Shut Up and Ski

America's top 10 old-school ski resorts are all about the snow -- and lift tickets are a deal.

How to get there

Downtown Boise's Harrison Boulevard turns into Bogus Basin Road, which ascends about 3,000 vertical feet in a series of switchbacks, then dead-ends at the resort. Caldwell Transportation runs a bus service to the mountain every day, with pickups all over town (208/459-6612 or 800/727-9925, ctcbus.com, $12 round trip).

Where to stay

At the mountaintop Pioneer Condominiums, guests ski down to the lifts (800/367-4397, pioneercondos.com, from $129).

Local's tip

"Experts have got to make a lap through the Waterfall and the Triangle," says Charles Butrick, leader of the Bogus Basin Ski Patrol. "They're not really on the map, but are known areas nonetheless. Have a local show you the way. Also, don't miss beers in the Bogus Creek Lodge, where ski bums congregate to lie about all the crazy runs they supposedly took."

WASHINGTON
49 NORTH

Elevation: 5,774 feet
Vertical drop: 1,900 feet
Skiable terrain: 2,325 acres
Annual snowfall: 300 inches
Lift ticket: $43 or less
Info: 866/376-4949, ski49n.com

Unabashedly retro, with lifts that aren't remotely high-speed, 49 North offers 70 percent beginner and intermediate terrain. For those who refuse to take it easy, there's backcountry skiing in the East Basin, accessible by a fairly mild traverse from the peak. Taco Time, a local restaurant chain, hands out two-for-one lift ticket vouchers on Tuesdays, no purchase necessary. Also, skiing is totally free for everyone during the last week of the season (April 7-13). Just show up and ask for a lift ticket.

How to get there

From Spokane, drive for about an hour on Hwy. 395 north. With little else up there, the mountain is hard to miss.

Local's tip

"If you're looking for bumps, do Klondike," says Daniel Voltz, who owns the Norski Conoco gas station in Chewelah and finds a way to ski 50 to 60 days a year. "If you're looking for fast cruisers, ski Mahre's Gold, named after the gold-medal winner of the slalom in the 1984 Olympics."

OREGON
WILLAMETTE PASS

Elevation: 6,683 feet
Vertical drop: 1,563 feet
Skiable terrain: 555 acres
Annual snowfall: 400 inches
Lift ticket: $44 or less
Info: 541/345-7669, willamettepass.com

What Willamette Pass lacks in convenience--it's a 90-minute drive southeast of Eugene--is made up for with a fun mix of tree skiing and cruising runs, along with a peaceful setting amid lakes and hundreds of miles of national forest. It's closed Monday through Wednesday, which means untracked snow on Thursday!

How to get there

Willamette Pass is right off of Hwy. 58 deep in the thickly forested Cascade Mountains, and there's not much in the way of civilization on the drive from Eugene. Skiers don't have to drive, though: A bus service called the Willamette Pass Express departs from downtown Eugene Thursday through Sunday at 7:15 a.m. (541/345-7669, $14 round trip).

Where to stay

Seven miles from the lifts, the Willamette Pass Inn has standard rooms and cabins, all with kitchens and most with fireplaces (Mile 69, Highway 58, 541/433-2211, from $81).

Local's tip

"Get hot cocoa at the Crescent Lake Lodge & Resort (Hwy. 58, 541/433-2505, crescentlakeresort.com), which overlooks Crescent Lake," says Svein Berg, manager of Berg's Ski & Snowboard Shop, a third-generation family business in Eugene. "There's an old stone fireplace where you can sit back and check out the view. It's fabulous."

VERMONT
BURKE

Elevation: 3,267 feet
Vertical drop: 2,000 feet
Skiable terrain: 250 acres
Annual snowfall: 250 inches
Lift ticket: $56 or less
Info: 802/626-3322, skiburke.com

Burke sticks to the basics that drew serious skiers to Vermont two generations ago, with dozens of fast, narrow runs that call for sharp edges and big, swooping turns. The challenging slopes hold some of the responsibility for getting five alums of the Burke Mountain Academy--a ski-in, ski-out high school, if you can believe such a thing--to the Olympics in 2002. A mile from the lifts is the village of East Burke, little more than a gas station, a church, and a couple of restaurants and shops. The century-old Bailey's & Burke earns its billing as a general store, selling bottles of wine, sandwiches, cereal, fresh muffins and cookies, pots and pans, toys, books, locally made jerky, hot pizza, and dog food (466 Rte. 114, East Burke, 802/626-9250). Upstairs is the office for the Kingdom Trails system: 110 miles of interconnected paths that are perfect for mountain bikers in summer and cross-country skiers and snowshoers in winter (802/626-0737, kingdomtrails.org, day pass $10). The general store also sells Starbucks coffee, and the mountain did what seems like sacrilege to some old-timers, replacing its classic, superslow main lift with a high-speed quad in summer 2005. Coincidentally, lift-ticket prices were boosted $3. But for the most part Burke's low-key atmosphere and remote location--up in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, 40 minutes from the Canadian border--have kept the crowds and corporate interests away.

How to get there

Burke is seven miles off of I-91, three hours from Boston, six hours from New York City, and within two hours of the nearest airport, in Burlington, along with more skiing at Stowe, Smugglers' Notch, and Jay Peak.

Apres-ski

In a renovated barn behind Bailey's & Burke, the Pub Outback serves burgers, meat loaf, and nachos, as well as locally brewed Trout River for $3.50 a pint (482 Rte. 114, East Burke, 802/626-1188, thepuboutback.com).

Local's tip

"Throw an extra scarf in your jacket just for the chairlift ride up to the top," says Charlie Hepburn, a high school student and ski racer in nearby Littleton, N.H. "The trees provide good cover from the wind when you're cruising down the mountain, but on the lifts you're totally exposed to the cold."

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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