13 Best Ski Resorts in the United States
13 Best Ski Resorts in the United States
If you’re like most winter sport enthusiasts, the first hint of snow means it’s time to hit the slopes. When it comes to finding the best ski resorts in the U.S., you have an insane amount of choices.
To help you plan an epic ski trip, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best resorts the country has to offer. From popular winter destinations like Colorado and Montana, to lesser-known and less crowded—but equally awesome—ski areas. Get ready to make some turns and catch some powder.
What Makes a Great Ski Resort?
Ski resorts are one of the hottest winter vacation destinations and choosing the best one can be a tough decision. “Best” is often subjective, and depends on what you’re looking for. But here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a top spot for winter skiing.
- Who’s going: Your needs might be a bit different for a family ski vacation versus a group trip with friends. Consider your group’s need for lessons, rental equipment, and access to bars and restaurants or family-friendly activities.
- Snow: Duh. Reliable snow cover throughout the ski season is obviously a major factor in differentiating between good, great and best ski resorts.
- Terrain: Ideally, you want a wide variety of natural terrain, from wide open trails to twisty runs through the trees. The difficulty level of the trails is also important.
- Size: Most skiers and snowboarders aim to strike a balance when it comes to size. Extensive skiable acreage and a high number of trails is great—but it often comes with bigger crowds and higher prices.
- Lift access: Quantity and quality of chairlifts can make or break your skiing experience. Check reviews online for a fast and efficient system with friendly lifties.
- Amenities & convenience: Consider the resort’s proximity to an airport or major highways, as well as amenities like a lodge & areas to warm up, restaurants, nightlife, local culture, etc.
- Price: Let’s face it, skiing is an expensive hobby. Still, there are plenty of great ski resorts out there that don’t charge an arm and a leg for daily lift tickets or astronomical prices for accommodation—sorry Aspen.
13 of the Best Ski Resorts in the U.S.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Colorado
If you’re looking for a winter vacation in Colorado, Arapahoe Basin is a sure bet. One of the biggest draws to this small Rocky Mountain resort is the longer ski season. While other ski resorts close in April, Arapahoe Basin usually stays open until late June or even early July. They sell a limited number of passes throughout the season to keep the lines short and the experience awesome.
A-Basin, aka “The Legend”, boasts 7 distinct terrain areas, 145 trails, 1,428 skiable acres, and a 2,530-foot vertical drop. Many of the runs are considered intermediate or harder—but they do have a learning hill and classes for beginner skiers too. People consistently talk about the great views, challenging terrain, chill vibe, and friendly staff. There’s no lodging on site, but the resort is located a short distance from charming Colorado mountain towns including Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon, Keystone, and Silverthorne.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming
If you want to experience the treasure of the Tetons, head to Jackson Hole. Year after year, this western U.S. resort receives great reviews for the stunning terrain and efficient lift system. And thanks to an average annual snowfall of 460 inches, you can expect plentiful powder throughout the season. In addition to the 130+ runs (of which 41% are intermediate and 38% advanced) winter thrill seekers can enjoy snowmobiling, snowshoeing, heli & cat skiing, and ice skating.
One unique feature of Jackson Hole is an aerial tram that shuttles skiers to the top at over 10,000 feet–grab a waffle while you’re up there! Ski rental, bars, restaurants and hotels are conveniently located at the base of the mountain, putting everything you need for a great ski trip right at your fingertips.
Big Sky Resort, Montana
Big Sky Resort is not just big, it’s massive. With over 5,800 skiable acres serviced by 39 lifts and a vertical rise of 4,350 feet, this place earns its name as the “Biggest Skiing in America''. Amidst all that wide open space, Big Sky includes winter skiing for everyone from beginners to experts. For cross-country skiers and snowshoers, there’s 85 km of groomed trails through the alpine wilderness.
Big Sky offers multiple classes of accommodations, including lakeside condos and hotels with pool, hot tub and fitness center access—epic views guaranteed. The ski resort is an hour south of Bozeman and an hour north of Yellowstone National Park, making it a great winter vacation destination all around.
