You love to ski but you’re not satisfied with just any old rinky-dink slope.
You want the very best. If that’s you, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive ranking of the best ski resorts in America will tell you everything you need to know about skiing — and staying the night — at any one of America’s 25 best ski resorts.
Have you already skied at one of the resorts in our ranking? Or maybe this is your year to try one or two — or three! Maybe you’ll put together a multi-year plan and mark all of these top resorts off your list. Or perhaps you’re just anxiously watching the sky, waiting for the first fresh pow of the season to fall so you can strap on some sticks and get out to your local resort.
Regardless of why you’re here, let this list tie you over until you can make it up the mountain. Here’s RAVE Reviews’ ranking of the best ski resorts in America.
Before taking our tour of the best ski resorts in North America, let’s pause for a moment to talk about the details of your trip. Don’t show up at any one of these ski resorts without first taking care of the following…
What to Pack for a Ski Trip
Follow this easy-to-use checklist to make sure you have everything you need on the slopes without overfilling your carry-on.
- Base Layers
This is probably the most important thing to get right. From long underwear, leggings, or tights, to long-sleeved undershirts, we recommend bringing along a set of one or two base layer options for a long weekend at the lodge, maybe more if you stay more than a week.
- Ski Jacket
When picking a ski jacket, look for a two-layer shell jacket that’s waterproof and easy to move in. The right jacket should work in frigid conditions as well as in the lodge, all depending on the layers you’re wearing underneath. This will save you the hassle of packing two bulky jackets.
- Mittens (With Glove Liners)
Next, pick up a good pair of ski mittens. We like mittens because they keep your fingers where they belong–together–which maximizes your body heat. The added protection of the glove liner will keep your hands extra-warm on the mountain, while also remaining versatile enough to wear back at the resort.
- Ski Pants
A good pair (or two) of ski pants are a must-have for your next ski trip, and these days a lot of ski pants are fashionable enough to wear back at the lodge as well!
Like a multi-tool, a good fleece can be worn over base layers or dressed down for cocktails après ski. We say pack two or three fleece options for your next trip.
- Ski Goggles
Don’t head up the mountain without a pair of ski goggles to help cut the glare and protect your eyes from wind and snow. We say look for ski goggles with interchangeable, anti-fog lenses.
- Ear-Warmer Headband
An ear-warmer headband fits under your ski helmet, keeping your ears and forehead extra warm both on the slopes and afterward on your way to dinner.
- Winter Hat
A good winter hat will help keep your head and ears warm for times when you aren’t wearing your helmet.
What to Wear to a Ski Resort
But of course, you won’t always be skiing while on your trip, and this ranking is as much about everything else the resort has to offer as it is about the ski experience.
Pack these items (see below) and you’ll be well-prepared for après ski.
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll want to choose clothing and accessories that are versatile for both on and off the slopes. But below are a few items better suited for the lodge than the mountain.
Any casual clothing brought along on your ski trip should be warm enough for cold conditions, but not so warm that you’ll overheat indoors.
Pack these items on your next ski trip:
- Casual pants (avoid jeans — more on that later)
- Sweaters and shirts
- Waterproof boots and shoes
- A casual coat or jacket
In addition, consider packing Kleenex (cold weather-induced drippy nose is not a good look), warm, winter socks that fit underneath casual footwear, and winter boots what will go well with ski pants, or, for women, leggings or tights.
You’ll also want to be sure to pack sun protection (yes, even in winter), including sun screen or just regular sunglasses. And don’t forget a scarf, but remember, scarves are a no-no for the slopes where their floppiness creates a safety issue. To keep your neck warm when skiing, wear a neck gaiter. For back at the lodge, a scarf will do just fine.
What Not to Wear for Skiing
Now that we’ve given you some pointers about what to wear while skiing, let’s now talk about what to avoid wearing on the slopes. We’re all for raiding your closet before spending a bunch of money on new gear, but if you do, stay away from these items you might already have on hand:
Avoid denim in the snow at all costs. The fabric just won’t handle the wetness and denim isn’t known for heat retention.
- Thick Socks (Or Multiple Socks)
Extra-thick or multiple pairs of socks can cut off circulation to your feet, making them extra cold. To test if you’re running the risk of cutting off circulation in your feet, use the toe wiggle test. If you can wiggle your little piggies, then chances are you won’t cut off circulation.
