As founder and president of Ski Bums, the world's largest club of LGBT skiers and snowboarders, Chris French has organized trips from St. Moritz to the Southern Hemisphere. Bo knows powder. And where to find the gays on the slopes -- and at the après-ski -- even if he?s not bringing them. Here, his guide to the gayest ski resorts around.
Not into skiing alone? Check out Ski-Bums.org to join local social events, group trips to all the world's best ski resorts and score steep gear discounts.
10. Big Sky, MontanaBig Sky
(and neighboring Moonlight Basin
) offer one of the largest ski playgrounds in the USA. it's progressive, too: the nearby city of Bozeman passed a bold resolution
in support of LGBT civil rights last year.
When to go: Late January offers abundant powder; get here before the colleges send their mid-winter spring breakers.
Après-ski: Moonlight Basin Lodge. Relax in a rustic, cozy western lodge with big fieldstone roaring fireplaces.
9. Steamboat, Colorado Although gay ski weeks in destinations
like Crested Butte and Telluride are a well-deserved source of pride, it's great to see visibility all year long: LGBT locals here in Steamboat Springs
began a monthly social mixer in 2009 that's still going strong. When we took the Ski Bums
here, they wouldn't stop raving about the tree skiing.
When to go: Steamboat has the most consistent December conditions of any American ski resort.
Après-ski: Slopeside Grill. Exactly what you want in an après-ski joint: helmet head hairdos, shots of Jägermeister, a few too many people and a few too places to sit down.
8. Lake Tahoe, California/NevadaCasinos! Vampy lounge acts! Driving distance from San Francisco! Lake Tahoe
doesn?t hide it?s campy side. The massive topaz-hued lake is surrounded by seven ski resorts, but the newly combined resorts of Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley will soon create the largest ski area in the country.
When to go: A March or April spring skiing trip can include a gorgeous sunset riverboat cruise on the lake.
Apr?s-ski: Fire & Ice. Relax outside on the sun deck near the Heavenly Gondola.
7. Stowe, VermontVermont consistently polls as America's most gay-friendly state, and there are lots of great resorts to choose from. Stowe's
put a big investment in recent renovations, upping its classy cache with the gorgeous Stowe Mountain Lodge -- perfect for a winter ski honeymoon.
When to go: January through March has the most ideal conditions; steer clear of crowded President's Week and major holidays.
Après-ski:Matterhorn. Don't be scared by the chintzy signage; there's a classic ski town vibe (and lots of cheap drinks) flowing freely inside.
6. Alta Badia, ItalyIf any European resort is screaming for more gay travelers, it's beautiful Alta Badia
. Hunky Italian ski guides will lead you on the famous Sella Ronda tour through Cortina d'Ampezzo, home to fashion-conscious travelers and the 1956 Winter Olympics.
When to go: These slopes need some time to build up their base; opt for mid-February through mid-March.
Après-ski:L'Murin Corvara. When Ski Bums came here in 2009, we swore we'd stepped into a gay bar at the hotel La Perla, with a bright red lacquer bar and a sound system cranking out ABBA tunes.
5. Jackson Hole, WyomingThe earth-friendly (and gay-friendly) Hotel Terra
is one of the best ski-in, ski-out hotels in the West. Jackson Hole
, a former cowboy town, is such a magnet for rugged, athletic guys that local straight girls joke about their relentless pursuit of action sports: "The odds are good, but the goods are odd," they say. With this much eye candy, we're not complaining!
When to go: The steepest terrain isn't reliable until mid-January. Late season can be incredible; consider a side trip to nearby Yellowstone.
Après-ski:Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Be sure to get down to town and pull up a saddle-stool at this historic tavern on the town square. The Mangy Moose also deserves a visit just off the slopes.
4. Zermatt, SwitzerlandThere's a reason why the Matterhorn became a visual icon inside Disneyland: the car-free pedestrian village of Zermatt
is so charming that it seems that Walt himself personally animated the cuckoo clocks. A swanky new boutique hotel sits atop Le Vernissage
, a gay-friendly club with some of the best nightlife in the Alps. After an unforgettable Ski Bums trip here, we're already plotting our return.
When to go: April and May can be gorgeous here; Zermatt offers glacier skiing through the early summer months.
Après-ski:Hotel Post. The coat-n-tie set untucks their attire here, where late night dance parties inspire impromptu go-go dancing on beer barrels.
3. Whistler, British ColumbiaThe home of the biggest LGBT ski week is also the largest ski resort in North America, Whistler-Blackcomb
, and its gay-friendly welcome lasts all season long. The main drawback here is the famously unpredictable weather, but the village is the best ski town this side of the Pyrenees.
When to go: WinterPride (this year in early February) is a natural choice; the focus here is on the parties & late night events. The most reliable snow conditions are in January.
Après-ski: Dubh Linn Gate. Sample the impressive Scotch selections and listen to live jigs at this warm and friendly Irish pub.
2. Aspen / Snowmass, ColoradoThe 1% may enjoy rubbing shoulders on the ski lifts of this tawny town, where you'll stumble across more upmarket designer shops than downmarket beer bars. But the tough economy -- and a surplus of new hotel rooms -- has sprouted bargains in Snowmass
, where you'll be rewarded with wide open terrain and some extra change in your pocket.
When to go: There's not really a bad time for snow here, but Aspen Gay Ski Week (late January) is a fun time to be in town, especially if you can bring a few friends along with you.
Après-ski:Sky Hotel. The outdoor heated pool is a natural draw for the gay ski week parties, but it?s cruisiness extends all season long.
1. Salt Lake City, UtahForget what you've heard about the Book of Mormon
boys: Salt Lake City is the only place in the world with seven world class ski resorts
and seven gay bars
within a 30 minute drive. It's got two pride parades, gay-friendly hotels (like Kimpton's Hotel Monaco
), openly gay elected officials and a push by the Salt Lake City Visitor's Bureau
to welcome LGBT visitors. The ski resorts get an annual average of more than 500" of perfect powder snow, offering up some of the best skiing to be found anywhere.
When to go: Anytime from mid-December through April, May or even June. Historically, Snowbird has some of the best late season skiing in North America.
Après-ski: Silver. Don't leave Utah without a visit to Park City, where historic Main Street plays home to the Sundance Film Festival. This chic new lounge is the perfect place to start the party before a nighttime visit to Jam, a hoppin' gay club in downtown SLC.