Northern Rockies

Best in the West 2018: Character

The results of our reader-ranked survey for the top 10 most authentic resorts in Western North America.

Best in the West: Character

Telluride Ski Resort

No. 1: Telluride, Colorado

“Due to its somewhat remote location, Telluride maintains an uncrowded, unmanufactured experience. It’s a kickin’, charming, classic mountain town.”

Photo courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort.


No. 2: Sun Valley, Idaho

“Sun Valley has an authentic western ambience. The community of residents makes it a place removed from the fast pace of life and into the warmth of local open hearts.”

Photo courtesy of Sun Valley Resort.

Taos Ski Resort

No. 3: Taos, New Mexico

“Both the ski area an the nearby town of Taos have a funky southwestern vibe that is truly unique. The character made me feel like I was skiing in an older Warren Miller film.”

Photo courtesy of Taos Ski Valley.


No. 4: Crested Butte, Colorado

“Crested Butte feels like the last vestiges of a true ski town unfettered by massive corporate resorts. It’s an unbelievable ‘keeping it real’ ski town experience.”

Photo courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain Resort.


No. 5: Alta, Utah

“A company can’t create soul, the skiers at Alta create the soul. It really has a non-pretentious classic ski vibe that you can’t find anywhere else.”

Photo courtesy of Colton Rice at Alta Ski Area.


No. 6: Aspen Highlands, Colorado

“The classic 70’s vibe is alive and well, albeit with new lifts and facilities, not to mention everyone up there is STOKED!”

Photo courtesy of Aspen Skiing Company.


No. 7: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

“The whole place is about as authentic as you can get. It’s the environment other ski areas strive to imitate.”

Photo courtesy of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.


No. 8: Aspen Mountain, Colorado

“Real western cowboy experience and world-class skiing mixed with a great nightlife scene. The locals want all visitors to share in the experience; everyone is an ambassador, that’s what makes Aspen so special.”

Photo courtesy of Aspen Skiing Company.


No. 9: Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia

“I love the mountain environment! It has an international feel but also feels like home from the very first time you visit.”

Photo courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings.


No. 10: Whitefish, Montana

“This is NOT a mega-resort but an authentic town with real people. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, such a wonderful vibe all-around.”

Photo courtesy of Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Want to know how these ski areas ended up in other rankings? Check out the top 10 resorts for lodging here. You can also find out where readers believe the most challenging terrain in the West lies, and you’ll find the top 15 overall resorts in the West here.