Great ski areas beckon nonskiers, too

  • Friday, January 4, 2013 8:53pm
  • Life

Are you taking a warm winter getaway or a snow-filled adventure? In response to this traveling issue, many ski towns and resorts have made ramping up their activities for nonskiers.

The editors and members of VirtualTourist.com put together the top 5 best destinations for skiers and nonskiers.

1. Jackson Hole, Wyo.: Jackson Hole is an ideal spot for the experienced skier and a novice who is only thinking about lessons. In addition to class, private ski and snowboard lessons, the resort also has a variety of camp options, running three to four days, to take skiers and snowboarders of all ages to the next level.

And there are great snowmobile tours, as well as Iditarod Sled Dog tours for a more historical experience.

No trip to Jackson Hole would be complete without visiting either Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park; both parks offer ranger-guided snowshoe hikes from December through mid-March.

2. Kitzbuhel, Austria: Besides downhill skiing, Kitzbuhel also offers more than 75 miles of cross-country ski trails and 106 miles of winter hiking trails. In late January, the area hosts Hahnenkamm Race week, one of Austria’s premier downhill slalom events.

Kitzbuhel is also quite close to Innsbruck (59 miles) and Salzburg (50 miles), meaning visitors can easily explore these other Austrian towns.

3. Chamonix, France: Chamonix is unique in that it is more famous for mountaineering than skiing. Located at the foot of Mont Blanc, this spot attracts athletes and daredevils from all over the world, eager to attempt some experience of the 15,781-foot mountain.

From paragliding to mountaineering courses and glacier walks, visitors do not need skis to experience this majestic mountain.

Chamonix hosts the Swatch Freeride World Tour at the end of January, with skiers and snowboarders battling it out to be crowned the world’s best freerider. And don’t miss some of Chamonix’s famous apres ski spots, like Monkey Bar and Le Privilege.

4. Taos, NM: Park City may have a film festival and Sun Valley may have celebrities, but no ski town in the western United States has the same opportunities for nonskiers as Taos. With four different ski areas, there are plenty of opportunities for any level, but nonskiers are not excluded.

At Red River ski area, tubing starts at 4:15 p.m., just after the slopes close, and Angel Fire ski area has the Polar Coaster: 1,000 feet of hills and a lift to take tubers back to the top. Angel Fire is also well-lit for night tubing.

Taos is home to the Enchanted Forest in the Carson National Forest, which offers wide, groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

For nonsnow activities, try the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, where sulphur-free, geothermal mineral waters flow from a subterranean volcanic aquifer. The Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historical Landmark.

5. Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada: Mont Tremblant offers all the luxuries of French Canada. In addition to great skiing, the mountain has 12 hiking trails, ranging from .62 to 12.4 miles round-trip that also coordinate with the gondolas.

You can hike up the mountain to a breathtaking observation spot and then enjoy a gondola ride down.

The Casino de Mont-Tremblant, which is even ski-in/ski-out for the skiers among us. For those who might want to arrive by rail, there is a quick shuttle that runs between the Casino and the pedestrian village.

&Copy; 2013 VirtualTourist.com, Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.

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