Staying at a ski resort isn’t just about skiing. It’s about après ski, lodging, nightlife, convenience, location, and a whole lot more. Maybe you’re traveling with a snowboarder, or someone who might be interested in snowshoes, skating, or just hanging around and shopping while you’re out on the slopes.
With all this in mind, RAVE Reviews considered the following when putting together this ranking of America’s 25 best ski resorts.
- Vertical drop
- Top elevation
- Base elevation
- Skiable area
- Number of runs
After consulting trusted and reputable sources from all over the internet, RAVE Reviews factored in these additional data points to each resort’s final score:
- Number of available lifts
- Snowfall in inches
- Terrain parks
- On-mountain lodging
- Night skiing
- Après ski
All together, we feel this painted the most complete picture of what each resort has to offer. So keep reading and find out what we picked as America’s best ski resorts.
America’s Best Ski Resorts
Utah’s Powder Mountain takes the top spot in our ranking of America’s 25 best ski resorts. Fans of the resort call Powder Mountain “Pow Mow.” But whatever you call it, Powder Mountain is a great choice for anyone who likes ungroomed slopes, with over 150 trails to choose from, nine lifts and two terrain parks.
Powder Mountain also scores high on affordability and sheer size, with over 8,000 acres to ski. In fact, Powder Mountain is the nation’s largest ski resort by acreage, and it gets tons of snow — about 500 inches a year, to be exact. There’s also a variety of terrain, from technical meadow to hike-to trails and party shred lines.
In addition to great skiing, Powder Mountain offers gear rentals and all sorts of other amenities. For accomodation, Powder Mountain provides condos and hotel rooms at the Columbine Inn, and most of the lodging is ski-in/ski-out.
Powder Mountain’s village is a little short on things to do when not on the mountain — a drawback to this resort for sure. So, if you’re looking for some nightlife après ski, we say stay in nearby Ogden Valley or in a town like Eden.
Aspen/Snowmass Ski Resort
The second resort in our ranking is Aspen/Snowmass Ski Resort. Located near the world famous destination Aspen, CO, Aspen/Snowmass is a solid, all-around resort, notable for world-class facilities.
What’s perhaps most unique about Aspen/Snowmass is that it’s actually four separate ski resorts: Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk Mountain, and Aspen Mountain, also known as “Ajax.”
All combined, that means Aspen Snowmass boasts a colossal amount of skiable terrain, at over 5,000 acres. There are also 94 runs, nearly 50 lifts, a number of halfpipes, and 8 terrain parks — meaning there’s plenty of choices for beginning, intermediate and advanced skiers, from powder bowls to wide wide, and from moguls to gated backcountry skiing.
Aspen is known all over the world as a world-class ski destination, so it can be a little crowded (but less so than you might expect), and for lodging, there’s plenty to choose from for every budget, and nearly all the lodging in the village is ski-in/ski-out.
Steamboat Ski Resort
Staying in Colorado, Steamboat Ski Resort is the next stop in our ranking of the 25 best ski resorts. Spanning seven mountain peaks in the park range, overlooking the Yampa Valley. Steamboat is known for its aspen glades, with some of the best tree skiing in North America.
At Steamboat, 23 lifts service 165 runs, for a total skiable terrain of just about 3,000 acres.
What really stood out about Steamboat, though, is the light and fluffy powder that’s come to be known as “Champagne Powder.” Something else unique about Steamboat is how the easiest groomers are near the top.
Known for deep and soft pow, a few of Steamboat’s most well-known runs include Closets and Shadows. And more experienced and adventurous skiers should head straight for White Out or Nelson’s Run.
For groomers, you won’t go wrong with Heavenly Daze, or Vagabond. We also appreciate what Steamboat offers for après ski as well, including great restaurant and bar options. And, overall, the lodging at Steamboat can’t be beat.
Telluride Ski Resort
Quick — name one of America’s world class ski resorts. There’s a very good chance the fourth resort in our ranking, Telluride Ski Resort, will come to mind. Located right next to the town of Telluride, there’s good skiing to be done year ‘round at this resort, with up-scale lodging for those concerned about the après ski experience.
Maybe best of all, Telluride manages to remain less busy and crowded than many other big-name Colorado resorts. As for the skiing, Telluride’s terrain options are diverse and well-balanced, with a little bit of everything: from cliffs and glades to bowls and chutes.
