Best 17 Ski Resorts in the USA
Ski Resorts in the USA – The United States has some of the best ski resorts in the world. This is the place to start if you want to create the ultimate skiing bucket list.
Most world-class ski resorts are in the West, but if your travel plans take you to the eastern states, you can still find fantastic places to ski and board.
In the West, the towering Rocky Mountains and surrounding ranges create a veritable playground of snow-covered slopes, offering skiing opportunities for every level of skier. Endless runs and frequent powder days make this a skier’s dream destination.
Colorado and Utah each have a large concentration of top resorts to choose from, but you can also find incredible skiing in Wyoming’s Tetons, home to Jackson Hole; the Sierra Nevada Range around Lake Tahoe, where you’ll discover Palisades Tahoe; and the Sawtooth Range in Idaho, home of Sun Valley.
Head farther north to Montana and set your sights on Big Sky. And these are just some of the possibilities for skiing in the West.
When it comes to skiing in the East, you’ll find plenty of choices, but a few ski resorts stand out above the others. Vermont is one of the top choices for skiing in the eastern United States.
Most skiers will agree that skiing and snow are the most important factors when planning a ski vacation.
But the towns or ski villages at the base of the mountains are where you’ll spend your time off the slopes and are also an important consideration when deciding on a destination.
The resorts’ après-ski opportunities, atmosphere, and customer service have been considered when compiling this list.
For the 2021/2022 ski season: Many resorts take exceptional health and safety precautions. Some alternatives are requiring that lift tickets be purchased online in advance. Be sure to check your resort’s website before arriving at the mountain.
And while all these resorts have expert terrain, they were selected based on their ability to accommodate a range of skiing and snowboarding levels, not just experts. For an overview of our top picks, see our list of the best ski resorts in the United States.
Vail Ski Resort, CO
Long reigning as one of the top resorts in America, Vail is what most skiers dream of when they think of skiing in America.
If you’re looking for bowls, glades, groomed runs, fresh powder, and extensive terrain, Vail is the place to come. Spread over 5,317 acres with nearly 30 feet of snow each year, Vail is a must-visit ski resort.
The ski area sprawls over several mountains and provides whatever type of challenge you’re looking for. Wide-open groomers, endless moguls, and seven big bowls where you can create your tracks entice you to try something new.
Vail is ideally positioned to catch snow regularly, leading to a deep base. The snow falls fast and furious when Pacific storms roll through, creating beautiful powder days.
You’ll find the thriving and lively town of Vail at the base, packed with restaurants, shops, and a range of entertainment options, from an ice-skating rink to live music.
Vail is known for its posh hotels and high-end boutiques, but it’s more than just a destination for wealthy skiers and boarders. This is an excellent place for families, groups, couples, or solo skiers and boarders.
Vail is less than a two-hour drive from Denver, and there are several ways to get from Denver to Vail.
- Aspen/Snowmass, CO
Aspen has been drawing an international jet set of skiers for decades. Although people talk about the scene in town, the real action is in the mountains. Aspen has four ski areas: Snowmass, Buttermilk, Aspen Mountain, and Aspen Highlands. At the base of the mountains is the town of Aspen and Snowmass Village.
These resorts provide incredible runs across a massive area of skiable terrain, and the site receives roughly 25 feet of annual snowfall. First-class amenities and an impressive assortment of lifts will make your ski day one to remember.
For the 2021/22 ski season, Snowmass will open the new 10.7-million-dollar high-speed quad chairlift that has replaced the old Big Burn lift.
In addition to the new charge, several new restaurants, base area upgrades, a snowmaking capacity increase, and additional high alpine lift improvements have been undertaken.
The regional airport servicing Aspen/Snowmass has over 150 flights a week in ski season across the major carriers.
The airport is five minutes from town, and many hotels provide free airport pickup. Denver International Airport is less than four hours away by car, but there are several ways of getting from Denver to Aspen.
- Snowbird, UT
The Wasatch Valley is one of the best places in the US for consistently light, dry snow, and it’s where you’ll find Snowbird and Alta.
Moist air gets funneled up this valley, and more than 41 feet of snow falls here on average. Snowbird’s jagged peaks and alpine scenery also make this the most scenic resort in Utah.
Snowbird offers great terrain and excellent conditions and is the only choice for groups or families looking to accommodate skiers and snowboarders.
Alta does not allow snowboarding. Snowbird also has the only ski tunnel in North America, allowing you to ski through the mountain and emerge on the other side.
