Independently researched and written by the Snow Magazine team, sponsored by the experts at Crystal Ski Holidays.
Heading stateside for your next ski fix? We’ve got the lowdown on America’s best ski resorts to help you decide where to go. Our top tip? If you’re planning on visiting multiple resorts in one trip, consider purchasing either the Ikon Pass or the Epic Pass, two multi-resort passes which can save you serious amounts of cash when it comes to lift passes, accommodation and ski hire.
Both passes cover different ski resorts, so take the time to work out which one is the best fit. The Epic Pass is particularly suitable if you're planning on visiting multiple destinations under the Vail resorts portfolio.
Deer Valley ski resort, Utah
A small ski resort which is brilliant for families, Deer Valley ski resort is known for its superb skiing, awesome mountain views and luxury accommodation. Head there to explore 2,000 acres of terrain, much of which consists of wide open runs which are perfect for beginners and intermediates.
One of the developments we’re most excited about is the makeover of the Snow Park Lodge, due for completion by the end of 2022. New restaurants will be added, along with more accommodation options and enhanced transport connections linking the lodge with the rest of the resort, which is famous for its huge, consistent snowfall.
As we’ve mentioned, the majority of Deer Valley’s 103 runs are best suited to intermediate skiers, although there’s plenty of terrain for beginners and advanced skiers, too. Some of the most challenging slopes can be found in the Mayflower Bowl area, from which you’ll enjoy stunning views of the Heber Valley. You’ll find it to the right of the popular Stein’s Way slope.
Take a look at our full Deer Valley ski resort guide for more info.
Aspen Snowmass, Colorado
Need a reason to visit Aspen Snowmass this winter for your ski holiday? We’ve got one – the resort’s 75th anniversary. Another reason is the unveiling of a major renovation of the Limelight Aspen hotel, due for completion by the end of 2021. And then there’s the terrain – 4,406 vertical feet of fantastic skiing in a resort with the highest number of lifts in the US, and some seriously long runs (the longest comes in at 8.5 kilometres). The fact that the terrain covers four separate ski areas means there’s plenty of diversity.
Aspen Mountain’s challenging terrain is an extreme skiing mecca, and it’s perfect for skiers at home on the steeps – this is where you’ll find the slope with the USA’s biggest continuous vertical drop (1,343m). It’s also a great resort for art lovers – sculptures and murals can be found throughout the town, which is also home to the brilliant Aspen Institute, with its sculpture-filled grounds, and the Aspen Art Museum, known for its contemporary art exhibitions.
Read our full Aspen Snowmass ski resort guide for more info.
Palisades Tahoe, California
Recently renamed and branded, Palisades, formally known as Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, is a great option for a ski holiday– it’s easily paired with nearby Mammoth Mountain, and if you purchase an Ikon Pass you’ll be able to ski both resorts. Then again, you could just stay put – the resort has 6,000 acres of glorious terrain, evenly split between beginner, intermediate and advanced slopes.
One of the developments we’re most excited about is the imminent construction of the Base-to-Base gondola, which will allow skiers to travel between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows in just 16 minutes, eliminating the need for a 30-minute drive. Around £40m is being spent on the ski lift, which will have two mid-stations.
Elsewhere, make sure you ride the legendary steeps accessed via the KT-22 chairlift, which provides easy access to 2,000 feet of powder-blanketed steeps and some of North America’s best bowls, glades and chutes.
Take a look at our Squaw Valley ski resort guide for all the details.
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Beaver Creek, Colorado
A brilliant ski resort easily accessible from Denver airport (a two-hour drive away) but which often slips under the radar, Beaver Creek - a Vail resorts property - is a destination which is seriously underrated. To start with the resort will soon have 250 extra acres of beginner and intermediate-friendly terrain, along with new snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing areas.
Its 1,800 acres of terrain and 150 slopes offer something for all skill levels, although this is without doubt one of Colorado’s best resorts for beginners. Some of the best beginner-friendly areas are accessible by gondola (the Haymeadow Express, which whisks skiers to Haymeadow Park, is a great example) and Beaver Creek's Ski School has some of Colorado’s best ski and snowboard instructors. Make sure you take the time to explore the resort itself.
A recent addition is the Beaver Creek Wonder – a series of outdoor art installations, ranging from a supersized snow globe to enormous flower sculptures. We also the love wide range of accommodation, which includes everything from cabins and condos to luxury hotels such as the slope-side Pines Lodge, where you can enjoy some fine dining at the Grouse Mountain Grill, which bagged a prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award.
Have a read or our full Beaver Creek ski resort guide for more details.
One of America’s most famous ski resorts, Breckenridge is famous for having one of North America's largest ski areas (you’ll find over 3,000 acres of terrain), high altitude skiing (it’s also got North America’s highest chairlift) and innovative approach – since the resort first opened in 1961 it’s unveiled the world’s first high-speed quad lift and in 1984 became the first major Colorado ski resort to welcome snowboarders.
Love an impressive stat? Breckenridge has five peaks, 187 trails and the highest lift-served terrain in North America. Ski here and you’ll quickly find your favourite run, whether it’s the Whale’s Tail, a double black diamond run for thrill-seeking expert skiers, or Ore Bucket run, which is known to hold snow incredibly well. Its roller-dotted sections are especially popular with snowboarders and freestyle skiers.
