Which ski resorts offer the best scenery in the world? Well that will always be open to opinion and argument, but here are our ten contenders. See if you agree...
Top Ten Ski Resorts for Spectacular Scenery
January 08, 2014
Chamonix, FranceYou don’t even need to ski to be gobsmacked by the scenery around Chamonix; just sip a coffee in one of the town centre cafes and be amazed by the views of mighty Mont Blanc, glaciers flowing icy blue down its flanks, and the pointy spire of the Aiguille du Midi beckoning you from its 3840-m summit.
Take the spectacular cable car ride up Aiguille du Midi and with no more effort than climbing a set of stairs you can see one of the world’s classic alpine panoramas; take your skis with you and you can also ski one of the world’s classic off-piste runs, the 24-km Vallée Blanche.
Where Chamonix is dramatic Cortina is simply lovely – the towering limestone peaks that surround this charming mountain town have a more benign quality than the jagged mountains above ‘Cham’.
Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
It’s one of the most magical experiences in skiing to schuss down one of the pistes above Cortina late in the day as the sun is setting and see the mountains go through a range of glorious pastel shades – warm orange, dusky mauve, glowing pink.
The chances are you’ll stop more than once to take it all in; and best of all, the whole process is repeated again the following morning as long as you’re up early enough.
Yet again this is another resort where you can revel in the scenery without even clipping into your skis; in fact if you stay at the opulent Chateau Lake Louise, from your own room you can enjoy the magnificent views of the eponymous lake with its frozen surface leading your eye to the massive crags and Victoria Glacier above its far shores.
Lake Louise, Canada
Few hotels in the world can match this; and with great skiing too (the snow conditions are often excellent here) it’s a combination that’s hard to beat.
The three resorts here (Grindelwald, Mürren and Wengen) sit beneath a range of peaks hovering (not literally) around the 4000-metre mark, including the infamous Eiger.
You can ski right beneath the Eiger’s notorious North Face, or even take the incredible cog railway part of the way up it (hard to imagine Great Western managing a feat like that…).
It’s impossible not to be overawed by this monumental rock wall, so high and mighty that it literally creates its own weather, with clouds swirling around the summit like mountain spectres whilst the rest of the region is bathed in sunshine. Unmissable…
The scenery here is very different from the Alps, with the more rolling, forested peaks of the Rocky Mountains dipping down to the mighty Columbia River Valley; there’s a real sensation of being in the heart of wild country where bear, wolf and moose are far more at home than you’ll ever be.
Kicking Horse, British Columbia
You can take in all this mountain wilderness whilst dropping into one of the steep chutes off CPR Ridge (but be warned it lives up to its name; last time I skied here I ended up I hospital!). Or do it with food rather than your heart in your mouth at the famous Eagle’s Eye Restaurant on top of the peak of the same name, which claims with some justification to have the best views in Canada.
Telluride comes with a whole host of interesting scenery. Not only are the Rocky Mountains that surround the resort high, mighty and dramatic, so is the town’s location, sitting as it does at the end of a ‘box canyon’ beneath majestic rock faces.
And Telluride is also a classic western town that will have you feel like you’ve just wandered into a Hollywood Western – in fact the local bank was once robbed by Butch Cassidy.
Zermatt could be as drab as Croydon (fortunately it isn’t) but people would still visit to see the mountain that soars above it – yes, the Matterhorn is Zermatt’s neighbour and however many times you visit you’ll never get tired of looking at its rugged slopes, the Hornli Ridge leading your eye inexorably upwards to the summit.
The Matterhorn perpetually looms over you whilst skiing here, and the mountain panoramas you’ll enjoy from the slopes – whether beginner or expert – are amongst the most impressive in the Alps.
Set beneath Monte Bianco (or Mont Blanc), Courmayeur is Italy’s low key answer to Chamonix. From here you get a very different view of Western Europe’s highest peak – you’re on the south facing side of the mountain so as you ski the pistes of the Checrouit ski area above the town you have spectacular views across the sunlit glaciers and crags of the now more exotically monikored Monte Bianco. And as plus points it’s cheaper to ski here and the mountain restaurants are better.
St. Moritz is a name that’ synonymous for skiing for many reason, not least of which is the superlative mountain panoramas you’ll discover here. Imperious mountain peaks including the spectacular 4049-metre Piz Bernina, the highest mountain in the Eastern Alps look down upon t. Moritz itself and the lake filled valley in which is rests, and pretty much wherever you ski you’re guaranteed to have glorious views – especially from the pistes of the Marguns area from where Piz Bernina takes centre stage.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
Add to that some good mountain restaurants from which to enjoy the views at leisure and it’s easy to see just why St. Moritz has long been one of Switzerland’s most popular resorts.
To be honest there are ski resorts with more spectacular views than Cerro Castor, the world’s most southerly ski hill, but few can offer the sense of isolation and – literally – end of the world feeling that you can experience here.
Cerro Castor, Argentina
Cerro Castor’s highest point sits 975m above the town of Ushuaia on the edge of the Beagle Channel, and given its location at the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego it offers marvellous views south across the town and the deep blue waters of the Beagle Channel.
Beyond is Cape Horn, the Roaring Forties then next stop Antarctica – you won’t find many other ski resorts which can provide a view like that…