The full moon illuminates the snow like a spotlight, casting a bluish tint as a dozen skiers descend the snowfields of Colorado's Buffalo Pass. On Steamboat Powder Cat's full-moon tour, all is silent but for the hush of skis through powder. Says one skier: "It's a whole new world out here." Full-moon tours—either on skis or snowshoes—are a European import finally gaining momentum in the United States. Ready to try a moonlight ride? Here are our picks. (Layering recommended. Howling optional.)
Steamboat Powder Cats, Steamboat, Colo.
Why go Full-moon tours in the open glades and gentler terrain of Buffalo Pass outside Steamboat Springs offer the unique chance to slice through powder under the light of the moon.
Make a night of it After three runs, head to a woodstove-warmed hut, where guides serve cheese, fruit and wine, followed by a dinner of salmon, asparagus, wild rice and chocolate cake.
Info By reservation only, skiers must book an entire 12-seat snowcat, $1,799; 800-288-0543;steamboatpowdercats.com
Big Mountain, Mont.
Why go Big Mountain has been holding Dine and Ski nights during full moons for at least 20 years, making it perhaps the longest-running moonlight-skiing opportunity in the country. With the moonlight as a guide, groups of 10 descend 2,100 feet on intermediate groomers.
Make a night of it Before skiing down, dine on swordfish or prime rib at the mountaintop Summit House at 7,000 feet and drink in the moonlight-washed landscape of Glacier National Park.
Info $48, includes dinner and lift pass; 406-862-2900; bigmtn.com
Tamarack Resort, Idaho
Why go When the full moon rises above Idaho, skinny-skiers glide across Tamarack's ample, rolling cross-country terrain to check out the full moon's reflection in Cascade Lake.
Make a night of it After working up an appetite, listen to live music, grab a beer and something to eat at the Canoe Grill in the village.
Info $25; 208-325-1030; tamarackidaho.com
Why go Skiers take the last lift up the mountain and are guided down in small groups, skiing into Chamonix at midnight—just in time for a cognac.
Make a night of it Groups rendezvous at the Refuge des Cosmiques for a leisurely dinner near the summit of Mont Blanc, the highest point in western Europe.
Info $217 per person for two, $110 per person for four; basecamp.co.uk/ski/day_moon.html
Why go Northstar's heavily forested terrain becomes otherworldly when draped in moonlight. The trek begins from the midmountain Big Springs Lodge and covers about three miles of Northstar's terrain. Snowshoers wind their way down to Northstar Village.
Make a night of it Snowshoers converge in the village afterwards, gather around a bonfire, sip cocoa, build s'mores and dig into some Ben & Jerry's. Nordic skiers arewelcome, too.
Info $25; 530-562-2475; northstarattahoe.com
Bretton Woods, N.H.
Why go The stately Mount Washington Hotel is stunning any time of day, but bathed in moonlight it takes your breath away. Guides lead skinny-skiers and snowshoers across the hotel's grounds and trail network, which winds through eerie, moonlit birch tree stands.
Make a night of it Gather beforehand for hot cocoa in front of the fireplace in the hotel's grand lobby. If you're not already, consider staying the night ($140—$525 per person, per night, meals included).
Info Free, call ahead to reserve space; 603-278-3322; brettonwoods.com