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- The 10 of the Greatest Ski Resorts in the USA
For those who just can’t resist braving the chilly weather to have some fun, winter definitely comes with good tidings. There is gliding on fresh powder, beholding stunning views as seen from the mountaintop, and enjoying every other plus that comes with a skiing vacation. However, even before it gets to this, you want to be sure that your vacation is well spent on a worthwhile, carefully selected ski resort. The United States is host to many ski destinations yet very few of them tick if you think of the best.
A great ski destination is not all about the quality of snowfall. Other factors like its expanse, accessibility, terrain, dining and accommodation facilities weigh in a great deal.
The 10 of the Greatest Ski Resorts in the USA
Whatever you are looking for in a ski resort, there is always something for every unique need. Still, these 10 resorts have made it top in our ranking for their outstanding features.
1. Jackson Hole Resort, Wyoming
Best for: Expert riders
Terrain: Jackson Hole has, since the 60s, wooed some of the top-level powder hounds thanks to its overly rugged terrain, steep slopes, and its deep powder. The most continuous vertical in the United States is found in Jackson Hole and goes high up to 4,139 ft.
The Good: Let’s just say that Jackson Hole has the best lift network in the States and a stunning snowscape of the Grand Tetons. It also has the kind of steeps that an expert border would feel proud maneuvering.
The not so good: Jackson Hole Tends to get crowded especially during peak season.
A must visit: Mangy Mongoose of Teton Village
Some fun facts: Jackson town is situated right inside the Jackson Valley region and not vice versa. Both summer and winter are high seasons for Jackson Hole. During winter it gets traffic from winter sports enthusiasts while during summer it gets traffic from tourists en route to The Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
Rankings: Ranked 3rd best in winter vacations by the US News and World Report Travel Ranking.
How to get there: From the Jackson Hole Airport, you have the option of using Alltrans Shuttle services, rental cars, or by taxi cabs. It is located roughly 9 miles south of the airport.
Where to stay: Hotel Jackson, Four Seasons Resort, Residences Jackson Hole
Where to dine: Snake River Grill
2. Aspen Mountain, Colorado
Best for: Expert and Intermediate riders
Terrain: Aspen’s terrain is largely groomed. The entire 5,547 ac consists of an estimated 45% each blue and black runs with a small 10% green run area. Breaking it down further, Aspen Highlands and Ajax Mountains are endowed with long blue and short steep black runs. Test your skills at the highest 12,392 ft backcountry peak if you’ve got the guts. Otherwise, the Buttermilk and Snowmass offer the best options for intermediate borders. Aspen Highlands apparently experiences less traffic perhaps because it is the riskiest to ride on.
The Good: Aspen Mountain is, in fact, a four-in-one ski resort. You get to access all the four resorts; Aspen (known as Ajax Mountains), Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass with just one lift pass using the readily available shuttle system to navigate around the area. Secondly, Aspen Mountains have some of the best-groomed terrains and the lift system is incredibly streamlined.
The not so good: Aspen is a high-end ski resort so be prepared to dent your wallet a little especially if you prefer staying closer to the slopes for convenience. Snowfall can be unpredictable at Aspen Mountains so while you can be armed with the latest weather updates, be prepared for the unexpected.
A must visit: Aspen Highlands Bowl. If you get the opportunity, attend the Annual Winter X Games to experience the craziest winter sports action ever witnessed.
Some fun facts: Want to enjoy an interesting treasure hunt before you leave, find the shrines of Elvis Presley, Jerry Garcia, John Denver, and Marilyn Monroe in the trees in Aspen Mountains.
Rankings: Snowmass was ranked the 4th best North American Ski Resort in a top 15 SKI magazine’s annual readers’ survey.
How to get there: Aspen Mountains is served by Aspen/Piktin county airport which is averagely 3 miles from Aspen town. International visitors will fly in through Denver International Airport which is about 220 miles from the town. From town, use the shuttle buses to navigate around the area.
Where to stay: Hotel Jerome, The St. Regis Aspen Resort, Limelight Hotel
Where to dine: Velvet Buck Restaurant
3. Alta, Utah
Best for: Beginner, Intermediate, and expert skiers
Terrain: First and foremost, if you are not a skier, this may not be your space because Alta is designated for skiers only. However, even for skiers, Alta is not an easy resort to ski on. This is because it features thick deep powder thanks to the fact that it is among the resort with the highest snowfall, with an average of about 560 in. Coupled with challenging terrains that include steeps and tree trails, Alta is a purely awesome skiing destination. Beginners’ terrain is 25%, intermediate terrain 40%, and advanced terrain takes up 35% of Alta’s 116 runs which means that there is something for everyone.
