#50 Holiday Valley (Ellicottville, N.Y.) from 50 Best Ski Resorts 2013-2014
50 Best Ski Resorts 2013-2014
#50 Holiday Valley (Ellicottville, N.Y.)
Cattaraugus County Tourism calls Holiday Valley the “Aspen of the East,” and although that may be a stretch, this resort in Western New York still holds its own among the best. It consistently ranks among Ski Magazine’s top ten eastern resorts and wintertime travelers relish the true ski town vibe of Ellicottville, a quaint Western New York town with an average yearly snowfall of about 180 inches.
#49 Northstar California (Truckee, Calif.)
Skiers in search of exhilarating adventure mixed with a bit of relaxation and luxury will find all they’re looking for at this Tahoe destination resort. In addition to its own village, a cross-country skiing center, seven terrain parks and other amenities, there’s the terrain itself, sprawling over 3,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada. And it’s growing: last year the resort released plans to expand by building lift access to more advanced terrain in coming years.
#48 Sunshine Village (Banff National Park, Canada)
A long seven-month season, a high altitude that ensures dry, powdery snow, and Delirium Dive, which Outside Magazine has called one of the scariest in-bounds freeride zones in the world: these are just a few of the many draws of Sunshine Village. Plus, it happens to have a unique location in Banff National Park, making it possible for skiers to touch on two different provinces— Alberta and British Columbia—in just one run. With three massive mountains and a total of 107 trails throughout 3,358 acres, the resort services every type of skier from the first-timer to the most grizzled powder veteran.
#47 Okemo Mountain Resort (Ludlow, Vt.)
Once an old mill town, Ludlow, Vt. is now home to family-owned Okemo Mountain Resort which has grown to attract over 600,000 snow lovers yearly, one of only a few east of the Mississippi to boast such numbers. Skiers are drawn to Okemo’s 2,200-foot vertical drop, the largest in southern Vermont, and its evenly divided assortment of trails catering to every skill level, not to mention the expert quality of its snowmaking and grooming. One reader chimed in to say they thought Okemo was the most well-rounded resort on our initial list, with spread-out terrain that makes it easy to avoid crowds and a convenient mobile site to indicate lift line status.
#46 Mount Snow (West Dover, Vt.)
Being Vermont’s closest big mountain resort to the Northeast’s major cities, skiers are enticed by Mount Snow’s easy-access location. But obviously that’s not the resort’s only appeal. The Mount Snow staff prides itself on well-groomed snow, so much so that they equate cultivating a consistent snow surface to an art form. The resort is also home to North America’s sole high-speed, six-passenger bubble lift called the Bluebird Express and is widely praised for its outstanding terrain parks. One reader noted, “Mount Snow's setup with a separate terrain park area is great for separating those that like the jumps versus those that just want to shred.”
#45 Stratton Mountain (Stratton, Vt.)
Great snow is guaranteed at Stratton, but not just figuratively. If ever unsatisfied with a run, skiers can return their tickets in exchange for another day. Clearly Stratton’s proud of its powder, which is probably why the resort has grown to be one of the largest ski areas in all of Vermont. It’s also probably why one reader said, “I just love Stratton too much to check anyone else as the best. It's my mountain and I love it!”
#44 Crystal Mountain (Pierce County, Wash.)
Crystal Mountain, located near Mt. Rainier, is Washington’s largest ski resort and also home to the state’s only gondola. Having hosted several World Cup and championship events in the 1960s and ‘70s, the resort has a storied past, and today it has expanded into a top travel spot for winter sport lovers and vacationers alike. With a total of 2,600 skiable acres, more than 50 trails of all different levels, and plenty of other entertaining activities to choose from, Crystal Mountain offers something for every type of skier. And although it’s primarily a day resort, non-local travelers can easily plan a stay at one of the nearby lodges or stay in Seattle and take the “Snow Bus”—lift ticket included.
#43 Stevens Pass (Kings County, Wash.)
