Though there are more than 600 ski areas throughout the continent, with the help of publically available statistics, industry lists and expert opinions we narrowed our initial list to 103. Then with the help of our voters, we narrowed it down even further to a ranked list of the top 50 ski resorts in North America for the 2014-2015 season.
From the famous massive mountains out west to some of the smaller gems hidden away in the east and some top competition from Canada—see if your favorite ski resort ranked on this year’s list.
Located in Banff National Park, this popular Canadian resort offers skiers the unique chance to set foot in two different provinces— Alberta and British Columbia—in one run. Not to mention, it’s home to three immense mountains known for their dry, powdery snow, a lengthy seven-month season and the notorious Delirium Dive, which is considered one of the most challenging in-bound freeride zones in the world.
Lake Tahoe is world famous for sun soaked slopes, perfect powder and stunning views—Mt. Rose is Tahoe’s best kept secret. Technically located in the bustling city of Reno, visitors get the best of both worlds with unobstructed views of Reno’s city life and Tahoe’s surreal lake. Its location makes travel easy for out-of-towners and the trails are excellent. With a grand-total 1,200 acres and an 1,800 foot vertical drop, Rose rivals popular nearby mountains for a fraction of the cost and foot traffic.
Northstar has many unique qualities that set it apart from other mountain resorts. Aside from having its own village, the resort offers activities including pottery-painting, candle-making, ice skating and bungee trampolines. And for those who want to slow down their outdoor experience, Northstar is popular with telemark skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Popular among locals, 49 Degrees North offers a wide variety of runs for all levels of skiers and boarders. The family-friendly mountain offers deals on lift tickets and the benefit of a small-town mountain with quality snow. Voters raved about the short lift lines, the impeccable snow and the low prices. “Just real snow, real people and no froo froo frills,” said one voter.
“Awesome, challenging skiing, without all the fluff of big shiny resorts and without the obnoxious crowds that go along with them. Just classic, old-fashioned skiing,” one visitor wrote of Mad River Glen on Yelp. The entire mountain here isn’t only for upper-level riders, though. You’ll find plenty of green and blue runs too, making it a no-frills resort perfect for skiers of any level.
Keystone resort offers a number of activities aside from its variety of trails, including tubing, night skiing and cat skiing. But among the rang of activities offered, arguably the most exciting is the horse drawn sleigh rides. As you head out to dinner after a long day on the slopes, take a slow romantic ride through a winter wonderland to arrive at your destination.
Situated sixty-eight miles west of Denver, Arapahoe is one of Colorado’s most historic ski resorts. With a timeline that goes all the way back to 1946, calling A-Basin “legendary”, as many powder hounds do, is no exaggeration at all. On TripAdvisor one visitor wrote, “A locals ski area with no phony mountain amenities; just great terrain, good snow, and friendly folks.” Plus, with a season that typically lasts from October until June or sometimes even July, Arapahoe offers skiers and boarders one of the longest ski periods in all of the U.S.
Rated the Top US Family Snow Resort by Parents Magazine, Okemo Mountain Resort is a great place to hit the slopes at any age. In addition to offering one of Vermont’s highest vertical drops of 2,200 feet, Okemo has a trail network that spans over five distinct areas with 120 trails. There are also freestyle opportunities including a Superpipe, terrain parks, and an Amp Energy Airbag.
A hidden gem among the resorts of the Park City area, Snowbasin is only 45 minutes from the Salt Lake International Airport and features Utah powdered terrain. Opened in 1939, Snowbasin is one of the oldest continuously operating ski areas in the U.S. The mountain offers everything from terrain parks to wide-open bowls to a great après-ski scene for after a long day of hitting the slopes.
A mountain of about 2,000 acres, Sierra-at-Tahoe is home to a total of 46 trails of varying difficulties. But while some of the runs are marked green and blue the resort notes that their rating system isn’t necessarily the same as other areas’. “Skiers and riders should work their way up, beginning with the easiest trails no matter what their ability level may be, until they are familiar with the trails at the area,” the Sierra-at-Tahoe website advises. In other words, this isn’t the most beginner-friendly resort in the U.S., but intermediate and advanced level skiers will enjoy these slopes without a doubt. Also for intermediate and experienced skiers: interactive mountain tours—a great debut of all the trails as well as local life.
Brighton’s most notable feature is its incredible night skiing. With well over 200 acres of skiable terrain and three different lifts to choose from, Brighton offers a variety of exciting runs for skiers and boarders of all levels.
