So you’re looking to ski at one of the best? We’ve done the hard work for you. It’s all subjective, of course, but we put forward all the good along with the bad and hope to inspire you to get some epic skiing done this winter!
Due to COVID-19, various safety measures were put in place by the U.S. States and Counties which impacted the 20/21 ski season. Resorts operated at a limited capacity and many required lift ticket and rental equipment reservations to be made online in advance. In Colorado’s Summit County which is home to Breckenridge and Keystone, there was limited capacity for indoor and outdoor dining and vacation lodging was limited to 2 households per unit. Such restrictions are not anticipated to continue into the 21/22 winter season.
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.
Vail is one of the most visited resorts in the US, with crowds flocking for their immensely huge ski area and impressive picture-perfect European style village filled with infinite dining, lodging and apres ski activities! All that acreage offers up a nice variety of terrain, spread across a front-side dominated by green and blue groomers and back bowls where incurable powder hounds head for glades, bumps, and steeps. Some might find this resort oozes corporate and contrived feels compared to more authentic towns like Breckenridge, but with heated sidewalks, we're not complaining! But beware, it has one of the most expensive walk-up lift tickets in the country!
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.
Alta is one of the very last resorts in the US to prohibit snowboarders, which makes it famous in some circles and infamous in others. If you're a skier, be prepared to be buried in snow on incredible steeps, chutes, and tree runs. While there is only 2,200 ac of skiable area, there are plenty of runs for every skier. If that's not enough for you, just upgrade your ticket to ski neighboring Snowbird as well. Aside from the handful of lodges at the base of its lifts, there's not much of a village at Alta. For folks who like nightlife and shopping along with their skiing, you can consider staying over at Salt Lake City.
Jackson Hole is infamous for its extreme terrain and steeps with the most continuous vertical in the US. Although it has the reputation of an expert's paradise, recent improvements (including the recently opened Teton lift) have made intermediate terrain easier to access. On the flip side, Jackson Hole is not ideal for first-timers and kids due to the lack of beginner terrain. Crowds can also be an issue, especially on powder days. If you're looking for ski-in/ski-out access, stay in Teton Village which has a handful of bars, if not, the town of Jackson is 20 minutes away with more options for nightlife and shopping.
Unlike many resorts on this list, Telluride offers novices the chance to taste the high-alpine from the top of Prospect Express. Experts can hike up to Palmyra Peak and take their pick of intense chutes, while brave intermediates can get their dose of adrenaline on the groomed parts of Revelation Bowl. Top it off with an amazing Wild West town and free gondolas connecting the two base areas, Telluride and Mountain Village. Although the difficulty in accessing Telluride is one of its biggest disadvantages, it helps to keep the crowds away. As a package, Telluride feels like a tucked away piece of ski paradise.
Combining Squaw Valley's premier terrain with Alpine Meadows' powder and views of Lake Tahoe, the two resorts have merged to become Squaw Alpine. Though they're not connected by lifts, you can ski them both on one pass via a short shuttle ride. Famous for its wildly extreme terrain, Squaw Valley is an instant favorite for advanced skiers and riders. The base village has a wide selection for dining, drinking, and shopping choices as well as accommodations. But since it’s one of the most convenient resorts to get to from the populous Bay area, Squaw can draw big crowds meaning packed parking lots and long lift lines. On the other hand, Alpine Meadows is often overshadowed by its legendary neighbor, but it's a fantastic place to ski if you’re looking for great terrain without the crowds! If you can look past the outdated lift system and amenities, Alpine Meadows will not disappoint you.
Beaver Creek is Colorado's newest resort, and it screams luxury both on and off the slopes. On the slopes, expect runs groomed to perfection and efficient lift systems with short lines. Majority of trails are beginner and intermediate runs that offer a scenic and unique skiing experience. Located ten minutes west of its sister resort, Vail, it may be a smaller resort but it also means fewer crowds. Off the slopes, pamper yourself at the base village purposely built for the resort. If you want to relax in extravagance after a day on top-notch groomed slopes, and your budget allows it, you'll have a hard time beating Beaver Creek.
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!
Snowbird serves up some of the best expert terrain for shredders with steeps and chutes to trees and bowls. Best of all, Snowbird has an efficient lift system and sees dumps of that famous Utah pow on a north-facing aspect, keeping it fresh and light! Unlike Alta, skiers and snowboarders are both welcome although the terrain is not well suited for beginners. If you’ve come for the nightlife, there isn’t much here at Snowbird; certainly not like there is in Park City. The small pedestrian village at the base of the slopes offers few accommodations and dining options but are clean, comfortable, and convenient with top-notch customer service.