This winter, the action at three top resorts isn’t only on the mountain. In Colorado, Snowmass (970/925-1220; aspensnowmass.com) opens its $17 million Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center, with playrooms for children as young as eight weeks, a climbing gym, and space for teen dances and movie nights. In Vermont, Stowe Mountain Lodge cuts the ribbon on a 139-room red-cedar resort (802/253-3560; stowemountainlodge.com; doubles from $435) where kids can strap on snowshoes and ID moose tracks with the house naturalist. And in California, Northstar-at-Tahoe (800/466-6784; northstarattahoe.com; condos from $279) beefs up its base village with 100 new condominiums near the central plaza’s outdoor skating rink, ringed by s’mores-roasting stations.
These top ski and snowboard locales are slicking up their offerings for the winter 07/08 season.
For expert skiers, Keystone (970/496-2316; keystone.snow.com>) has added some 300 acres of Snowcat-accessed terrain in its Independence Bowl. Newbie skiers and riders should check out the Smart Park, a new section of the A51 terrain park just for beginners.
At Steamboat Ski Resort (970/879-6111; steamboat.com) a six-passenger express lift now services Christie Peak, and the Headwall learning area has been regraded with wider trails and gentler hills.
Winter Park Resort’s (800/979-0332; skiwinterpark.com) new Panoramic Express chairlift, the highest high-speed six-person lift in North America, takes passengers to the top of Mary Jane, where there is access to two new intermediate trails, plus 100 acres of glade skiing. Tots can partake in a new ski-lesson specially designed for three-year-olds.
At Beaver Creek (800/842-8062; beavercreek.com), the new Buckaroo Express gondola delivers 7- to 14-year-olds to a beginner’s area on Haymeadow run, while the Riverfront Express Gondola transports passengers from the town of Avon to Beaver Creek Landing.
The terrain parks at Breckenridge (970/453-5000; breckenridge.snow.com) are no longer scattered across two peaks—the addition of intermediate pipes and rails on Peak 8 makes one large play area, separated into three skill levels.
At Heavenly (775/586-7000; skiheavenly.com), the longest zipline in the lower 48 opens by Christmas for 50-mile-an-hour rides from Tamarack Express to Adventure Peak.
Sugarloaf (800/843-5623; sugarloaf.com) is making more snow than ever, and a new surface lift (a conveyor belt-like people mover) takes beginners to the Birches learning area. Ten new buses run from the town of Kingfield to the mountain.
At Big Sky (800/548-4486; bigskyresort.com), the new Dakota Lift provides improvedaccess to two naturally gladed ski areas, the black diamond Bavarian Forest and intermediate Dakota Territories.
There are two new terrain parks at Bretton Woods (800.314.1752; brettonwoods.com): Wild West’s rails, bridges, and jumps are all made of logs and snow piles, and for the younger set, Kinder Woods Winter Playground has igloos, a tube-carousel, and a mini zipline.
Mountain Creek (888/767-0762; mountaincreek.com), a headquarters for east-coast snowboarders, is expanding its terrain park to cover two peaks, making it the largest freestyling grounds this side of the Rockies. Five new intermediate trails will be open, and off the snow, a renovated base lodge now has a parent’s lounge, a new gear shop, DJs spinning, and murals painted by a New York City graffiti artist.
The Canyons (435-649-5400; thecanyons.com) is opening up even more of its 200-acre DreamCatcher area to off-piste exploring, accessible as of last year by a high-speed quad.
At Deer Valley (800/424-3337; deervalley.com) the Lady Morgan lift opens up more than 200 acres of terrain, including eight new runs and 65 acres of gladed skiing.
The Baby Thunder Terrain Park at Snowbird (800/232-9542;snowbird.com) is now Miner’s Camp, a slow ski and ride area with blue and green runs and no jumps or rails.
Orion’s Belt, a moving sidewalk-like lift at Okemo (802/228-4041; okemo.com) passes alongside a new ski-in/ski-out slopeside lodge, Bixby House, and delivers beginners to the Bright Star Basin trail, which has been resurfaced and doubled in length.
At Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (307/733-2292; jacksonhole.com), the environmentally sustainable Hotel Terra (307/734-8750; hotelterrajacksonhole.com), one of five LEED-certified hotels in the US, opens in the base village.