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February 2013

Unusual Ski Destinations in the U.S.
By Marcia Frost

While all your friends head to Aspen, Telluride and other well-known ski destinations this winter, why not take a break and check out some of the less usual? There is actually skiing available in almost every state of the union. Obviously, some may not be as challenging for the expert as Jackson Hole, but they may be closer and provide an experience you can’t get in the top ski destinations.

Timberline, Oregon
The Pacific Northwest city of Timberline, Oregon, claims that it is the only place in the U.S. where you can ski year round and no one appears to be arguing that point. The trails are good enough to attract the pros who want to train in the spring and summer. It’s just about an hour from Portland yet has the tallest mountain in the state – near the top of a volcano.

The Timberline Lodge has been the place to go in this snow-capped mountain for 75 years. It’s a national landmark yet has moved into the 21st century with its dedication to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Hunter Mountain, New York
New England is known for its skiing, but neighboring New York offers opportunities as well. I actually learned to ski at Hunter Mountain and made many trips there as a teenager. The mountain boasts 240 skiable acres and has a 1,600 foot vertical drop. Most important, you’ll find a consistent snow fall in the Catskills area all winter long.

You may remember the Catskills as the place “Baby” and her family spent the summer in Dirty Dancing. A lot has changed since then. Most of the resorts that resemble the one in the movie are gone, but they have been replaced by a new era. Look for lots of romantic bed & breakfasts and lodges.

Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Skiing in Hawaii? Yes, you can, but only if you are an experienced skier. This dormant volcano on the Big Island has the highest point in Hawaii, which is also one of the highest in the world, at nearly 32,000 feet.

You won’t find a resort to stay at anywhere Mauna Kea, though. There are no lifts or official trails, but it’s well-known enough to get the surfers off the beach and heading in their four wheel drive vehicles on the only road that leads to the top. It’s not all so secret. This mountain attracts winter sports lovers and has been the home of the Mauna Kea Snowboarding Championship since 1994.

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Kirk Lee Aeder

Wisp, Maryland
In Western Maryland, just over three hours from our nation’s capital, you can take a break from the politics and head to Maryland’s only major ski area in McHenry.

Wisp Resort mixes an average of 100+ inches of snow each year with a well-regarded energy-efficient set-up that makes snow with pumping stations and a computerized weather system. While it may not present the largest mountain (it’s only 3,115 feet) you’ve ever seen, Wisp does offer 32 slopes for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiing as well as a set-up for night skiing on most of the trails.

Lutsen Mountain, Minnesota
It’s not hard to believe there’s snow in Minnesota, but it still isn’t known as a skiing spot. Lutsen Mountain is actually one of the largest ski destinations in the region because it’s the tallest mountain in the Midwest. This scenic spot is just a short distance from Lake Superior so it offers you skiing while you are enjoying the breathtaking horizon off this great lake.

At Caribou Highlands, you have your choice of accommodations, including condominiums, town houses and even four bedroom homes to rent. Before you turn in for the day you might want to visit their masseuse for a therapeutic massage.

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