As the ski family grows and ski technique evolves, everyone wants to know where the best place to go for a cruise around the mountain is. I hear skiers and boarders alike ask “where are the best ski resorts in the USA found?”
Well, I am an elite level skier (I ski for my country) and have had the pleasure to tour the world in search of better places to optimize my training. Guess where I found it: America! Land of the free and land of some amazing snow!
What is so unique about skiing in the USA is the variance between the resorts. In America, be rest assured, there is the perfect resort for any skier, just waiting to be found.
I am an unequivocal European skier and grew up loving the Alps. Indeed I do still hold emotions for the mountains that made me, however, resorts on the other side of the Atlantic are beginning to catch my favor and here’s why.
Although those on the West Coast have been blessed with more snow than their Eastern counterparts, there is skiing available all across the country. Unlike many European resorts, ski areas in America are far less likely to be situated in the middle of nowhere (like Lachtal or Pitztal in Austria).
Most resorts in the nation will be easy to access when compared with their worldly colleagues. The best ski resorts in America are some of the best in the entire world because of their prime location.
There is a lot to choose from
Additionally, the US offers resorts in a variety of sizes, from tiny one-lifters to humongous ones, such as Aspen which has more than 200km of piste! The key appeal of American skiing is the absolute array of places you can choose to ski at. Furthermore, due to the location of most resorts, it is easy to access major cities or other tourist attractions, if you do not want to ski every day or have non-skiing members in your party.
In America, they also offer a fantastic range of highly qualified instructors and ski schools. As well as this fantastic opportunity to learn to ski, for more advanced skiers, America offers some of the longest and most challenging runs in the world!
The basis of success
The USA has a history of beating the odds in everything they have done and in skiing, they do not differ from their notion.
Although snow-sports were only initially popular in Europe and most of the Olympic Ski Medals would be won by the skiers from traditional ski countries such as Austria or France, skiers like Ted Ligety, Bode Miller and Linsey Vonn have consistently left their European counterparts in their spray, as they cross over the line to bring home gold.
These skiers did not become masters of their sport without the support that a credible training program and an optimal training environment offer. The snowfall in some resorts in America can double that of other similar sized resorts in Europe and the benefit of skiing in America is if you get bored of one resort/place you simply travel to another. No inconvenient currency exchanges or airports, a simple drive can be all that is needed.
So where are the best ski resorts in the USA found?
So why is Snowbird number one, you ask? Snow, snow, and MORE SNOW!
Snowbird has been known to have 600 inches dumped on their pistes in a single year! As such, if you are a powder skier, hurry up and book your plane to Utah!
Imagine a resort in which every four days is a powder day; imagine no more, Snowbird makes our dreams, as powder skiers, a reality. However it is not just about the snow, the terrain offered in Utah’s slice of ski heaven is to die for.
Offering a variety of trails to suit any skier from the absolute beginner to world cup racer, Snowbird is where to head this coming winter. Drawing on personal experience, even when I was skiing at an elite level, I found some areas of Snowbird challenging me, in a way that I thought only the old-school Austrian runs could.
The cunning and experienced skier, may suggest that the price for all this snow is being at the furthest reaches of the civilized world. Well, not quite. Snowbird is only about two hours from Chicago by plane and can be driven if it is preferred. The only possible downside to this amazing resort, and my, as well as many of my colleagues’, favorite place to ski in America, is you have to be ok with skiing when it snows, but I am yet to find a skier who does not love the majesty it presents.
This is Snowbird’s next door neighbor and there are a few parallels between the two resorts. Both hold exemplary records of amazing snowfall and Alta only holds a marginal lead ahead of Snowbird in terms of snow, both resorts have a broad range of challenging and learner slopes and they are situated within a short distance of one another. The only justification I have for ranking Alta below Snowbird is the outright ban on snowboarders.
This outdated ban really does bring a touch of the older skiing nations to the USA. However, if your party is only interested in skiing, Alta is far cheaper than most other American resorts.
