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Resort Guide 2023

The Best Ski Resorts in the U.S. (2023)

When you want it all and are not willing to compromise, look to these well-rounded ski areas, the best of the best in the country.

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Committing to a ski vacation is a big decision, especially when you’re trying to accommodate people of different abilities levels and interests. Some are only in it for the powder, others want to party after the lifts stop spinning, and of course the kids needs a reputable ski school and family-friendly diversions. Where to start?

Full 2023 Survey Results: Top 50 Resorts in the North America

The resorts on this list are the top ski destinations in the U.S., the ones that scored highest in our 2023 Reader Resort Survey. These represent the ski areas with the best balance of terrain, base village amenities, family programming, overall vibe, and more, as voted by over 5,000 skiers across North America. Use this list to inform your travel planning this winter. Don’t agree? Keep an eye out for the 2024 Reader Resort Survey and cast your votes as you see fit.

The 16 Best Ski Resorts in the U.S.

16. Magic Mountain, Vt.

For families just getting into the sport as well as diehards seeking some of the best glades in the East, Magic Mountain’s down-home brand of winter vacation satisfies a wide range of skiers.

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The terrain ranges from family-friendly to gnarly at Vermont’s Magic Mountain. (Photo: Courtesy of Magic Mountain)

What Readers Say

“If you haven’t been to Magic you are missing the quintessential Vermont experience. A throwback mountain to a time where skiing had a soul. The glades here are the most challenging on the East Coast.”

Summary

Under new management for the last several years, Magic has taken massive strides as a welcoming, independent ski area. It offers some of the best deals in the ski industry, is one of the most welcoming resorts we can think of for families learning to ski, and its expert terrain, especially the tight glades and steep pitches, are classic Vermont. The base area is simple yet accommodating, with a few dining and drinking outlets, but the old-soul vibe can’t be beat.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Magic Mountain, Vt.

15. Steamboat Resort, Colo.

This Western destination is the midst of major mountain upgrades that will improve skier flow, lift efficiency, and base village diversions, making an already great ski resort even better.

Steamboat
Steamboat has managed to retain its Western charm amid mountain upgrades. (Photo: Dave Marlow)

What Readers Say

“Steamboat has great terrain for strong intermediate and advanced skiers. It’s also beautiful and the Western vibe is fantastic. The lower elevation can create some snow quality issues at times, but if you ski there on the right day, it’s one of it not the best places to be in the state of Colorado.”

Summary

Known for its light powder and excellent glades, Steamboat offers a taste of authentic Western skiing in an accessible package complemented by a great town that checks all of the vacation boxes, from approachable lodging to dining, nightlife, and beyond. Up at the resort, where improvement are in progress, the skiing is still reliably fun and family friendly—and will only be getting better over the next several years when the Pioneer Ridge terrain expansion debuts next season.

🔹 Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: Steamboat Resort, Colo.

14. Waterville Valley, N.H.

Family-oriented Waterville Valley is an approachable ski area with great deals for those getting into the sport, as well as a solid terrain park scene.

Waterville Valley RG23
Waterville’s Town Square sets the tone at this classic New England ski resort. (Photo: Courtesy of Waterville Valley)

What Readers Say

“Waterville recently opened Green Peak and this has added some great terrain to the resort. Plus a new high-speed six-pack is being installed for next winter. Family friendly with great kids and adult programs. Good snowmaking and superb grooming. Snow sports school has a lot of certified instructors to help improve your ability.”

Summary

Waterville Valley has a reputation as a family ski area for good reason, among those is its Kids Ski Free season pass offer, where kids 6-12 get a free pass with the purchase of an adult season pass. Founded by U.S. ski racer Tom Corcoran, Waterville serves up largely intermediate cruising across its 265 skiable acres as well as ample amenities in its charming New England white-clapboard village.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Waterville Valley, N.H.

13. Winter Park Resort, Colo.

A down-to-earth mountain complemented by an authentic ski town where real people live, Winter Park is gaining traction as a true destination resort thanks to great terrain variety and mountain improvements that keep the slopes fresh.

Winter Park Snow RG23
Seven mountain territories across 3,000 acres equals a lot of skiing at Winter Park. (Photo: Courtesy of Winter Park)

What Readers Say

“Would recommend the resort to anyone regardless of their ability. The resort is particularly good for groups with mixed abilities. You can ski the same lifts and match terrain to ability.”

