Vail’s West Coast showgirl is as pretty as they get, with dazzling vistas of Lake Tahoe at every turn. The mountain— one of only 10 in North America to draw a million skier visits in a single winter—sprawls from California to Nevada and back again. Amid its web of groomed boulevards hide old-growth giants, big boulders beckoning picnickers, massive mogul faces, a few wicked off-piste steeps, and a living-the-good-life party scene. Itinerary planning pays off. Start on the California side at Gunbarrel Express, ski all the way over to Stagecoach Lodge on the Nevada side, and return—a day trip that encompasses 15 lift rides, 15,588 vertical feet of skiing, the best of Heavenly’s varied terrain, and lots of those showgirl views. And your night hasn’t even begun. — Susan Reifer Ryan
WHAT’S NEW >> Reno gets new nonstop flights this season, including links from Minneapolis/St. Paul and Houston. Vail’s Tahoe Local Pass includes Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood, and, at $419, keeps locals on the snow.
APRES SPOT >> Party like it’s 1979 with go-go dancers, the Heavenly Angels, and 750 other ski-booted boogiers Fridays on-mountain at the Unbuckle at Tamarack Lodge après-ski soiree.
BRAGGING RIGHTS >> Only skiers willing to catch air should enter the pulse-raising, 45-degree Stateline Chute in Killebrew Canyon.