The idea is to plant a ski resort and let it grow along a mountainside with as little ecological upset as possible, knowing full well that the environmentalists—with good reason—stand poised to throw themselves in front of a bulldozer or harass any woodman not inclined to spare that tree. This situation is all for the best: America's newest ski areas, either because of the watchdogs or a freshened awareness of the world around them, are models of improved planning that no longer slash needless scars down a mountainside. Predictably, because of the need for open spaces, the biggest of the newest are in the Far West, where there are still enough Rockies to go around and where the powder lies deep. Foremost among the major areas this season are Utah's Snowbird and Colorado's Breckenridge, which are pictured here and on the pages that follow. They are today's resorts,-places where the pleasures of skiing are un-dimmed by the pains of bad design.
Tucked tidily into a deep canyon, the Snowbird condominium (above) faces powder slopes, the playground of experts like Gordon Yates (right).
Perched on an outlook above an inspiring valley, the Mid-Gad cafeteria at Snowbird offers both sandwiches and scenery to its crowds of skiers.
Taking off from an expert run, super-skier Gerry Warren (right) can survey an 11,000-foot setting atop Salt lake's Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Carrying 120 skiers at a time, the gigantic aerial tram glides from its base at 8,100 feet to the terminal at the top of Hidden Peak in six minutes.
The tram machinery purring behind window-walls, serves as a backdrop for parties in the Tram Bar, gatherings that sometimes get oiled, too.
Snowbird's resident host and founder Ted Johnson (below) presides over a dinner in one of the new condominiums—each room with a view.
On the next two pages Kiteman Jeff Jobe soars high over the Snowbird ski area. At his feet is a gigantic span of Utah's Wasatch Mountains.
Colorado's combination of brilliant sunshine and lofty mountain vistas inspires skiers to pause for picnics on a peak overlooking Breckenridge.
Portrait of a ski resort: tailored to the contour of the terrain, Breckenridge Mountain (right) offers 30 runs and a network of eight lifts.
But not all skiing is served by the chair lifts. A springtime specialty of the Rockies is hiking up, skis shouldered, for lunch, then a sunny run.
Swooping along above the treeline on Briar Rose Mountain, a skier can savor almost three miles of snow on the fast trip back toward the base.
Named after an old silver mine of the 1900s, Breckenridge's Briar Rose Bar and Restaurant enjoys a revival after years of ghost-town decline.
Along a bright white route flanked by deep green pines, Pam Buckland, 1972 National Ski Queen, whisks along on a lively run at Breckenridge.
JOHN G. ZIMMERMAN