A day resort situated in the Cascade Range of Washington State, Stevens Pass is a popular park for area locals and draws many Seattle Skiers to it slopes. The front side of the mountain can be directly accessed by seven different chairlifts and offers access to beginner, intermediate, and advanced gradients while the mountain’s backside caters to skiers looking for a more scenic route with its Jupiter and Southern Cross trails. With 1,100 skiable acres, the resort is by no means small; however, it draws large crowds during peak season (especially on weekends), which is why plans are underway to diversify terrain, expand lift capacity and upgrade existing terrain.
#42 Red Mountain Resort (Rossland, B.C.)
One of the oldest ski areas in North America, Red Mountain features slopes suited more for the expert crowd than for beginners. But apart from being one of the most challenging resorts on the continent, it’s also one of the largest with about 4,200 total acres, 2,600 of which are lift-served. A recent update to the mammoth-sized resort includes the addition of a third peak, Grey Mountain, which will be serviced by a new fixed-grip quad chair for the upcoming 2013-2014 season.
#41 Whitefish (Flathead County, Mont.)
With over 3,000 acres of terrain spread among four mountain faces, Whitefish Mountain Resort sits on Big Mountain, near Glacier National Park. The resort prides itself on no-wait lift lines, 102 different trails with all types of terrain for skiers of every level, and even a wide range of non-ski activities like dog sled tours and guided hikes through Glacier National Park. And although Big Mountain’s size might sound intimidating, newbie skiers and boarders shouldn’t dismiss this mountain because of its mass. Whitefish offers a helpful, all-inclusive learn-to-ski package that includes two days of lessons, equipment rentals, and lift tickets.
#40 Brighton (Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah)
One of the oldest ski resorts in the U.S., and the oldest in Utah, Brighton has come a long way in its 77 years. Less a destination than a great spot for locals, it’s now best known for being a snowboard magnet with four ever-changing terrain parks. Brighton is also a big draw for families who appreciate its affordable lift tickets (children under seven are free) and its top-notch ski and snowboard school. Last year it had over 700 inches of snow, and the terrain runs the gamut from groomers to glades and cliffs.
#39 Sunday River (Newry, Maine)
After Sugarloaf, Sunday River has the second largest vertical drop in Maine and is one of the state’s most popular ski resorts. Skiers can choose from 133 trails that run across eight interconnected peaks, and the resort ensures snow so superb that if a run fails to meet your expectations you can trade in your lift ticket for a retry ride on another day. Not that you’re likely to complain: Sunday River boasts an advanced snowmaking operation that’s capable of covering 95 percent of its terrain.
#38 Sugarbush (Warren, Vt.)
Experienced skiers are drawn to Sugarbush for its expert-level slopes. The park includes two mountain areas and six distinct peaks, the largest of which is Mt. Ellen. Mt. Ellen’s top elevation reaches over 4,000 feet and it boasts one of the largest continuous vertical drops in the Northeast, 2,600 feet. Sugarbush is also home to Castlerock Peak which features Rumble Woods, a steep, wooded route infamous for its cliff drop-offs and rocky terrain. Of course, the resort’s abundance of challenging topography shouldn’t cause novice skiers to shy away. With over 100 trails and plenty of vacation packages to choose from, there’s something for everyone here.
#37 Tremblant (Mont-Tremblant, Que.)
Although located in North America among the Laurentian mountains of Quebec, Tremblant is known for exuding the essence of European skiing. Everything from the resort’s trails to its charming ski-town village is reminiscent of an across-the-pond experience. Upon its first discovery, an Algonquin Indian tribe named the mountain’s main peak “Manitonga Soutana,” meaning “the mountain of the spirits.” Ancient adage says that whenever the mountain’s tranquility is disturbed spirits make it tremble. But not to worry: with such a peaceful and serene environment skiers never have to think twice about staying relaxed.
#36 Smugglers’ Notch (Jeffersonville, Vt.)
