Whether you’re a seasoned skier of 50+ years or you just stepped off the mountain after your first lesson, we’ve all had to learn at some point. Some of us started off with a group lesson, while others learned from family or friends and there’s really no “wrong way” to go about it. But some methods are easier, more comfortable and, overall, more effective than others.
We’ve highlighted the nine best ski schools in America, taking into account factors like instructor to student ratio, instructor qualifications, variety of terrain, learning-specific terrain, types of lessons available, money back guarantees, new features and more. When your first lesson is enjoyable and productive, it sets the tone for a lifetime of fun (and safe) skiing or riding.
Deer Valley is all about high-end convenience and helping you get the most out of each visit. Though it can get pricey when it comes to lessons, Deer Valley offers many options and personal attention from instructors. The student/ instructor ratios are among the best in the country and their state-licensed childcare facility is top-notch too, leaving parents free to focus on learning the sport. For the younger ones, instructors will teach children as young as three and for kids five and up, all day lessons help cement new skills and build confidence.
Set in the Green Mountains of Vermont this ski area is among the best in the northeast, especially for families. There aren’t too many mountains out there that guarantee you will enjoy learning, but Smuggs does—and offers money back in the event you don’t have a good time. With their award-winning school—Snow Sport University, tons of children’s activities and all-star staff, Smugglers' Notch is a top choice for those who want to learn (or improve) at any age.
Tons of skiable terrain for all levels meets a fantastic ski school staff at Aspen Snowmass. Top instructors help students conquer all four of the resort’s peaks while fine-tuning their technique. The school can help skiers and riders with park and pipe, big mountain terrain, bumps, carving, racing, freestyle and, of course, private lessons are available too.
With a name like “The Ivy League of Ski Schools” you know Beaver Creek’s lessons are among the best in the country—at least that’s what their graduates say. Expert instructors take advantage of the mountain that regularly hosts the World Cup to introduce and elevate crucial ski skills. Small class sizes are a pillar of every program for both kids and adults and there are a few programs for women and girls only—designed to help ladies hone their skills, share tips and make some new friends.
This massive east coast resort has it all. From extremely varied terrain to tons of training options, Killington is a top spot for anyone looking to get on the snow and learn something new—whether it be your first time or your fiftieth. The variety of adult programs is unprecedented with everything from the 4,241’ Club (a season-long training and social club) to race, mogul and all-terrain camps. Kids enjoy personalized instruction, as the lessons cap at either three or five students per instructor.
Vail’s tagline—“like nothing on earth”—sums up the entire experience rather accurately and their ski school is a large part of that designation. With more than 5,200 acres of in-bounds terrain and a wide scope of runs for all skill levels, the fantastic instructors at Vail have tons of space and options when teaching. Kid’s Adventure Zones located throughout the mountain are a safe place for kids to learn and build confidence and there are plenty of programs, camps and clubs for the adults who’d like to improve too.
One of the few remaining mountains in America that bans snowboarding, Alta and its instructors are able to focus solely on the sport of skiing. Specialized camps pared with group and private lessons taught by some of the best ski instructors anywhere round out the ultimate learning experience. The mountain even hosts some independent instruction programs to give students a wider array of options. With 2,200 acres of in-bounds terrain, 551 inches of snowfall annually and a near perfect balance of beginner, intermediate and advanced runs, skiers simply can’t go wrong when choosing to learn at Alta.
With 3,170 skiable acres, most of which are labeled intermediate terrain, Northstar California Resort is a great venue for learning to ski or snowboard—and this year the learning experience has gotten even better. New features this season include Terrain Based Learning 2.0 and a new progression park, which aim to help with the transition between beginner, intermediate, and advanced ability levels. There’s also more for kids at Family Après Snow Play, where instructors combine coaching and play in a fun atmosphere.
Though Jackson Hole is typically considered one of the more challenging spots in the U.S., it is also among the best places to learn. With 2,500 acres of in-bounds terrain and an additional 3,000+ acres of back and side country terrain, everyone can learn something new—even the experts. Top tier instructors can do it all, from teaching the basics to guiding seasoned skiers through backcountry terrain. Jackson Hole also offers multi-day camps, race training and programs for skiers or boarders with disabilities.