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Best Ski Resorts in North America

Best Ski Resorts in Colorado

Best in Rockies (U.S.)

Best in West Coast States

Best in Upper Midwest

Best Ski Resorts in Canada

  1. The Best Ski Resorts For Man Trips - Top 5

  2. Booking A Ski Trip Early Can Save More Than $2,000

  3. Best Ski Resorts For Early Season, Christmas & New Year's Snow - Top 15

  4. The Best Ski Resorts For Snow in February

Best Ski Resorts In North America

  Resort Network
Pass?
True
Snowfall*
     Acreage Vertical
Drop
Summit
Elevation
Lifts PAF
Score
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
31 Crested Butte Ski Resort

CO
252 in 1,547 acres 2,500 ft 11,875 ft 16 77.3
One of the most technically challenging mountains in Colorado, Crested Butte ski trips can keep any expert entertained. The mountain also includes a large number of blue runs (more than half the terrain), so intermediated will find this mountain a good fit as well. The town of Crested Butte is a beautiful mountain hamelet, with a legitmately old core of town that harkens back to the mining days. The lodging pool is deep thanks to a build-up of properties during the real estate boom.
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
32 Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

CO
315 in 900 acres 1,692 ft 12,472 ft 7 77.2
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
33 Stevens Pass Resort

WA
475 in 1,125 acres 1,829 ft 5,845 ft 10 76.7
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
34 Mt. Baker Ski Area

WA
640 in 1,000 acres 1,500 ft 5,089 ft 10 76.5
There is no ski mountain in North America—and perhaps even the world—that receives more snow that Mt. Baker. An average season of snowfall at Mt. Baker would best the biggest year on record at most resorts across the West. Cascade storms can bring warmer precipitation than what usually falls in the Rockies, and Baker's elevation is lower, so it can get rain. But with 640" of snow in an average year, there's more than enough good stuff to go around.
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
35 Brighton Ski Resort

UT
430 in 1,050 acres 1,750 ft 10,500 ft 6 76.4
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
36 Crystal Mountain Resort

WA
409 in 2,600 acres 2,472 ft 6,872 ft 11 76.3
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
37 Powder Mountain Ski Resort

UT
350 in 3,200 acres 2,200 ft 8,900 ft 7 76.1
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
38 Timberline Lodge

OR
450 in 1,415 acres 3,690 ft 8,540 ft 12 75.7
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
39 Heavenly

CA
312 in 4,800 acres 3,500 ft 10,040 ft 30 74.8
The undisputed king of South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly straddles the border of California and Nevada, giving skiers glorious views of Lake Tahoe and wide swaths of all kinds of terrain to keep everybody on the ski trip comfortable but challenged. Lodging is bountiful, with on-mountain options plus all of South Lake at the ready.
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
40 Snowbasin Ski Resort

UT
312 in 2,820 acres 2,959 ft 9,250 ft 12 74.7
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
41 Alpine Meadows

CA
360 in 2,400 acres 1,802 ft 8,637 ft 14 74.5
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
42 Red Mountain Resort

BC
274 in 1,686 acres 2,912 ft 6,800 ft 6 74.5
Red Mountain is a special ski resort nestled in the Canadian Rockies not too far from the U.S. border. The ski resort has a little of everything, including some nice steep shots near the top and loads of well-pitched groomers where skiers can crank it up as far as they want. Great, new lodging dots the base of the resort, and Rossland is one of the unknown ski town gems of North America.
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
43 Mt Hood Meadows

OR
450 in 2,150 acres 2,777 ft 7,300 ft 11 74.1
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
44 Sunshine Village

AB
256 in 3,358 acres 3,514 ft 8,954 ft 12 73.9
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
45 Bridger Bowl Ski Area

MT
301 in 2,000 acres 2,700 ft 8,800 ft 7 73.2
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
46 Northstar at Tahoe