For intermediates, there’s a self-contained canyon area full of double blue trails and glade skiing. Expert skiers will find in-bounds double blacks as well as chutes and challenging hike-to terrain, but there’s no night skiing at Telluride.
Want something truly out of the ordinary? Try off-resort heli-skiing with Telluride Heli-Trax, or try mogul runs like mogul runs like Spiral Staircase or Kant-Mak-M.
Snowbasin Ski Resort
If you’re looking for an ultra-modern ski resort experience with tons of vertical runs, as well as terrific wide runs with loads of pitch, then you’re in the right place. Let us introduce the fifth pick in our ranking, Snowbasin Ski Resort.
Located in Utah’s Upper Ogden Valley Area, Snowbasin is roughly 25 miles from Salt Lake and about 17 miles from Ogden. Snowbasin gets about 400 inches of snow a year, with 3,000 acres of terrain and 107 designated runs, about half suited for advanced skiers.
But there’s plenty at Snowbasin for beginning skiers as well, like a terrain park and superpipe.
There’s no on-mountain lodging at Snowbasin Ski Resort, but you can stay in nearby Ogden Valley. Snowbasin’s day lodges are very fancy, though, in keeping with Snowbasin’s upscale feel.
Copper Mountain Resort
Located about 75 miles from Denver is Copper Mountain Resort, the next destination in our ranking of America’s 25 best ski resorts.
Located in the White River National Forest, Copper Mountain is known as a family-friendly resort, with the easier slopes on the west side of the mountain, meaning beginners can practice safely away from more experienced and more aggressive skiers.
Otherwise, Copper Mountain has just a touch under 2,500 acres of skiable terrain and about 2,800 vertical feet, with 140 trails accessed by 23 lifts.
The intermediate and expert terrains are in the center and eastern side of the slope, including black terrain on the east side, chutes, cornices and expert-only bowls as well. There’s also snowcat skiing on Tucker mountain for anyone seeking additional adventure, but there is no night skiing.
On top of it all, Copper Mountain Resort is known for vibrant après ski and shopping, with tons of on-mountain accommodations, chiefly hotels and condominiums, with a good selection of bars and restaurants as well.
Deer Valley Resort
Listen up any snowboarders that might be skimming their way through this ranking, because when it comes to the next resort we want to tell you about, snowboarding is prohibited, making Deer Valley a true ski resort through and through.
Deer Valley is only about two hours from downtown Park City and known for hosting some events during the 2002 Winter Olympics, including alpine slalom, freestyle moguls, and aerial ski events. While snowboarding is a no-go, the resort offers a pretty upscale ski experience.
In total, Deer Valley has a little over 2,000 acres of terrain across half-a-dozen mountains, suitable for all skill levels, chiefly glades, moguls, and a couple bowls for experienced skiers.
Deer Valley is otherwise a little limited as far as expert terrain, with only a few chutes and steep trees. At about 250 inches, snowfall at Deer Valley is pretty respectable, but it does rank lowest among all Utah Resorts.
Man-made snow makes up the difference, though, and for lodging and accommodation, it’s all ski-in/ski-out at Deer Valley, primarily condos and a five-star hotel.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Near Aspen, CO is Crested Butte Mountain Resort, one of America’s best ski resorts coupled with one of America’s most well-known and laid back ski towns.
At only about 1,600 acres, Crested Butte is pretty small for a Colorado resort, so it’s best to go off-piste. For example, Crested Butte’s vertical drop is about 2,800 feet. Head off-trail, though, and you can find a vertical drop of about 3,000 feet.
Some people feel Crested Butte’s terrain is best suited for intermediate skiers. But this is not true. Experienced skiers will also love the bowls, chutes, glades, cliff jumps, and double black diamond slopes.
A drawback of Crested Butte can be snowfall, however. On average, it gets about 250 inches — which is decent. So what’s the problem? Well, the snow isn’t very predictable, and Crested Butte does sometimes have to rely on man-made powder.
If you visit Crested Butte, you can stay in the town of Crested Butte, or at the base of the ski resort, known as Mount Crested Butte, connected by a shuttle. For a fancier option, try the ski-in/ski-out Elevation Hotel and Spa (the only one of many accomodations not named Crested Butte).
Killington Ski Resort
Next up is Killington Ski Resort, the largest ski resort in all of Vermont. With seven mountain peaks, Killington has 140 trails accessible by 22 lifts, covering 70 miles of terrain.
