The man trip is that sweet intervention that puts reality on pause and allows its partakers to behave in the fashion that's most comfortable to them—as if they were once again unanchored 22-year-olds.
The man trip's finest manifestation may be when it takes the form of a ski trip, as it's the ski trip that combines the outdoors with plenty of civilized settings for eating, drinking and games of chance—as well as one of the ultimate gear-intense activities: skiing.
Men, it's been well documented, love their gear. And having gear in a vacuum, by oneself, isn't much fun. The man trip offers the perfect runway for all the new things a fellow has acquired in the last 12 months.
As men age, the man trip ages with them. As more years of wisdom accumulate in men's brains and a few more dollars in their bank accounts, men have the chance to nudge their trips toward a more comfortable medium: separate beds, better food, better booze.This man trip isn't going to book itself (and we have special rates).
Man ski trips can have lots of protocol—or none at all. The longest-running man ski trip that I'm part of drinks primarily, but not exclusively, cans of Budweiser. I'm fairly certain that none of the dozen or so participants on this trip buy a single can of Budweiser outside of this ski trip week, but when we get together, everybody understands that it's simply the right thing to do.
Or they get uninvited.
And in general, man trips are the right thing to do.
Some ski resorts excel as canvasses for the perfect man trip.
The ideal man trip ski resorts have these characteristics:
The ZRankings crew isn't wholly made up of men, but it's certainly overweighted in that direction. We're working on that. And we're also working on a piece that details the best ski resorts for women's trips.
Before that, though, we are leveraging the amazing resources we have to determine the best ski resorts for man trips, so here they are.
Terrain? Yes. Courtesy: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Jackson has the best terrain in North America. It also has a bevy of trails for intermediates to loose the throttles and take in the Teton scenery. Experts will find themselves easily sated, and everybody else will feel sufficiently challenged without being overwhelmed, assuming they stay out of Corbet's Couloir and the Alta Chutes, among other spots.
The lodging in Jackson is ideal for man trips. Tons of options, from economy on up to bankrupt-you expensive. The area's tourist lodging was primarily built up for the bigger summer season, so things don'g get as tight here as Telluride, Aspen or Vail.
Jackson is also part of the Mountain Collective network, making it attractive to those who will take multiple trips in a year.
Food wise, skiers can go out and enjoy an elk tenderloin that likely was sourced within a radius of 10 miles, or they can seek out a straight-up honest pizza. We like Pinky G's—run by a Chicago transplant—for the latter, or the brewpub fare at Snake River Brewing.
Big days are common at Alta - Snowbird. Courtesy: Alta.
Snowbird and Alta sit in the most blessed place for snowfall of any ski resorts in the world. Little Cottonwood Canyon gets the most consistent, high quality snow of any ski location in either North America or Europe. The canyon also benefits from being stuffed full of steep, long fall lines that give the Snowbird/Alta combination the best terrain of anywhere outside of Jackson Hole.
So the expert skiers on a man trip will be in a place that can cater to them like few others, and there exists lots of top-end intermediate runs at both resorts, which share a boundary and, for a little extra dough, a lift ticket. Alta and Snowbird are part of the Mountain Collective.
There is no better airport situation in skiing than that of Salt Lake City. Denver might have more flights as a major United hub, but Salt Lake, as a Delta hub, does fine here, too, and it's a short, easy drive to skiing from SLC—40 minutes or less—unlike the 2+ hour uphill schlep that awaits many who fly to Denver's airport to ski.
One of the best ski trip destinations for any kind of ski trip, Telluride is extra useful as a landing pad for a man trip.
The expert terrain at Telluride compares well with anywhere. The central couloir coming off of Palmyra Peak is one of the premier in-bounds ski runs in all of the world. Note: it will take visitors a while to reach it, as in-shape locals need an hour of hiking to get there. Budget 90 to 120 minutes.
