Finding the best experience
If winter weather makes you anxious to get out on the slopes, then planning a winter getaway to a great ski area can be the highlight of the season. There are many ways to measure what makes a ski area “tops”, and you may have different priorities, but these are some of the best-ranked ski destinations based on snowfall, size, conditions, accommodations, and recommendations from experts. While we’ve focused primarily on downhill skiing/snowboarding destinations, most of these areas cater to telemark and cross-country ski enthusiasts as well. Check with the resort before planning your trip.
1. Park City/Salt Lake City, Utah
This region is well-known for some of the best skiing in the country, both from the 2002 Winter Olympics, and its reputation for phenomenal ski conditions on the slopes, and warmer weather in town. Deer Valley and Park City Mountain are the biggest resorts, with numerous runs for skiers and snowboarders, tubing hills nearby, beautiful accommodations, and memorable restaurants and shopping. This area also hosts the Sundance Film Festival, and the United States Ski Team trains there, so they must be doing something right!
2. Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge is one of the nation’s largest ski areas, with 187 trails and almost 3,000 acres of skiable terrain situated just a short drive from Denver and Vail. The area receives nearly 30 feet of snow annually, so conditions are almost always ideal. It’s considered a very friendly and welcoming ski town with Victorian styling and charm, and the downtown restaurants, bars, and shops have attractions for every age group and traveler.
3. Aspen, Colorado
The Colorado presence in this list is understandably strong, since the state boasts some of the best of our nation’s ski resorts in its many Rocky Mountain towns. With four major ski destinations in this one area—Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk—there’s a trail and difficulty level for every skier in your group. Aspen is known for its scenic ski-town vibe, with upscale chalets climbing the mountainsides all around. More than many resort towns, Aspen has off-slope activities for everyone, with shopping, museums, popular festivals, and more. This celebrity vacation destination lives up to its starry reputation.
4. Lake Tahoe, California
This well-known and popular resort in eastern California is a gorgeous destination, with three ski areas in close proximity. While accommodations can be expensive, they’re also in demand, so you’ll want to plan ahead. The steep mountainsides and stunning views make the fantastic skiing conditions—considered some of the best on the continent—almost a secondary feature. The area also caters to visitors who also enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing, shopping, dining, and gaming (at the nearby casino), not to mention scenic tours, cruises, and more.
5. The Finger Lakes, New York
Since we’re partial to Central New York and New York State, we had to include a few of the state’s best ski regions. The Finger Lakes region is the first, and not without reason. Lake effect snows keep this area in top condition for skiing, and its nearly 30 locations are frequented by skiers from around the Northeast. In addition to the skiing and beautiful landscapes for downhillers to enjoy, cross-country enthusiasts will find miles of trails to explore in the region, and the wineries, restaurants, and tourist attractions will keep you busy off the slopes.
6. Adirondack Mountains, New York
Our second nod to the fantastic skiing throughout New York State is a blanket area for a wide range of ski hills: the Adirondacks. Even setting aside the world-class skiing in Lake Placid, home to the 1980 Olympics and training ground for Olympic hopefuls, towering mountains like Whiteface, Gore, and other smaller and no-less fun ski areas make it a playground for those seeking the full variety of Eastern U.S. skiing. Of course, the full range of winter activities is also available, from cross-country skiing to backcountry and trail snowshoeing and more. The Adirondacks’ 6 million acres contain a multitude of resorts, attractions, festivals, accommodations, restaurants, and pubs.
7. Steamboat Springs, Colorado
With nearly 3,000 acres of trails and six peaks, Steamboat Springs (a.k.a. Ski Town, USA) gives skiers a staggering variety of choices, with downhilling for everyone from kids to advanced adults, and everything in between. Even snowboarders can choose from three different parks. Off-hill, there are cross-country, snowmobile, and snowshoe trails, as well as affordable accommodations, shopping, and attractions, like the area’s signature hot springs and mineral pools. Like museums, art galleries, restaurants, bars, and other non-skiing pursuits? This is your place.
Of course, there are many fantastic ski areas not mentioned here, including well-known ski destinations like Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Vail and Telluride in Colorado, and the big Eastern resorts like Killington, Stowe, and Sugar Mountain (Sugarbush) in Vermont, and Sugarloaf in Maine. The snowy world is yours to explore.
Need new gear to tackle the big mountains, or financial help with your travel expenses? Before you book or purchase lift tickets, Live Smarter by making an appointment today to ask how we could help. Planning ahead can make all the difference.