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2003 Number 4 Resort in North America: Snowmass, Colo.

At more than 3,000 acres and 4,400 vertical feet, Snowmass proves huge is better by providing just about everything you could want in a ski vacation. "Terrain variety is exceptional, and it never seems crowded," a reader says. "Amenities are great, on- and off-mountain," another chimes in. It all adds up to the conclusion that "Snowmass is the most pleasurable ski resort in the USA." Enough readers agree to propel Snowmass to No. 4 this year. The mountain that made corduroy famous also has a wide range of feistier attractions, including a state-of-the-art terrain park and some of the best off-piste-style skiing in Colorado on the likes of Adios Ridge and The Ladder. "Great cruising after thigh-burn on The Wall and Hanging Valley," concludes one reader. And even though Snowmass offers some great après and restaurant options (Cirque Cafe for live music and Sage for lively cuisine), until the new Base Village is completed (check back in 2004), the resort will be sleepy after the lifts close. "Stay at Snowmass and take the shuttle to Aspen for food and nightlife," suggests a reader. There are also age-old complaints about excess and access: "Expensive and hard to get to," critiques one reader. But many also agree that the overall quality and service make Snowmass "our family's favorite place to ski." -Jay Cowan

  • WHAT'S NEW Trenchtown, the vast terrain park, will double in length this season; check out the new interactive ski/snowboard trails.
  • A GOOD DEAL Book your 2002-03 Aspen/Snowmass winter vacation before Dec. 1, and get 20 percent off the entire package of lodging, lift tickets, equipment rentals and select ski school products.
  • MEDALS GOLD Snow, Grooming, Terrain, Challenge, Lifts, Service, Weather, On-Mountain Food, Lodging, Dining, Family Programs, Terrain Parks; SILVER Après, Off-Hill Activities, Scenery.
  • HIGH/LOW RANK Grooming (4), Weather (4), Service (5), Family Programs (5); Challenge (27), Access (29), Value (40).
  • DON'T MISS A visit to the legendary Woody Creek Tavern. Check out the flying pig above the entrance and the philosophers at the bar.
  • READER REMARKS (+) "Best destination resort in America, best all-around experience." "Groomers up the wazoo; intermediate nirvana." (-) "Air transportation costs are out of sight." "Mall needs updating."

    Great Lodging Deals here.

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