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Best American Adventures: Ski Silverton Mountain

We've just updated our popular America's
Best Adventures
feature with 50 new trips, bringing our grand total to 100 iconic escapes (see the map, state-by-state list, and photo gallery, too). So no matter what your pleasure—hiking,
heli-skiing, surfing, climbing, biking, or paddling—we've got the perfect adventure
for you. Check in each day for a new, out-the-backdoor adventure highlighted here on our blog.

By Kate Siber; Photograph by Whit Richardson, Aurora/Getty Images

If the Wild West is still alive, it’s no more
obvious than at Silverton Mountain. This scruffy mom-and-pop ski area
is the country’s premier antiresort. The low-speed, two-person
chairlift, the old laundry trucks they use as shuttles, and the
wood-stove-heated base yurt are your first clues as to the owners’
no-nonsense philosophy: It’s all about the skiing. And skiing there is.

in the remote southwestern corner of Colorado, a seven-hour drive from
Denver, Silverton has 1,800 acres (728 hectares) of bowls, chutes, and
cliffs all served up au naturel with nary a groomer in sight. To put it
mildly, blue-square skiers need not apply: The easiest run tops out at
about 35 degrees in pitch. The lift brings you to over 12,000 feet
(3,658 meters), but many skiers huff up another 1,000 more vertical
feet (305 meters) to access the hairiest couloirs. With an obscene
amount of snow—400-plus inches (10-plus meters)—and an utter dearth of
skiers (rarely more than 80 per day), Silverton virtually guarantees
fresh tracks.

When planning a trip, there are
several modes of attack. On select dates in December, January, and
April, skiers can ride without a guide. For the rest of the season,
skiing is guide-only. Helicopter assistance is available all season:
One single helicopter drop gets skiers to a peak or ridge unreachable
by foot; a roundtrip drop and pickup gets a day of remote backcountry
touring with a guide; or book an entire day and have work-free freshies
and gratis bragging rights.

Need to Know: Reserve tickets in advance at Silverton Mountain (
Unguided tickets are $49 and guided tickets are $99 to $139, depending
on the month. Not including lift ticket, heli drops are $159,
heli-accessed backcountry ski touring is $320. A full day of
heli-skiing is $999 per person, lift ticket included.