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Resort Guide 2022

These Are the 10 Resorts in the West with the Fastest Lifts

An efficient lift network is the difference between skiing a lot and skiing a little. You'll ski a lot at these Western resorts.

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A quick lift network means the difference between logging a lot of vertical … and not very much at all. And more than that, efficient lifts are well placed to allow for the best flow on the mountain, minimal flat spots, and the ability to navigate to where you want to ski more easily. So resorts are blessed in the this regard, and your ski day flows seamlessly. And at other resorts, it feels like whole place is working against you. We’re happy to report that the resort on this list fall squarely in the former category. These are the resorts with the best lift systems, according to the results of the 2022 Reader Resort Survey.

Top 10 Resorts in the West with the Best Lifts

10. Telluride Ski Resort, Colo.

Score: 8.64
Other Strengths: Variety (#3), Dining (#4)
Weaknesses: Access (#33), Family (#21)

Telluride Lifts
(Photo: Telluride Ski Resort)

What Readers Say

“This is my favorite resort in the United States! Telluride is far enough removed that there are practically no lift lines. The mountain itself has both very steep and hike-to-challenging terrain but also a baby park and easy beginner runs. Our favorite was the backside that was essentially one big bowl with one chairlift for the views!”

“Skiers and snowboarders tend to be pretty skilled, which is nice, and almost everyone is friendly and courteous. Crowds are sparse; I rarely waited in line more than a minute or two. The terrain is big and varied—steeps, cliffs, trees, bumps, and hike-to terrain that in most places could only be accessed by helicopter. Four- and five-star ski-in/ski-out lodging can be much less expensive here than at other major resorts, although if you have money to burn, I’m sure the Fairmont Franz Klammer lodge would be happy to take it. Food, après, and nightlife are outstanding here, on mountain, in the Village, and in town. The free gondola links town and the Village, which vastly expands evening dining and nightlife options, from cheap eats up to Allred’s at the top of the gondola, which is expensive but excellent and highly recommended.”

“Telluride is magical: the gondolas are a great way to get around, the towns are beautiful at night, the skiing is really fun, and the rooms are very comfortable. Getting around is easy.”

9. Big Sky Resort, Mont.

Score: 8.66
Other Strengths: Variety (#2), Challenge (#5)
Weaknesses: Access (#28), Après (#26)

Big Sky Lifts
(Photo: Jon Resnick)

What Readers Say

“Big Sky truly has something for everyone—you can take a heated bubble chair up to some well-groomed green circles, or a rickety double up a windy ridge to hit some sweet steep bowls. Skiing off the top of Lone Peak on a sunny powder day is an experience I’ll never forget.”

“Big Sky is a large resort with an outstanding lift system that makes crowds almost nonexistent. There is a great variety of terrain for all abilities and its grooming is both impeccable and there is lots of it. It seems COVID took away some of the dining and après options right at the resort but once those are restored, it should be great again. I would recommend Big Sky to almost all type of skiers from families, couples and groups and to those seeking the most challenging steeps or those who are focused on cruising groomers.”

“The peak lift at Big Sky is one of skiing’s great experiences. The resort has challenging and varied runs, incredible acreage, and has invested heavily in lifts and grooming. A first-rate resort overall.”

8. Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.

Score: 8.72
Other Strengths: Après (#1), Nightlife (#1)
Weaknesses: Snow (#28), Value (#24)

Whistler Blackcomb Lifts
Spectacle of light in Whistler Blackcomb (Photo: Guy Fattal)

What Readers Say

“It’s the resort I have skied the most in the past 12 years. I love the variety of terrain and lift access. There is something for everyone.”

“Two huge mountains, peak to peak gondola—awesome place!! So easy to get there. The bus runs all over the place and is very convenient. All international skiers and seasonal workers. There is a very friendly and fun place. But since Vail bought it out it’s changed a lot! Losing town ambiance.”

“Massive resort, great lift system, variety besides the skiing (my wife does not ski). It’s Canada, eh.”

7. Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

Score: 8.8
Other Strengths: Variety (#5), Grooming (#9)
Weaknesses: Access (#29), Value (#26)

Mammoth Lifts
2019-02-11_MM_PM_PowderAction (Photo: Mammoth Mountain)

What Readers Say

“I absolutely love Mammoth. It lives up to its name as the place is MAMMOTH! It’s cool to ride the gondola and look out to see all the lifts and terrain available. If you want black and double black terrain, they’ve got it. You want blues, they have that too! You need some greens for the first timers and young ones, they have that as well. Well-groomed with fast, long runs but also plenty of untouched terrain great for powder or bump skiing. If you want to ski, go here!”

“Mammoth is an amazing place to stay and ski, the lodge Mammoth Mountain Inn is hands down my favorite lodge, price and access to lifts can’t be beaten anywhere. The mountain itself offers the biggest variety of incredible terrain with a beautiful 5-hour drive from Southern California! The town and locals are so wonderful and welcoming!”

“It, like Jackson Hole, is a destination resort. The layout for the mountain is very good. It is, for such a big mountain, ridiculously easy to get from one place to the other. And the snow is definitely very good most of the time. There are also plenty of options to stay and eat with an easy free shuttle service from most of the lodging as well as a free town bus service that accesses all the lift areas around the mountain.”

