Looking for the ultimate winter wonderland adventure in the United States? Well, you’re in for a treat because the best ski resorts in the U.S. are nothing short of awesome, with breathtaking mountain landscapes, pristine slopes, and a vibe that’s as cool as the snow. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie to the world of skiing and snowboarding, you’ll find something to love at one of these winter retreats.
And according to a recent survey, a winter vacation is overdue for millions of Americans! The poll of 2,000 individuals reveals that approximately 42 percent of travelers have “never partaken in other winter activities such as skiing.” The study also found that 25 percent of the individuals polled “never experience snow.” What better place to try hitting the slopes than the most esteemed chalets in the country?
Moreover, a snowy vacation may help induce positive feelings about body image, according to another recent study. This study reports that “spending a short amount of time in a snowy landscape, in this case around 40 minutes, had the power to boost a person’s appreciation of their own body.” So, not only are you taking in the beauty of the mountaintops, but also building your own from within.
You can experience the thrill of racing down the slopes or simply take in the stunning views and crisp mountain air. But the awesomeness doesn’t stop at the slopes. These ski resorts offer a complete winter experience. From cozy lodges with crackling fireplaces to world-class dining options, you’ll be pampered and well-fed after a day on the mountain. And let’s not forget the vibrant après-ski scene, where you can kick back with a hot cocoa, enjoy live music, and mingle with fellow snow enthusiasts. StudyFinds has compiled a list of the best ski resorts in the U.S., according to experts. Did we miss a notable chalet? Leave a comment to let us know!
The List: Best Ski Resorts in the U.S., According to Experts
Number one on our list of best ski resorts in the U.S. is Aspen Snowmass. “During the 1880s Aspen became the silver-mining capital of the world and then, after decades of neglect, its historic core was brought back to life thanks to the skiing boom of the late 20th century. This is a delightful place to stroll around in the evenings, window shopping and enjoying the restaurants and bars. There are four separate ski areas – Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Aspen Mountain, all covered on one lift pass. Aspen Mountain is accessed from town by gondola, while the other three are reached by free shuttle buses. Buttermilk is the smallest and least challenging area, but it also has a serious terrain park. Aspen Mountain has long cruising blue runs and short, sharp blacks, while Aspen Highlands has easy intermediate slopes, steep black runs and Highlands Bowl. This reached via a free snowcat ride and a hike from the top lift, and its steep pitches are up to 48 degrees,” says Telegraph.
This upscale resort town welcomes beginners and families with open arms. “Known for its famous clientele, Aspen Snowmass has been around since 1946, making it one of the oldest ski resorts in the United States. Located about 4 and a half hours west of Denver, this resort is admittedly one of the trickier ones to reach. But if you’re looking for plenty of skiing choices, great surrounding towns, and immaculate up-keep, Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort is the one for you,” writes Hotels.com.
Ready to carve your own epic tale on these snowy canvases? It won’t come without a high price tag, unfortunately. “Aspen is the ultimate ski destination for the rich and has evolved into four separate ski areas: Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands. They’re all linked by a shuttle system, accessible with a single ticket, and clustered around one of the greatest ski towns in the world. Aspen is truly the king of après-ski with endless dining and nightlife options! It’s also one of the few ski resorts in Colorado where you won’t be affected by altitude sickness. For all the glitz and glamour that brings celebrities here, Aspen does come at a price, especially if you want to stay closer to the slopes,” shares Snowpak.
What can you expect from Big Sky Resort? “A massive mountain complex featuring 5,850 skiable acres, diverse trails and many different lodging options, Big Sky Resort in southern Montana promises a memorable trip for every type of traveler. You’ll have easy access to 320 named runs, nearly 40 lifts and five terrain parks at this Montana ski resort. With runs that will test your limits at Big Sky Resort, you can take your time traversing the face of this mountain. Advanced, expert and extreme trails make up 50 percent of the mountain’s offerings, leaving the other half of trails for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. Zip lining adventures, dog-sledding excursions, sleigh rides, snowmobile tours and other activities mean a visit to Big Sky Resort is about much more than just skiing. To get to Big Sky, the nearest airport is in Bozeman, about 50 miles away,” says US News.
This may be the ideal destination for a family-friendly ski vacation. “Big Sky was already Montana’s largest ski area, so when it purchased the adjacent Moonlight Basin resort in 2013, it created a massive winter playground with terrain for all levels. Big Sky boasts more than 5,800 skiable acres and a vertical drop of 4,350 feet. The only minor thing here is the crowd due to Big Sky’s safe distance from major cities. There’s not much in the nearby town (you’ll find a bit more bustle in Bozeman, a small city nearby), but you’ll be so tired from a day on the mountain that you probably won’t care,” writes Time Out.