This ski area in Vermont’s Green Mountains is a family favorite in the Northeast thanks to its “Snow Sport University” and full complement of children’s activities. If you’re trying to jumpstart a love of the mountains in your kids, it’s hard to beat Smuggs. That said, the terrain here is far from child’s play. Smuggs boasts the Northeast’s only triple black diamond trail, The Black Hole, which combines cliffs and moguls on a perilously pitched tree run. Spread over three mountains, skiing options here vary from the corduroy greens of Morse Mountain to the steeps and glades of Madonna and Sterling Mountains.
#35 Keystone Resort (Keystone, Colo.)
Summit County’s largest ski resort leaves out nothing when it comes to the all-inclusive destination ski vacation. The park’s three mountains—Decrum, North Peak, and the Outback—offer terrain for every level of skier, and together the trio makes up the largest night-skiing operation in Colorado, allowing slope runs until as late as 9 p.m. In addition to its unbeatable trails, the resort is also regarded for its five-acre skating lake, highly-rated restaurants, and fun family activities like sleigh riding, snow biking, and snow tubing. One reader lauded its “nice family atmosphere” and the Area 51 terrain park.
#34 Heavenly (South Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev.)
The lift tickets at Heavenly Mountain Resort may cost you a pretty penny, but the view is unbeatable: Tahoe’s crystal blue expanse, ringed by the Sierra Nevada. Straddling the California-Nevada line on the lake’s southern shore, Heavenly is the most popular of Tahoe’s many world-class resorts and well known for its tree skiing and backcountry access. And after a day on the slopes, you can head down to the casinos and try your luck Nevada style.
#33 Sugarloaf (Carrabassett Valley, Maine)
The largest resort east of the Mississippi lies on 4,237-foot Sugarloaf Mountain, Maine’s second highest. In fact, it’s the only mountain in the Northeast where the lift tops out above the treeline, giving it 2,800 feet of vertical, comparing favorably with many western resorts. The Snowfields, at the summit, have steeps worthy of all but the most extreme freeriders, and there is an inbounds “sidecountry” with 270 acres of gladed terrain. (Sugarloaf is in the process of developing even more.) Three terrain parks and miles upon miles of beginner and intermediate trails, add to the variety at this resort, which also happens to be a training spot for members of the U.S. Ski Team.
#32 Aspen Highlands (Aspen, Colo.)
The vast four-resort complex of Aspen-Snowmass has something for everyone. If you want the full family experience, you head to Buttermilk, and if you’re a shredder who seeks out dramatic drops and wide-open bowls, you head to Aspen Highlands. Famous for Highland Bowl, which tops out at 12,382 feet and requires a hike up the ridgeline from the top of Temerity Lift, 717 feet below, Aspen Highlands has some of the most extreme inbounds terrain in Colorado—all without sacrificing the the perks of being in one of the world’s great resort towns. Not a bad combo.
#31 Grand Targhee (Alta, Wyo.)
Grand Targhee is like Jackson Hole’s snowier alter ego on the opposite side of the Tetons. Much less crowded than its famous neighbor, it gets some 500 inches of snow a year with inbounds terrain that can feel like backcountry. Over 600 acres are reserved exclusively for Snowcat skiing, and one peak, Mary’s Nipple, is strictly hike-to. Sign up for a daylong Snowcat Adventure ($349), and you’re promised a combined 14,000 feet to 20,000 feet of vertical on terrain that you’ll only be sharing with only 23 other people, at most.
#30 Whiteface (Lake Placid, N.Y.)
Home of the alpine skiing events in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, this ski area on the side of Whiteface Mountain has Rocky Mountain-sized vertical drop—over 3,200 feet—making it the tallest in the East. A hike-to area near the peak called The Slides is a double-black gladed delight for shredders, and at the bottom is the dedicated Kids Kampus for the little ones. Although Whiteface isn’t a full-on resort—ski area’s the word—Lake Placid retains the flavor of a winter resort town.
#29 Jay Peak (Jay, Vt.)