The Good: Alta’s snow is incredible.
The not so good: Clubs and shopping stores are hard to come by which limits you to skiing and sightseeing. Never mind because Salt Lake City is not far off.
A must visit: Big Cottonwood Canyon, Cecret Lake
Some fun facts: Alta is one of the oldest ski resorts in the United States has started its operation in 1939. Alongside Deer Valley and Mad River Glen, Alta is one of the three ski-only resorts in the States.
Rankings: Ranked 2 in Liftopia list of the best ski areas in North America
How to get there: Alta is located 27 miles to the east of Salt Lake City and less than an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City International Airport.
Where to stay: The Cliff Lodge conveniently located on the slopes,, Alta Lodging
Where to dine: Alf’s Restaurant, Alta’s Albion Grill, Alta Java
4. Telluride Ski Resort, Colorado
Best for: Beginner, Intermediate, and advanced skiers
Terrain: Telluride, located in North America, is a whole 2,000 ac expanse of skiing ground. It features a balanced mix of terrains for all-level skiing. Its terrains include cliffs, tree runs, bowl, and chutes. Quite impressively, Telluride is one of the very few ski resorts that allows novices to try their skill at the 11,800-feet mountain peaks down the 5-mile green run. Advanced skiers, on the other hand, have the 13,320-feet Palmyra peak through the double-black inbound trail, or the 12,515-feet Revelation Bowl which is also a great option for the advanced intermediates. Telluride also boasts of heli-skiing opportunities if you’ve got the guts. Beginners can enjoy their 4.5-mile run.
The Good: Agreeably, Telluride resort is never crowded so expect to have some fun riding their top quality powder while beholding the stunning scenery of the San Juan Mountains.
The not so good: Not many cons but if you are new, you may find Telluride town a bit remote and getting there a little cumbersome.
A must visit: Telluride Tourist Board on Main Street for anything you would like to know about the area.
Rankings: Telluride was ranked North America’s best overall satisfaction and the best in scenery and character, in the 2016-2017 Ski Magazine readers survey. Telluride ranked the No. 1 ski resort in North America by Condé Nast Traveler
How to get there: Telluride is serviced by Montrose-Telluride Regional Airport, which has nonstop flights during winter from several major cities including New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix, and Houston. Once there, use the gondola between Telluride Town and Mountain Village.
Where to stay: New Sheridan Hotel, Lumière Hotel, Hotel Telluride
Where to dine: Alpino Vino, Bon Vivant, Allred’s
5. Park City Mountain, Utah
Best for: Intermediate Skiers
Terrain: This extensive 7,300 ac ski resort is networked impressively with blue runs. However, you will not fail to spot some black runs for the advanced intermediate skier, along with plenty of steep rugged tree runs. Statistically speaking, Park City is endowed with over 300 trails and 41 lifts.
A must visit: Sundance Film Festival
Some fun facts: In 2015, Park City joined with Canyons around to form the largest ski resort in the United States. It sits on 7,300 ac of space.
How to get there: Park City town is located 45 minutes drive from Salt Lake City Airport. From the town, you can use the free bus services, hotel shuttles, or taxi cab to get to the base of the canyon. In case, you will need to move to other nearby canyons, you can make use of the two-way gondola.
Where to stay: Hotel Park City, Best Western Landmark
Where to dine: Riverhorse, Cloud Dine, Tombstone Grill
6. Snowbird Ski Resort, Utah
Best for: Expert Skiers
Terrain: Snowbird is certainly the best place to be for extreme skiers and freeride powder hounds. Its terrain features an interesting double-black terrain with real steeps, bowls, three runs, and chutes. Several international free-ride contests have taken place here so if you feel like rubbing shoulders with skiing pros, this is the place to be. With consistently thick deep powder, a 3,240-feet peak, and an incredible lift system, the skier’s adventures know no bounds.
The Good: Next to Alta, Snowbird has the best skiing powder with higher peaks and a good lift system, the tram.
A must visit: Cottonwood Canyon, Mineral Basin
Where to stay: Cliff Lodge
Where to dine: The Summit
7. Breckenridge, Colorado
Best for: Intermediate and expert skiers.
Terrain: This 2908-ac resort is well organized into 5 peaks including 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 sectors. apparently, Breckenridge has the highest lift in North America, the Imperial Express Super Lift which experts will be glad to make use of, dropping them at a high of 12,480 ft. Its terrains consist mostly of blue and black runs but you won’t miss spotting some green runs. In Short, Breckenridge is known for high alpine glides.
