Heading West is best, but there are tons of top resorts spread all over the US. Debatably they generally aren't as large and hardcore as European resorts, but the infrastruture and services more than make up for it, and as for the parks - well Europe doesn't come close.
There are hundreds of resorts in the US spread out over the northern eastern states, the central Rockie states and the north western states, however, many are no more than a backyard affair operated by a dollar-hungry hillbilly.
The usual season lasts from November until mid-April, with a few northern areas staying open until mid-May. US resorts are generally much smaller than ones in Europe. However, the Rockies do have peaks that rise up to 3,000 metres.
Flights to US cities are frequent, with many having transfer flights to resorts. From various airports you can reach the resorts by bus (sometimes a free shuttle service), or by hire car. If you're touring around the US, you can fly very cheaply using an Air Pass costing from $375.
Travel to a resort by train is limited in terms of direct routes. In most cases you will need to take a train to the nearest city and then transfer by bus. East coast resorts are the easiest to reach by train from international airports. A 30 day rail pass for unlimited travel costs from $400. Greyhound Buses operate the largest cross-country network of routes, with dozens of options. Like trains, it may be necessary to take a Greyhound bus to a city and then transfer by a local bus. A 30-day adult Ameripass costs from $450.
Visa requirements vary, but generally, Europeans can enter without a visa and stay for 90 days. All foreigners need a valid passport. If you want to work in the US, you will need to obtain a work visa, which is difficult. If you are caught working without a visa, you will be deported.
Accommodation comes in the form of hotels, motels, guest houses and condominiums (apartments), which are reasonably priced and usually of a very high standards. A low cost option would be to stay in a youth hostel or a ski dorm.
Restaurants vary considerably in price from cheap to ridiculous, and remember that you are expected to tip in restaurants. Proof of age is constantly required when buying alcohol, so keep some form of ID on you wherever you go. Baby-faced snowboarders forget it.
USASA Administration Office PO Box 3927 Truckee, CA 96160 Tel: (800)404-9213 email: [email protected] web: www.usasa.org