I have some bad news: sail boats in Chicago are disappearing from harbors as Lake Michigan’s lake season is just two weeks from being completely kaput. Also beach and pool season also seem well past their “best by” dates. I also have some very, very good news: it’s been snowing in the Rocky Mountains!
Arapahoe Basin’s opening date is … er … was October 13th. Granted, only one of seven lifts are open today, but it’s time to get excited. Another lodge with an earlier than average opening date is Loveland.
Here are the top five reasons to get excited about the 2011-2012 ski season:
5) Cheep lift tickets–Lift tickets in Colorado AREN’T always about $90 a pop. Nope, there are a lot of lodges with less expensive lift tickets. You just need to shop around and prioritize. For example, Powderhorn, near Grand Junction, offers lift tickets at about $50. And you won’t miss out on scenery at Powderhorn … the view from it’s Grand Mesa location is of the beautiful painted desert to the west. New this year at Powderhorn is a 13-foot halfpipe.
4) Skiing the backside–of Vail, that is. For upscale skiing, Vail resort ranks high on the list. My favorite thing at Vail is the wide expanse of great skiing. You can literally take lifts to the top, ski down the backside, and then take lifts to the top of the next mountain. Crowds on the backsides decrease a great deal.
3) Ski the Midwest–I know, I know the peaks a lot lower, but there is fun and great scenery to be had. It’s a longer drive from Chicago than Devils Head, but the best and most beautiful place to ski in these parts is in the U.P. Check out Porcupine Mountain. Some of the nicest runs in the area, inexpensive rental housing on Lake Superior and a lovely view of Lake Superior from the ski runs.
2) Utah! (seriously)–Perhaps Colorado has the best ski lodges on earth, but, really, Utah has the best snow. There are a number of great lodges around Salt Lake City, and while they lack a bit in nightlife and those other extras, the skiing is incredible and the powder is fantastic. One of my favorites is Alta.
1) Lookin’ good–Let’s fact it, skiing is sexy. Everybody looks good when their skiing. But you need to have the right clothing. A good place to shop for the ski season is at the 2011 Windy City Ski and Snowboard Show Oct. 21-23 at the Schaumburg Convention Center.