home of the Pure Awesomeness Factor Talk with an expert: 800-778-8578
Best Ski Resorts For Beginners - Top 10
BY Les Houches

The best ski resorts for beginners can also be great mountains for experts, but what sets them apart is wide swaths of easily-accessible mellow terrain. Some ski resorts' geographies simply set up better for first timers and families with skiers whose abilities range up and down the scale, from beginners and intermediates all the way up to expert.

The best ski resorts for beginners in Colorado, for instance, aren't Vail and Telluride, which rank very highly overall, but places with larger reservoirs of green terrain—such as Beaver Creek and Copper Mountain.

In tandem with having large amounts of easier terrain, the ski resorts that are best for beginners also have ski schools that cater to people who are newer to skiing and that have a stellar reputation that's been built from years of superior service.

Our team has skied every major mountain in North America. We've dragged our families with us in many cases, some members of which are beginners themselves. So we have a keen eye for what makes a mountain hospitable to beginners. With all of those factors in mind, we've sifted the better beginner ski resorts and compiled list of the ten best.

Best Ski Resorts For Beginners and First-Timers:

   Resort True
Snow*
Vertical
Longest Run
Base & Top Elev.
Acreage
Beaver Creek Resort
CO
328" 3,340 ft 14,520 ft 8100'
to
11440'
1,815 more
Big Sky Resort
MT
284" 3,666 ft 31,680 ft 7500'
to
11166'
5,809 more
Copper Mountain
CO
280" 2,601 ft 14,784 ft 9712'
to
12313'
2,465 more
Steamboat Ski Resort
CO
371" 3,668 ft 15,840 ft 6900'
to
10568'
2,965 more
Park City Mountain Resort
UT
290" 3,100 ft 18,480 ft 6900'
to
10000'
7,300 more
Winter Park Ski Resort
CO
348" 3,060 ft 10,560 ft 9000'
to
10700'
3,081 more
Breckenridge Ski Resort
CO
283" 3,240 ft 18,480 ft 9600'
to
12840'
2,358 more
Keystone Resort
CO
235" 2,718 ft 18,480 ft 9280'
to
11998'
3,148 more
Aspen Buttermilk
CO
200" 2,030 ft 15,840 ft 7870'
to
9900'
470 more
Aspen Snowmass
CO
294" 4,030 ft 27,984 ft 8104'
to
12510'
3,132 more
ZRankings has special packages for beginners at these resorts!
 

Beaver Creek

What makes Beaver Creek unique as a beginner's mountain is that it possesses a large amount green terrain near the top of the mountain. Beginners and intermediates are often used to being trapped near the bottom of the ski hill, while the experts and advanced skiers get to head farther up the mountain to test their mettle. This is decidedly not the case at Beaver Creek, where a high plateau offers gradual slopes and copious amounts of beginner terrain toward the top of the mountain. It's a great spot for kids, who can dart in and out of the woods, which boasts little hideouts and adventure sites. It's also a great spot for adults who are getting their ski legs, as the upper slopes offer great views and a true feeling of being in an alpine Colorado setting.

Beaver Creek has large quantities of great, easy-going terrain toward the top of the mountain, which is unique.
Beaver Creek has large quantities of great, easy-going terrain toward the top of the mountain, which is unique. Courtesy: Beaver Creek

Park City

Park City's vast acreage includes gobs of terrain that's well-suited to those who are learning how to link turns and get a feel for bigger mountains. There is good beginner terrain located above the gondola on the old Canyon side of the resort, to the north, and there's also good green terrain that filters into the Bonanza and Silverlode lifts on the side of the ski resort closer to town. Beginners who graduate to the lower-intermediate level will get a big kick out of being able to ski down to the Town Lift on Park City's Main Street, one of the unique experiences in North American skiing.

Park City gives learning and beginner skiers a wide array of options when choosing their run.
Park City gives learning and beginner skiers a wide array of options when choosing their run. Courtesy: Park City

Big Sky

With the fearsome reputation of Lone Peak and the little tram that takes daring skiers to its top, many don't associate Big Sky with utter beginner skier compatibility. But that's a mistake. This place is fantastic for beginners and intermediates, as the lower mountain, which makes up the bulk of Big Sky's acreage, offers loads of easy-going terrain with legitimate Montana scenery. Perhaps best of all, Big Sky's slopes tend to be uncrowded, which helps alleviate some beginners' reasonable anxiety of skiing amongst throngs of other, very unpredictable people.