Mad River Glen, Vermont
Open since 1948, this New England ski spot has a long history, and makes our “best ski resorts in the U.S.” list for a few unique reasons. First off, it’s America’s first and only skier-owned mountain. Mad River Glen’s cooperative model favors sport over profit and working with nature, not against it. Secondly, the ski area relies almost completely on natural snowfall, of which they receive about 150 inches annually.
Here you can expect smaller crowds and challenging, ungroomed terrain (35% intermediate trails, 45% expert). Don’t worry, there are still plenty of blues and greens to keep things family-friendly. Cozy B&Bs, hotels, and inns are located within a few miles of the mountain. Sorry, no snowboarders allowed.
Windham Mountain, New York
There’s much to love about New York state’s Windham Mountain. For starters, it’s just a 2-hour drive from NYC, with bus service and train access from the city center. Second, you can shred into the night, with night skiing available on 6 of the park’s 54 trails. And the varied terrain makes it an awesome mountain for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and experience.
This Northern Catskills resort spans 1,600 feet of vertical, with 48% intermediate and 20% beginner runs. There are also 19% advanced (black) runs and 13% double blacks for experts to show off their steezy moves. There’s no on-mountain lodging, but the local area offers some welcoming options.
Mount Bohemia, Michigan
Best skiing in the Midwest? That’s a tough call to make, but hardcore ski and snowboard enthusiasts absolutely love this spot. Not to mention, it’s been ranked in the top 5 ski resorts in North America by USA Today, 4 years in a row. Mt. Bohemia’s 585 skiable acres are steep and deep, featuring ungroomed terrain with plenty of moguls and tree runs. The area receives around 273 inches of snowfall per year.
For something unique, try Snowcat skiing on Voodoo Mountain or visit the Nordic Spa for a hot/cold rejuvenation session. And word on the street is, people visit Mount Bohemia for the wood fired pizza alone. Potential downsides are that the resort is a bit remote (but maybe that’s part of the beauty?) and not well-suited for newbies. The varied lodging includes ski in/ski out cabins, rustic yurts, a five-bedroom inn, and a hostel.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Bald Mountain, Dollar Mountain, and a historic resort village unite to form Sun Valley. Bald Mountain has 13 chairlifts and 100 unique runs over 3400 vertical feet of diverse terrain, with lift tickets starting at $135. Dollar Mountain is smaller, cheaper (you have to buy lift tickets separately for each mountain) and more beginner friendly. “Baldy” provides a fairly even mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced runs. True to the name, sunny days are a regular feature of this mountain.
For non-skiers in the group, other winter sports on offer include Nordic (cross-country) skiing, snowshoeing, & fat biking. Sun Valley Lodge also has a bowling alley, game room, spa, and varied restaurants. Accommodation ranges from the classic lodge option to luxurious cottages, private condos, and townhomes.
Telluride Ski Resort, Colorado
For varied terrain, powdery slopes, and lack of lift lines, Telluride Ski Resort is tough to beat.
It’s also a great place to learn, with over 60% of the 150+ trails fit for beginner and intermediate level. A gondola connecting the two main ski areas means you don’t have to do much driving once you arrive. You’ve got a historic mining town on one side, and a classic man-made ski village on the other side—plus plentiful on-mountain dining and après-ski options.
Montrose Regional Airport is the main airport for this resort, just 65 miles away. Or, for the ultimate convenience (albeit a higher price tag) you can fly right into Telluride airport. With lift tickets starting at $162, Telluride is one of the pricier options on this list. But most visitors say it’s worth it due to the short lines and number of runs. And if you really want to be fancy while getting your adrenaline rush, try heli-skiing.
Mt. Shasta Ski Park, California
With 32 runs and 425 skiable acres, this resort is small compared to some of the Tahoe-area resorts further south—but it’s also one of the least crowded. Add to that the breathtakingly beautiful Alpine views and reasonable ticket prices, and Mt. Shasta is definitely worth a visit.