Killington is also connected to nearby Pico Mountain. But Killington is maybe best known for Juggernaut, the East Coast’s longest ski run at six miles long.
Otherwise, Killington is good for beginners, with lessons for kids and grownups alike. At about 3,600 feet, Ramshead and Snowshead Base area is Killington’s learning zone — but Snowshead is just for adults.
At about 4,200 feet, Killington Peak is the highest mountain in the resort, with the biggest vertical drop in the entire state of Vermont, and a wide variety of trails to choose from as well.
Killington is also a good ski resort for veterans of the sport. The Skye Peak Express Quad takes skiers to blue and black diamond trails and two terrain parks. Bear Mountain is where experts will find the resort’s black and double black diamond trails.
For lodging, there are all sorts of accommodation options at Killington, including country inns and condos. If the skiing isn’t enough to convince you, choose the Killington Grand Resort Hotel for its outdoor pool, restaurant, and excellent cocktail bars.
Sugarloaf Ski Resort
The next resort in our ranking is not only Maine’s largest ski resort, it’s the largest ski resort west of the Rockies. Sugarloaf boasts over 1,200 acres of terrain, a roughly 4,000-foot summit, and a dizzying array of trail options.
While at Sugarloaf, choose from snowfields, cat skiing, or simply stick to the groomed tree lined trails. Sugarloaf is also a great choice if you’re traveling with little ones in need of some ski lessons. Beginners can enjoy the Birches and Landing Area, or the Skybound beginner’s park on Whiffletree.
Intermediate riders will enjoy cruising trails on West Mountain, including Scoot, Windrow, Glancer, and Horseshoe, and advanced skiers will love the natural snow bowl of King Pine Bowl, home to Widowmaker and Flume. While skiing those two trails, you just might run into the U.S. Ski Team!
There is no night skiing at Sugarloaf, but luckily the resort offers plenty of food and dining options. There’s plenty of gear rental resources, as well as ski lessons, including women-only clinics. Looking for something to do besides skiing? Sugarloaf offers snowshoeing and ice-skating options as well!
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
Back in the Rocky Mountains, the next resort we want to tell you about is Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, located in Colorado’s White River National Forest. Friendly to both skiers and snowboarders, Arapahoe Basin is home to the highest skiable terrain in North America, at just a bit over 13,000 feet, meaning Arapahoe has an exceptionally long ski season.
Overall, Arapahoe is a pretty compact little resort at just 1,400 acres. Nevertheless, Arapahoe is known for challenging runs, especially the Pallavicini trail, called “Pali” by any rider that’s conquered it. But Arapahoe also offers a lot for both beginning and intermediate skiers, including a terrain park.
There’s even a ski school, which offers lessons and avalanche courses, and most other amenities offered at Arapahoe are centered around the A-Frame Lodge. A drawback to Arapahoe is that there are no accommodations in the base area. Luckily, there’s plenty nearby, especially the Arapahoe Lodge in Keystone, CO — only about five miles away from the Arapahoe Basin Ski area, and near the Keystone Gondola and ski lifts.
Loveland Ski Area
Next up in our ranking is Loveland Ski Area. Located just a little under 60 miles from Denver, Loveland ranks among Colorado’s 10 largest ski resorts. It’s also one of the highest ski resorts in the world, giving Loveland one of the longest ski seasons of any Rocky Mountain resort.
Loveland gets about 33 feet of snow on average, and the powder stays light a lot longer than resorts at lower altitude. With about 17% of terrain suitable for beginners, and 42% intermediate, there’s a lot at Loveland to keep advanced skiers interested as well, chiefly open bowls, steeps, bumps, and glades.
In addition, Loveland offers classes for all ability levels, notably the popular all woman-taught “Women in Motion Series.” And for après ski, Loveland has three dining facilities, with more eatery options available in nearby Georgetown or Silverthorne.
For lodging, you can stay in Georgetown or Silverthorne, or choose from anyone of Loveland’s on-mountain cabins.
Whiteface Mountain Resort
New York’s Whiteface Mountain Resort is up next in our ranking of America’s 25 best ski resorts. With 287 acres of slopes and terrain, Whiteface Mountain is among New York state’s five largest ski resorts, and is perhaps best known for hosting Alpine events during the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Whiteface is also New York’s highest elevated resort, with a base elevation at just over 1,200 feet, maxing out at a roughly 4,600 summit. Whiteface has a vertical drop of 3,428 feet, and Whiteface’s average snowfall ranges from about 31 inches at the base to 53 inches at the summit.
