North America features some of the best ski destinations that rank amongst the top ski resorts in the world. The attractions include frequent dumps of snow on quiet – often deserted – mountains that boast immaculate piste grooming operations, efficient lift systems and few long lines. The resort villages have high-quality accommodation and high standards of service and courtesy.
Open the door to some of the best ski terrain in the country. Anyplace else, this would be considered four separate vacations, but not in Aspen, where skiers will find more than 5,300 acres of terrain. Four mountain experiences have something for everyone—the glamor of Aspen, steep and deep bowls of Aspen Highlands, X-Games terrain parks of Buttermilk and family friendly expanses of Snowmass—all for one price. The Dumps on Aspen Mountain or the glades beneath Snowmass’s High Alpine Lift are a must when it’s snowing, while the breathtaking descent of Highlands Bowl or the empty, perfect groomers of Tiehack beg for attention when the sky is blue. If the renown nightlife stretches on too long, at least one mountain will have a daily noon groomer on the weekends, keeping the corduroy fresh for those who hit the snooze button too many times. The world-class ski school can get the kids carving at Buttermilk or Snowmass while Mom and Dad can enjoy the decadent pleasures of top-to-bottom gondola laps or the infamous 2:30 p.m. seating at Cloud 9 Bistro.
Many think it’s too crowded, but people indeed love it. No place is easier to get to and has everything you want for skiing and off-mountain activities. It’s big, because it’s easy to get to, and because the resort surrounds the name-brand ski town of Park City proper, where they enjoy rocking nightlife, copious delicious dining options, and plentiful off-slope endeavors. And, with 7,000 acres to spread out on, you can ditch the masses. But there are pinch points, notably the Silverlode Lift, which serves much of Park City’s best intermediate terrain, where skiers complain about the line-management system that can make a pile-up seem like survival of the pushiest. And, of course, the Payday lift at Park City Village. But locals know to dodge that bullet by using the Town and Crescent lifts. That’ll get you a head start on your way to the fun stuff on Jupiter Peak. The resort is making big improvements to the High Meadow Family Fun Zone with a speedier, higher capacity lift and additional snowmaking.
Always a favorite, Tremblant’s winning formula comes from excelling at the basics. It continuously receives rave reviews for lodging, dining, après, and nightlife options. Tremblant is well known for is its charm and local flavor. The resort blends Old World European style with Disney-esque perfection to create a magical experience both on and off the mountain. The pedestrian village enchants guests with vibrant colors, outdoor fire pits, cobbled walkways and squares, and an open gondola linking one end to the other. The mountain rising above is etched with trails on four faces, and high-speed lifts provide express rides from the base to the top, which means skiing long runs and sustained pitches. Savvy locals advise starting on the North Side, while tree skiers favor The Edge and Sunny Side.
Beaver Creek’s reputation precedes it. Not a bad thing when what you’re known for is excellent grooming, lots of family terrain, one of the best ski schools in the industry, beautiful hotels, top-notch service, and delicious dining—on-mountain and off. The skiing itself is largely underrated—most visitors come expecting wide, groomed boulevards and mostly mellow terrain. And they leave satisfied, but so do those who come looking for world-class steeps including Birds of Prey, the men’s World Cup downhill. While Beaver Creek has always been a great place to learn, it gets even better with the debut of Haymeadow Park, complete with its own gondola and lift, sculpted terrain designed for newbies, and ice cream shop inside The Ranch restaurant. No matter your skiing ability, everyone congregates in the cute village for a glide on the skating rink, drinks, dinner, or a stroll through an art gallery.
A grand destination with outstanding skiing. There’s a special magic at Sun Valley. It’s the birthplace of the modern ski vacation, having installed the first chairlifts in the world in 1936.
The history is palpable in the hallways and common spaces at the Sun Valley Lodge—where Hemingway finished “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in Suite 206, and dozens of Hollywood stars rubbed elbows with international royalty in the 1940s and ’50s. It’s still a place with a sense of glamour—off the slopes and on. Sun Valley’s loyal fan base ranks it favorably in skier amenities: Lodging, Dining, Après, Nightlife, Lifts, Service, Grooming, etc. And the skiing—intermediate to expert terrain at Bald Mountain, or Baldy, and a beginner’s paradise at Dollar Mountain—satisfies all comers. The village at the base of Baldy is a convenient and luxurious place to bed down, but the action is in nearby Ketchum, possibly the perfect iteration of a ski town.
