Learning to ski can be a nerve-wracking experience. The movements seem unnatural at first and the idea of speeding down a steep mountain with no immediate way to stop would scare any first-timer right off the bat. Choosing where to go for your first few lessons is an important step that can turn it into a thrilling winter adventure or a “never again” memory you’d like to forget.
Buttermilk is one of four separate ski areas in the Aspen-Snowmass resort and where novice skiers go to learn. It’s perfect because there are no crowds as most people go to the popular areas, and the trails are long and easy all the way from the top of the hill to the bottom. More than half of the resort, about 20 kilometers, is covered in beginner-friendly blue slopes.
Smuggler’s Notch spans three mountains with plenty of terrain for skiers of all levels. Ski Magazine ranked Smuggs as the No. 1 Kid Friendly resort in the East for 2017. Should you ever get tired of the slopes, other activities are waiting nearby. Zip lining, tubing and workshops for arts and crafts, are just a few of the alternatives available should your legs need a break.
This is one of the few North American ski areas with more than a 1,000m vertical. Don’t let that scare you. There are a lot of easy pistes that are very wide. The resort now offers shorter and lighter beginner-friendly skis and a specially tailored package dubbed “Learn To Ski - Easy as 1-2-3,” which includes rentals, tuition and beginners’ lift tickets.
This wildly popular ski area is made up of two side-by-side mountains, which, combined, provide the most boarding terrain on the continent. Beginners can ski throughout almost the entire Whistler Blackcomb on easy slopes, and the valley runs are easy. There are special slopes for slower skiers/beginners and practice lifts near the base.
Big Sky is among the least crowded ski destinations in the U.S., which makes it ideal for beginners. The Moonlight Basin area provides novices with a large swath of green terrain. The Big Sky ski area is for more trained beginners who have the opportunity to ski higher up on the mountain and see incredible up-front views of Lone Mountain.
This ski-only mountain has received many awards and continues to top best ski resort lists (including our own), for its pristine terrain, limited foot traffic and après culture. About a third of Deer Valley’s slopes are green runs. The resort sells a limited number of lift tickets a day, so you never have to worry about big crowds.
Home to the Dew Tour and plenty of expert terrain, Breckenridge may not appear beginner-friendly at first, but it’s one of the best beginner mountains in the country. The area offers up a great après scene, while the mountain is home to lots of easy terrain and a ski school for riders of all levels.
About 20 kilometers, or a fifth of the resort, is covered in easy terrain, but it is possible to ski almost the entire area on wide slopes. In Happy Valley at the base station of Lara’s Gondola, beginners can practice their first curves. Many easy slopes at the gondola lift lead into Happy Valley and to the accommodations of Big White Village. Green slopes lead from all of the mountain stations back down to the valley.
Northstar has a lot to offer beginners beyond friendly terrain and a stellar ski school. Family-friendly options abound within the village—a tubing hill, bungee trampoline and build-your-own s’mores aren’t far from the ski slopes. If you want to try something new on the snow, Northstar offers telemark skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Killington, the nickname of which is “the Beast of the East,” is the largest ski resort in the East Coast. You can find everything there, whether you’ve never skied before or have been doing it for 30 years. The resort is home to the largest vertical drop in New England – 3,050 feet. Killington includes six mountains with a total of 155 downhill trees. The longest one, Juggernaut, is 6.2 miles. It’s a green run so you can enjoy it with anyone.
Mammoth’s more than 3500 acres make it one of the biggest resorts in North America. The terrain is evenly balanced with 30 percent of the slopes graded easy, mostly in the lower area. If you want to, you can take advantage of the separate beginners’ area with beginner lifts and an excellent ski school. This well-developed location is a bit out of the way but that makes it ideal for people who want to escape huge masses of people.
When you combine lots of beginner and intermediate terrain with 360 inches of snow annually and then add a great ski school, you get Park City Mountain Resort. About a fifth of the terrain is designed for novices. Homerun is a long and easy run; Claimjumper rolls through the Silverlode/Bonanza area is for slow skiers; the Drift trail is suitable for beginners looking to ski faster and improve their technique.
Beginners can explore almost the entire Marmot Basin on easy slopes. The lifts can all be taken back down to the valley (with the exception of the Knob Chair). Beginner-friendly terrain, which covers about 30 percent of the resort, is leading down to the valley even from the upper lifts. There is also a separate lift ticket for novices and separate slopes for slower skiers.