Fernie Mountain attracts many different levels of skiers and snowboarders because of the wide variety of trails to choose from. Beginner trails are clearly marked so that visitors can easily find their way to base and there are also a range of trails for intermediates and experts. At the end of the day, everyone can come together to enjoy the active nightlife and delicious dining choices the resort has to offer.
One of the largest ski areas in all of Vermont, Stratton is so proud of its carefully groomed courses that if you’re ever unsatisfied with a run you can exchange your lift tickets for a later date. With their survey votes, our readers made note of the resort’s well-kept snow, as well as its quality terrain and après ski scene.
The typical ski season at Timberline lasts from mid-November until Memorial Day, but guests are welcome to take advantage of the lodge amenities all year round. In terms of skiing, this resort offers something for everyone; it boasts about 3,690 vertical feet (the most in all of the Pacific Northwest), 41 trails (25 percent beginner, 50 percent intermediate and 25 percent advanced) and a total of over 1,400 skiable acres.
Known for the variety of quality terrain, ranging from open bowls, chutes and steeps to groomed runs and terrain parks, Alpine Meadows has runs for every enthusiast. The mountain averages over 450 inches of annual snowfall and often a long ski season running from November to mid-May.
This Vermont resort is considered one of the most family-friendly in the Northeast, but that doesn’t mean it has nothing for skiers and boarders who really love to shred. Smuggler’s Notch is most-well known for being home to The Black Hole, the Northeast’s only triple black diamond trail. Beginner skiers will fare well here too, though. The resort spans across three mountains, offering runs that are appropriate for all levels. And even if you don’t like to ski, you’ll easily find fun activities to pass the time, including Smuggler’s zip lining tour over the canopy, tubing, workshops for arts and crafts as well as entertainment center’s for the whole family to enjoy.
Small in size but big in heart, Solitude Mountain Resort offers over 1,200 acres of trails that attract family-oriented mountain riders. With 70% of its slopes graded as beginner or intermediate, Solitude is a great place to learn the sport, or perfect your skills. The trails are uncrowded allowing for a peaceful and enjoyable experience, even for newbie skiers and boarders.
Targhee is a rare beauty. It offers terrific terrain at a reasonable lift ticket price, and short lift lines. Located about eight miles northwest of the Grand Teton, the resort hosts picturesque views and a great atmosphere. While it has a few expert and advanced runs, this mountain is best for intermediate riders looking to enjoy deep powder and a mellow ride.
Although not a full-fledged resort, Whiteface Mountain earned points from our readers for its first-rate terrain, and it’s no wonder why. With a vertical drop of more than 3,200 feet (the tallest in the East) on the side of Whiteface, endless amounts of shredding await thrill-seeking powder hounds here.
The self-proclaimed “last great, unspoiled resort” has managed to keep an old school vibe while adding great features like in-bounds, cat-skiing and 360-degree descents off select peaks. The resort gets 300 inches of snow annually on its 4,200 skiable acres and has some epic vertical to boot—2,919 feet. With a resort this size, you certainly won’t run out of exciting terrain and if you're looking for some added excitement, in-bounds cat-skiing is now available.
Combine an upscale atmosphere with family-friendly amenities and Beaver Creek becomes a destination resort for all luxury ski-goers. But, it is not only popular for its world-class restaurants and lodging, it is also a regular host of World Cup events. Visitors can go from village to village and enjoy all this resort has to offer without even taking off their skis.
Our readers love this Vermont resort for both its excellent terrain and exciting après ski scene alike. Situated on the state’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield, and Spruce Peak as well, Stowe is often acclaimed for its luxurious atmosphere; one that comes with a price loftier than most resorts, but many visitors agree the experience and service is well worth the extra money.
Situated in the unique microclimate of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, Alta sees about 500 inches of high-volume, low-moisture snow each year. Our reader survey reflects this fact as the ski area received a notable amount of votes for its snow as well as its terrain. Speaking of terrain, Alta claims to offer some of the best beginner and intermediate slopes in the area. Riders in search of a bigger downhill thrill need not worry, though. The area certainly has no shortage of advanced runs, too.
Named after an old Swiss hermit who enjoyed cat stew and lived at the bottom of the bassin, Schweitzer mountain is more than just its interesting past. With 92 designated trails and two open bowls, the mountain is accommodating to all levels of riders. And beyond the designated trails, terrain spans over 200 additional miles, adding seemingly endless side and backcountry that spans across the Idaho panhandle, eastern Washington, and southeastern British Columbia.
