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Resort Guide 2022

The 10 Best Resorts in the West With a Unique Sense of Place

Local Flavor just means really cool places for real skiers. Here are the top-ranked resorts for Local Flavor in the 2022 Resort Guide.

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What the heck is the “Local Flavor” category in the Reader Resort Survey even mean? Ir’s not the best ice cream options available in a resort town (though we could swayed by a stellar coffee flavor). Local Flavor is that certain je ne sais quoi, that feeling that the destination rises beyond just a ski vacation and instead offers a peek into what it’s really like to live in this mountain paradise. If that’s an important component of your ski vacation, these resorts ranked at the top for Local Flavor in the 2022 Reader Resort Survey.

Top 10 Resorts in the West for Local Flavor

10. Snowbasin Resort, Utah

Score: 8.29
Other Strengths: Lifts (#2), Grooming (#3)

Nightlife (#29), Lodging (#30)

What Readers Say

“Skied here since 1946, unfortunately it is no longer a ‘best-kept secret,’ I would reluctantly recommend it to anyone (too many outsiders already!). I have skied many places, enjoyed them all, but as I have aged I am lucky that my home area is the best.”

“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.”

“Snowbasin is the hidden gem of Utah. The rich history and expansiveness of the resort makes it feel so special. Some of the longest runs and lifts. Their terrain varies across the board making it fun for everyone. The ease of access to expert terrain like big cirques, chutes, and sidecountry slopes is unmatched. Don’t even get me started on the boujee’ness. Snowbasin is the sleeping giant, can’t wait to see it grow.”

“Snowbasin feels like the lesser loved sister of Sun Valley. Not enough lifts, not as generous and kind staff. (Pins for kids! Helpful and encouraging for young skiers!) Crap parking, and OVERCROWDED. But it’s my local hill, so they’ll see me next year, grumbling at times.”

9. Revelstoke Mountain Resort, B.C.

Score: 8.33
Other Strengths: Snow (#7), Challenge (#7)

Weaknesses: Grooming (#31), Access (#31)

What Readers Say

“Small town vibe with the most incredible skiing. The terrain was incredible it really helped to up level my own skiing and I felt safe enough due to great snow conditions to really push myself and go for the extra challenges whether that was zooming through the extensive glades, going down some terrifically steep bumps, or going for some unknowns on the double blacks. The amount of time and terrain to explore from the top even to mid mountain was awesome. The views were breathtaking. Can’t say enough about this place.”

“We are all expert skiers in the family and had always heard great things about Revelstoke. When we finally got their it did not disappoint with amazing terrain that was both lift accessible and an easy hike to get to. The town has a great ski vibe with some wonderful bars and restaurants that are great value. Plus the locals are very friendly as well!”

“One of my favorite ski resorts in Western Canada. The terrain is difficult and the double blacks are extremely challenging. However, for an advanced or expert skier this is one of the best mountains in Western Canada to really push your skills and experience some of the best steep skiing in the west. Excellent tree runs, bowls, chutes, glades, and gullies. Not a family or beginner friendly mountain.”

8. Telluride Ski Resort, Colo.

Score: 8.41
Other Strengths: Dining (#7), Nightlife (#8)

Weaknesses: Overall Satisfaction (#3), Dining (#4)

Telluride Local Flavor
(Photo: Telluride Ski Resort)

What Readers Say

“My favorite place to ski… it’s like Disneyworld for skiers… as a dad, when I show up and I don’t have to drive around because the public transportation (gondola), it’s the best! The mountain is fantastic with terrain for every skill level. Top two or three for scenery while skiing.”

“Love the old Western feel of the town. Great slopes. Easy transportation.”

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

“The classic Colorado mining town-turned ski town. The gondola access to town made our stay in Mountain Village much more interesting‚ The on-mountain accommodations are convenient to the hill, but the area is very sterile compared to town.”

7. Steamboat Resort, Colo.

Score: 8.66
Other Strengths: Family (#3), Lodging (#6)

Weaknesses: Challenge (#28), Value (#26)

Steamboat Local Flavor
(Photo: Noah Wetzel)

What Readers Say

“It’s a cowboy town and good, fun skiing.”

“Has the friendliest and coolest hang out vibe! The base area is awesome with several choices of restaurants and bars. Gondola line, even when long has awesome music and people keeping things fun. Love the on mountain lodges and places to sit and enjoy the amazing views!”

“I lived here for five years in ’70s and ’80s. What is said about the powder isn’t BS—it’s amazing. I go almost every year. The ‘Boat has a separate ski hill and a real town with another jumping hill right in town. And don’t forget the Strawberry Park Hot Springs (especially after dark).”

6. Loveland Ski Area, Colo.

Score: 8.62
Other Strengths: Access (#1), Value  (#1)

Weaknesses: Lodging (#33), Dining (#32)

What Readers Say

“Raised my daughter to ski here. Great place to learn with the locals. Avoided all the glamour and glitz of the out of staters hindering the fun!”

“You come here to ski, not to party or be seen. And the variety of terrain is great. As are the views. Access is also great.”

