Each year Condé Nast Traveler magazine surveys its readers to find out their favorite ski resorts. Here are the 20 best ski resorts in America according to their readers.
20. Big Sky, MT
Fifty miles south of Bozeman in south central Montana, with daily shuttle service to Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky is big, to say the least. Over 5,750 acres of skiable terrain with the longest run stretching for six miles and vertical drop of 4,350 ft.
19. Snowbasin, UT
Opened in 1939, this is one of the oldest continually operating ski resorts in the country (and barely 45 minutes from Salt Lake City near downtown Ogden). More recent claims to fame? This was the site of alpine skiing for the 2002 Winter Olympics, and the filming location for Frozen (the 2009 horror/thriller, not Disney’s latest animation). Snow Basin offer 104 runs with the longest being 3 miles. It has vertical drop of 2950 ft.
18. Breckenridge, CO
First established as a major gold mining center in the 1800s, the resort’s town is still full of Western Victorian architecture, but it’s snow, not precious metal, that draw skiiers to access runs on Horseshoe Bowl, North Bowl, and Whale’s Tail via North America’s highest chairlift. Breckenridge offers 187 runs with longest being 3 miles. It has a vertical drop of 3397 ft.
17. Buttermilk, CO
Perfect for families and beginners, Buttermilk has wide, gentle trails (no double blacks) but is also home to an enormous terrain park that has hosted the ESPN Winter X Games.
The appeal here lies in the fact that the slopes can be directly accessed from historic Main Street in Park City by the Town Lift. Far better than in the 1960s, when the only way up was to board a disused mining trolley, trundle miles through dark tunnels, and eventually rise to the surface in a 1,750-foot shaft elevator. Park City Mountain resort offers 116 runs with longest being 3 miles. It has a vertical drop of 3100ft.
15. Alyeska, AK
Breathtaking views of the Chugach Mountain Range from the resort’s Aerial Tramway aside, a ton of snow (almost 650 inches annually), few crowds, and a chance to try snowcat skiing make this a major bucket list destination. Plus, it’s only 40-minutes south of Anchorage. Alyeska offers 76 runs with longest being 1 mile. It has a vertical drop of 2500ft.
Considered the birthplace of freesking, Crested Butte is definitely for the more adventurous at heart willing to tackle its extreme Headwall and North Face runs. Crested Butte offers 121 runs with the longest being 3 miles. It has a 3062ft vertical drop.
13. Snowmass, CO
Largest of the four Aspen ski areas, Snowmass has the longest vertical descent in the country (4,406 feet), three terrain parks, two pipes, and runs to suit any/all abilities.
The ski venue for the 1980 Winter Olympics (shared with nearby Lake Placid, who hosted the 1932 version), Whiteface also offers bobsled and skeleton “experiences,” luge rides, and snow tubing. Whiteface offers 86 runs with the longest being 2 miles. It has a vertical drop of 3429ft.
11. Sun Valley, ID
The country’s first winter destination resort (developed by W. Averell Harriman, prominent businessman, politician, diplomat, and socialite, in the late 1930s) was also the first in the world to install chairlifts. Today, it’s home to North America’s largest super pipe, Adventure Trails for kids, and almost 25 miles of Nordic skiing. Sun Valley offers 80 runs with longest being 4 miles. It has 3400ft vertical drop.
10. Steamboat, CO
With its authentic Western history, Steamboat is refreshingly devoid of any “celebrity scene” and better suited to those who prefer cowboy boots over furry moon boots. One of the largest ski resorts in the state, Steamboat runs are spread out over six peaks and are a big favorite of intermediate skiers, with 42 percent being blue. Steamboat offers 165 runs with the longest being 3 miles. It has a vertical drop of 3668ft.
Most definitely the place for hardcore ski bums and the second largest of Aspen’s four resorts, the famed Highland Bowl offers incredibly steep runs (accessed only by hiking, and keeping any crowds away).
Aptly nicknamed “The Big One,” Jackson Hole has some of the most challenging skiing in all of North America (beginners beware). The scenery, all the way north to Grand Teton National Park, is equally thrilling. Both Teton Village and nearby town of Jackson offer a ton of lively après-ski diversions. Jackson Hole offers 116 runs with the longest being 5 miles. It has a vertical drop of 4139ft.
The epitome of an upscale New England ski resort, Stowe is perfect for any skiier with a gondola linking Mount Mansfield (the state’s tallest mountain) to Spruce Peak for unlimited access to over 100 runs. Add historic, colonial charm and what a winner! Stowe Mountain offers 116 runs with the longest being 4 miles. It has a vertical drop of 2160ft.
Barely 35 miles south of the Canadian border in northwestern Montana, Whitefish is easier to get to than you’d imagine with flights to Glacier Park Airport (FCA) from Minneapolis, Salt Lake, Seattle, and Denver (and now Chicago, in season). The Fishbowl Terrain Park and lower mountain has night skiing Presidents’ Day Weekend in February, and every Friday and Saturday through early March. Whitefish offers 105 runs with the longest being 3 miles. It has a vertical drop of
5. Vail, CO
Vail has just about everything anyone could ask for in a ski resort—enormously varied terrain, an excellent lift system, plus world-class hotels, restaurants, and shops. Those in the know head to north-facing Blue Sky Basin for peaceful, backcountry trails and tree skiing. Vail offers 193 runs with the longest being 4 miles. It has a vertical drop of 3450ft.
A very upscale escape, catering to anyone looking to be thoroughly pampered. From escalators to whisk you from slopes to town (free afternoon cookies in hand) to more of a fine-dining evening scene than anything involving all-night partying. Oh, and the skiing is superb. Beaver Creek offer 150 runs with the longest being 2 miles. It has a vertical drop of 3339ft.
The resort, also known as Ajax, is closest to the actual town of Aspen of four ski areas (including Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk). A former silver mining camp, the big draw these days is luxury lodgings, high-end dining, and exclusive designer shopping. The actual ski area is only one-fifth the size of Snowmass (without a single beginner run) but beloved by intermediate and advanced skiers.
Under 40 miles from Salt Lake, adjacent to Park City along the Wasatch Range, Deer Valley is made for families who love to ski together (it’s one of only three in the country that still bans snowboarding) and are willing to spend top dollar for the experience. Deer Valley offers 101 runs with the longest being 3 miles. It has a vertical drop of 3000ft.
Take a look at all those #1 rankings! Telluride rises above the rest with its no-nonsense attitude, a healthy mix of ski bums and artists, gorgeous location (300 inches of snow and 300 days of sunshine every year), and sublime winter sports. Easiest access is a 75-minute drive from Montrose Airport (MTJ) with daily service from Denver, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston. Telluride offers 127 runs with the longest being 5 miles. It has a vertical drop of 4425ft.
By David Jefferys