If having fun is the name of your ski vacation game, then Heavenly is a top-of-mind choice. It’s a great ski destination if you value tons of terrain, exceptional views of glittering Lake Tahoe, nearly every dining and lodging option you can imagine and a great shopping scene. Intermediate and expert terrain comprise the majority of the mountain’s 4,800 skiable acres. Beginner skiers are relegated to one or two sections of the mountain, which may be frustrating for some novice skiers who are used to more comprehensive access. Intermediates rule Heavenly. There are several blue runs, like Skyline Trail or Ridge Run from the top of the Sky Express chairlift, that can be skied from the mountain’s summit to the base area, and offer not only iconic skiing but breathtaking views. Intermediate skiers have an entire blue gladed area, Powderbowl Woods to enjoy. Expert skiers can test their mettle on the double-black “Hollywood line” under Gunbarrel Express, called The Face. Experts also have tons of challenging gladed runs to choose from, and two hike-to, gate-accessed canyons. Here, experts will find numerous steep chutes to ski.
If you can’t find your favorite terrain here, you can’t find it anywhere. Two side-by-side ski giants rise from a lush and lake-dotted valley, climbing high past tree line into a sprawling alpine arena of glaciers, crags, and awe. This is where 8,100-plus seamlessly connected acres offer weeks of intermediate cruising, expansive kid zones, the continent’s largest serving of true expert terrain, and a whole separate universe of tree skiing. Expect big snowfall, easy to-manage altitude, and variable temperatures that deliver mixed blessings. At the base, the little ski city of Whistler and its car-free center buzz and hum with internationalism. Unfortunately prices have risen dramatically, particularly for lodging and lift tickets although buying an Epic Pass dulls the sting. With more than three million annual visitors from around the US and the rest of the world, nothing is slowing this epic destination down.
Often referred to as “the ski capital of the East,” Stowe has transformed beautifully over the years from its first Winter Carnival in 1921 to its present day modern chairlifts and amenities. Stowe is not only one of the most high-end Vermont ski resorts, with a variety of upscale lodging options, including one of the world’s most eco-friendly hotels, but it’s also incredibly accessible. Stowe is one of the best options for East Coast powderhounds with 333 inches of snow annually. But just in case Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, the resort has enough snow-making to cover 90 percent of the mountain. Its modern lift system includes one of the world’s fastest eight-passenger gondolas and 100 percent of its terrain is accessible by high-speed lifts. Families will especially love Stowe since the entire Spruce Peak base area was designed with them in mind. Intermediates will have an absolute blast skiing off of Mount Mansfield, with sustained groomers like Gondolier or Perry Merrill. All the chairlifts from the Mansfield Base Lodge area access plenty more blue runs for intermediates looking to explore. Experts have a great gladed area called Waterfall just off the top of the Gondola. Experts in search of challenging, bumped-out steeps should head up Fourrunner Quad
Many ski legends have been born on the slopes of Jackson Hole.
Jackson Hole often experiences an inversion, where cold air is trapped by clouds at the base of the mountain, while the top of the mountain is gorgeous and sunny with visibility for miles. Skiing in Jackson Hole is like skiing in the clouds. It’s truly breathtaking. Intermediate skiers have their own slice of heaven at Jackson Hole these days. The resort re-graded several runs off of Casper chairlift and redesignated them as true-blue runs, i.e. All New-All Blue. Intermediates can enjoy the views from the top of Jackson Hole’s famed Tram, thanks to meandering fun runs all over the mountain. Downtown Jackson is part of the draw for many people, from the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, a Western museum and watering hole all in one, to the many cowboy attire retailers and antique stores. Jackson Hole is truly a magical ski destination for kids age three to 99.
Situated about 330 miles from San Francisco and 310 miles from LA, Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort boasts the highest summit elevation in the state of California at 11,053 ft. It also averages an impressive 400 inches of annual snowfall for one of the longest ski seasons in the state that can sometimes last well into the summer as late as July and August, weather permitting. Located in the southwest corner of the volcanic Long Valley Caldera on the eastern edge of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Mammoth Mountain lives up to its name by offering more than 3,500 skiable acres and a 3,100 ft. vertical drop. A ski day can run the gamut, with excellent terrain options to explore from a variety of expansive bowls and tree skiing to wide open groomers and steep chutes. Mammoth is also well known for its world-class Unbound Terrain Parks that span Main Park, Forest Trail, South Park, Transition Park, Jibs Galore and halfpipes. Most visitors stay in the town of Mammoth Lakes, California, which offers up restaurants, bars and plenty to do for those seeking a nightlife scene.