If you dream of fresh powder in which you can cut a deep path as you slide effortlessly between the trees while gazing out across a stunning mountain vista... skiing is the perfect winter sport for you!
But you probably already knew that, if you're considering a skiing tour this winter. Skiing tours combine the freedom of skiing with the structure and social activities of a tour, and can be a great way to clock some serious time on the slopes of your dream resort or mountain destination. Even if you're new to skiing, there are tours that allow you to learn and become proficient in a short window of time -- and reward yourself in the lodge after a hard day's skiing.
Whether you go traditional and ski is the stunning Alps, explore the mountains of the Wild West in the Rockies, or opt for Japan, one of the world's hot spots for skiing right now, you're sure to have exhilarating experiences and rosy cheeks to remember your trip after returning home.
When it comes to skiing in Europe, there is no destination quite like the Alps. This major mountain range which runs through France, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria is home to some of the world's best slopes, and some of the best ski resorts too. Don't forget to schedule plenty of time for après-ski after a day of skiing, as this is one of the best -- and most social -- parts of skiing in Europe. The best months for skiing in the alps are the winter months of November through February.
The Rocky Mountains, which run through both Canada and the United States, offer the best skiing opportunities in North America. Whether you choose the more remote, backcountry options of Canada and the Pacific Northwest, or opt for the popular resorts of Colorado, you can find plenty of slopes to satisfy your heart's desire. The best months for skiing in the Rockies are late November through early March.
For skiers in the know, Japan has long been a haven to escape the crowds of Europe and North America -- but that doesn't mean you'll have the powder to yourself if you go skiing on Japan's north island of Hokkaido. Arguably one of the most popular destinations in recent years, you can expect anywhere from 10-18 meters a year of fresh powder at Japan's resorts. Skiing in Japan is best in January and February each year.
What to Look for in a Skiing Tour
If you are looking to book a skiing tour, there are several considerations to keep in mind. First: do you want to stay at a single resort with a guide to help you improve your skills, or do you want to move between resorts over the course of your itinerary? Second, how much instruction and guidance do you need? Some tours will be great for beginners and provide instruction and hands-on learning, whereas others will allow you to strike out on your own after a few runs as a group.
If you want to get off the resort slopes, you can also look for backcountry skiing tours. These are popular in destinations like Canada and Alaska.
Be sure to read the itinerary for your tour to better understand what you're buying, and be sure to check what's included in the cost of the tour (lift tickets and rental gear are important if you don't plan to bring your own gear!).
Average Skiing Tour Cost & Length
Skiing tours can range anywhere from a few days to a week depending on the intensity of activity each day, and whether you'll be staying at a single resort/mountain or moving from slope to slope.
Typically skiing tours are on the more expensive end of tours, since you need plenty of gear plus support to have a great trip. If accommodation is included (which is to be expected if you're skiing at resorts or in ski towns), expect to pay $150-$500 per night.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
Definitely triple-check before you book so that you understand what -- if any -- gear is included in your tour price. You may need to bring full winter gear, skis, poles, and boots, in addition to a helmet and goggles should you choose to use them. As skiing is a decidedly winter sport, dress appropriately and you'll have a much more enjoyable day on the slopes.
Qualification & Training
There is no necessary qualification required to start skiing, but if you've never skied before, you should take a few lessons or book a tour which offers basic instruction. Most resorts will offer this if your tour does not, so you can arrive early and brush up your skills before your tour begins.
Activity Risks & Safety Tips
Skiing is an activity with moderate risks: you are sliding down a mountain, after all! As such, you should be dressed in proper winter attire, and use gear which fits you and has been checked for safety -- you don't want your boot coming out of your ski bindings halfway down the slopes!
One other major risk from skiing comes from falling. In particular, there is a risk of concussion or brain damage from hitting your head as you fall -- even fresh powder can hide hard earth or rocks/stumps underneath. As such, it is highly recommended that you wear a helmet when skiing.