Easy-Access Ski Resorts

With the Olympics in full swing, riders — as snowboarders are known — and skiers are sure to be itching to get out on the mountains themselves.

With the Olympics in full swing, riders — as snowboarders are known — and skiers are sure to have had their appetites whetted to get out on the mountains themselves.

For those who are inspired to take a last-minute trip, plenty of resorts are easy to get to, within four or five hours traveling time by car, or car and plane, from most of the nation's major gateway cities.

Some are obvious, such as Colorado's Copper Mountain, Keystone and Breckenridge, all in Summit County and less than an hour's drive from Denver. Denver is also within a three-hour flight of major gateway cities in the Midwest and an hour or so more from the East Coast and Southeast.

Others are less obvious but no less convenient: Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Big Sky, Mont., and, in Colorado, Aspen, Telluride, Steamboat, Crested Butte, Vail and Beaver Creek. These resorts require a change of plane, but airports are within minutes of them. (Big Sky is the exception; it is an hour from the airport in Bozeman.)

Salt Lake Slopes

Then there's Salt Lake City itself, which besides hosting the Winter Olympics is surrounded by nearly a dozen downhill and cross-country areas, many of which are within an hour of the city's airport.

Salt Lake's downhill ski resorts include Alta, Snowbird, Park City, Deer Valley, Snowbasin (now home to that Grizzly run made famous by the Olympics), Solitude, The Canyons, and Sundance. For cross-country, there's Soldier Hollow, Homestead and Sundance. Salt Lake is within a three- or four-hour flight of the Midwest and East Coast as well.

Besides access, it also offers economy, points out Bruce Rosard, president of Moguls, which packages and sells ski vacations to resorts across the nation. Because Salt Lake has relatively inexpensive hotel rooms, skiers can rent a car, stay in the city and drive to whatever resort they choose. (One note: Heavy snows can strand skiers in the city.) Many hotels in Salt Lake City include lift tickets in their pricing and cater to the ski market.

More Cities

Other gateway cities and ski areas that can be easily accessed by plane and car include:

Tampa and Orlando, Fla., which are four hours from Albuquerque, N.M., and the ski resorts of Taos, Angel Fire, Red River and Sandia Peak;

San Francisco, about an hour and a half from Reno, Nev., and Lake Tahoe's resorts or within four hours of Canadian ski areas in Banff/Lake Louise outside Calgary and Whistler/Blackcomb;

Los Angeles, within three hours of Salt Lake;

Boston, which is within three hours of Tremblant in Quebec.

These are just some of the resorts that are easily reached — and, presumably, Olympic coverage will motivate enterprising skiers and riders to find others as well.

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