In this guide we identify the best airport for car hire to access your chosen ski resort. If you are driving there are some important considerations to be aware of.
It is fairly natural to assume that an SUV would be a good choice for getting to a ski resort. However, not all Sport Utility Vehicles are or have 4 wheel drive. Many are of course, but availability of such vehicles cannot and will not be guaranteed. Categories available to consider include:
- Mid-size SUV – Rav 4 or similar
- Standard SUV – Jeep Grand Cherokee or similar
- Full size 7 Seat SUV – GMC Yukon or similar
- Premium SUV – Chevrolet Suburban or similar
- Pick Up – Ram 1500 Classic or similar
Ski racks are available to hire at locations where travel to ski resorts is anticipated during the winter season. There is a charge for ski racks of $7 – $12 per day, plus local taxes. If you would like to request Ski Racks for your reservation, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Ski Racks are subject to availability at the airport on the day.
In the USA car rentals are supplied with either ‘Winter tyres’ or ‘All Weather tyres’ as appropriate. These are suitable for normal roads in winter. However, there are many mountain roads which require you to carry snow-chains in the car when signs are posted to that effect. Car hire companies do not allow snow-chains to be fitted to their cars, so they do not supply them either.
San Francisco and Los Angeles airports along with Reno and Las Vegas airports in Nevada are best for skiing in California
Heavenly ski resort is on the state border of California and Nevada. With an elevation of over 10,000ft and 4,800 skiable acres, it is the highest resort in the Lake Tahoe area. Add in average snowfall of 360 inches, and the ability to ski from state to state, Heavenly is a fun destination.
Close behind on the elevation front is the Squaw Valley resort at North Lake Tahoe at 9050 ft and more than 6,000 ski-able acres. With average annual snowfall of over 450 inches, the resort has one of the longest season in the Tahoe area. Use either the Reno/Tahoe Airport with a drive time of around 45 minutes, or collect a car from San Francisco Bay area for a drive of about 3 hours 30 minutes.
Mammoth Mountain has the highest elevation in California at over 11,000 ft. Mammoth also boasts over 3,500 skiable acres and annual snowfall of over 400 inches. Los Angles International is the closest airport about 5 hours away, or collect a car from Las Vegas for a 5 or 6 hour drive. This is a great ski resort to combine with a beach holiday in Southern California, or to heed the call of the bright neon lights of Las Vegas!
Denver International Airport serves most ski resorts in Colorado
The family friendly resort of Winter Park is the closest ski resort to Denver International Airport. The drive time from the airport is less than 1 hour 30 minutes. Elevations vary from just under 8,000 ft to just over 12,000 ft. This large resort is blessed with annual snowfall of around 320 inches a year over 3,081 skiable acres.
Breckenbridge ski resort is about a 2 hour drive from Denver. Breckenbridge averages over 300 inches annual snowfall, features 187 trails and has just under 3,000 skiable acres across 5 peaks with an elevation just 3 ft under 13,000ft. .
Eagle Airport, Vail is just 30 minutes from the legendary Vail Ski Resort. Vail has an amazing 5,289 skiable acres, average yearly snowfall of over 350 inches and the highest elevation of 11,570 ft.
Aspen and Aspen Snowmass are better served by Aspen-Pitkin Airport, just a handful of miles from each resort. Aspen, Snowmass together with Highlands and Buttermilk, total over 5,300 skiable acres and an elevation of over 12,500 ft. Snowfall averages over 300 inches per year. If you cannot get connections into Aspen, then Denver airport is about 4 hours drive away.
Ski New England
Boston International Airport is the closest airport and car hire location for skiing in New England. It serves both Vermont and New Hampshire.
Vermont has the most beautiful ski resorts, and plenty of them. The largest of these is Killington Resort in the centre of the state. It spans 6 mountains with an elevation 4241 ft, 3,000 ski-able acres, 155 trails and average snowfall of 250 inches. From the Peak Lodge lounge one can view 5 states, Canada and three mountain ranges!
Stowe Mountain Resort is in northern Vermont. It has an elevation just over 4,000 ft, 116 trails and receives about 314 inches of snow each year. Beating that, is Jay Peak Resort in the Green Mountains just south of the Canadian border. That has 78 trails and 377 inches of snow on average each year!
Montreal Airport is also a good starting point to reach the northern resorts within a couple of hours. You will need to return your hired car to Montreal as international one-way rentals are rarely permitted. From Boston, the southern resorts are about a 2 hour drive. The central resorts such as Killington are about 3 hours and the Northern resorts about 4 hours drive.
Loon Mountain is reportedly the most accessible resort for big-mountain skiing in the whole of the New England region. A popular family destination, Loon Mountain is a 2 hour 30 minute drive from Boston in the White Mountain National Forest. It has one of the lower elevations of just over 3,000 ft , 370 skiable acres and 160 inches of annual snowfall.
The highest peak in the Northeast of the USA is Mount Washington, also in the White Mountains. With an elevation of 6,288 feet it is easy to see why the Mount Washington Auto Road, 8 miles of ridgelines and sheer drop vistas, is so popular. As is the “White Mountain Superpass” which gives pass access to the ski peaks of Cannon, Bretton Woods, Waterville and Cranmore. Each of these resorts has its own personality and attractions.
Cannon Woods is one of the most historic areas in the U.S and is the site of the first official racing trail in North America. It has an elevation of a touch over 4,000 ft, over 280 skiable acres and average snowfall of 160 inches.
Bretton Woods is lower at just over 3,000 ft, but has more skiable acres – over 460. Bretton Woods receives around 200 inches of snowfall per year.
Waterville has an elevation over 4,000 ft, has 220 skiable acres and just under 150 inches of annual snowfall. Cranmore is a smaller resort with just 200 skiable acres and a 2,000 ft summit.
Drive times from Boston to the White Mountains National Forest are around 3 hours 50 minutes. You can also drive over from Bangor International Airport in Maine, in about 4 hours.
Salt Lake City is the airport serving 11 ski resorts in Utah
In the state of Utah “The Greatest Snow on Earth” features on its licence plates so it must be true! The home of the winter Olympics in 2002, Park City Resort includes easy access to Deer Valley and Canyons resort. Park City boasts a elevation of 10,000 ft, has over 300 trails, 7,300 skiable acres and average snowfall of 360 inches. Park City is just 35 minutes from the airport.
The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort practically has its very own airport with the Jackson Hole airport just a 35 minute drive away! Jackson Hole is perfect for expert and intermediate skiers. It has 2,500 ski-able acres a 10,450 summit with vertical drop of 4,139 feet. Average annual snowfall of 450 inches doesn’t hurt either! Alamo car rental is our only supplier at the airport and supplies all vehicles with winter tyres. If you can’t get a flight into Jackson Hole, then Salt Lake City is under a 5 hour drive away.