As a destination that offers terrain for skiers and boarders of all levels, it’s no wonder Mount Snow won many reader votes for best resort overall. What’s more, the staff here is extremely prideful of their well-groomed slopes, the mountain houses North America’s only high-speed, six-passenger bubble lift (The Bluebird Express) and extra amenities include such luxuries as a full-fledged spa and fitness facilities with group exercise classes like yoga and aqua aerobics.
If you’ve ever wondered how European skiing is different, take a trip to this Quebec mountain and experience the difference yourself. Make your way through the charming slopeside village and find yourself at the base of a mountain with a vertical drop of 2,116 feet. With almost 100 trails, a perfect variety of terrain and helpful staff, you won’t ever want to leave.
This gorgeous ski resort is appropriately named for it’s scenic beauty and stunning views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada. Ski across the border of California and Nevada and enjoy one of America’s largest snowmaking systems that allows the park to stay open from mid November to mid April. After a long day of skiing, the town lights up with exciting nightlife and entertainment.
With courses designed for U.S. Ski Team training, several terrain parks and the family-friendly Alpine Toboggan coaster, this popular resort, notable for hosting the snowboarding and men’s and women’s alpine giant slalom events in the 2002 Winter Olympics, truly caters to every type of skier and snowboarder. In addition to excellent slopes, our readers also used their votes to point out that the après ski scene is well-loved here, too.
With consistent quality snow Revelstoke has become a top mountain visited by serious powder hounds. It has the longest vertical descent of any resort in North America at a drop of 6,100 feet and is the only resort in the world to offer a centralized hub that includes gondola, cat-skiing and heli-skiing infrastructure.
Located about an hour east of Quebec City, Le Massif is an easily accessible mountain adventure. Among the steep runs and outstanding facilities, the mountain offers stunning views of the mighty St. Lawrence River. With an average annual snowfall of 21 feet and a vertical drop of 2,536 feet, this mountain has some of the best skiing east of the Rockies.
With what’s considered some of the best expert level terrain in the country, Snowbird is a favorite for seasoned powder hounds in search of challenging trails. Part of Utah’s Wasatch range (and a sister resort to Alta, which offers more options for beginner-friendly terrain—the two share lift tickets), the peaks here see an average of about 500 inches of snow each year, which means lots of fresh powder all of the time and a long season for all skiers and boarders to enjoy.
The beast of the east is back, jumping almost ten spots from #28 last year. Still the most popular mountain in the Northeast, Killington is also the second largest in the area, spanning six mountains with a 3,050-foot vertical drop from Killington Peak Summit. Voters praised Killington as the total package, with a stellar après scene, arguably the best snow in the northeast and well-crafted trails and parks to help make the most of it all.
Big White, the highest summit in the Okanagan Highland is the third largest ski resort in British Columbia. With 2,765 acres of ski terrain including 38 acres of night time skiing and some of the highest snow records around, this resort offers fun for anyone who appreciates stellar snow. The scenic village also offers the most ski-in/ski-out accommodations in all of Canada.
Our reader survey gave points to Squaw Valley for its extraordinary terrain. As the resort in Tahoe with the most skiable acres it’s a favorite for freeskiers and adventure seekers but also offers beginner runs, making it an accessible and well-loved resort for skiers of all abilities.
Last year the Big Sky and Moonlight Basin ski areas merged to form the single largest ski area in all of the U.S. For an idea of just how big the ski area is, try to picture 5,800 acres with 300 named runs on four connected mountains. The enormous resort sits just north of Yellowstone and the mountain here offers top-notch inbound skiing for riders of all levels, but with a little bit more to offer for intermediate and advanced powder hounds.
Spread over 2,965 acres, Steamboat Ski Area offers over 160 trails ranging in levels and lengths. Famed for its fresh ‘Champagne Powder’, the resort is one of the largest in Colorado. The mountain also contains a popular premier pipe called the Mavericks Superpipe that attracts olympic and advanced athletes.
Another well-known resort that readers helped shoot closer to the top of this year’s list (it ranked at number 29 last year), Jay Peak is best known for its record amounts of snow accumulation—an average of 355 inches each year. Not only that, but it’s acreage offers about 78 trails, including plenty of challenging courses and backcountry terrain, making it a favorite for advanced powder hounds in search of a thrill.
Kirkwood prides itself on offering ‘big mountain riding with a small town attitude’. Because of its location atop the Sierra Crust, an effect that has come to be known as the K-Factor gives the mountain the lightest and driest snow in the Tahoe region. With over 2,300 acres of terrain and 2,000 feet of vertical drop, Kirkwood has everything from calm beginner runs to high-angle grooming.