“Affordable. No frills. In the day lodge (practically the only base area amenity) you’ll see tables of locals who all know each other. They all greet each other by name. Everyone boots up inside, gets a cafeteria coffee and chats at big round tables. It’s so warm and convivial as well as affordable. Must be one of the least expensive day tickets in the state if not the nation. Very friendly, uncrowded, old-school vibe. And the local crowd is just that. Unpretentious, generally older folks for whom the vibe and congeniality is as it more important than anything else. Skiing is nice. Nothing too challenging. A big easy to intermediate hill. They do have a race training area that is renowned. That’s what brought me here, as a friend’s daughter was training in the race hill. But I loved it. Reminded me of Vermont in the ’70s before base area villages were even a thing. If you want a mellow, affordable, no stress, no frills day that will leave you relaxed and peaceful, this is the place.”

5. Arapahoe Basin, Colo.

Score: 8.63
Other Strengths: Value (#3), Challenge (#4)

Weaknesses: Family (#32), Lodging (#31)

Arapahoe Basin Local Flavor
Photographer: Casey Day, Location: Arapahoe Basin (Photo: Casey Day)

What Readers Say

“A Basin is one of our local mountains. We absolutely love the laidback vibe. The bacon Bloody Mary is one of the best! In regular years, tailgating at the Beach is the best. ”

“Keeping the local vibe alive with better terrain and better food and drink than any large multi-resort corporations. A day or a few hours at A-Basin adds a big smile to the face and more than a year to your life.”

“A huge day resort with no accommodation and minimal food choices but excellent terrain and challenging steeps. Great option for people who are willing to hike for their turns.”

4. Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colo.

Score: 8.77
Other Strengths: Challenge (11), Après (#12)
Weaknesses: Access (#32), Snow (#30)

Crested Butte Local Flavor
(Photo: William Shoemaker)

What Readers Say

“Crested Butte is such a special ski resort, located right in the heart of what I would describe as the best ski town in the United States. Crested Butte has excellent skiing terrain for experts but it also boosts very nice beginner and intermediate terrain as well. This is a place that is worth the effort to visit.”

“My experiences at Crested Butte have been nothing short of magical. When the snow is good, this place can do no wrong. The off-slope experience is just as awesome as a day on the hill. I can’t say that about any other place.”

“We love CB. Ski -in/ski-out access, fantastic terrain for experts. Intermediates loved it, too. We practically lived on the backside, skiing the steeps and trees. CB doesn’t get nearly the love it deserves. Great mountain.”

“We love Crested Butte. Although it’s not an easy trip: two planes and a shuttle, it’s worth it to us. We have now been there 5 times. We will continue to go back. It’s the whole package; great skiing and a great town.”

3. Taos Ski Valley, N.M.

Score: 9.23
Other Strengths: Challenge (#1), Overall Satisfaction (#2)

Weaknesses: Nightlife (#23), Access (#27)

Taos Local Flavor
(Photo: Claire Mylott)

What Readers Say

“A world-class ski resort and an UNESCO World Heritage site in the same town, it doesn’t get any better! Skiing, lodging, and food are out of this world.”

“Grew up skiing at Taos. The New Mexican vibe is extremely unique. Taos is an amazing place to visit year-round, and the ski resort, despite being in the Southern Rockies, has some extremely challenging skiing and good variety to boot. Taos isn’t on the radar of a lot of skiers and rider who assume that places in Montana, Utah, or Colorado have the best skiing in the U.S., so it never seems too crowded.”

“Taos is a unique gem with expert terrain and a ski culture that can can only be found in New Mexico. I’m making sure my kids grow up learning to ski like a Taoseño.”

2. Whitefish Mountain Resort, Mont.

Score: 9.24
Other Strengths: Value (#2), Service (#4)

Weaknesses: Lifts (#23), Grooming (#22)

What Readers Say

“I have been coming to Big Mountain/Whitefish Mountain Resort for 40 years. It is a skier’s mountain, with slopes for everyone. Consistently great snowfalls. Tree skiing. Uphill AT allowed and Skimo races. Very reasonable prices. Unpretentious. Fun. Fabulous kids’ program. Friendliest staff in the country. Best locals to ski with.”

“Whitefish is the best Western skiing at the best price. Unbelievable powder, affordable on-mountain and in-town dining, beautiful surrounding area, including Glacier National Park.”

“A few years ago we visited Whitefish for the first time. We only intended to spend a week and go home. By the third day, we had met with a realtor and by the end of the week, we had purchased a condo. It’s a great area, surrounded with unbelievable beauty, and some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. Truly a place everyone needs to visit at least once.”

1. Sun Valley, Idaho

Score: 9.36
Other Strengths: Lodging (#1), Family (#1)

Weaknesses: Snow (#22), Access (#24)

What Readers Say

“Sun Valley has an indescribable magic to the town, the mountain, and the community.”

“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.”

“Sun Valley is still very much a ski town. It has a great mix of colorful locals, limited lift lines, great terrain and a can’t beat mountain.”

“There is no better place to ski than Sun Valley. The pandemic has ushered in a new crop of younger skiers who share the mountain with an old guard that may die in their skies. The view from the top of Baldy never fails to take your breath away no matter how many days you ski! No area makes me feel as blessed to be a skier as the slopes of Sun Valley.”