal ski conditions are the norm – not the exception – at Deer Valley. Known for its first-class service, Deer Valley attracts discerning skiers from all around the world. Deer Valley’s “Ski with a Champion” affords skiers the opportunity to ski with a former Olympic skier such as Kaylin Richardson, a four-time National Alpine Champion and ten-year veteran of the U.S. Ski Team who competed in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics.
Sugarloaf, Carrabassett Valley, Maine
At 4,237 feet, Sugarloaf is the second tallest mountain in the state of Maine. Its signature Snowfields are the only lift-serviced above-treeline terrain in the East. Sugarloaf features more than 60 miles of trails and glades, including Tote Road, a cruiser’s favorite which spans 3.5 miles from the summit to the base. All told, 34% of its trails are geared for the intermediate skier, more than any other designation on the mountain.
Winter Park Resort, Winter Park, Colorado
Winter Park Resort is so committed to grooming that it has its own grooming map where skiers can check out the best groomed trails. With a whopping 3,081 total skiable acres, including 166 designated trails, cruisers will never of the fun offered at Winter Park. A huge vertical of 3,060 feet offers a run of almost five miles for those skiers who are up to the task. There are mainly easy to intermediate forest aisle runs on Winter Park Mountain and on Vasquez Ridge.
Northstar Ski Resort, Northstar, California
With 60% of its terrain designated for the intermediate skier and offering 100 impeccably groomed runs accessed by 20 lifts, Northstar may be the quintessential cruising ski area in the country. An average annual snowfall of 350 inches, supported by 50 percent snowmaking (the largest snowmaking system in North Lake Tahoe), skiers are almost always ensured quality conditions.
Sun Valley Resort, Sun Valley, Idaho
As its names implies, Sun Valley offers snow enthusiasts a cloud-free day of skiing nearly all winter long. On average, the sun shines 120 days out of the 150-day ski season, or 80% of the time. Built in 1936, Sun Valley is America’s first destination resort and is known as the ski area that is frequented by celebrities. Featuring a three-mile run and 121 trails, 42% of its terrain has been designed for the intermediate skier. In fact, 78% of its terrain is groomable with snowmaking.
Loon Mountain Resort, Lincoln, New Hampshire
Loon has a total of 61 trails with only one trail – The Triple Trouble — that is left as natural terrain. Combine the grooming with powerful snowmaking capabilities and it’s a winning combo. Upper Speakeasy, a blue square off of Loon Peak, is a classically cut New England trail surrounded by hemlocks that make for a fairytale view when covered in snow. Seven Brothers, at the bottom of Loon Peak, is a wide blue square with great rollers top to bottom. This is the perfect trail for skiers or riders looking to show off their style.
Elk Mountain, Union Dale, Pennsylvania
Although not as widely known as the New England or western ski resorts, Elk Mountain nonetheless offers numerous wide trails that are cut from the natural fall line of the mountain. With a very respectable vertical of 1,000 feet, Elk’s terrain is ideally suited for cruising all day long. Runs such as the winding Kickapoo and Lenape will get anyone’s adrenalin pumping while the Delaware and Wissahickon are two of the most enjoyable trails to be found anywhere. Elk’s experienced groomers know every nook and cranny of the mountain which ensures ideal conditions day in, day out.
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