So, with Canada, Europe and Japan closed to American travelers, and resort skiing off the table, what’s a Colorado skier to do?
The 2021 ski season already looks very different than years past. Many international borders are currently closed to Americans and it is uncertain when they will open again. If you were hoping to book that epic trip to Canada this year, it might be unlikely that you actually get to go. At this point, many operations are not taking reservations from international guests until they receive more clear guidance from national officials.
On top of this, resort skiing might be a headache this year. Unless you are planning to ski tour up the backside of your local hill all winter, it’s going to be difficult to avoid the crowds in ski towns and at the resort. If you’re planning a group trip, an annual ski vacation, or a weekend mission, it will be best to avoid major ski resorts if you can. Not to mention, you won’t have to deal with a reservation system to go skiing.
The answer, check out our list of epic cat and heli ski trips that don’t require a passport. Here are our top 10 ski trips for Americans in the age of Covid. These rankings below (mostly for fun) take into consideration price point, value, experience, amount included, and “unusualness.” This is by no means an official ranking, and we love all these options equally which is why they made the list.
Jones Pass Guides offers an authentic epic backcountry experience for winter sports enthusiasts.
#10 Jones Pass Guides Single Day Cat
Located just 45 minutes from Denver, this is an easy way to escape the crowds at Vail and take your group ski trip to the next level. Operating at 12k+ vertical, higher elevation and Northern exposure results in deep, blower powder for days after a storm. Jones Pass Guides has access to 2,600 acres, which means you have an epic private playground to explore. Jones Pass Guides’ operation is ideal for quick access from the Front Range of Colorado to quickly find yourself on the snow without hours of driving.
The Best Kept Secret in Tahoe
#9 Pacific Crest Snowcats
Tahoe here we come! If you are located in California, this is one of the best options out there. Pacific Crest Snowcats is California’s only snowcat-accessed private backcountry ski area. With over 3,000 magical acres hidden in the heart of Tahoe, you’ll be enjoying deep tracks and some West Coast bluebird days. Just a 3 hour drive from SF, this is the ideal option for a weekend mission. Escape the Bay this winter and plan an epic group trip.
World-Class Cat Skiing
#8 Great Northern Powder Cats
20 miles north of Whitefish, MT, but deep in remote terrain, Great Northern Powder Cats strikes the perfect balance between truly wild and having easy access to amenities. With a wide range of terrain options ranging from,; trees, burned-over areas, cleared open areas, glades, pillows, rocks, chutes… you name it, they’ve got it . As a bonus, GNPC has a private cat option which can combo multiple cat days with a night stay at their remote yurts.
Heli and Cat Skiing in Park City, UT
#7 Park City Powder Cats/Powderbird Utah
This is a great option if you are looking to do a Park City, UT vacation with a twist. Skip the crowds at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley and instead opt for the backcountry. You can head out to Park City Powder Cats in the Uintas for a couple days to enjoy a private cat on their private acreage. Then, as the cherry on top, grab a day with Powderbird and get picked up by a helicopter in town and flown deep into the Wasatch. All this while staying in a cushy pad with access to world-class restaurant takeout (or a private in house chef). This is truly a luxury stay with à la carte backcountry skiing options.
Crested Butte Cat Skiing
#6 Eleven – Sopris House
For those seeking cat skiing combined with a luxury lodge stay, Eleven is the ideal choice for you. Located in Crested Butte, Sopris House is a stunning 4 bedroom chalet decorated with that elegant, mountain property feel. The property has a sauna, hot tub, and fire pit in the courtyard and a private cabin-like bar so you can have a private après even if the bars are closed. Each morning, you’ll be picked up by a private snowcat and dropped off above 1,000+ acres of exclusive ski terrain in nearby Irwin.
Welcome to Silverton Mountain, Colorado.
#5 Silverton Mountain Guides
Located in the old mining town of Silverton, CO (a favorite destination for diehard skiers), Silverton Mountain Guides offers a variety of packages which combine heli drops and guided skiing days in the expansive, open resort. Silverton Mountain is more backcountry playground than traditional resort. Isn’t that what you really want this year anyway?
Fewer groups. More powder.
#4 Alaska Backcountry Guides
Small group Alaska Heli Skiing at its finest. Just 2 groups per helicopter, allows ABG to provide a tailored and intimate experience. There is no secret that Alaska is known for its heliskiing. The only decision remaining is who are the few lucky friends you are going to bring along?
The Ultimate Adventure
#3 Valdez Heli-Ski Guides
The amazing Chugach lines you see skied in movies are real, but the majority of our runs aren’t nearly so death-defying. Geology has smiled on the Chugach. Glaciated mountains rise at improbable angles, and between their ridges hide endless couloirs, natural pipes, broad faces, and powder-hoarding bowls — and of course the scenic glacier runs you’ll find nowhere else. The magnitude is unbelievable, and many runs are 3,500 vertical feet – and some of them double that vertical. If you’re able to keep a controlled run on the in-bounds steeps of a major resort, then you are ready to have the time of your life in Alaska.
Join us for Ruby Magic
#2 Ruby Mountains Heli Experience
Some have gone as far as to call it “paradise” while others note that it could be the “best-kept secret” in North America. Whether you ski or ride, Ruby’s 200,000 acres of pristine wilderness provide limitless terrain for any age or skill level. From wide-open bowls to heart-racing fall lines, we’re certain that you’ll find the experience of your dreams.
This is no ordinary Heli Ski Trip.
#1 SEABA Boat Based Heli-Skiing
This is no ordinary Heli Ski Trip. Hop aboard a small cruise ship, armed with the tools to take you heli-skiing wherever your heart desires. The weather and snow conditions are not meeting your requirements? The boat can move as many as 100 nautical miles while you sleep. Want to explore without burning up all your Hobbs time? Step outside to catch the northern lights from the hot tub. Many things will go through your mind when you get off the helicopter, a view fit for royalty, yes, an opportunity to pioneer new runs. Most likely you won’t see any signs of human habitation at all, a feeling that can make the spirit soar.