Snowbird and Alta operate as different resorts, but it’s easy to ski from one to the other. A combined ticket is a good idea if you spend several days skiing in the area or are here for spring skiing. Between the two resorts, you can usually find good conditions anytime in the spring.
To cap it off, Snowbird is only 45 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport. Many people stay in the city where the evening scene is livelier, and there are more things to do when you are not skiing.
Snowbird is part of both the IKON and Mountain Collective Pass programs.
Within an hour of Salt Lake City, you can find several of Utah’s best ski resorts. And if you want to expand that by another 30 minutes, you can hit even more.
Given the amount of snow that falls in this area, don’t rule any of these out. If you have time and want to experience some other resorts, look at Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, and Solitude.
- Park City Mountain Resort, UT
Park City is one of the largest ski resorts in the United States. Spread over an incredible 7,300 acres and 17 peaks, this behemoth of a ski resort has almost unlimited options.
Although you can easily find expert terrain here, the skiing skews towards intermediate and beginner. You’ve come to the right place if you love long, rolling, groomed runs.
The town of Park City is also a bonus to skiing here. A real town, dating from 1884, with a historic main street packed with restaurants and shops, provides a laundry list of options for après ski activities. If you take a day off from skiing, you will have no trouble finding things to do in Park City.
Park City is less than an hour from Salt Lake City. If you are on a budget, consider staying in Salt Lake City, where the accommodation is plentiful and cheap, and commute to the ski resort. (Ski Resorts in the USA)
Park City is part of the EPIC Pass program.
Telluride Ski Resort, CO
Telluride wins one of the top spots for its diverse terrain, great selection of lodging on and off the mountain, and the charming ski town of Telluride right at the base of the hill. You can ski down at the end of the day and not worry about driving to a nearby village.
Telluride is on its own at the end of a valley in southwest Colorado. This works as an advantage and a disadvantage.
The significant part is short lift lines and fewer crowds, but it takes a while to get here, and accommodation is expensive. It’s worth the effort.
Telluride gets about 23 feet of snow each year. If you time it right, you can expect some great powder days.
This is also an excellent place for a family ski vacation, as roughly 60 percent of the terrain targets beginner and intermediate skiers and boarders.
The resort offers ski-in/ski-out accommodation. The gondola is free and is open to skiers and non-skiers. Telluride is part of the EPIC pass program.
About two hours away is the town of Durango and Purgatory Resort, another fun ski resort in this part of Colorado.
Purgatory offers a little experience and is very family oriented. Prices here are also much better, both on the mountain and at the hotels. (Ski Resorts in the USA)
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY
Jackson Hole is a true skier’s mountain. The mountain is heavily skewed towards intermediate and advanced skiers, with minimal beginner terrain, and the most challenging terrain will test the skills of even expert skiers.
As you ride the tram to the top with 100 of your new friends, you’ll feel a palpable sense of anticipation and excitement looking out at the runs beneath your feet.
Be on the lookout for Corbet’s Couloir on the ride up. This extreme double black diamond run is a rite of passage for expert skiers.
In recent years, Jackson Hole has averaged about 38 feet of snow annually. The resort has 2,500 acres of terrain and 133 named runs, and multiple terrain parks.
The impressive Solitude Station mid-mountain facility, housing two new restaurants, and the Mountain Sports School, infrastructure improvements in the last few years.
The ski resort is 20 minutes from the Western-themed town of Jackson. You’ll find air connections across the states and excellent accommodation options here. (Ski Resorts in the USA)
Jackson Hole is part of the IKON, and Mountain Collective pass programs.
Breckenridge Ski Resort, CO
Breckenridge gets an average of about 30 feet of snow annually and keeps much of it until late in the season due to its high elevation.
You can expect this resort to be open well into May. Home to the highest chairlift in the USA at 12,840 feet, this resort will take your breath away.
The lower parts of the ski resort are perfect for beginners and families. The gentle inclines of the wide runs provide plenty of space to move.
The open bowls at the top of the peaks offer fantastic opportunities for more advanced skiers. In April and May, while skiers enjoy spring skiing near the bottom, the mountains still enjoy full winter conditions.
For 2022, Breckenridge is installing a new chair on Peak 7 called the Freedom SuperChair. This will help eliminate delays experienced when trying to board the Independence SuperChair.
The historic town of Breckenridge at the base is a lovely mountain town with fun après-ski options. It has a beautiful assortment of restaurants and shops and a picturesque main street, perfect for strolling.