There are 87 runs at Whiteface, serviced by 11 lifts, and most are ranked as intermediate. 35 of those acres are in-bounds. Experienced skiers should head to “The Slides” for off-piste, double-black diamond wilderness terrain skiing. “The Slides” are only open at the end of the ski season due to safety hazards.
There is no night skiing at Whiteface, and there is a separate area for beginners called Bear Den Mountain. There are also lots of après-ski options at Whiteface. For lodging, there’s the Bear’s Den Lodge.
Solitude Mountain Resort
The next resort in our ranking, Solitude Mountain Resort, is a sibling of sorts to Brighton Ski Resort. Located in the Big Cottonwood Canyon of the Wasatch, Solitude Mountain offers an additional 1,200 acres of skiable terrain in tandem with Brighton, and the resort receives about 500 inches of snow every year.
Base elevation at Solitude is just about 8,000 feet with a top elevation of 10,500 feet, and a vertical drop of about 2,500 feet. Solitude has 80 runs made accessible by eight chairlifts. In total, half of Solitude Mountain’s runs are graded “beginner” or “intermediate,” and skiers flock to Solitude as it’s also known for what’s come to be called “Cottonwood Canyon dry powder.”
There is no night skiing at Solitude Mountain. Experts will appreciate runs like the double blacks, accessible via the Powderhorn lift, the steepest of which being Milk Run. There’s also a Nordic Center at the resort, with cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and skating for anyone looking to break up their ski experience with other activities.
For lodging, there’s a lot to choose from at Solitude Mountain, most notably Eagle Springs, a short distance from the ski area. There’s also Inn at Solitude for a more hotel-style experience.
White Pass Ski Resort
Next stop in our ranking brings us to White Pass Ski Resort in the state of Washington. White Pass is one of Washington’s largest resorts, located only about 13 miles from Mt Rainier National Park. The resort recently expanded to 1,500 acres with 45 routes, many well-suited for intermediates.
White Pass has a base elevation of 4,500 feet, and lifts ranging up to 6,500 feet. The terrain is varied, with a notable Nordic Center offering just over 11 miles of trails, and a terrific terrain park as well. Another unique offering at White Pass is night skiing, available for a very short time in late December and early January.
You can also rent skis and snowshoes from the Yurt located right at the Nordic Center, and little skiers can get their lessons at the Learning Center. On-mountain accommodations at White Pass include the White Pass Village Inn, or you can choose to find other lodging along the White Pass Scenic Byway.
Wolf Creek Ski Area
The next resort in our ranking, Wolf Creek Ski Area, isn’t much of a destination resort at all, with pretty basic amenities, especially when compared to other resorts in our ranking. So why include it?
With over 1,600 acres covered in snow, and trails suited for advanced, intermediate, and beginning skiers, Colorado’s Wolf Creek Ski Area — about 85 miles from Durango — is not to be missed for any serious skier.
Advanced skiers should check out Wolf Creek’s 1,600 acres only by the Albert lift. Suited for advanced and expert riders, this area has everything from double black hike-to-terrain to short, sweet, and steep pitches. There is no night skiing at Wolf Creek.
Like we said, there are no on-mountain accommodations at Wolf Creek, so we recommend staying in Pagosa Springs or South Fork, all within about 25 miles of the resort.
Wolf Creek does, however, offer classes for kids and houses a bar, restaurant, gear rentals, and a couple shops, maintaining a mellow, easily accessible atmosphere, unlike a lot of other trendy Colorado resorts. In fact, you might not miss the extra services after all.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe
Less than a half-hour drive from Reno, NV is Mt. Rose Ski Resort, the next stop in our ranking of America’s 25 best ski resorts. With 1,200 acres of skiable terrain and a vertical drop of 1,800 feet, Mt. Rose is among the Lake Tahoe areas’ highest resorts at just under 10,000 feet.
Getting about 350 inches of snow annually, there are 60 trails at Mt. Rose serviced by eight lifts. There is no night skiing at Mt. Rose, and the trails are pretty evenly split between beginner, intermediate and advanced, with only 10% ranked as expert.
