The 10 Best Ski Resorts in North America

The 10 Best Ski Resorts in North America
Karl Sander
Written by Karl Sander / Photos by Jack Lee
Last updated September 23, 2020
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Looking to ski on some of the best slopes in the world but not sure where to start looking? With so many great resorts in the US and Canada, it can be hard to pick. We’ve ranked our favorite resorts in North America to help find the perfect fit for you!

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Known for

Most popular resort in Colorado, voted one of the best ski towns in the US

Highlights

  • Vibrant ski town with great apres ski
  • Diverse range of lodgings from affordable to lavishly high end
  • Award-winning terrain parks
  • Big crowds are a pain

Closest airports

Denver Intl. Airport - 104 mi (2.5 hour drive)
You'll love Breck's awesome slopes and laid-back vibe!

If you’re looking to have the big-name ski resort experience without breaking the bank, Breckenridge is for you! With plentiful accommodation options at varied prices and endless shopping, dining and drinking spots, Breck can suit all budgets. In terms of the skiing, it’s an awesome mountain to ride with close to 200 trails for all abilities and North America’s highest lift! As an extremely popular ski destination, it’s no surprise that the resort can get frustratingly crowded. But if you can get past the long lines, you’re guaranteed to enjoy the bustling but laid-back vibe at Breckenridge!

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Known for

Largest ski resort in North America with the ultimate ski village

Highlights

  • Massive variety of incredible terrain
  • Easy to access from Vancouver
  • Full of amenities and après ski to keep everyone well entertained
  • Expensive place to ski and crowds can be an issue

Closest airports

Vancouver Intl. Airport - 85 mi (2 hour drive)
Ski at the largest resort in North America!

Whistler-Blackcomb, the largest ski resort in North America, ticks all the boxes for the ultimate ski holiday experience. You’ll be skiing for days exploring over 200 runs across two mountains that total 8,172 ac of skiable terrain! There’s terrain to accommodate all levels as well as inbounds backcountry, bowls, glaciers, tree trails and five terrain parks! It’s rated one of the best ski resorts in the world for a reason but with that title comes big crowds. The bustling Whistler village comes alive particularly at night, with an abundance of dining experiences, shopping boutiques and art galleries along the pedestrian-only path. Skiing at Whistler can get expensive, but there are varied accommodation options available.

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Known for

Iconic ski resort and the biggest ski area in Colorado

Highlights

  • Largest ski area in Colorado
  • Charming pedestrianized ski town with endless food and shopping
  • Luxurious ski experience
  • Crowds and expensive

Closest airports

Eagle County Regional Airport - 34 mi (50 minute drive)
Denver Intl. Airport - 120 mi (2.5 hour drive)
One of the most popular resorts in the US

Vail’s huge ski area and charming European style village has made it one of the most visited in the US! Its 5,317 ac of skiable terrain makes it the largest in Colorado, and the separated ski areas help to spread the crowds out. The front-side of the mountain is dominated by green and blue groomers and the back bowls have glades, bumps and steeps to explore. Vail has one of the most expensive walk-up lift tickets in the country and the town can feel slightly contrived compared to authentic towns like Breckenridge. Nonetheless, its infinite dining options, lodging, apres-ski activities and heated sidewalks make it a must-visit ski destination!

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Known for

Four distinctive ski areas in one area and available on one lift ticket clustered around a famous ski town

Highlights

  • Upscale and lively town with tons of food and shopping
  • Fantastic intermediate and advanced ski terrain
  • Low elevation - altitude sickness won't be a problem
  • Expensive ski vacation

Closest airports

Aspen/ Pitkin County Airport - 8 mi (15 minute drive)
Denver Intl. Airport - 220 mi (4 hour drive)
Skiing down Aspen Highlands

Famous for the glitz and glamour that attract celebrities here, Aspen rules the après-ski scene with endless dining and nightlife options! Its upscale reputation does come with a price tag, especially if you’re looking for ski-in/ski-out accommodation. Aside from having one of the greatest ski towns in the world, there are over 300 trails across four separate ski areas: Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands. They’re all linked by a shuttle system and are accessible with a single ticket. And if you’re one to experience altitude sickness you won’t need to worry thanks to Aspen’s low elevation!

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Known for

Old school skiers-only mountain with access to Snowbird on the AltaBird pass

Highlights

  • World-class extreme terrain
  • Easy to navigate resort layout (minimal walking)
  • One of the best ski schools in the US and good beginner terrain
  • Lodging, nightlife, and shopping options are a bit lacking

Closest airports

Salt Lake City Intl. Airport - 32 mi (40 minute drive)
A skiers only paradise!

Traditional skiers can enjoy the mountain all to themselves, as those pesky snowboarders aren’t allowed at Alta! Despite being one of the smaller resorts on this list with only 2,200 ac of skiable terrain, experienced skiers will love the incredible steeps, chutes and tree runs. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of runs for every skier and you can also ski neighboring Snowbird by upgrading your ticket. If you’re looking for a charming ski village this isn’t it, but Salt Lake City is just a 40 minute drive away and is a good choice for more accommodation options, nightlife and shopping.