Denver International Airport is just under two hours away. Several options exist for transport between Denver and Breckenridge. (Ski Resorts in the USA)
Breckenridge is part of the EPIC pass program.
Beaver Creek, CO
Miles of groomed corduroy is what you’ll find each morning at Beaver Creek. This luxurious ski resort takes grooming to the next level.
Each night, a massive team of snow cats takes to the mountain and shapes it into a cruiser’s dream. After skiing hours of beautiful corduroy, you may wonder if chasing powder is only for fools.
Beaver Creek is not all about manicured runs. On Grouse Mountain, the moguls and steeps will push any skier to their limits. This is a mountain the entire family can enjoy.
For 2022, Beaver Creek is installing two brand new quad chairs. These new lifts will service the McCoy area of the mountain and provide quicker access to high-altitude terrain for intermediate and beginner skiers.
Customer service is paramount at Beaver Creek, and this includes having resort personnel ready to carry your skis for you at the base when you come off the last run of the day and free fresh-baked cookies every day at 3 pm. (Ski Resorts in the USA)
Beaver Creek is part of the EPIC pass program.
Deer Valley, UT
If you want to experience actual luxury skiing, head to Deer Valley, but be aware that this mountain resort does not allow snowboarders.
This high-end resort is worth visiting just up the road from Park City. Beautiful lodges, fantastic food, modern lifts, and uncrowded slopes are what you can expect to find here.
To enhance the guest experience, Deer Valley limits the number of skiers on the mountain to ensure the lift lines never get too long.
Deer Valley is spread over six peaks, and if there’s a dump of snow, head to this resort. Due to the limits on skiers, powder stashes and untracked descents remain here longer than at other resorts. (Ski Resorts in the USA)
Deer Valley is part of the IKON pass program.
Steamboat is located north of most of the main ski resorts in Colorado and is about a 3.5-hour drive from Denver.
As a result, it’s off the radar of many skiers who focus on the closer resorts, like Breckenridge, Vail, or Beaver Creek. The upside is fewer crowds and more time spent skiing or boarding.
On average, roughly 26 feet of snow falls each year, leading to excellent conditions across the 165 trails. Uphill capacity is comparable to other significant resorts with 18 lifts, including an eight-passenger gondola.
The resort has recently opened 355 acres of new terrain in its Pioneer Ridge area. The famous Hazie’s restaurant has been completely overhauled and upgraded with new infrastructure and seating.
The town of Steamboat Springs is what visits here extra enjoyable. This small town’s authentic cowboy culture and friendly locals make you feel instantly welcome.
Not far from town is Strawberry Hot Springs. These natural outdoor pools are a delight to visit on days when you’re giving your legs a break. (Ski Resorts in the USA)
Steamboat is part of the IKON pass program.
Big Sky Resort, MT
Big Sky Resort is Montana’s premier ski area. Everything about this place is big:
- Big mountains
- Big lifts, including a tram
- Significant snowfall at 33 feet
- Big, wide-open spaces
- The only thing small here is the lift lines.
The resort does not see big crowds. Big Sky is spread over 5,850 acres, which means even on the busiest of ski days, you’ll likely have over two acres of snow-covered bliss all to yourself.
One advantage of skiing at Big Sky Resort over the ski areas farther south is related to elevation. Here, you’ll ski at lower elevations.
The effects of high altitude (headaches, tiredness, shortness of breath) are less for those coming from sea level. You can hit the slopes for longer and feel stronger!
You’ll need that additional stamina to keep your legs pumping because of the recent installation of a six-passenger, heated high-speed quad called the Big Sky Blue Bubble. It’s the fastest chairlift in North America and means you’ll be back at the top in no time flat.
In the winter, daily direct flights arrive at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport from approximately twenty major population centers across the USA. (Ski Resorts in the USA)
Big Sky is part of the IKON pass program.
Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort, CA
This iconic ski resort at Lake Tahoe was home to the 1960 Winter Olympics (then known as Squaw Valley) and is one of California’s top ski resorts. A ticket here will also get you access to Alpine Meadows ski resort, just a short drive away.
The great thing about skiing at Palisades is the sun. This area gets over 267 days of clear blue skies, and the view from the slopes is fantastic.
But don’t let that fool you. The resort typically receives around 37 feet of snow each year, and you can expect some incredible powder days if you time it right.