CA
307 in 3,170 acres 2,280 ft 8,610 ft 20 73.1
Northstar has become the Deer Valley of the Lake Tahoe area, complete with a Ritz and dining options that can satisfy all kinds of demanding Bay Area palates. Staying in the village here offers an incredibly convenient experience, and families love the gear wagons that are supplied free at the parking lot. The mountain's best features are its generous and picturesque glades, which can satisfy experts with their deep stashes.
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
47 Kicking Horse Resort

BC
253 in 2,800 acres 4,133 ft 8,033 ft 6 72.8
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
48 Mt. Bachelor

OR
380 in 3,683 acres 3,365 ft 9,065 ft 14 72.5
The alpha ski resort of Oregon, Mt. Bachelor provides skiers with an elite mountain-town combo when including Bend, OR, which is about 22 miles away, or about a 30-minute drive. Powdr, the resort's owner, has been pouring money into Mt. Bachelor, updating its lifts and lodging to resemble more of the destination resort it has become.
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
49 Sun Valley Ski Resort

ID
191 in 2,054 acres 3,400 ft 9,150 ft 19 72.4
Sun Valley is one of the old guard ski resorts, ranking alongside Alta, Sugar Bowl and Timberline as resorts that can say, 'we were here first.' Its slopes sit above a splendid valley, and the Idaho vistas are unique. The food here rivals Deer Valley, and it's a quieter resort than some of its mainline destination peers. The lodging here can compete with anywhere, and the fall lines, although they lack extreme steepness, are consistent top to bottom.
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
50 Wolf Creek Ski Resort

CO
389 in 1,600 acres 1,604 ft 11,904 ft 7 72.0
Wolf Creek collects more snow than any other major ski resort in Colorado. This makes Wolf Creek's early season one of the most dependable in the Rockies. The terrain is mostly easy-going, but there are some short shots of excellent expert terrain toward the top of the resort, and the resort's family owners have made real efforts to improving access there.
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
51 Powder King Mountain Resort

BC
492 in 925 acres 2,500 ft 5,500 ft 3 71.7
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
52 Lake Louise Ski Area

AB
168 in 4,200 acres 3,250 ft 8,650 ft 9 70.5
Lake Louise ranks amongst the most scenic ski resorts in the world. Its vistas fill skiers' goggles with the towering Canadian Rockies, whose verticality looks similar to the Alps. Great skiing and some pure fall lines await skiers who make it toward the top of the resort, where the northerly latitude keeps snow fresh and cold.
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
53 Sundance Ski Resort

UT
275 in 450 acres 2,150 ft 8,250 ft 3 69.4
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
54 Bogus Basin

ID
246 in 2,600 acres 1,782 ft 7,582 ft 8 68.2
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
55 Tamarack Resort

ID
275 in 900 acres 2,800 ft 7,700 ft 5 68.2
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
56 The Summit at Snoqualmie

WA
386 in 1,981 acres 2,280 ft 5,420 ft 25 67.9
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
57 Purgatory Ski Resort

CO
267 in 1,360 acres 2,029 ft 10,822 ft 10 67.8
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
58 Aspen Buttermilk

CO
200 in 470 acres 2,030 ft 9,900 ft 8 67.6
Buttermilk is a family paradise, with wide, rolling groomers and just enough crannies and little woods runs to keep an exploring 7-year-old fully entertained. The lifts are high-speed, the slopes are easy-going, the crowds are light and the ski school is fantastic. Parking is a snap, too. For park rats, Buttermilk provides the familiar backdrop seen on ESPN's Winter X-Games.
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
59 Sugar Bowl Resort

CA
450 in 1,500 acres 1,500 ft 8,383 ft 13 67.5
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Multipass?
True Snow*
     Acres Vert Summit Lifts Score
60 Brian Head Resort

UT
312 in 650 acres 1,707 ft 11,307 ft 9 67.5
Lodging and Package Deals Best Time For Snow Full Report
Best Ski Resorts: West Best Ski Resorts: East
ZRANKINGS STORIES
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Best Ski Resorts In North America: What does that mean?

Perhaps we should just headline this section: What we are trying to do here, but we thought abstracting things that far might betray more hubris than the considerable amount we've already shown. So we'll just stick with this.