Winter operations include skiing & snowboarding, a backcountry cabin program, lessons, rentals, and events. And for non-skiing kids (and adults) the tube slopes are legendary. The park offers fun for all levels of skier in the well-groomed terrain park with plenty of jumps, boxes and rails. Bonus, the season pass includes access to sister resorts in California, New York, Idaho and Nevada, and Wyoming.
Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort, Oregon
Despite being one of the largest ski areas in the country, Bachelor Mountain is somewhat underrated. With over 4,300 acres of skiable terrain serviced by 15 lifts, there’s literally something for everyone. Boarders should try out the 400-foot superpipe, which has been used as a USSA Olympic Qualifier. Meanwhile, beginners can head to Sunshine Park to practice their skills.
If you crave a good craft beer after a day on the slopes, this is the place for you. The nearby town of Bend is bursting with microbreweries along the so-called “Ale Trail”. Fun fact: Mount Bachelor is actually a stratovolcano rising up out of the Cascade Range.
Jay Peak Resort, Vermont
This family-friendly resort has a mix of beginner to advanced trails, with three separate terrain parks connected by chairlift. The mountain’s 81 trails cover 385+ skiable acres including downhill slopes, long groomed trails, and 100 acres of glades. Jay Peak is close to both the Canadian border and Burlington, Vermont. In fact, the northern location boasts the most snow in the Eastern U.S.—which means you don't have to go far out to ski the deep stuff. The season lasts from around mid-November to mid-May.
Be it hotel suite, condo, townhome, or lodge—almost all of the accommodations at Jay Peak are ski-in/ski-out and within walking distance to a lift. Immediately surrounding the resort, you’ll find quaint mountain towns with boutique shops and friendly locals. Oh, and did we mention there’s an indoor water park?
Brighton Resort, Utah
The secret is out—Utah has incredible snow. The dry desert climate and medium-to-high altitude make for an abundance of fluffy powder all season long. Located less than an hour from Salt Lake City, this resort is known for being more chill and less crowded than the state’s heavily-touristed Park City resort.
Brighton’s 66 trails have something for every level, with a variety of wide and well-groomed runs. It’s also an excellent place to challenge yourself or just enjoy a rip through the trees. Night skiing is popular here, with over 200 illuminated acres. Other pluses for Brighton include slopeside and base area lodging, on-site equipment rental and repair, good restaurants, and one of the best ski schools around.
Palisades Tahoe, California
Lake Tahoe is arguably one of the best ski regions in the U.S. Thus, no list is complete without at least one Olympic Valley resort. Palisades is the largest in the Tahoe area, with an incredible 34 lifts and 245 runs across two mountains—now connected by a base-to-base gondola. The famed resort is known for its challenging terrain, deep powder, and Olympic heritage as host of the 1960 Winter Games.
What Palisades lacks in mom-n-pop character; it makes up for with unparalleled variety. From expert runs and learning zones to disco tubing and an Aerial Tram, it seems impossible to get bored here. The buzzing base village has over 60 restaurants and lodging with fireplaces, kitchens, and access to 8 outdoor hot tubs.
The Importance of Staying Hydrated on The Mountain
Now that you know some of the best ski resorts in the U.S. it’s time to get out there! But as the pioneers of hands-free hydration for any adventure, we wouldn’t feel right sending you off without a few tips.
First off, know that high-altitude dehydration is real. You're more likely to get dehydrated while being active at high elevation than when you’re at sea level—so plan ahead to keep well-hydrated while you’re up there having fun.
Here are some simple tips for staying hydrated while skiing, snowboarding, and more:
- Know the symptoms of dehydration so you can catch it early and prevent any major problems
- Pre-hydrate by drinking plenty of water and eating water-rich foods before heading up to the mountain
- Sip throughout the day versus chugging a bunch of water all at once (our snow hydration packs are great for this, btw)
- Maintain your electrolyte balance to avoid exercise-associated hyper- or hyponatremia
Ready to embark on your next ski or snowboard adventure? Shop our new snow-ready hydration packs.