Jay Peak lies in Vermont’s Green Mountains just four miles south of the Canadian border. With about 355 inches of snow on average each year, the mountain is known for having the most snow in the Northeast, which makes for a lengthy mid-November to mid-May ski season. Though the resort may be modest in size—it has 78 trails and just under 400 acres—its steep slopes and backcountry terrain are what offer the most allure for many mid-level-to-expert skiers.
#28 Killington (Killington, Vt.)
The Northeast’s most popular resort is also its second biggest, sprawling over six mountains with 140 marked trails and six terrain parks. Killington holds its own with the West when it comes to the double black diamond set. The “Beast of the East” has some serious thigh burners—most notably the Outer Limits mogul run on Bear Mountain—but it’s also got its share of wide groomed slopes for the less advanced. The feature-packed terrain parks, including The Stash by Burton, are a huge draw for snowboarders, too.
#27 Solitude (Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah)
If you want to get away from the crowded resorts near Park City and SLC, head to Solitude, a smaller, relatively undiscovered slice of Utah’s finest in the Wasatch Mountains. Mostly blues and greens, Solitude consistently rates high for families, but that doesn’t mean it lacks flavor for the heartier folk in your clan. Steep tree runs and three alpine bowls keep things interesting, and short lift lines and untracked snow can make for a welcome alternative to nearby Alta. A shared lift ticket also gives access to Brighton next door.
#26 Whitewater (Nelson, B.C.)
“Pure, simple and real deep” is Whitewater’s motto, and it certainly lives up to it. Located along British Columbia’s so-called “Powder Highway,” Whitewater is known for receiving huge powder dumps—it averages about 480 inches a year—so there’s almost always fresh snow. And because this unpretentious three-lift resort tends not to draw the kinds of crowds you see in Whistler, that powder has a tendency to stay fresh.
#25 Kicking Horse (Golden, B.C.)
This young ski area 45 miles outside of Banff National Park gives the resort treatment to heli skiing territory. Not surprisingly, Kicking Horse is known for its backcountry access, but even inbounds the big draw is its huge vertical—over 4,000 feet—and collection of four alpine bowls with 90 chutes. Many of the runs are so new they go by numbers instead of names, which may, perhaps, speak to its uncrowded atmosphere. Not that it’s all bombing all the time here: Kicking Horse has a roomy 10-km green run called “It’s a 10,” and a selection of blues and greens further down. By way of non-ski attractions, Kicking Horse is home to a rescued grizzly bear named Boo (don’t worry, there’s an enclosure), and Canada’s highest restaurant, Eagle’s Eye, perched on the top of the mountain.
#24 Aspen Mountain (Aspen, Colo.)
Aspen’s original ski area, now part of the Aspen-Snowmass conglomerate, is the classic, compact resort that set the town on the path to becoming the skiing wonderland it is today. Formerly called “Ajax,” Aspen Mountain is small, covering only 675 acres rising directly out of town, but in that tight space it fits serious, no frills shredding. There are no easy runs here and more than half range from black diamond to extreme.
#23 Winter Park Resort (Winter Park, Colo.)
Winter Park calls itself “Colorado’s favorite,” which makes sense given that this easily accessible resort is only 67 miles from Denver. Winter Park is spread out over three peaks, the most famous of which is Mary Jane, known for her big bumps. There’s also the Cirque, which gives inbounds access to steep chutes and tight tree skiing. But what endears Winter Park most to its fans is the casual, welcoming vibe that stands in contrast to the more commercial outfits out there: “Winter Park is not a Snow Disney, but an authentic big mountain,” commented one reader. Families return there year after year. Another reader wrote, “I've telemark skied Winter Park for 20 years, from being single and partying, to [having] my 9-year-old on the ski team.”
#22 Canyons (Park City, Utah)
Originally founded as Park City West, Canyons has been through a lot of changes over the years. The most recent round, begun in 2010, saw the addition of hundreds of skiable acres and the Orange Bubble Express, a high-speed quad lift that also happens to have heated seats—an American first. Not only is Canyons the largest of the three resorts in Park City (the other two being Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort), it’s the largest in Utah, covering nine peaks and 4,000 acres. With such a huge spread, Canyons is practically a skiing buffet, serving up heaping portions of bowl, chute and glade skiing, as well as a healthy side of greens.