Summary

It might have began its life as a city-owned ski resort where Denver-area skiers could get their ski legs under them, but Winter Park has grown up mightily over the years. The 3,000-acre ski area with seven unique terrain pods has different offerings for all levels and types of skiers. From the top-of-the-world views and open bowl skiing of Parsenn to Mary Jane’s iconic glades, Winter Park keeps comers busy exploring from one end of the resort to the other.

🔹 Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: Winter Park Resort, Colo.

12. Jay Peak, Vt.

Under new owners and ready to make fresh tracks toward the future, Jay lays claim to the best snow in the East complemented by family-friendly amenities.

Skier in powder at Jay Peak
When it snow, it snows at Jay Peak. (Photo: Courtesy of Jay Peak)

What Readers Say

“Great local vibe with a very welcoming attitude towards new visitors. Staff loves their guests. Conditions and snow is the best.”

Summary

Leaving the past in the past following the fraudulent actions of its past owners, Jay Peak is prepared to reemerge this season under Pacific Group Resorts with a plan to beef up infrastructure and mountain ops this season, paving the way for more improvements in winters to come. In the meantime, the resort is still known for its copious snowfall, rad terrain, and family vibe at spots like the Pump House indoor waterpark and world-class ice arena.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Jay Peak Resort, Vt.

11. Copper Mountain, Colo.

This accessible Front Range ski resort manages to accommodate a massive number of skiers without feeling overcrowded and chaotic.

Copper Lifts RG23
Copper’s smart mountain layout and efficient lift network keep people spread out across the mountain. (Photo: Courtesy of Copper Mountain)

What Readers Say

“The more I ski there more I love it! It just all works so well together. The snow, the service, the access from one side of the mountain to the other is effortless, compared to so many other resorts. It’s my favorite!”

Summary

Copper is one of those places where things just flow. Credit the attentive staff and natural flow of the terrain, or the unpretentious nature of the place and its welcoming vibe, but Copper Mountain continues to provide the type of ski experiences that visitors are looking for. Be it perfectly pitched cruisers off Super Bee and American Eagle, gentle greens on the western edge of the resort, or the new backcountry-bowl-like terrain off of the Three Bears lift, Copper provides enough on-the-snow challenge and exhilaration to go around.

🔹 Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: Copper Mountain, Colo.

10. Holiday Valley, N.Y.

And efficient lift system, constant mountain improvements, and the sweet town of Ellicottville keep Holiday Valley top of mind for Eastern skiers.

Holiday Valley Family RG23
Families love pretty much everything about Holiday Valley. (Photo: Courtesy of Holiday Valley/Ashley Baron)

What Readers Say

“Holiday Valley is our hometown area and continues to be managed by some of the original founding families of the ski hill. So they seriously strive to maintain a resort with character and quality. One new high-speed quad this year and a six-pack quad for next season. Excellent snowmaking and grooming, and a good variety of trails makes the most out of the modest 750 foot vertical.”

Summary

For a small mountain, the praise heaped on this ski area by readers is impressive. Not a year goes by that skiers don’t remind us how great the service is at Holiday Valley, how fast the lift system is, how much fun the nearby town of Ellicottville serves up after a day on slopes. Geared toward families, the resort knows its audience and capitalizes on its strengths.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Holiday Valley, N.Y.

9. Telluride Ski Resort, Colo.

The whole package, from incredible skiing to delectable dining, is on tap at Telluride, alongside some of the most beautiful views in ski country.

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Come to Telluride for the whole kit and caboodle, from gourmet dining to knee-knocking terrain. (Photo: Courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort)

What Readers Say

“Best views and best atmosphere in the U.S., hands down, combined with fantastic skiing! You can’t beat that. And I’ve been around.”

Summary

What sets Telluride apart from the competition is the fact that it’s literally set apart from the competition. Located in remote southwestern Colorado, a 7-hour drive from Denver (or super-quick connection from Denver International Airport), this authentic Western ski town is like its own vacation cocoon, largely free from crowds and home to its own unique brand of ski adventure amid the knife-tipped peaks of the San Juans. The expert and extreme terrain here is worth the haul, and if you’re so inclined opt into a few short hikes to really get a feel for this wild terrain.

🔹 Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: Telluride Ski Resort, Colo.

8. Mad River Glen, Vt.

Mad River Glen boasts a beloved retro vibe where the skiing is the main event. If you’ve come for anything else, turn around and go home.