Those not interested in a hike past 12,000 feet or tight lines and no-fall zones will find plenty of easy-going slopes in the ski resort. Some of skiing's most classic runs course down into Telluride's historic mining town.
Diners can ramp things as high and fancy as they want. Or they can dive into burritos and tacos at Taco Del Gnar, which we recommend.
Just about all of the lodging here, whether in town or the heart of the ski resort in Mountain Village, is within walking distance of a ski lift. The gondola runs from 6:30 a.m. to midnight and it's free for all to ride back and forth from town to Mountain Village.
Man trip revelers can get the full and rich ski town experience without the bother—or hazard—of a car. Stay out late, and crash hard with an easy walk to bed. Be out and hiking Palmyra at 9:30 a.m.
Telluride offers synergies that other ski towns can't when it comes to man trips, as it combines elite terrain, an elite town, and the serrated vistas of the San Juans, perhaps the most scenic range in the lower 48 states. From the slopes at Telluride, skiers can spot several peaks topping 14,000 feet.
Telluride also gives man trippers the option of putting in a day or two at Silverton Mountain, which, for experts, should be a required pilgrimage. It's the steepest in-bounds skiing in North America. Some of the shots at Silverton look more like Alaska than they do Colorado—and the same can be said of many of the views available at Telluride.
Telluride is part of the Mountain Collective Pass.
Montana evokes a guttural sense of gnarly outdoor activities enmeshed with nature. It's a state that seems a natural destination for man trips. Big Sky, being the alpha ski resort in the state, is a ski trip launch pad, especially for those of the man variety.
Access from the Bozeman airport is fairly decent, as it has directs to many hubs, and is within an hour's drive of the ski resort.
The terrain at Big Sky fits the profile of what works best on a man trip. There's not as much top-end terrain as at Jackson Hole or Snowbird, but experts will find challenging stuff off of the Lone Peak tram. Big Sky possesses one of the larger caches of intermediate terrain in North America, giving guys who prefer to rip blue groomers tons of options. And they'll have those wide runs to themselves, for the most part. Big Sky is, by far, the least-crowded resort on this list.
Lodging is affordable, and there are plenty of big rentable monster homes that play the perfect venue for a indelible man trip. Dining-wise, this place isn't Vail or Deer Valley, but that's not much of a demerit when it comes to man trips. You will eat well, and ski hard. Just get your guys there.
As an added allure for frequent ski trippers, Big Sky is part of the MAX Pass.
Cowboy culture is real in Steamboat. Courtesy: Steamboat.
Steamboat embraces the image of the classic western cowboy more than any other resort other than Jackson Hole. Its legitimate old town scene befits a man trip and offers a bevy of places to fire up a tab and get down to pint counting, or to find a pile of ribs or half-pound burgers after cranking through the trees Christmas Tree Bowl.
Steamboat is in one of the better powder alleys in Colorado. Only Wolf Creek gets more. The expert terrain here will never be confused with that of Snowbird or Jackson, but there are a few shots—Chutes 1, 2, 3—that offer some steep turns. If it snows, head directly for the Pony Express Lift and lap it. It's a high-speed quad on top of mellow glades that ski perfectly with a foot of powder.
Because Steamboat has been a major destination ski resort for so long, its airport is one of the top five ski town airports in North America, with service from all kinds of hubs and most of the major airlines. American Airlines is strong here, something of an oddity for a ski town, as United has generally made itself king of the ski routes.
The combination of a true western experience—Cowboys can sometimes be seen tying up their horses in the supermarket parking lot—with superior snow, a bonafide old school ski town and a plus airport puts Steamboat on our list.
Base & Top Elev.
Days w/ more
than 6 inches
Months w/ more
than 90 inches
Months w/ less
than 30 inches
Man Trip Score
Telluride Ski Resort
Steamboat Ski Resort
Big Sky Resort
Christopher Steiner is the founder of ZRankings and a New York Times Bestselling author of two books. Find him on Twitter here.