“Big Sky may no longer be the Montana secret it once was, but it’s still known for few, if any, lift lines. It’s also family-friendly with vast terrain and amazing scenery, a 15-passenger tram up 11,166 feet to Lone Peak, and après-ski activities for kids and adults at Base Camp. Stay slopeside at Summit in the heart of the Mountain Village or rent a luxury home or condo along the trails at Moonlight Basin,” shares Pure Wow.
This Wyoming hideaway makes for yet another amazing winter destination. “The Teton-rimmed valley that is Jackson is world-renowned for its skiing—with lots of moguls, chutes and steep runs, it’s the terrain expert skiers seek out. Teton Village also gets high marks for the adjacent town of Jackson Hole, with plenty to do off-mountain: vibrant food, shopping and music scenes, all with a Wild West vibe. Back at the village, you’ll find a luxe ski-in/ski-out enclave with more high-end accommodations at the Four Seasons Jackson Hole, Teton Mountain Lodge, Hotel Terra Jackson Hole and the freshly-minted Caldera House,” says Pure Wow.
Cozy lodges that feel like a warm bear hug? Check. Unbelievable ski trails? Check. “If you’re an expert skier, you’ll love the adrenaline-fueled terrain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, considered one of the toughest in the country. Its world-famous Corbet’s Couloir on Rendezvous Mountain is counted among the world’s most terrifying ski runs due to the extreme free-fall at the top…But no matter what, make sure to leave time for two iconic Jackson experiences: a fortifying meal at Teton Thai—Samuel and Suchada Johnson’s beloved eatery steps away from Teton Village—and a rowdy night out at celeb-approved Million Dollar Cowboy Bar,” writes Vogue.
The resort also has endless Instagram-worthy spots. “Sometimes called ‘The Big One,’ Jackson Hole boasts enormous snowfall and steep, eye-bulging terrain not for fraidy cats. The tram to the summit passes over the famed Corbet’s Couloir, regarded as North America’s most challenging ski run. If you can handle the intense skiing, the town of Teton Village boasts excellent post-slope dining and a wide range of bars. Most locals live 20 minutes away in the town of Jackson, which is a destination in and of itself with small boutiques, trendy restaurants, and iconic lounges,” shares Timeout.
Number four on our list of best ski resorts in the U.S is the Steamboat Resort. “Colorado’s status as a top-notch winter destination has turned its front-range resorts into overcrowded parking lots on the weekends. That’s not the case at Steamboat Springs, where the three-hour drive from Denver thins the herds. Here, you’ll find arguably the best snow in the state: dry, light ‘champagne powder’ (as the locals have named it). You will also find a quaint downtown where Aspen and Vail’s fur coats and haute culture are overshadowed by cowboy boots and 10-gallon hats. After a day of shredding knee-deep powder, there are also plenty of serene spots to kick your feet up. Steamboat boasts two hot springs, the Strawberry Park Natural Springs and Old Town Hot Springs, the latter of which features waterslides,” says Timeout.
Skiing or snowboarding, these resorts cater to all. “Nicknamed Ski Town U.S.A., Steamboat is revered for its Champagne Powder (it’s even trademarked), its ski-chic meets Wild West vibe, festive outdoor après-ski spots and its annual Winter Carnival. It’s also more affordable than its Colorado neighbors Aspen and Vail, and home to more Olympians than any other town,” shares Pure Wow.
“Steamboat’s claim to fame is its glade skiing – some of the best in Colorado! The tree runs aren’t just restricted to experts but are available for all abilities. If this isn’t enough, the mountain has a low base elevation which means you won’t get altitude sickness unlike some of the other resorts on this list. But because of this, it doesn’t always get a lot of snow and the snow does degrade quicker. For all its rustic charm, the town is far from major airports and not easily accessible so therefore no crowds. But if you can afford the cost of lodging and brave the travel, Steamboat is definitely among the best,” writes Snowpak.
The Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort has exceptional winter sports and more to offer. “Close to Lake Placid and with sweeping views of the Adirondacks, Whiteface has the highest vertical east of the Mississippi (3,430 feet). The small mountain town has the charm, activities and nightlife you’d expect from a place that has hosted two Olympics,” shares Pure Wow.
You can keep the party going on and off the mountain. “This resort in the Adirondack Mountains might not have the most welcoming reputation, especially if you’re a beginner. Often, you’ll hear more experienced skiers talk of its challenging runs and tough-to-navigate terrain and conditions. At less than 4,900 feet high, Whiteface isn’t the tallest mountain around (not even in the state), but it’s still home to the greatest vertical drop you’ll find on the east coast. This generally means that you’ll get longer runs to play around in, and from the mountain, views of Lake Placid are stunning enough to distract you from your A-game,” writes Vogue.
