We’ve got good news from the western mountains, folks. Mother Nature has finally dropped temperatures, some intense on-the-ground snowmaking operations have kicked into gear and after a slow-ish start, resorts are beginning to open for the 2023/24 season. When it comes to ski trips, maxing out time on the mountain and minimizing time in the car is, of course, the goal. However, with inflation and the rising cost of snow sports, slopeside hotel prices — much like lift tickets — can get ridiculous. It’s tough to beat ski-in/ski-out perks, but don’t give up on that dream short walk to the lift line. Even big-name destinations like Palisades and Park City have slope-adjacent hotels that won’t blow the budget. We’re talking around $350 a night, $400 tops, for a midweek nightly rate outside major holidays. Here’s where to look — and book — west of the Rockies
In the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho, Schweitzer, the largest resort in the state, receives up to 400 inches of snow a year, has 2,900 skiable acres of exceptional terrain that keeps both skiers and snowboarders happy and almost zero lift lines. Located in the heart of Schweitzer village, the eco-boutique Humbird opened last year with 31 stylish rooms that cost as little as $183 before the holiday season, and swing to just a smidge over $400 through March. All are within walking distance of three chairs, including the Great Escape Quad, which services the peak, and Creekside Express, which provides access to beginner terrain and terminates at the village. Humbird’s 50-seat restaurant Crow’s Bench serves lunch and dinner, and there’s a workout space, gathering area and underground parking if you drive into town.
Taos, N.M., is a legendary year-round destination, and nestled in the stunning Sangre de Cristo Mountains, The Lodge at Angel Fire Resort is the most affordable ski-in/ski-out option in the region. The average rate for a king room post-holidays is around $305, a total bargain compared to the $500-plus a night rates at The Blake in nearby Taos Ski Valley. Just a few steps from the hotel, the Chile Express quad chairlift at Angel Fire will whisk you to the 10,677-foot peak where you can dine surrounded by panoramic mountain views at The Summit Haus. At the bottom of the lift, you can grab Mexican American fare at the hotel’s restaurant El Jefe and try out the indoor pool and hot tub. Plus, there’s complimentary parking.
Dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, Timberline Lodge is a National Historic Landmark and the only high-alpine hotel you should consider for a trip to the Timberline Ski Area on Oregon’s Mount Hood. Movie buffs might recognize its exterior from Stanley Kubrick’s classic “The Shining,” where it featured as the fictional Overlook Hotel. Simple, spacious and decorated with handcrafted furniture and textiles, the average rate for an economy twin room here is $255 a night and $350 for a queen. Do après drinks at the Ram’s Head Bar or cozy up with a fireside hot cocoa, then dip in the mountainside pool and hot tub.
Billed as “Your Jackson Hole Basecamp for Adventure,” Modern Mountain is within walking distance of downtown Jackson’s shops, restaurants and iconic spots like the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. It’s also five blocks from Snow King Mountain Resort, aka the “Town Hill,” whose lifts service 400 acres of skiable terrain. Midweek rates top out at $250-ish through March for a king, queen or bunk room, but expect to pay $350 for a one-bedroom king suite with a kitchen. There’s a heated indoor pool for post-ski de-stressing, while the long tables and fireplaces of The Triple M communal area double as a co-working space and a social evening hangout with s’mores kits, live music and games.
Sitting in a sweet spot just steps from the Aerial Tram and Funitel in the heart of Palisades Tahoe, PlumpJack Inn is damn near ski-in/ski-out at one of the country’s top-rated resorts. Big on boutique charm but easy on the wallet, a generous winter savings package reduces two nights booked between Monday and Thursday by 25%, bringing prices down to the $250 to $300 range. Rooms and suites come with fluffy robes and Keurig machines, although complimentary tea and coffee is available in the lobby until around 11 a.m. The bar opens at 4 p.m. for drinks and food is served an hour later, but book a table in advance to dine at the top-rated PlumpJack Cafe. In the village, head to The Chammy for après-ski or Tremigo for margaritas and tacos.
With 7,300 acres of skiable terrain, Park City is the largest resort in the U.S. and also among the most expensive. Leave the St. Regis to the A-listers who descend on the tony mountain town for Sundance every January and ski-in/ski-out at the YOTELPAD Park City instead. The budget-friendly capsule chain has expanded beyond airport cabin hotels to city centers with a Utah outpost conveniently located in the heart of Canyons Village. A standard studio here will set you back $335 if you use the hotel’s Tis the Ski-son deal, which reduces rates by 20% if you book before January 15, 2024. Kitchens are standard in every room, so you can cook to save even more money. Amenities include valet services, a hot tub and a coinless game room.
One of the most idyllic and, until recent years, still under-the-radar ski towns in North America, Telluride isn’t synonymous with saving money. (Tom Cruise and Oprah have owned or still own homes here.) Still, the former mining town-turned-1% ski mecca in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains has options for less than a grand a night. Mountain Lodge Telluride is located up the hill in Mountain Village, which means you’re one gondola ride closer to charging Revelation Bowl or Gold Hill Chutes on powder days. A tiny lodge queen room here runs $400 for a midweek night outside the holidays, and parking costs an extra $35 a night. There’s a heated pool, gym and 24-hour concierge who can help arrange local transportation, but no restaurant.
Plus, Two Noteworthy Mentions
With convenient access to the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Outbound Mammoth is a six-acre, pet-friendly resort with fully renovated rooms and chalets, as well as brand-new cabins and villas ideal for travelers seeking a little more privacy. Amenities are plentiful and range from on-site restaurants (stop by Bar Sierra for a beer) to a brand-new pool area, steam room and dry sauna along with several firepits. To get to the mountain, hop on the free Red Line shuttle, which stops on Old Mammoth Road right outside the hotel.
If you have plans to ski laid-back Bridger Bowl this winter, base yourself at the Kimpton Armory in Bozeman. Built in 1941 to house the Montana National Guard, the landmark armory building is a classic example of Art Deco design and is just a 25-minute drive from the Bridger Bowl base. Chic rooms and suites range in price from $273 for a basic room to $400 for a suite. For a day off the slopes, check out the hotel’s guided Yellowstone Winter Wildlife Safari tour.