Copper Mountain

For beginners and intermediates venturing to Colorado for the first time, Copper offers one of the best bets in all of the state. It's close to I-70, and a shorter drive from Denver than most ski resorts in the corridor. Better yet, Copper offers a slew of easy terrain with long descents and good fall lines. There's enough here that beginners can branch out and try lots of different runs without running over the same green terrain again and again. Copper has a great ski school as well, and a single day lesson can be a great way to learn where to head on the mountain for the most agreeable terrain.

Steamboat

Steamboat gives beginners and first-timers the entire catalogue of experiences related to a Rocky Mountain ski vacation. It's a big mountain that supplies amazing vistas, it has a world class lift system, and it has one of the best and most genuine mountain towns in all of Colorado. In addition, this is simply a great place for people to become better skiers. The mountain is open and inviting, with lots of gentle rolling terrain that traverses big stretches of vertical. At Steamboat, beginners aren't confined to the bottom of the mountain. They can head all over and find agreeable runs that will let them get better while not being too scary. Steamboat also happens to be one of the best ski resorts for skiing the early season, so it's an extra good bet for groups with beginners who are looking at the earlier half of the ski season.

Winter Park

The areas around Discovery Park and High Lonesome express offer beginner and first-time skiers large areas where they can ply their improving skills. Beginners will appreciate being able to head up the mountain and find terrain that suits them, in addition to being able to find green runs further down the mountain, as is the norm. Winter Park also runs a number of programs that are well-suited for first-timers, and quite well-priced compared with the rest of Colorado. This ski resort has always been a favorite with people who are finding their ski legs, and it offers great possibilities for advanced and expert skiers who may be tagging along. Winter Park is truly a destination resort with something for every ability of skier.

Breckenridge

Breckenridge's terrain descends down a series of peaks that fan out toward one of the best ski town in Colorado. A good portion of this terrain is mellow and well-pitched for beginners. Breckenridge has good sight-lines and a good view toward the bottom of the ski resort from most vantages, a fact that's usually comforting to people getting the hang of skiing and who like to see who they're skiing toward, if anybody. Breck also has a first-class ski school operation, as do most of the mountains owned by Vail Resorts, which executes well on this front. The ski school team here has deep experience in dealing with families and skiers who are relatively new to the sport.

Keystone

Keystone is our top-ranked family ski resort because it caters so well to people with kids and the unique challenges of getting little people from the car, condo and house onto the slopes and ensuring they have a good time. Many of the traits that make Keystone so hospitable to families—mellow terrain that's easy to reach, a great lift system, an elite ski school—are some of the same things that make it such a fantastic ski resort for beginners, first timers and intermediates. Keystone has a unique set up that gives learning skiers access to long fall lines of gentle slopes and the ability to get all over the mountain without having to ski anything too steep. And the ski school has a deep bench of instructors with a ton of experience getting beginners, from adults to kids, to steadily progress throughout their stay.

Keystone is uniquely suited for beginners and families - and it can keep advanced skiers entertained as well.
Keystone is uniquely suited for beginners and families - and it can keep advanced skiers entertained as well. Courtesy: Keystone

Aspen Buttermilk

For those who want to have one of their first ski trip experiences in perhaps the preeminent ski town and setting of them all, we say: do it. Aspen Mountain, the one that's right in town, might be a little intimidating for beginners and early-on intermediates, but the ski mountain just down the road is a place that is more hospitable to beginners than any other major mountain in Colorado. This mountain is Aspen Buttermilk, one of the four distinct ski mountains that Aspen Skiing operates in the region. This mountain is dominated by beginner and intermediate slopes, but it's big enough to keep beginners challenged and interested throughout an entire week. The whole Buttermilk experience is buttressed by one of the best ski school operations on the continent. The ski school is based out of a brand new building that's easily accessed from the parking lot and is adjacent to the slopes.

Aspen Snowmass

Snowmass stands alone from the other three Aspen area ski resorts. It's a destination unto itself. And it's well equipped for beginners who might be on a trip with skiers of greater abilities. The ski school operates with the same efficiency and deftness as the other Aspen properties, which is a huge plus, but Snowmass is uniquely blessed with more than 3,000 acres of terrain that is stitched through with good opportunities for beginners and budding intermediates. The mountain has a great lift system that delivers beginners to wide takeoffs zones that melt into rolling runs with good fall lines and gentle slopes. The mountain has a ton of ski-in, ski-out lodging, as well, which makes it a great pick for beginners seeking to take in the total western skiing experience.