Which ski resort offers the most unique and thrilling off-slope activities? “Whiteface takes East Coast skiing to a new level with the biggest vertical drop east of the Rocky Mountains and a section of backcountry terrain that would make a Coloradan feel right at home. Oh, and ski runs also hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics, which means you’re gliding down historic slopes. However, the real draw to Whiteface is the nearby town of Lake Placid, which has plenty of bistros, bars, restaurants, and bed and breakfasts. The town’s main attractions are still dominated by the ski jumps and bobsled runs from the Olympics, but if you don’t like to ski, Lake Placid also boats toboggan chutes, dog sledding, and Nordic ski trails,” says Timeout.
Number six on our list of best ski resorts in the U.S is the Stowe Mountain Resort. “Stowe is a quintessential New England ski town, home to some of the best skiing in the northeast with plenty of activities for those who’d rather not strap into a pair of boots for the day. Ride the gondola between the resort’s two mountains—Spruce Peak and Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. And book a room at the Lodge at Spruce Peak, formerly the Stowe Mountain Lodge. It’s one of the only ski-in, ski-out accommodations in New England,” says Pure Wow.
Beyond skiing, embrace the joy of ice skating and snowshoeing. As for the impressive trails, “Stowe Mountain Resort offers nearly 120 trails and a dozen lifts. It’s great for mid-tier skiers and boarders, with 55% of its trails marked as intermediate. Located around 40 miles east of Burlington, Stowe is also a renowned spot for cross-country skiing, with hundreds of miles of trails – some groomed, some backcountry. Plenty of other wintery activities are available too, from snowmobiling and fat biking to ice climbing, ice fishing and dog-sledding. Warm up in the Spruce Peak village, situated at the base of the resort: It has breweries and restaurants specializing in local produce, as well as spas, a performing arts center and an indoor rock climbing center,” shares US News.
What’s the secret to the timeless après-ski scene at Stowe? “This Vermont resort offers trails to satisfy just about any skier or snowboarder, as well as extensive backcountry opportunities. If you’re looking for a slightly calmer way to experience the mountain, take a scenic gondola ride to the top of Mount Mansfield, the state’s highest mountain. And after a long day on the slopes, head to nearby Burlington — about 40 minutes away — for the quirky restaurant scene and some of the best craft beer in the state,” writes Travel and Leisure.
Finally, Breckenridge Ski Resort rounds out our list. “If you’ve made it to Breckenridge, you’re already in one of the country’s best skiing destinations, and the amenities at Breckenridge Ski Resort will help you make the most of this wintertime paradise. This mammoth mountain resort (about 80 miles southwest of Denver) is a maze just waiting to be explored: Its summit towers at just about 13,000 feet, and the mountain offers more than 185 trails serviced by a few dozen ski lifts. You can practice your tricks at one of the resort’s terrain parks or attempt the high alpine terrain trails unique to this region. After you work up an appetite on the slopes, it’s time to hit the town. The historic downtown area of Breckenridge is home to boutiques, cafes, galleries and breweries galore, turning your ski trip into a full cultural experience. Consider coming in late January, when you can check out the International Snow Sculpture Championships, where artists carve 25-ton hunks of snow into wildly elaborate creatures,” suggests U.S. News.
Breckenridge offers a treasure trove of off-slope activities for all ages. “This Colorado resort is made up of five different peaks, ranging in difficulty from rolling hills to steep runs that aren’t for the faint of heart. A good portion of its trails are even above the treeline. For an adventurous day out, go with a Breck Guide to explore a behind-the-scenes tour of the five mountains and learn basic backcountry skills. For a slightly tamer experience, you can go on a free naturalist tour on skis where a ranger will guide you through the forest,” says Travel and Leisure.
Breckenridge Ski Resort welcomes all winter enthusiasts. “Breckenridge is an extremely popular ski destination with a bustling historic town and laid-back vibe. It’s undoubtedly an awesome mountain to ride, but it can also get frustratingly crowded. This isn’t surprising given all the things Breck has going for it; affordable lodging, an abundance of slopes and North America’s highest lift. The town atmosphere is fun and relaxed, plus there are a ton of shopping, dining, and drinking options to choose from. Accommodation options here are varied and plentiful, with hundreds of hotels and thousands of condo units to stay in. With so much to offer, Breck makes for a great ski resort that suits all budgets,” writes Snowpak.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Hot Springs in the U.S.
- Best Hot Springs in the World
- Most Beautiful Mountains
- Best Mountain Towns
- Pure Wow
- Travel and Leisure
- Time Out
- U.S. News
- Business Insider
- Ski Mag
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.