It has some of the best runs in the country and receives great snowfall, however, if your snow buddy is a snowboarder you have two options:
a) ditch him and go anyway, for a day free from idiotic snowboarders lounging across the piste (a universal habit of theirs)
b) travel to Snowbird and experience a similar resort with your friend.
However do not think poorly of Alta, it is an amazing resort with a diverse set of trails to be skied. Skiers who take up this offer will have a powder day every five days on average and more than half of the time a skier is in Alta, they will be skiing during a month, when in excess of 90 inches of snow has fallen.
The resort has shown a consistent annual snowfall of 530 inches and is geographically perfect for skiing. Just a shame (or miracle for some) you will have to leave your snowboard at home.
Moving away from Utah for the moment, Grand Targhee is considered one of the best ski resorts in America.
Hidden behind resorts like Bluebird, Park City usually avoids most of the major storms that can prohibit skiing if they turn nasty. Despite only receiving the last gasp of a storm, the resort can boast snowfall in excess of 300 inches a year!
Although geographically the resort is positioned in such a place as to maximize the quality and quantity of snowfall, it can be a little hard to reach. Skiers who want to ski Grand Targhee will have to crisscross mountain roads and utilize every ounce of one’s driving skill. When you get there though, it is clear why this resort is so loved.
Squaw Valley is by far the best resort in California. The real difference between this resort and its counterparts is the diversity that the resort offers. Most resorts in the world will favor one type or level of skiing, but that is not the Squaw Valley way. The resort is an open mine with gems ready for the picking, or should I say trails ready to ski?
The problem with Squaw Valley is; it is not a secret. Everyone knows about this gem in the Californian Mountains and therefore prepare for packed slopes. However, it is within driving distance from Chicago, which makes the resort easy to get to but somewhat harder to ski, as you may find all the city dwellers have ventured into our territory.
In the good old days, not so long ago, if anyone was asked about skiing in Colorado, they would habitually respond with Aspen. Over and over and over again, but the old king has been deposed by this young beauty. Vail is situated within traveling distance of New York, Chicago, and Denver. With an average snowfall of around 340 inches annually, Vail can be depended upon for snow coverage all season long.
What appeals to so many skiers is Vail’s inordinacy. The place is huge! Although this may not be ideal for many skiers, especially those with a little less experience, it means there is a trail for any skier, the only challenge is, you have to find it first.
This is a true contender when considering what the best ski resorts in the USA are if it was based purely on the name. However, the beautiful alliteration hides nothing, as this resort will amaze you. Mammoth Mountain is, in reality, solely ideal for those skiers with a little more experience – as it is micro-terrain everywhere. If you ever need your balance tested, Mammoth Mountain is the perfect training ground!
Despite being considered the best ski resort in America by many skiers and alike, I have to disagree. Although Beaver Creek has reliable snow coverage, a large ski area and a large ski area in the lower part of the mountain (no more gondolas, well there are gondolas but are optional) it lacks a real challenge for top-end skiers.
The real selling point for Beaver Creek is its child friendliness; have a kid who is learning to ski? Beaver Creek is the best ski resort in the USA for you!
This is the resort of families. Everything in Heavenly is geared towards providing for family skiing parties and young kids. Most of the trails are wide, open groomers and are perfect for any skier to increase their skill level while skiing.
Solitude Mountain Resort is the hidden gem amongst the more well-known resorts in this list. While it is indeed slightly smaller than most of the other resorts, it is ideal for anyone who only possesses a basic skill set, as wide open pistes and quiet slopes are the way to go when trying to nail the basics. As for snow coverage, do not fret, there is plenty all-season!
As well as having a diverse offering of trails, good snow cover and being an all-around performer, the lift lines are non-existent for most of the season! Additionally, the nightlife and culture at Jackson Hole is second to none. This resort is the perfect place for a university ski trip.
These are the best ski resorts in the USA!