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Costco Connection: Happy Trails

Although last year’s winter season started dramatically and unpredictably, ski resorts have adjusted to the brave new world of COVID-19 and are making plans this season to enable you again to get up and down the mountains—with cashless transactions, responsible social distancing, masks and design changes—and have a great ski experience.

Here are some of my favorite ski resorts, and experiences, for the upcoming season. (As with anything travel-related these days, these plans are subject to change. Be sure to check.)

The historic mining town of Breckenridge has become a household name for skiers of all levels, offering five peaks, 2,908 skiable acres, 187 trails and the tallest chairlift in North America. The number of available lift tickets has been reduced to allow for social distancing, but that also means no crowding on the lifts or on the runs.

Debuting this season is the Freedom Superchair lift that will offer peak-to-peak access and even more options.

Last season, the town of Breckenridge expanded access to its already extensive groomed trails network to allow guests to experience wide open spaces while keeping their social distance. The good news is that these routes are there to stay, meaning an extra 3 miles of sledding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on top of the existing 60 miles of trails.

My après-ski recommendation: Aurum Food & Wine, located just a short drive from the mountain. Make a reservation for an early dinner when it’s still happy hour and get half off the restaurant’s snack menu, which includes Korean fried chicken with gochujang sauce, and the French onion burger.

New Hampshire
Cranmore Mountain Resort, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, offers a relaxed, classic approach to skiing. It has 56 trails to ski or board on, and a tubing adventure park as well.

Cranmore is also open for night skiing with discounted rates.

While après-ski options were put on hold last season, Cranmore plans to bring back its nightlife, which means Cranapalooza, a “block party” event happening every Saturday from Christmas to early March.

For ski purists, there’s Alta Ski Area, a ski-only resort about 30 miles southeast of Salt Lake City in Little Cottonwood Canyon, with 2,614 acres of powder.

One tip: Parking here is on a first-come, first-served basis, and reservations will be required on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Located in the heart of the state in Mad River Valley, Sugarbush Resort is one of the largest ski areas in New England, with over 4,000 total acres and 111 trails, including 484 on-trail acres and 28 additional wooded acres and a backcountry basin.

The runs range from easy to expert, and if you need to rent gear, you can do so online, where you will schedule a pickup time, or in person the day you are going. If you want to explore the mountain trails in a slower, quieter manner, just minutes from the resort, check out the Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm for great trail rides through the snow.

Heading northward
If you’re able to cross the border, Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia has a whopping 8,171 acres of skiable terrain spread between its two mountains.

Unlike last season, Whistler is not expected to have a reservation system for tickets this season. All transactions will be cashless. Lift lines, lifts and gondolas will be set up for physical distancing.

The peak-to-peak gondola, which joins the mountains, held records as the longest continuous lift system and the highest gondola of its kind (436 meters, or 1,430 feet, above the valley floor) for almost a decade.


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