Bolstered by tens of millions of dollars in improvements, and now owned by Vail Resorts, Canyons' identity has been evolving to compete with the country's best, with its introduction of the first North American 'bubble' lift (an enclosed, climate-controlled lift), along with 300 new acres of advanced skiing acreage and an increased snow-making capability. Lodging properties are expanding on site and new restaurants are being added. The resort currently sprawls across nine aspen-covered peaks 4 miles outside of town, near the freeway.
The lowdown: 3190ft vertical drop, base elevation 6800ft; 4000 acres, 10% beginner, 44% intermediate, 46% advanced; 19 lifts, including a gondola. Varied terrain on 176 trails means there's something for all levels, with wide groomers for beginners and intermediates, three terrain parks and lots of freshies on a powder day. Experts: head to Ninety-Nine 90 . There's a liberal open-boundary policy (heed avalanche warnings) as well as six natural half-pipes, one of them a whopping mile long, perfect for boarding.
Cross-country skiing and sleigh rides , for pleasure or to dinner, are also available. You can even ride or drive a state-of-the-art Snow Cat groomer. Sightseers can take the recently relocated gondola (round-trip $20) up not only for the views, but for Belgian waffles or lunch in the Red Pine area.