Unsurprisingly dominated by west coast resorts, with representatives from Utah, Colorado, California, Montana, Washington State and Wyoming, here are our top 10 U.S. resorts at which to work a winter season.
Crested Butte is a hidden gem in central Colorado with some of the gnarliest in-bound terrain in the country. The Crested Butte mountain is stunning craggy peak which rises sharply from the surrounding tablelands while the town is one of the few remaining authentic ski and mining towns left in Colorado as it has resisted the advances of the developers.
Moreover, Gunnison, a college town, is just nearby ensuring a continuous energy in the area on the slopes and at night and making Crested Butte a top place to find a job.
Mt Baker makes it onto the list simply by virtue of its awesome snowfall average; the highest in the country. The resort averages 16.7 metres (659 inches) of snow per season which means powder days are plentiful throughout the season and many, many faceshots await seasonal workers.
A combination of extreme terrain, in-bound hiking, plentiful on-piste cruisers and a chilled out, historical town make Telluride an excellent place to work a season. Its remote location reminds you of its frontier history - the notorious train and bank robber, Butch Cassidy, robbed his first bank in this city.
The terrain is among the most varied in the country, with options for the extreme junkie to the seasonal worker looking to improve technique on-piste.
Located in a cluster of resorts in Summit County which includes Copper Mountain, Keystone, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge rises above in terms of its terrain, snowfall and charming, vibrant mining town with some of the best après-ski in the country.
You can add to that some of the best terrain parks in the world which, by themselves, attract a number of seasonal workers to Breckenridge each season to find a job. Also, the convenience of being in Summit County with access to all the shops in nearby towns you would need throughout the season helps to keep costs down.
Legendary is the word best used to describe Jackson Hole. This resort draws the world’s best riders to tackle its mythical and gnarly terrain, including the famous ‘Corbet’s Couloir’ which leaves even the best riders with a thumping heart. There is some terrain here that only the best riders in the world would dare tackle, and that’s just within the resort boundaries.
The nearby town of Jackson is a great ole western country town which acts as the gateway to a large number of tourist spots, including Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, and where you are likely to see cowboy hats all over town and in the bars.
With 12.7 metres (500 inches) of arguably the driest powder on the planet, and with the longest season of the Utah resorts, Snowbird ranks highly as a place to work a season.
In close proximity to Salt Lake City, Snowbird employees tend to live in the Utah capital which means access to shops and other amenities of a big city. And with some of the wildest terrain in Utah, you will be riding steep and deep on every day off work throughout the season.
Big Sky is the biggest resort in the U.S. with a monster 5,750 acres of skiable terrain (only Whistler has more skiable terrain in North America), a 4,350 vertical drop and a yearly average of 400 inches (10m) of snow. It appropriately takes on Montana’s tagline ‘Big Sky’.
To work a season at Big Sky is to work and ride a combination of huge terrain and sparse crowds which is essentially unmatched by any resort in North America.
The only Californian mountain to make the list, Mammoth Mountain stands above its Lake Tahoe rivals. The snow at Mammoth is truly awesome, with an average of around 400 inches of powder which is drier than the Tahoe resorts.
The Mammoth terrain parks ‘Unbound’ are among the top terrain parks each season in North America or even the world, with many pro riders calling Mammoth their home solely for this reason.
While many resorts claim to have it all, it is perhaps Vail which comes closest in the U.S. to actually backing that up. Almost unique among ski resorts, Vail maintains an even mix of local ski resort authenticity and ski resort glamour.
While some riders at Vail are indeed big money, a vibe which manifests in the high end shops and eye-catching houses, seasonal workers will also find a year-round population, friendly locals, a relaxed, mountain vibe and plenty of cheap eats and local drinking haunts. That combination, along with famous Colorado powder and sun, is what makes Vail an excellent resort at which to work a winter season.
Colorado’s iconic resort, former home to author Hunter S. Thompson and bastion of American counterculture, is today equally the domain of celebrities and the super wealthy.
With four separate non-linked mountains, each with its own character of terrain to explore during the season (Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass), seasonal workers will have plenty to carve and explore on days off.
There is a great working culture at Aspen too, with a large number of foreign workers in addition to plenty of foreign riders coming to experience Aspen-life each season. Finally, Aspen town is incredibly cool with a thriving nightlife and a great vibe among staff.
Honorable mentions for our top 10 list go to Grand Targhee, Wyoming and Alta, Utah.