#21 Big White (Kelowna, B.C.)
Although it doesn’t have the massive scale of Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia’s mega-resort of note, this ski-in resort is still impressively large, with over 2,700 skiable acres in the Okanagan Valley, and offers one of the most well rounded experiences west of the Rockies. Noted for being especially family friendly by voters, the resort operates a ski school for all ages that has been recognized as one of the best in Canada. But that doesn’t mean the serious skiers in your clan will miss out: Big White is also famous for the quality of its snow, which is some of the driest Champagne powder around, and its generous helping of glades.
#20 Breckenridge (Breckenridge, Colo.)
With four mountains, five tall peaks, and almost 3,000 acres there’s no question as to why Breckenridge is one of the most visited ski resorts in the Western Hemisphere. The resort is famed for its Imperial Express SuperChair, North America’s highest chairlift, which carries riders up to a peak elevation of 12,840 feet, offering the clearest sights to some of Colorado’s most stunning and scenic views. But with a ton of terrain and world-class slopes catered to skiers of every level, at Breck getting back down the mountain is an equally novel experience.
#19 Copper Mountain (Summit County, Colo.)
With a history as the host of the 1976 World Cup alpine ski races (and a trail named after champion Rosi Mittermaier) and all the amenities of a modern ski resort, Copper Mountain is truly a one-of-kind Colorado snow sanctuary. One of the most recent additions to the park is its 20,000 square-foot Woodward Camp, an indoor ski and snowboard terrain park and pipe progression training center. With 21 total features for park rats of all different levels it’s quickly become one of Copper’s new main attractions.
#18 Crested Butte (Crested Butte, Colo.)
This Rocky Mountain resort is located near an old mining town of the same name, which has managed to maintain its original character and avoid becoming the tourist trap that the Vails and Aspens of the world are often accused of being. It’s all about the skiing here. By reputation, Crested Butte has some of the most extreme inbounds skiing you’re likely to find in North America, with 542 acres dedicated to insanely vertical double-black-diamond runs. In fact, Crested Butte was the first resort in the U.S. to host an extreme freeskiing competition, and it has continued to do so for over 20 years now. Lucky for those of us without a death wish, 69 percent of its trails are beginner and intermediate, many of which are thoughtfully separated from the bomber runs by their own lifts.
#17 Snowmass (Aspen, Colo.)
Snowmass is the big, friendly member of the Aspen-Snowmass family of resorts. With over 3,000 skiable acres, 94 trails and 4,000-plus vertical feet, Snowmass has enough variety to please both weekenders and ski snobs alike. The terrain parks, featuring large and small halfpipes, have also been called some of the best in the country by Transworld Snowboarding. And of course there’s the glam ski town of Aspen—possibly the most famous of them all—which is the very definition of a full off-slope experience.
#16 Stowe (Stowe, Vt.)
This “classic yet modern” resort, as one reader put it, is located on Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, and on adjacent Spruce Peak. Although it now has a tony New England vibe, the resort has New Deal origins, dating back to a Civilian Conservation Corps project in the 1930s. The prices are definitely not Depression era—$98 for a one-day regular-season lift ticket—but the mountain keeps bringing people back and the amenities reflect the price tag.
#15 Taos Ski Valley (Taos County, New Mexico)
Situated in the Southern Rockies of New Mexico, this charming and quaint mountain was once home to an abandoned mining town. Now, the family-owned park, ranked highly for its varying terrains, affordability, and authenticity, is a rugged 1,300 acre resort that prides itself on exuding the “lore of the European Alps” combined with the “charm and beauty of the Southwest.” In 2008, the resort lifted its ban on snowboarding and now welcomes both skiers and boarders alike into a friendly, laid back atmosphere that snow lovers of all levels and backgrounds enjoy.
#14 Big Sky-Moonlight Basin (Big Sky, Mont.)