Many people who rip and riff on our rankings like to whine that the 'best ski resort' is a wholly subjective thing that can only be determined by the skier herself. There's truth in this statement, of course. We've all met that person who has skied all over and still believes Sun Valley to be the finest skiing available. Those people exist. We're here to show them the light, the truth, the awesomeness.

We've worked hard on our rankings, on our site, on our statistics, on our prose, to help inform the skier who has the view of I love skiing, but I haven't been everywhere—tell me more—what ski resorts should I consider for my next trip? We want to tell you more, we want to tell you about every ski resort we can. We haven't been everywhere. But we've been most places that matter, certainly most places that you will find on this site, and all of them within the top echelons of the rankings.

You should ski

The winter must be cherished. Just as so many of us celebrate summer as a season of recreation, of outdoor life, of ideal childhood memories, we must see winter in the same light. We must grasp winter by its wool lapels and give it a kiss, for it can be ours, just like summer.

Too many people make the mistake of playing defense in the winter, of hiding indoors, cowering at the thought of their flesh being exposed to 20-degree air. But this is wrong. Winter must be attacked. We must bring it to heel under the tip of our ski, the blade of our skate, the runners of our sled. To dominate the outdoors, we must dominate winter.

Ski resorts—most of the big ones built on public land here in the United States—give us one of the best avenues through which we can subdue winter and make it ours.

Yes, you can run away to Florida or Arizona or wherever. You could do that. But deep in your soul you know that's wrong. It's no way to live.

Human beings have evolved as an incredibly adaptable species, capable of shearing sheep for wool, plucking feathers from a goose, or even creating a membrane that allows water vapor to escape while keeping H2O from getting in (hello, Gore-Tex).

Put simply: Humans, it's quite clear to us, evolved to ski.

So seize the season. Own the winter. Make the ski resort yours.

Ski.


This is it, this is what we try and deliver. Courtesy: Breckenridge.

How to book the cheapest ski trip possible

In short, we are here to make your ski trip better. And cheaper. By booking through our partner, Ski.com, you can save 40% compared with simply booking lodging, lift tickets and lessons separately. We recommend at least checking it out and comparing it against your other options. You can use the link from this paragraph or call 1-800-778-8578. Any time you book through one of these two methods, ZRankings earns a couple of bucks, which helps us keep our servers running (costing you nothing). And, as just mentioned, you can save thousands on your trip when booking this way. All you have to do is compare those prices to booking each item—lodging, lift tickets, lessons—individually and you can see the enormous difference in prices.

Finding the right ski resort for your ski trip

Any reader who has followed us for a couple of years knows that we try to place as much emphasis on data as we can when we profile ski resorts. Data are facts that can be quantified, indexed and sorted. We prefer to couch things in terms of vertical drops, true average snowfalls, and the observations of experts with proven judgement and wit. We try to avoid mushy feelings that say Crested Butte is just the best and that's that. (Crested Butte is a fine place, we like it.)

With the right data, you give your ski trip higher odds of being epic. And there is no trip better than an epic ski trip. That's not a subjective declaration, it just is. Ski trips are the best trips. So ski the best ski resorts at the best times are then, the best trips of any kind. It's physics.

Do the rankings change?

They do. We make major revisions and updates to our ski resort rankings every year. Why? Because we can always make them better. We're always gathering more intel, taking more in-person visits, and gathering more data from more sources every single season. We aim to visit the alpha resorts of the world on a regular cycle, so we can stay current on new lifts, new terrain, and what's coming in the future. Just as the rankings for top colleges change each year, so to do the rankings for ski resorts. Note: One bumper season for snow will not change the rankings whatsoever. Nor will one year of drought. These are outlier events that should have no affect on how you plan a ski trip, hence they don't affect our rankings.

What will change our rankings, among other things: Things like a new gondola, or new terrain—like last year's opening of the Teton lift at Jackson Hole. Or when two resorts such as Park City and Canyons are combined into one mega resort—those things matter and do affect scores. We also adjust seasonally according to additional in-person visits at a ski resort from ZRankings team members.

I've never been on a ski trip out West - what places should I consider?

