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Snow Way: How the East and West Coasts Are Different

Whether you’re a seasoned snow enthusiast or just looking to try out winter sports for the first time, where you choose to travel can have a big impact on your experience. So how do you choose between the West and the East Coast?

The East Coast
Some people can only picture the towering mountains in the west when you say skiing or snowmobiling, but that’s just not the case. The East Coast has developed a huge snow culture, particularly in the New England area. While Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire are the most popular spots in the region, there are ski areas as far south as Tennessee.

The East Coast is often referred to as the Ice Coast, and the reason is simple: moisture. Snowfall is always wetter and can freeze rather quickly. You also find more manmade snow to make up for smaller totals and too much liquid. This may sound less than ideal, however—especially if you’re a beginner. The snow isn’t your only consideration.

Terrain along the East Coast is generally much gentler. The mountains are smaller and the trails aren’t nearly as steep (generally speaking).

The West Coast
Skiing and snowmobiling on the other side of the country is a totally different animal. The biggest difference is the snow. Some resorts can see more than 200 inches of snow in a single season, so there’s definitely no shortage of the stuff. It’s also much, much drier. In fact, the West Coast is referred to as the Powder Coast by the snow sports community. The lighter, fluffier powder is easier to handle than the icy slopes of the East Coast, but the terrain along the Powder Coast is much more formidable.

The mountains of the west are huge and covered in rocks and trees. Since the peaks are so high, ski runs on the West Coast are significantly longer—but also more tiring.

Skiing is spread far and wide across this half of the country, with some resorts in Arizona and New Mexico, in addition to the expected lineup in Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming. If you’d like to go farther north, you can try out adventures in Alaska, Washington, and even British Columbia.

There are pros and cons no matter which way you decide to go. The west offers incredible snow, but the terrain is far better when visiting the East Coast. Our suggestion? Do both.