6. Banff Sunshine, Alb.

Score: 8.84
Other Strengths: Grooming (#4), Snow (#5)
Weaknesses: Nightlife (#18), Challenge (#18)

Banff Sunshine Lifts
(Photo: Reuben Krabbe)

What Readers Say

“It’s the best ski resort I’ve been to on vacation and I can see myself returning time and time again. Love how you take a gondola up into the mountains and then lifts from there. You feel like you’re right in the heart of it. Tons of variety, incredible views, and lots to work up to.”

“Has easy and difficult terrain, great for all levels! And a ton of lifts so you can always find a spot that isn’t too busy.”

“Sunshine is my home hill. When I started skiing this is where I went; I am most comfortable here. I love how big the ski area is and how may lifts and runs there are. If one section isn’t working for you (due to weather, snow, etc.) you just go to another section of the hill. I always recommend it.”

5. Copper Mountain Resort, Colo.

Score: 8.88
Other Strengths: Access (#5), Grooming (#7)
Weaknesses: Nightlife (#24), Dining (#23)

Copper Lifts
(Photo: Copper Mountain)

What Readers Say

“I buy a season pass to Copper because I love to ski. It’s one of the best bargains of all the Colorado resorts. The new lifts and varied terrain are amazing. Access is so easy. Free parking is a huge perk.”

“The lift system here is the best I’ve seen, most are detachable and the layout is also very good. The back bowl is first class and the Three Bears lift is exciting for those who require a challenge.”

“We’ve skied here on two previous occasions. 1) It’s on the IKON pass, 2) We love the naturally divided terrain, and 3) Great lift system.”

4. Deer Valley Resort, Utah

Score: 8.97
Other Strengths: Family (#2), Dining (#2)
Weaknesses: Challenge (#31), Variety (#30)

Deer Valley Lifts
(Photo: Noah Wetzel)

What Readers Say

“The most convenient skiing ever. Easy access to the lifts, easy travel from one part of the mountain to another, great huts on each hill with great coffee, and great dining on the mountain!”

“Perhaps my favorite place to ski in the U.S. Great variety of runs. Very good lift system. Lots of snow, and it is taken care of very well. The staff is outstanding. They make you feel welcome, and they make you feel like you belong. The on-mountain restaurants and cuisine are the best of any ski area that I have ever visited. I have skied in several different countries, but Deer Valley is by far my favorite ski resort.”

“This is my third year is it in Deer Valley and every year I love the place even more. I especially enjoy the long runs, efficient lift structure, and nice touches like very quick parking lot shuttle and convenient ski storage.”

3. Aspen Snowmass, Colo.

Score: 8.97
Other Strengths: Nightlife (#2), Après (#3)
Weaknesses: Value (#22), Access (#19)

Aspen Snowmass Lifts
February 18, 2021 Snow Cat Derrin Carelli cat operator Aspen Mountain SunSet Aspen CO Matt Power Photography (Photo: Matt Power)

What Readers Say

“Excellent variety of skiing for all levels of skiers. Excellent ski school for both adults and children. Rarely any lift lines longer than 1–2 minutes.”

“One of my favorites every year: great snow, not crowded, great lift system.”

“I arrived at Highlands on a Wednesday morning, six inches of new blower pow, and zero lift lines. The terrain was awesome and Highland Bowl—yeah, it’s everything they say it is.”

2. Snowbasin Resort, Utah

Score: 8.97
Other Strengths: Service (#3), Access (#3)
Weaknesses: Lodging (#30), Nightlife (#29)

Snowbasin Lifts
(Photo: Snowbasin Resort)

What Readers Say

“Love the bottom-to-top high speed lifts or gondolas and Snowbasin does all of the “little things” really well. I have never, not one time—over the course of 9 years of season passes—found the resort to be anything less than immaculately prepared and staffed by individuals who go out of their way to help anyone and everyone.”

“Great snow and terrain with very long runs! The lodges are gorgeous and the food is exceptional. Love the gondola that whisks you to the top of the mountain super fast!”

“Snowbasin is one of if not the best place to ski in Utah. The customer service, the food, the gondolas, the parking and shuttle, the list goes on and on. I want to recommend it to everyone yet not recommend it to anyone because once someone has the Snowbasin experience, they are not going to go anywhere else. It is our favorite.”

1. Sun Valley Resort, Idaho

Score: 9.52
Other Strengths: Grooming (#1), Local Flavor (#1)
Weaknesses: Access (#24), Snow (#22)

Su Valley Lifts
(Photo: Sarah Mansfield)

What Readers Say

“You forgot to ask about the scenery. Sun Valley is just so beautiful it makes it more fun every time you look around. I really like the long, wide groomed runs and plenty of high speed lifts. Plus there is so much history there it just has a skier vibe.”

“High speed lifts, no lines, unbelievable grooming, and new backcountry experience bowls and glades.”

“Sun Valley is one of the resorts that made me really fall in love with skiing. Beautiful lodges, great snow, easy flight from Seattle, yummy food, love the long runs and amazing grooming. Snowbasin is great too but I’d say SV is my first love out of the two, plus Sun Valley’s lines aren’t as bad. Strawberry gondola at Snowbasin had a HECK of a line.”