Palisades is an ideal family resort, with 70 percent of the terrain classified as either beginner or intermediate and certain areas designated as a beginner only. Despite this, experts will have no trouble entertaining themselves on the chutes, couloirs, and bowls.
Access from San Francisco is along Interstate 80, and the resort is just over a three-hour drive from San Francisco International Airport. (Ski Resorts in the USA)
Palisades Tahoe is part of the Mountain Collective and IKON pass programs.
Sun Valley, ID
Sun Valley, Idaho, is an ideal destination for an excellent all-around mid-size resort. You’ll find 121 runs spread across the Bald and Dollar Mountains here. The views from the top are spectacular, looking out to fields of snow covering the mountains.
Sun Valley receives about 18 feet of snow yearly and has extensive snow-making capabilities. It’s a good family destination, with runs skewed towards beginner and intermediate levels.
They also do extensive grooming, and with the resort being off the radar of many people, the corduroy lasts longer into the day.
Sun Valley has recently undertaken some of the most significant expansions in the resort’s history. The new Broadway lift is a high-speed quad chair that opens up 380 acres of spectacular new terrain in the Sunrise zone.
Sun Valley is known as the haunt of some big-name celebrities. Also of interest, it was here that the chairlift was invented way back in 1936. (Ski Resorts in the USA)
Sun Valley is part of the Epic pass program.
Taos Ski Valley, NM
Located a couple of hours from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Taos is an old-school ski resort that has slowly been modernizing.
It was taken over by a multimillionaire, who has invested $300 million in upgrades over the past several years.
The changes have been controversial, but the resort is now more focused on skier experience and customer service.
Taos currently offers a great mix of old school with touches of the 21st century here and there. But regardless of these changes, the terrain is still the terrain, and the skiing is fantastic, particularly for more experienced skiers looking for challenges.
Novice skiers are sometimes intimidated by the mountain they see at the base in front of the main lodge.
But this is just one area of the resort, and if you talk to staff, they will direct you to the areas designed for beginners and intermediate skiers.
A new base area gondola has made getting around more accessible, and The Blake at Taos Ski Valley, a new hotel, provides modern accommodation within walking distance of the lifts.
Taos is less than a two-hour drive from Santa Fe Regional Airport and just under three hours from Albuquerque International Sunport. (Ski Resorts in the USA)
Taos is part of both the IKON and Mountain Collective pass programs.
As you drive up Interstate 17 from Denver, one of the significant turns is at Silverthorne. Up this road are two incredible resorts: Arapahoe Basin and Keystone.
The first of the two is Keystone, and you will be sorely tested not to veer off and try it out. Take your choice of runs from an array of 128 green, blue, black, and double black runs spread out over six different mountains.
A good rule of thumb is that the farther back you go, the more complex the runs and terrain become. Keystone is a family-friendly resort with an excellent ski school and reasonably priced condo accommodation nearby.
Keystone receives nearly 20 feet of snow each year, and an impressive snow making operation covers approximately 20 percent of the mountain.
As with other nearby resorts, the base area of Keystone is set at a high elevation, in this case, 9,280 feet. This helps ensure a long season but can also be a challenge for those coming from sea level.
The mountain is spread over 3,148 acres, and an incredible 20 lifts service the vertical drop of 3,128 feet. (Ski Resorts in the USA)
Keystone is part of the EPIC pass program.
Stowe is located on Mount Mansfield, New England’s highest mountain, and catches approximately 26 feet of snow each year. If Mother Nature needs a bit of help, Stowe has snow making capabilities on 83 percent of the ski hill.
Uphill capacity is up to the task of handling the crowds. About 15,516 people can be whisked up to the top on 12 lifts, including two gondolas.
The small resort town of Stowe is a lovely place to stay, with stellar restaurants, cozy inns, and good shopping. Stowe is part of the Epic pass program. (Ski Resorts in the USA)
Sugarbush Resort, VT
Sugarbush Resort in Vermont has 111 ski runs spread over 4,000 acres. The runs wind their way down through the trees on two mountains to multiple base areas.
Just jump on any 16 lifts and head back to the top to tackle the varied terrain. New in 2021/22 is a T-Bar called KRBA.
Should you wish for a bit of out-of-bounds fun, CAT skiing is available per person, with a minimum of six people.
You’ll find a quaint village at the bottom of Lincoln Peak, with a pedestrian-only area lined with restaurants, spas, and retail shops.
Sugarbush is part of the Mountain Collective and IKON pass programs.
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