You can't go wrong by simply consulting our top rankings of North American ski resorts. Even the resorts that may have a fearsome reputation for steeps and expert terrain—like Jackson Hole, Telluride or Crested Butte—have lots of intermediate terrain that can be accessed by all levels of skiers.

Beyond that, the best tool in the entire ski travel industry is our Perfect Ski Resort tool. Simply dial in your preferences and see what ski resorts come back. It's wise to not overweight more than two categories. So if you're not interested in expert terrain, or just mildly interested, you're best off not putting any weight on that category. If you want to challenge yourself on your ski trip, there are a few runs at every ski resort that will have you planting your turns a little tighter than normal.

But our general advice for people taking their first big ski trip is simply: Go To Utah. Getting from Salt Lake to the resorts of Park City, Deer Valley, Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude is a far shorter and straight-forward process than going from Denver to any of the central Colorado resorts. Utah is also more likely to bestow you with a big dump of powder, especially the resorts on the Salt Lake side of the Wasatch. First timers will love Park City's Main Street and its miner town feel. And there's only a couple of other places where the ski runs tumble right into town in such a natural setting.

This isn't to say that people shouldn't travel to Colorado, Montana, Wyoming or anywhere else, it's just that Utah has a unique set of properties, travel-wise, weather-wise and on the slopes, that make it ideal for somebody's first ski trip out west. Head to Colorado on year two—and if you can swing it, try and fly somewhere other than Denver. For Vail and other central Colorado ski resorts, that means Eagle-Vail airport; Aspen has perhaps the best small ski town airport in North America; Steamboat Springs has a good facility; and Telluride and Crested Butte skiers can travel through Montrose.


Boom. Every ski trip should bring just one moment like this. Courtesy: Breckenridge.

Why should I listen to you?

Because we've been to every place we write about here. Because this isn't a one-off article of 500 words listing "the best ski resorts." Would you rather take advice and guidance on this subject from this website, that is 100% dedicated to parsing and analyzing ski resorts, ski trips, snow and how to find the best match for you. Alternatively you could take "tips" from a random magazine **cough, cough, Outside Mag** that weighs in on the subject once a year with a cursory article written by a harried writer looking to make $900 and put it behind him. We, on the other hand are here, every day, all the time, out of passion and love for everything ZRankings is all about.

What's the best ingredient for a great ski trip?

On the mountain, there's nothing more important than snow. If you get a big dump on your trip, it will make for a magical couple of days. It's such a big deal, in our opinion that even a trip to a lesser resort, with shorter terrain and lesser lodging digs, is preferable to a dry trip at a superior mountain. There's simply no replacement for great snow.

When is the best time to take a ski trip?

We wrote an entire piece on this. We got some remarks from people like: "Duh, when it snows." Well, yes - of course. But when is it going to snow? Some resorts are better in the early season than in the late season. Some places peak late, like Telluride. So take a look at our individual ski resort pages and check out the graphs under the heading "Best Time For Snow At (resort name)" On there, you can see that every resort has a distinctly different profile. Aspen peaks at a different time than Vail, and a different time than Big Sky. This is real. This is science, math, geography. Wield it to your advantage!

The other side of the story is, if you don't have to plan your ski trip way ahead of time (but most people do, which is understandable), then you can be a free agent. This is truly the best way to ski—to storm watch, see where the powder is coming and get there before it dumps. We're building something around this very thing right now. So watch for it this coming winter of 2016-2017: Powderfares.


Use Data. Ski. Profit like this guy. Courtesy: Breckenridge.

The bottom line:

You need to dominate winter. Dominating winter requires attacking it, and planning the perfect ski trip at the perfect time, all things that we dominate here at ZRankings. Picking the perfect ski resort starts with great data. Pairing the perfect ski resort with the perfect time for traveling to that resort produces the perfect ski trip—the one that you should take. Find it here. If you need help, or personalized assistance on finding just the right resort, you can always email us at PAF@zrankings.com

Our booking line is open all day: 800-778-8575. Or just check out your options on the web here. Get after it - and may the powder find you!