One of the oldest ski areas in the U.S., Winter Park has been owned and operated by the city of Denver since 1939. The resort connects three mountain peaks, Winter Park, Mary Jane and Vasquez Ridge. The mountains are known for their moguls, tree skiing, hidden huts and difficult terrain but they also offer backcountry skiing among other intermediate runs available for the less experienced rider. Designated as historical trails, much of the mountain has history that offers incredible views, and unforgettable runs.
With more than 2,000 skiable acres, this popular but peaceful resort boasts uncrowded trails and varying terrains that cater to all types of skiers. For non-skiers, alternative activities include mountain tours, snowshoeing and guided hikes, meaning it’s a great place to stay no matter what your picture of the perfect winter getaway might entail.
It's no surprise to see the highlands in the top 50 once again. While many resorts are touting their variety of terrain, the highlands is leaving the family skiing and riding to its partner resorts. Hardcore skiers can challenge themselves and enjoy the highland bowl—one of the best in the country, after a hike 717 feet up from the top of the Temerity Lift. Though skiers and boarders have to put in some extra effort, they’re rewarded with some of the best inbounds terrain on the continent.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort is a popular resort for those wanting to experience extreme and diverse terrain. As one of the birthplaces of freeskiing, Crested Butte is home to adventure-filled trails ranging from green and blue to the famed extreme double black diamonds. And after a long day out on the trails, experience the picturesque, friendly ski town in all its charm.
Across the board, Sun Valley ranked high in almost all of our survey categories. From the terrain and snow quality to the après ski scene, our readers made it clear that there’s a lot to love about this historic resort. “Baldy,” as the locals call the resort’s Bald Mountain, offers trails for skiers of all levels and Dollar Mountain, which is home to the world’s first ever ski lift, houses plenty of park terrain, including a 22-foot superpipe.
A well-loved resort all around, our readers bumped Snowmass to the top of this year’s list with points for best terrain, best snow, a top-notch après ski scene and a family-friendly environment, too. While Aspen Mountain may be small compared to others in the area, its 675 acres offers slopes for serious skiers only; more than half the courses range from black diamond to extreme.
The high elevation at Mammoth mountain allows for one of the longest ski seasons in North America, averaging from November to June. From the challenging chutes at the top of the mountain, to the eight unbound terrain parks including Unbound Main (a highly praised terrain park by extreme enthusiasts) this mountain attracts some of the top professionals in the industry. The mountain also offers three different-sized halfpipes often frequented by Olympic gold medalist Shaun White.
From our readers, Deer Valley earned points for its exceptional après ski culture and family-friendly environment. Recently voted the number one Ski Resort in the U.S. by the World Ski Awards for the second year in a row, the resort often receives acclaim for its luxurious atmosphere. “This is my absolutely favorite place to ski,” one user wrote on TripAdvisor.com.
Known for its challenging terrain, half of the terrain at Jackson Hole is for experts only. Because of the terrain, Jackson Hole is visited by some of the the world’s best freeskiers and is home to one of the most popular expert ski runs in the world, Corbet’s Couloir. It has over 4,100 vertical feet of skiing and an even larger area of off-piste areas that can be accessed by expert skier and snowboarders with appropriate avalanche safety gear and training.
As the second largest ski resort in the United States, Vail offers over 5,200 acres of skiable terrain that attract passionate athletes from around the world. From wide, open runs such as the popular Riva Ridge or Bear Tree, to Terrain Parks and even Kid’s Adventure Runs, this resort has something to offer all levels of skiers and snowboarders. Top off the terrific well-groomed snow with epic views and enjoy an adventure that will be remembered for years to come.
Breck came in at number 18 in last year’s ranking, so it’s no exaggeration when we say, it moved up quite a few spots this year. This large jump is a result of reader input, which recognized the popular Colorado resort for its excellent snow and terrain. One of the most visited ski resorts in the Western Hemisphere, Breckinridge boasts four mountains, five peaks, nearly 3,000 acres and North America’s highest chairlift, the Imperial Express SuperChair.
This mountain jumped from #6 on our list last year to snag the top spot and it’s not hard to see why. This wildly popular ski area is made up of two side-by-side mountains, which combined provide the most skiable acres on the continent. Each of the mountains offer astounding vertical drops, 16 alpine bowls, more than 200 marked trails and six different terrain parks. Add the average 458 inches of pure dry powder annually and you’ve got the recipe for perfect mountain days. Take into account the incredible backcountry terrain, the après amenities and the Peak-2-Peak Gondola and this ski area simply can’t be beat.