It's also got a brilliant range of accommodation - you'll find hotels for all budgets alongside condos, cabins, chalets and airbnb rentals. One of our favourite properties is the also the newest - the achingly cool Gravity Haus, a boutique-style property where you'll find a Japanese onsen, super-fast wi-fi and a huge trampoline for snowboarders and skiers keen to perfect their freestyle moves during their ski holiday.
Read our full Breckenridge ski resort guide to see more.
One of North America’s most family-friendly ski resorts, Keystone resort, which is under a 90-minute drive from Denver airport and has 3,000 acres of terrain to ski, has recently enjoyed some major investment. It’s now got one of America’s top snowmaking systems (it’s hoped that this tech will mean the resort’s annual opening date will shift to October) and a brand new high speed express chairlift – the Peru Express.
Kids are especially well catered for here – there’s a fantastic snow fort to check out, and the resort has signed up to the Kids Ski Free programme, which means that kids can ski for free when an accommodation booking is made for a minimum of two nights. We’re also especially smitten with the various family friendly perks, including free parking in the resort and the free red wagons you’ll see throughout the resort, designed for parents carting their children’s ski gear to and from the slopes.
Take a look at our full Keystone ski resort guide for more info.
Park City, Utah
Park City is the largest ski resort in the USA, with over 300 trails and a staggering 7,300 acres of skiable terrain – all just a 30-minute drive from Salt Lake City. It’s split into two main base areas, each with its own lodging, dining options and bars. Full disclosure: one of these two resorts is Deer Valley, which we’ve already included, so we’ll focus mainly on Park City on this occasion.
It’s a true ski in, ski out resort – you can whizz down the slopes straight to the resort’s centre, where you’ll find High West Distillery, the only ski-in gastro-distillery (you’ll find it at the bottom of the Quittin' Time ski run). The size of the mountain means it’s worth signing up for a session with a local guide. Another reason to do so? You’ll get to use the priority line in the lift queues, which means less time queuing and more time on the slopes.
The resort is especially popular with freestyle skiers and snowboarders, who flock to the eight terrain parks and two half pipes, including the 22' Eagle Superpipe, which had a starring role in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Read our full Park City ski resort guide for more details.
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Colorado’s largest ski resort has 5,317 acres if terrain and plenty of sun – on average there are 300 days of sunshine every year at Vail. It’s also famous for the sheer variety of the terrain, which covers everything from its famous powder-filled bowls (the Outer Mongolia bowl is our favourite, and definitely worth the trek you’ll need to do to get there) to its wonderfully family friendly nursery areas. It’s also a brilliant option for skiers partial to a spectacular view.
Head to the Belle’s Camp area, near the Blue Sky Basin, to soak up the view of the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of Colorado’s tallest peaks. The terrain is split into three areas: the Back Bowls area, which is a largely ungroomed powder playground, the Front Side area (which has an abundance of wide tree runs) and the Blue Sky Basin area, which is where you’ll find deep stashes of the powder Colorado is famous for.
For a truly memorable experience, book a tour with Paragon Guides, which is one of the oldest ski guiding companies in North America. Founded in 1978, the company's guides offers shorter guided explorations along with multi-day hut-to-hut skiing adventures.
Take a look at our full Vail ski resort guide for more details.
A pretty resort in the shadow of Mount Mansfield – Vermont’s highest peak – Stowe is a powder playground which ticks every box. The resort itself is a historical village nestled in one of Vermont’s prettiest regions, and there’s plenty of history here, too – the resort was founded in 1763, making it America’s oldest ski town.
The majority of the runs are best suited to intermediates, with 16 per cent rated as beginner and 29 per cent as expert. One of our favourite expert-only runs is Nosedive, a black diamond run which links up with four double diamond runs which streak down the side of Mount Mansfield. Intermediates will love the easy-going Perry Merrill run, named after a local official who established the state’s system of forests and parks, and who’s often referred to as the Father of Vermont.
When it comes to the après-ski, expect plenty of cosy bars offering a nod to the resort’s past. Head to the wood-panelled Matterhorn for enormous burgers and live music from local bands, or to Doc Ponds, which resembles an enormous barn, for local ales and a glass of delicious Stowe Cider.
Take a look at our full Stowe ski resort guide more more details.
A purpose-built resort which is part of the larger Tahoe resort (and one third of the so-called Tahoe trifecta, which includes Kirkwood, Northstar and Heavenly), Northstar has a relaxed, family-friendly vibe which makes it a hit with both beginners and kids. One of the reasons we love Northstar is the wide range of accommodation, which ranges from condos (most of which you’ll find in the Village area, at the base of the slopes) through to the five-star hotels in the Highlands area.
A free, efficient shuttle service makes getting to and from the slopes a breeze, which is a good thing, given the amount terrain to cover. Although Northstar is a resort which is a great option for skiers keen to squeeze multiple resorts into one trip, don’t make the mistake of assuming Northstar’s terrain won’t be enough on its own. Stay here and you’ll have 3,100 acres, 100 trails and several terrain parks on your doorstep.
The resort also has a brilliant ski school – beginners who sign up for lessons won’t just get expert tuition, but plenty of cookies and hot chocolate to fuel their explorations. The best bit? Northstar has the world’s only Burton Snowboard Academy, where snowboarders can sign up for lessons (including women-only classes) and chill out in the funky clubhouse-style headquarters.
Read our full Northstar ski resort guide for more details.
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