Just last month, Big Sky merged with Moonlight Basin to surpass Vail as the largest single ski area in the United States. Located north of Yellowstone on fittingly-named Lone Mountain—its solitary, perfectly triangular peak rises to 11,166 feet—Big Sky has some of the best inbounds big mountain skiing anywhere. The Lone Peak Tram takes experts all the way to the top where the monster cliff and chute action begins. If you like your skiing a little more, er, leisurely, the bottom half of the mountain (and lesser peaks like Andesite Mountain) is welcoming to intermediates.
#13 Mammoth Mountain (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.)
Maybe this mountain is named after its location in Mammoth Lake, Calif., but don’t let that take away from the fact that pretty much everything about this resort is massive. Set in the eastern Sierras in Inyo National Forest, Mammoth offers skiers a whopping 3,500-plus acres of skiable territory, eight Unbound terrain parks, and one of the longest ski seasons in North America. (The ’94-’95 season lasted over ten months, opening on October 8 and finally closing on the thirteenth of August.) One of the parks most renowned attractions is the Unbound Main terrain park, where a handful of elites, including Shaun White, practice and compete.
#12 Sun Valley (Sun Valley, Idaho)
Idaho is the self-proclaimed “soul of skiing,” and not unrightfully so. Developed by Union Pacific Railroad chairman W. Averell Harriman just after the successful 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, Sun Valley was the United States’ first ever destination winter resort. Now, more than 75 years later, rich with history and considered a true ski town through and through, Sun Valley is still regarded as one of the top ski resorts in the nation. Bald Mountain (or “baldy” as the locals like to call it) boasts a consistent vertical drop with slopes for skiers of all levels, and Dollar Mountain—the location of the world’s first ski lift—offers a wide variety of park terrain and a 22-foot superpipe. And if you were wondering where its name comes from, about 80 percent of the ski season here is graced by brilliant blue skies and warm, radiant rays, making it a go-to spot for “winter sports under a summer sun.”
#11 Beaver Creek (Avon, Colo.)
A regular host of World Cup skiing events and the future site of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, Beaver Creek recently completed a brand new women’s speed course, adding 17 skiable acres to this huge, highly-rated resort. Located just 10 miles west of Vail and with three villages, four mountains, and 150 trails of varying levels, it’s no wonder this world-class resort is a top-pick for snow seekers everywhere. Oh, and every day at 3 p.m. is “cookie time,” during which fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies are passed out at the base of the Centennial Express Lift. It’s “the perfect ending to the perfect day,” the resort claims. Can’t quarrel with that.
#10 Squaw Valley (Olympic Valley, Calif.)
The biggest resort in Tahoe in terms of skiable acreage, Squaw Valley (which now shares a lift ticket with nearby Alpine Meadows) goes toe to toe with Northstar and Heavenly in terms of popularity. This freeriding and freeskiing mecca is the home resort for many of the sports’ biggest names, including Jeremy Jones, Tim Dutton and J.T. Holmes. The KT-22 lift leads to hucking heaven, which is why air lovers line up at the crack of dawn on powder days and weekends. Not to say beginners or intermediate skiers can’t have a good time here: the greens and blues are high up on the mountain, affording wow-worthy views of the lake below.
#9 Steamboat (Steamboat Springs, Colo.)
Comprised of six peaks on and around Mount Werner, Steamboat calls itself a “complete mountain range” with 165 named trails and more than 2,900 acres. Pioneer Ridge, Sunshine Peak, and Storm Peak are the resort’s biggest draws, and powder hounds who frequent here know the slopes are never void of smooth and dry “Champagne powder.” Tucked away from some of the area’s other ski resorts, one reader notes, it may be “a little bit of a pain to get to, but worth it when you get there.”
#8 Snowbird (Snowbird, Utah)
Tucked in Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah’s Wasatch range, Snowbird and its sister resort Alta (which shares a lift ticket) have long seasons and tons of snow. We’re talking an average of around 500 inches a year, and as high as 776 inches in 2011. While not known for being beginner-friendly, Snowbird makes up for its relative lack of groomed blue and green runs with some of the most highly rated expert terrain in the country. Expect lots and lots of fresh powder, steep chutes, and some seriously memorable skiing.
