Phoenix’s South Mountain Preserve is a "municipal" park about the size of a small country. With 16,500 acres, 51 miles of trails, and three mountain ranges, South Mountain is a wilderness experience just six miles south of downtown (phoenix.gov/parks/hikesoth.html). The marquee ride is the 18-mile Desert Classic Trail, an up-and-down, out-and-back, mostly singletrack route through Sonoran desert and rocky mountains. Start at the Pima Canyon parking lot and head southwest. Bed down at Arizona Grand Resort on the stoop of the preserve (doubles from $199; arizonagrandresort.com; bike rentals available) and refuel at Rustler’s Rooste, where, sure, you can get a 16-ounce porterhouse, but may the chef recommend . . . crispy fried rattlesnake.
Lots of ski hills have moguls, but not many can go bump-to-bump with Mary Jane at Winter Park Resort: More than half of the 12,060-foot mountain’s 905 skiable acres are covered in moguls the size of VW Beetles. Named for a lady of the night from Winter Park’s mining days, Mary Jane reveals her comely contours best in February and March. "You’ve either been there and want more, or Mary Jane is sheer terror," says one local skier. If you’re in the latter category but a good skier to start with, sign up for one of Bob Barnes’s bump camps (February 11–13, March 6–8; $499; skiwinterpark.com). Colorado’s famed mogul guru and some handpicked instructors work with groups divided by skill level, starting with indoor sessions and progressing through video stance analysis and lots of skiing. By the time of the après-ski party, you’re one of those who’s been there and wants more.
Bragging rights are among a skier’s most precious commodities. And what better to brag about than skiing six Park City area resorts in a single day? The only way to do it is with a guide on the Ski Utah Interconnect Tour, because you’ll need security clearance to drop ropes and jump lines in the course of skiing Deer Valley, Park City, Brighton, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird ($250, including lunch, equipment, and return transportation; skiutah.com). The routes are almost entirely backcountry, but you don’t need skins or telemark skis. With a combination of lifts and judicious traversing you can link up insanely fun powder runs, an average of two at each ski area. (February is peak powder time in the peak powder state.) The guides are part of the attraction—they educate, entertain, and lead you to out-of-bounds heaven.
The eastern front of the Tetons may be the range’s "good side" (they’re the iconic visage appearing in countless calendars and car commercials), but the western side of those jagged peaks soaks up even more snow. It also harbors uncrowded Grand Targhee Resort—great for front-country, awesome for backcountry skiing. Intermediate and advanced skiers can sharpen off-piste skills and relish 500 acres exclusively reserved for cat skiing during courses at Targhee offered by the North American Ski Training Center (January 31–February 4; $2,995, including four nights in Teewinot Lodge; February 5–8 for women only; $2,245; skinastc.com). You’ll start with two days of resort-based primers, followed by two days of orgiastic cat skiing in Grand Targhee powder. In between are healthy doses of tech talk, video analysis, and group dinners, all beneath those toothy summits.