The Good: At Breckenridge resort, you have unlimited options as far as loading is concerned and the Imperial Express Super Lift will definitely set you up for a memorable vacation.
The not so good: Tends to get crowded during the peak season and when it gets too cold and windy, the snow is bound to crust.
How to get there: Breckenridge is serviced by Denver Airport.
Where to stay: Beaver Run Resort
8. Vail, Colorado
Best for: Beginner, Intermediate, and expert skiers
Terrain: This 5,289-ac resort is the largest in Colorado. It boasts of a well-balanced terrain with blue and green groomed runs to its front for beginners and intermediates, the black bowl slightly above the ridge at the front side, and the Blue Sky Basin on the other side, both for expert skiers.
The Good: If love groomed runs, Vail might just be the place for you. Its runs are not just immaculately groomed, they are wide and long enough to keep you going for a while. Plus, it has an incredible high-speed lift system.
The not so good: Being one of the most visited resorts which have attracted mixed skills and most corporate groups, Vail gets really crowded at times. This includes lift queues. Again, if you love challenges, there are no steps to keep your adrenalin rolling. Apparently, Vail has the most expensive lift passes.
How to get there: Serviced by Denver Airport, sometimes the area experiences heavy snow storms
Where to stay: Evergreen Lodge
Where to dine: Getting there: It’s relatively easy to get to Vail with the regional airport nearby but the journey is more treacherous if you’re traveling from Denver International Airport.
9. Squaw Valley — California
Best for Intermediate Skiers
Terrain: This 4000 ac resort covers 6 peaks and boasts of some challenging steeps with black runs covering 50% and blue runs covering 35% of the entire area. With a 32-mile mountain run as its longest, Squaw Valley typically features open bowl skiing with a total of 16 open bowls. It has numerous runs, 25% beginner, 45% intermediate, 30% experts with designated lift systems for each category. At the peak, the stunning Lake Tahoe scenery will awe you.
The Good: Quality powder estimated at 450 in, one of the best ski trails around the area, and an efficient lift system makes Squaw valley one of the best places to spend your vacation in. If you enjoy night skiing, you may as well take advantage of free night skiing in this resort or ski in the Alpine meadows using the same pass.
The not so good: Tends to get crowded. In addition, the volume of snow is not consistent.
A must visit: Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park, Emerald Bay State Park
Some fun facts: In 1960, the first winter Olympics contest to be held in Western U.S was at Squaw Valley. Perhaps why it is called Olympic Valley to date.
Rankings: Voted an outstanding ski racing resort in the Far West Ski Awards
How to get there: Squaw Valley happens to be near Interstate 80 and is surrounded by San Francisco, Reno, and Sacramento areas. Shuttles are readily available. If you intend to extend your skiing to the Alpine meadows, there is a gondola that connects the two.
Where to stay: Resort at Squaw Creek, Cedar Glen Lodge
Where to dine: Six Peaks Grille
10. Beaver Creek Ski Resort
Best for: Beginner and Intermediate Skiers
Terrain: If you are looking for pure luxury and a memorable skiing experience, Beaver Creek will not disappoint. Its luxury extends to the very well groomed runs. This Resort does not have high-alpine terrain but its top quality powder is a thing to look forward to. Most of its runs wind enchantingly downhill giving you a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery around as you ski. One impressive aspect about this resort is that it has one of the best-groomed green runs on the far right together with a gondola that is dedicated to novices.
The Good: Being a small resort near the Popular Vail Ski Resort, and with somewhat highly priced ski tickets, this resort boasts of fewer crowds. Also available is a good high-speed lift system that rarely experiences.
The not so good: Though you’ll find challenging terrain in some places, they do not go higher than the tree-line and steeps are hard to come by. In addition, expect to pay a little higher for the luxury.
A must visit: Beano’s Cabin, Atop Beaver Creek Mountain, Faux Goldmine
Some fun facts: The then governor named it ‘The Tiffany’s of ski areas’ because its luxury mostly attracted the elite
Rankings: It The ranked 9th best resort overall by Ski Magazine
How to get there: Beaver Creek is served by the Eagle Vail Airport. It is 30 minutes drive from the airport.
Where to stay: Beaver Creek Arrowhead Village
Where to dine: Grouse Mountain Grill
There is definitely more than a great ski resort can offer than just skiing. The United States offers a wide variety of ski resorts to meet varying needs. Therefore, start by knowing exactly what you want. What is your skill level? What kind of terrain do you prefer? In addition to this, get to know if the social amenities available in the area will accommodate your needs. Finally, know the weather before you go so you are sure you will be safe.