The beginner trail is right next to the Main Lodge, and there are groomed runs for intermediates. Experienced skiers can enjoy the motorway groomed runs, open mogul runs, glades, and the particularly steep run called “The Chutes.”
There’s no on-mountain lodging at Mt. Rose, but you can find affordable places to stay in Reno, a town with plenty of nightlife in its own right — including gambling — and a good variety of restaurants to choose from.
Stowe Mountain Resort
Back in the state of Vermont is Stowe Mountain Resort, the next resort in our ranking of America’s 25 best ski resorts. Stowe is made up of two mountain areas, Spruce Peak and Mansfield, with about 500 acres of skiable terrain and a vertical drop of about 2,250 feet.
Every year, Stowe Mountain gets about 250 feet of snow on average, with 13 lifts servicing 116 trails, about half of which are graded at intermediate, with only 16% graded as greens. Overall, Stowe Mountain is considered a very good option for both experienced skiers and snowboarders.
For challenging steeps, experts should try Fourrunner Quad, or a gladed area at the top of the Gondola called Waterfall. For intermediate skiers, there are also sustained groomers, including Gondolier and Perry Merrill. But the Spruce Peak base area was designed for families, with green runs and even a “magic carpet.”
Stowe Mountain also earns high marks for lodging, with a 312-room, six-story luxury hotel and spa located at Spruce Peak’s base. Notably, the lodge is regarded as one of the world’s most environmentally friendly places to stay at any resort anywhere in the world. Stowe Mountain’s après-ski scene is also top-notch.
Brighton Ski Resort
19th spot in our ranking is Brighton Ski Resort, one of the oldest ski resorts in the nation. While Brighton lacks some of the bonuses of other fancy resorts, it maintains a family-friendly atmosphere that’s popular with both skiers and snowboarders.
With the second highest base elevation of any resort in Utah, Brighton gets plenty of snow. While there, you’ll find a variety of interesting terrain, suitable for tree skiing, but also bowls and drop-offs for more ambitious skiers and riders.
Brighton is relatively small, at just over 1,000 acres and just under 70 trails. The resort does maintain an open-boundary policy, however, meaning there’s accessible sidecountry and backcountry terrain. Another plus is that Brighton is interconnected with the Solitude ski resort, adding about another 1,200 of acres to enjoy. There is also limited night skiing at Brighton.
When it comes to facilities, Brighton has eateries and a retail shop, as well as a ski school and child care center— a nice bonus. For lodging, there’s Brighton Lodge, or Brighton Chalets for private rentals. You can also catch a shuttle directly from Salt Lake City if you choose to stay there instead.
Sundance Mountain Resort
The next resort in our ranking, Sundance Mountain — owned by Hollywood actor and director Robert Redford — is like a best-kept-secret among Utah ski resorts. Located 13 miles northeast of Provo, Sundance Mountain is only about an hour south of Salt Lake City.
With about 20% of the terrain geared toward advanced skiing, Sundance terrain includes trees, gullies, and bowls.
The resort gets about 350 inches of snow every year, and trees line all the runs, which are skiable, and otherwise, almost all of the terrain on the top half of the mountain can be skied, including the cut trails, trail sides, and trees.
For families and kids, there’s night skiing at Sundance every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night, and for more seasoned skiers, there are steep ridges and gullies to explore and take advantage of. Be sure to try the enormous Bishop’s Bowl from the top of Arrowhead.
Lodging at Sundance is pretty low-key and rustic, ranging from hotel rooms to four bedroom mountain homes.
Mt. Baker Ski Area
Turning now to Washington State, the next resort in our ranking of America’s 25 best ski resorts is the Mt. Baker Ski Area. What’s most notable about Mt. Baker is how much snow it gets — just a touch under 700 inches annually!
Some call Mt. Baker an expert’s mountain with challenging terrain just below the treeline for the most part, full of chutes, cliffs, powder, hits, steeps, and trees. Mt. Baker doesn’t offer much for beginners and intermediates, however.
Mt. Baker is also known for its natural terrain features, with great steeps and backcountry as well. But otherwise, Mt. Baker is on the smaller side, at only about 1,000 acres and with a vertical drop of just over 1,500 feet. The area is serviced by 10 lifts, 8 of which are slow quad chairs.
The backcountry terrain at Mt. Baker is really where it’s at, but don’t try it unless you really know what you’re doing, ok? Another drawback to Mt. Baker is no on-mountain accommodations, with very few other amenities at all. But what it lacks in these areas, it makes up for with very few crowds.