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Known for

Being an expert's playground nestled in the Wild West

Highlights

  • Epic expert terrain
  • Base village filled with restaurants and nightlife
  • Lots of lodging options in base village and cowboy town of Jackson
  • Crowds can be an issue

Closest airports

Jackson Hole Airport - 25 mi (1 hour drive)
The ideal resort for expert skiers and riders 

An expert’s paradise, Jackson Hole is known for the most continuous vertical in the US! Recent improvements to lifts have made intermediate terrain easier to access, however the resort remains infamous for its extreme terrain and steeps. If you’re a beginner or travelling with kids, you’ll struggle to find enough beginner trails and crowds can also be an issue on the 2,500 ac of skiable terrain. Teton Village offers ski-in/ski-out accommodation and a handful of bars, but the town of Jackson is also just a 20 minute drive away with more nightlife and shopping options.

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Known for

Western town with extraordinary views and epic terrain, top tier resort for skiing

Highlights

  • Exceptional advanced terrain
  • The best laid out mountain in Colorado makes it easy to get around
  • Historic western town with jaw-dropping scenery
  • Difficult ski resort to reach

Closest airports

Telluride Regional Airport - 8 mi (20 minute drive)
Montrose Regional Airport - 70 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Wide slopes that are perfect for beginners 

One of Colorado’s well kept secrets, Telluride is located in a western town full of character. The difficulty in accessing Telluride comes at the benefit of keeping the crowds away and being a great place for beginners to learn on the wide, uncrowded runs. But what Telluride is really known for is its exceptional advanced terrain. Experts can get their dose of adrenaline by hiking up to Palmyra Peak and taking their pick of intense chutes. The two base areas, Telluride and Mountain Village, are connected by free gondolas making it easy to get around. The Wild West town combined with extraordinary mountain scenery makes Telluride a picture-perfect ski destination!

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Known for

Wide variety of extreme terrain, vibrant ski culture and Olympic heritage

Highlights

  • Largest ski resort in California
  • Legendary reputation for high snowfall and notorious steeps
  • High standard of grooming on steep trails
  • Crowds and long lines on powder days

Closest airports

Reno-Tahoe Intl. Airport - 47 mi (50 minute drive)
Two for one! Ski at both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows on the same lift pass

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have merged to become Squaw Alpine, with a whopping 6,000 ac of skiable terrain in total. Despite not being connected by lifts, you can enjoy what both resorts have to offer on one pass via a short shuttle ride. Squaw Valley is a favorite amongst the advanced, with wildly extreme terrain. The base village has tons of lodging, dining and shopping choices, but the convenient location from the Bay area draws big crowds. If you’re after powder and quieter slopes and aren’t bothered about amenities, Alpine Meadows has some great terrain too!

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Known for

Vail's little sister resort offering luxurious pampering

Highlights

  • Ultimate pampering experience
  • Fewer crowds than Vail
  • Top-notch grooming
  • Expect to pay top dollar for everything here

Closest airports

Eagle County Regional Airport - 28 mi (30 minute drive)
Denver Intl. Airport - 130 mi (3 hour drive)
It's all about luxury on and off the slopes at Beaver Creek!

If luxury and pampering is what you’re after, look no further than Beaver Creek! As Colorado’s newest resort, visitors can enjoy expertly groomed runs and efficient lift systems. Although a lot smaller than its sister resort Vail, you can enjoy fewer crowds and short lines to maximise your time skiing the scenic trails. It’s a great resort for intermediate skiers, with plenty of blue and red runs. Off the slopes, you can relax in extravagance at the purpose-built village that’s full of restaurants, shopping and activities. The top-notch ski experience here isn’t cheap, so keep that in mind when considering Beaver Creek.

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Known for

Laid-back Western ski town and natural hot springs

Highlights

  • Unwind in one of the many geothermal hot springs!
  • Small authentic Western town
  • Crowds are rare
  • A bit further out from Denver

Closest airports

Yampa Valley Regional Airport - 28 mi (40 minute drive)
Denver Intl. Airport - 180 mi (3.5 hour drive)
Enjoy fewer crowds at Steamboat

With rustic western charm and almost no crowds, Steamboat is a must-visit among the larger US resorts. What makes this resort unique is having some of the best glade skiing in Colorado, and tree runs for all abilities! Steamboat’s low base elevation affects the snow quality and it's less accessible from major airports. But this means you won’t have to spend hours in line for the lifts like the other resorts on this list. Not to mention, a relaxing soak in one of the geothermal hot springs after a day on the slopes can make the travel worth it!

The 10 Best Ski Resorts in North America
Breckenridge
Whistler Blackcomb
Vail
Aspen Snowmass
Alta Ski Resort
Jackson Hole
Telluride
Squaw Valley - Alpine Meadows
Beaver Creek
Steamboat
Breckenridge