#7 Park City Mountain Resort (Park City, Utah)
Ski directly into town at Park City Mountain Resort, which is famous for hosting the snowboarding and men’s and women’s alpine giant slalom events in the 2002 Winter Olympics, and also for being featured in the Xbox 360 Shaun White Snowboarding game. With several courses designed for U.S. Ski Team training, a handful of terrain parks, and the ever-popular “Alpine Slide” toboggan coaster, Park City is truly a family-friendly resort set to serve every type of skier.
#6 Whistler Blackcomb (Whistler, B.C.)
No stumper here: One of our reader-favorites also happens to be the most popular skiing destination on the continent. First let’s look at the stats: it has the most skiable acres in North America, two mountains with nearly mile-high verticals, 16 alpine bowls, over 200 marked trails, 6 terrain parks, 17 on-mountain restaurants… should we keep going? With such a huge footprint, varied terrain and some 460 inches of snow annually, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to find fresh powder even with the crowds. This mega-resort, which is a gorgeous 2-hour drive from Vancouver, is also known for its off-slope amenities in Whistler Village, its access to endless backcountry terrain, and the Peak-2-Peak Gondola, with breathtaking 360-degree views.
#5 Alta (Alta, Utah)
Alta first opened its doors to skiers in 1939, making it one of the oldest and most storied ski resorts in the U.S. Nestled amid the Wasatch Mountains in a unique microclimate environment that differs from the surrounding area, the location is characterized by 500 inches of high-volume, low-moisture snow every year. Alta especially prides itself on its exceptional beginner and intermediate slopes but offers a wide variety of terrains, including quite a few advanced gradients. As one reader so succinctly put it, “The snow at Alta is fantastic. [This is a] resort for real skiers.”
#4 Jackson Hole (Teton Village, Wyo.)
Located in Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole is an extreme skier’s dream. It’s home to the legendary Corbet’s Couloir, an expert run that begins with a 30-foot drop and draws daredevils from all over the world. But while it’s famous for super-steep terrain—half of its trails are rated expert—and incredible backcountry, Jackson Hole is also starting to build a reputation for attracting families and the less adrenaline-addicted set. And of course, there’s the nearby gateway town of Jackson, Wyo., which has a cultural and culinary cachet that belies its remote location.
#3 Telluride (Telluride, Colo.)
Serene and secluded, Telluride prides itself on its uncrowded trails, which include such famed terrain as Revelation Bowl, Palmyra Peak and Gold Hill Chutes. With everything from neatly groomed beginner runs to demanding downhill slopes and more than 2,000 skiable acres, the resort welcomes beginners and experts alike. Choose between hotel, condo, or vacation home lodging, spend your downtime with activities like free mountain tours, snowshoeing, and guided hikes, and at the end of an active day cash in on your complimentary chair massage at the Gorrono Ranch.
#2 Deer Valley (Park City, Utah)
“Luxury” is a word you often hear tossed around when describing Deer Valley. But while this resort is definitely an upscale choice in an area packed with choices—Alta, Snowbird, Park City and Canyons are all nearby—the quality of its skiing is as good as the service provided by its uniformed ski valets. True, the terrain isn’t quite as challenging as Alta’s or Snowbird’s, but the immaculately groomed runs are uncrowded since Deer Valley limits the number of lift tickets sold and—a modern-day rarity—forbids snowboarding.
#1 Vail (Vail, Colo.)
The second-largest resort in the U.S. is also America’s favorite, at least by the numbers. It’s no wonder: The wide variety of terrain spread out over Vail Mountain is enough to satisfy every level of skier and snowboarder. There are the miles and miles of groomed runs on the front side of the mountain, and for expert skiers there are the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin. “Take your pick if you love bowl skiing,” wrote one reader. As a dedicated resort town, Vail Village is also a walkable, concentrated dose of gourmet dining, après-ski nightlife and shopping.