This resort is booming, with scads of new hotels and timeshares going up at the mountain's foot in recent years, more than doubling the guest capacity in just a few short years. There is special grandeur to this ski resort, from its spectacular mountaintop views to its daring black-diamond runs to its 400 annual inches of powder. Head to the top of Rendezvous Mountain and plunge down Tensleep Bowl if you want to get a taste of skiing on the edge. You'll find an inexhaustible supply of steep runs that require skiing expertise: The terrain is rated 10% beginner, 40% intermediate, and 50% expert. There are lesser runs to the north, including gentler journeys down the sides of Apres Vous Mountain that will better suit an intermediate skier. The resort's renowned tram was shut down in 2006; a new $25-million, 100-passenger tram opened in time for the 2008-09 season.

Crowded days have been few in recent years -- lucky for skiers, if not the owners. With 2,500 acres of skiable terrain and 4,139 feet of vertical drop, there's plenty of room. Ten lifts, a gondola, and an aerial tram are available from early December to the beginning of April. (The resort turns into a mountain-biking playground come summer.) For an orientation, join the Mountain Hosts, who gather groups at the top of the Rendezvous lift to escort newcomers on a 2-hour tour.

The competition among ski resorts compels growth -- not just on the slopes, but also in the resort villages below. A variety of restaurants, lodging, a medical clinic, shops, and entertainment -- from sleigh-ride dinners to a skating rink -- make it unnecessary to leave the complex during a ski vacation.

If you've never skied in powder up to your kneecaps, make an early-morning trip to the Hobacks Zone, just under Cheyenne Bowl. The ski patrol closes it off as soon as the snow gets tracked out.