To find a place to stay, head to nearby Glacier or Maple Falls. Or, instead, head to Bellingham, which is just a little over an hour from the resort.
Beaver Mountain Ski Area
About a two hour drive from Salt Lake City, UT is Beaver Mountain Ski area, the next resort in our ranking of America’s 25 best ski resorts. Beaver Mountain is relatively small, and the oldest ski resort in the US. It has remained family-owned ever since its establishment.
With over 800 acres accessible from nearly 50 different runs, Beaver Mountain is a good choice for both skiers and snowboarders. For skiers, there are popular groomed runs and mogul runs for all skill levels, with the green and blue runs particularly suited for intermediate skiers. Four chairlifts and one surface lift service the resort, and — another perk — there is night skiing.
Beginners at Beaver Mountain have several trails to choose from, including the CottonTail Trail and the Goat Trail. For more ambitious skiers, Harry’s Dream Lift leads to the highest peak in the resort, with a vertical climb of about 1,600 feet. When you’re up there, be sure to try the Gentle Ben, Dead Horse, or Blind Bull trails — each offering a unique ski experience.
After a day spent skiing, be sure to head to the lodge and catch a bite to eat for under $10. Conveniently, there’s also a ski shop for ski and snowboard rentals, as well as helmets, goggles, or poles. Beaver Mountain also offers lessons for the kiddos.
Bretton Woods Mountain Resort
New Hampshire’s Bretton Woods Mountain Resort on Mt. Washington is the next stop in our ranking of America’s 25 best ski resorts. Mt. Washington gets about 200 inches of snowfall every year, with a base elevation of about 1,600 feet, a top elevation of 3,100 feet, and a vertical drop of about 1,600 feet.
At Bretton Woods, 10 lifts service 102 runs over a skiable area of roughly 464 acres. Of the trails and runs available at Bretton Woods, most are graded expert or advanced, with the rest pretty evenly split between beginner and intermediate. And, good news! There is night skiing at Bretton Woods.
Bretton Woods also scores well with families for their ski school, tree-lined ski glades, and well-manicured trails. For a challenge at Bretton Woods, try “Bode’s,” a run named after acclaimed Olympic skier Bode Miller.
Lodging options at Bretton Woods include the palatial 1902 Hotel Mount Washington, with vintage chandeliers, Tiffany Glass, and a heated pool.
Heading back to Colorado, the next resort in our ranking is Monarch Mountain Ski Resort, about 20 miles from Salida, CO and about 155 miles from Denver.
Monarch Mountain is pretty small, with under 700 acres of skiable terrain at just over 1,100 vertical feet. All-in-all, Monarch Mountain scores pretty well for beginners, but not so well for intermediates. There are a couple terrain parks as well.
There’s also about 125 acres of hike-to terrain, meaning advanced skiers will want to get off trail entirely and head for the trees instead. There’s also Mirkwood Basin, where — after a short hike — adventurous skiers will find trees, chutes, steeps bowls, and a few cliff bands as well.
Lodging options at Monarch are a bit limited — there’s no on-mountain lodging at all, in fact. But you can stay in nearby Salida hotels. However, there is a big tent area and a day lodge at Monarch, where you’ll find everything from a cafeteria and pub, to a retail shop. You can also rent skis and snowboards, or enroll younger skiers in ski school.
Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley
Not a lot of people think of Arizona when they think of skiing, but Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley, the southernmost resort in the continental U.S, offers great skiing while remaining warm enough to often ski in nothing but jeans and a sweater!
Located in the Coronado National Forest just north of Tucson, Mt. Lemmon’s summit is at about 9,100 feet, with a vertical drop of about 950 feet — the third highest in Arizona — plus a total skiable area of about 200 acres.
Mt. Lemmon has 22 trails, the longest at about 8,500 feet, and the trails are pretty evenly split between intermediate, advanced, and expert, with only 20% graded novice. There is no night skiing at Mt. Lemmon, unfortunately.
The resort receives about 180 inches of snow every year. Frequent winter storms often create untouched powder areas on Mount Lemmon throughout the ski season, running roughly between mid-December and April.
There’s no on-mountain lodging at Mt. Lemmon, so you’ll want to head back into Tucson to find a place to stay. There are, however, a couple of restaurants to choose from.