The snowiest destinations to visit this winter, according to weather reports

Oct 22, 2021

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Each year, the time comes when thoughts shift to winter vacation.

For some, this means escaping the frigid temperatures and seeking out warm weather and palm trees in Southern California or Florida.

Others welcome the season with open arms, dreaming up vacations filled with powder skiing or quiet snowshoeing walks through conifer forests.

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Those who prefer to bundle up and head for the snow are in luck. According to AccuWeather’s annual winter forecast, a weak La Nina weather system could allow colder weather to settle in as early as Dec. 1, or even November in some destinations. And with snow already falling in some mountain towns west of the Mississippi, it could be right on point.

For those who prefer to chase winter, here are a few of your best bets and what to expect this season.

New England

Stowe, Vermont. (Photo by capecodphoto/Getty Images)

This year, some New England destinations are expected to experience an early blast of winter. The first waves in New England could make an appearance in November, with slightly colder-than-average temperatures and notable snowfall events.

Staying inland will likely afford visitors a snowier experience than coastal destinations like Boston and Portland, Maine. Meteorologists expect January to be one of the best months to visit, as the annual “January thaw” may not occur until February.

For your best chances of catching powder turns this season, turn your attention to destinations such as Stowe, Vermont, or North Conway, New Hampshire — both of which have a number of ski resorts within a one-hour radius. Head there in January, or after the anticipated “February thaw” for the best shot at notable conditions.

Northern Plains and Great Lakes

Voyageurs National Park. (Photo by Steve Burns/Getty Images)

Similar to the Northeast, the Northern Plains and Great Lakes regions are expecting an earlier, colder and snowier-than-average winter.

Destinations closer to the lakes will receive even higher amounts of snow, with lake-effect snowstorms expected to fuel the winter season. While there will likely be some snow events in late November and December, the most consistent snowfall could occur starting in January, once the water temperature in the lakes drops.

While January temperatures could be up to 10 degrees lower than last year’s temperatures, the lakes will probably be late to freeze due to the abnormally warm water. So, if your trip revolves around ice skating, snowmobiling on the lakes or anything requiring solid ice, you may want to wait until January or even February to visit.

For a true winter adventure, check out Voyageurs National Park, which is located in northern Minnesota and a third of which is made up entirely of water. Once these waterways freeze, the park’s pristine 218,000 acres become accessible by snowmobile, snowshoe and cross-country ski. And as one of the nation’s most remote parks, social distancing won’t be an issue.

The Northern Rockies

River Run Village in Keystone, Colorado. (Photo by David Shvartsman/Getty Images)

While there will be enough snow in the northern Rocky Mountains for a memorable ski season, snowfall in the Denver area is anticipated to be closer to normal this year — a letdown compared to last season, which was the snowiest the city experienced in 37 years.

Luckily, many people heading to Colorado during the winter have their eyes set on skiing in the mountains. Denver’s forecast reflects that of the mountains, with a sufficient but not record-breaking snowpack expected during the upcoming ski season.

Even if the snowfall totals don’t meet or exceed last year, Colorado is already off to a great start, with Wolf Creek opening on Oct. 16 after a 14-inch snowstorm and Arapahoe Basin opening on Oct. 17. Keystone and Loveland may be two of the next to open, but neither has confirmed an opening date yet.

Pacific Northwest

Mount Hood in Oregon. (Photo by Cavan Images/Getty Images)

Higher elevations in the Pacific Northwest never really have a shortage of snow (from an East Coast snowboarder’s perspective), but snowfall averages during the upcoming season might not compare to last season’s totals.

Like the rest of the northern U.S., winter is expected early in the Pacific Northwest this year. This could have a positive impact on the region, which has been experiencing severe droughts and wildfires. But the effect largely depends on how the winter season ends, considering the expected below-average precipitation.

While skiers and travelers looking for all-time snow conditions may want to head elsewhere this season, those who do head to the Pacific Northwest — specifically, the mountains — will still find a landscape blanketed in white.

For skiing, Mount Bachelor and Mount Hood Meadows in Oregon and Sun Valley, Idaho, are three surefire options, while visitors who simply want a relaxing stay in a winter wonderland (which also happens to be near a ski mountain) should head to Bellingham, which has no shortage of shops, restaurants, breweries and cafes to explore.

Featured photo of Mount Hood by kenny hung photography/Getty Images.

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