A blanket of winter snow typically brings to mind visions of sleigh rides, white Christmases and snowball fights. However, if the first thought that pops into your head after a fresh snowfall is a crazed desire to get to the nearest mountain and careen down it as fast as you possibly can on two strips of fiberglass – you just might be a ski buff!
You likely already know many of the best ski towns in North America and beyond, but if you’re a college-bound ski buff, regardless of where you’re from we’ve got 10 schools from the Rockies to the Appalachians that offer serious slopes and epic adventures for college-bound students:
This school in Bozeman knows the legendary ski town is one of its biggest draws for students and proudly proclaims its “Dream Town” location right from the admissions section of its website. From Outside magazine to Forbes, Travel & Leisure to National Geographic, critics agree Bozeman is a town with a lot to offer, including world-class skiing. MSU students can take advantage of the campus’ close proximity to local attractions – Whether it’s hitting the soft powder of the Bridger Bowl 20 minutes north of town, cruising the Moonlight Basin 45 minutes south of town, or kite skiing across campus, Montana State is smack dab in the heart of ski paradise.
Like MSU, CU-Boulder is conveniently located near some of the best skiing in America, with Boulder’s Eldora Mountain just a half hour from campus, and both Vail and Beaver Creek just a couple of hours away. But the real pull for college-bound snowheads is the CU college ski team. It’s one of the most consistently strong teams in the country, with several pros having made their way through the university as a Buffalo. With world-class equipment and no classes before 11 a.m., CU ski team members have a competitive edge and unique support for perfecting their passion.
Football might be king in the South, but on this Vermont campus, skiing wears the crown. Shredding and ripping are such popular activities here on the weekends that you might want to think twice about attending if you’re not a ski buff. For the students who don’t want to invest in or store the equipment, skis and snowshoes can be rented on campus. As for where to go, the options are many: the Killington Mountain Resort with the highest lift-served skiing in the state; the 1,000 acres at Smuggler’s Notch; or the off-trail adventuring at the Mad River Glen. The University of Vermont ski team also happens to be one of the best in the nation.
If you’re a ski buff, the U of U campus – surrounded by mountains – may tempt you. If so, you’re in good company: it also tempted famous skier, Pittsburgh native and the pride of U of U, alum Tom Wallisch. The location is considered a skier’s paradise, and the toughest decision you’ll make here is choosing which of the ski havens in close proximity to target on any given day: Alta, Brighton, Park City, Snowbird, or Solitude.
The U.S. can’t claim all of the best colleges for skiers in North America. Barely an hour north of Montana, across the border with our Canadian neighbors, lies Fernie, B.C., a fantastic ski locale that is home to this small community college. Ski buffs looking to make a career out of it can enroll in the Adventure Tourism major and take skis-on classes like Outdoor Adventure Leadership. On the weekends, however, students are just pedestrian ski aficionados enjoying powder that’s more consistent than Whistler and weather that’s warmer than Banff.
This sister campus to SMU in Dallas is eclectic, back-to-nature, hippie-ish, and just generally laid back – all traits ski buffs naturally jibe with. And while Dallas withers in the Texas heat, students at the Taos location enjoy steep runs, friendly fellow skiers, and short lift lines. The Taos Ski Valley, just 30 minutes up the road, is a five-star ski spot locals praise for its untouched feel and challenging terrain. And after a day of skiing, students can enjoy the funky local vibe of Taos’ coffee shops and art galleries.
This school 15 minutes south of downtown Portland may get overlooked by avid skiers for not resting in the shadow of a ski slope, but ski buffs who come here won’t regret it. The feeling about organized sports seems to be a resounding “don’t care,” but when it comes to unstructured outdoor activity, LC is all about it. Mount Hood is a 90-minute jog away, and buses run every day carrying students looking for P.E. credit or just playing hooky from class. The Timberline area has the longest ski season in the U.S., and the Skibowl Resort is the biggest night-skiing site in the nation. Cross-country skate-and-ski and snowshoe courses are regularly offered through the school’s College Outdoors program, which also keeps skiers busy during the location’s few snowless months.
Owning your own ski area pretty much secures a slot on a list like this. Not only does Middlebury have access to all the same spots UVM students do, the Middlebury Snow Bowl has been the ideal place for students to ski on the cheap since 1934. Come mid-year graduation in February, exiting seniors hit the Bowl for the annual cap-and-gown “ski down” event: this should give you an idea of how central skiing is to the Panthers. As for pedigree, Middlebury alumni have represented the school at every Winter Olympics since 1948, and the school continue to be a college destination for competitive skiers.
Two words: Ski Day. Yes, here at the other PSU on the East Coast, skiing gets administration-blessed priority over classes one wintry day. Of course, virtually any day here is in danger of becoming an unofficial snow day if the powder is too good to pass up. Each year the Student Senate arranges a student vote on which New Hampshire mountain will offer students discounted lift tickets. Last year’s winner was Waterville Valley, but the Tenney, Loon, and Ragged Mountains are also under an hour away, with student ski buffs and rabid snowboarding fans heading there en masse as soon as the temps drop.
We have to keep it on the east side for No. 10, as Dartmouth has 100 acres of ski area to call its own, a primo New Hampshire location, and the record for turning out more Olympic skiers than any other Ivy League school. But wait, there’s more thing – a day in February designated not just as a ‘Ski Day’, but a 99 Cent Ski Day – how great is that? The event is part of the college’s legendary Winter Carnival, which also features Division 1 ski races and a 3k race for scrubs-wearing, PJs, and capes. It all means this is one of the best colleges for skiing that a recent high school grad could choose.