Mad River Glen, Vermont
When the gettin’ is good at Mad River Glen, there’s nowhere else you want to be. (Photo: Courtesy of Mad River Glen/Jeb Wallace-Brodeur)

What Readers Say

“The ‘Ski It If You Can’ mantra holds true, and they let you get on the mountain any time it’s white and we love it. The grooming here is way under the radar, but can’t be beat in New England! And the way the runs are cut make the terrain fun from the greens to the blacks.”

Summary

This northern Vermont gem is not confused about what it is, especially in a world where ski areas are increasingly populated with waterparks, bowling alleys, and other non-snow diversions. Mad River Glen is known for its expert terrain and beloved single chair, but it’s also a welcoming place and surprisingly family-friendly mountain. Want your kids to become great skiers? Let them cut their teeth on MRG’s glades and they’ll be skiing circling around in no time.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Mad River Glen, Vt.

7. Whitefish Mountain Resort, Mont.

Once a sleepy Western railroad town, Whitefish is beloved for its authentic, laidback vibe, fun terrain, and some of the best values in the industry.

"Whitefish Mountain Resort, Montana climbs to No. 3 in the West in SKI Magazine's 2020 Resort Guide"
Rime- and ice-coated trees, called snowghosts, are a Whitefish mainstay. (Photo: Courtesy of Whitefish)

What Readers Say

“Whitefish is simply magical! I have skied multiple resorts out West, and is hands-downs one of the most beautiful places I have ever skied. It was also nice that there are green and blue runs at the summit. It is essentially a unicorn of ski resorts—affordable, low lift lines, and an accessible mountain. I wanted to keep it a secret, but we are going back next year and bringing more friends!”

Summary

It’s no coincidence that of the thousands of comments submitted by readers, more than a few Whitefish skiers confessed to trying to convince people not to travel there. Whether they want to preserve the still-special ambience of this not-yet-overrun ski resort, or they just want more of the northern Montana blower pow to themselves, Whitefish is on brink, and people are worried. They should rest assured, however, that both the town and ski area are working together to grow responsibly. In the meantime, the place remains a great find for fun, adventurous terrain, friendly folks, and a ski experience like mom and dad used to talk about.

🔹 Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: Whitefish Mountain Resort, Mont.

6. Killington Mountain Resort, Vt.

Vermont’s biggest resort continues to do a good job of moving skiers and keeping its terrain in good shape until the end of its very long season.

Killington Steeps
Killington’s comprehensive snowmaking helps keep the resort spinning lifts into May. (Photo: Killington Resort)

What Readers Say

“We have skied Killington for many years because of the many trails, varied terrain, great lift system, and nearby affordable lodging and meals. Best in New England in our opinion.”

Summary

The Beast of the East has the location, terrain, and management to make it a true destination resort on the East Coast. There’s lodging of all stripes, enough dining and après to go around, and terrain suitable for every level of skier. From cruisers to steep glades, Killington comes through. And when you’re looking for a party, the legendary Access Road never fails to satisfy.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Killington Mountain Resort, Vt.

5. Aspen Snowmass, Colo.

Come for the reputation, stay for the experience at Aspen Snowmass’s four distinct mountains where the terrain, service, and overall vibe live up to expectations.

What Readers Say

“What else can I say but I can go to four ski areas on one ticket! Aspen Snowmass is the ultimate in achieving a variety of skiing in one ski vacation.”

Summary

Between family-friendly Snowmass, local’s haunt Ajax (Aspen Mountain), Buttermilk’s beginner’s heaven. and the expert’s wonder that is Aspen Highlands, the four mountain that comprise Aspen Snowmass offer perhaps the most comprehensive ski vacation on this list. Whatever you’re looking for, when it comes to skiing, eating, drinking, shopping, or just enjoying a winter wonderland, it’s on tap at this Rocky Mountain resort. The town of Aspen is as iconic as it gets in skidom: Whether you stay there or not, make time for a stroll, a meal, or both.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Aspen Snowmass, Colo.

4. Bretton Woods, N.H.

This New Hampshire resort is comfortable in its own skin, happy to provide its loyal fans with a perfect ski surface, luxury digs, and guest service that’s always a notch above.

Groomed ski run Bretton Woods
Bretton Valley’s No. 1-ranked grooming sets the standard on the East Coast. (Photo: Courtesy of Bretton Woods)

What Readers Say

“Great snow. Great grooming. Lots of terrain. All lifts are high speed. Opportunities to improve with great glades, a few good bump runs. Rosebrook lodge is beautiful. Skiing at Bretton Woods is always super fun … and lux! Omni Mount Washington across from mountain. Good places to stay and dine locally. Never overwhelmed with crowds.”

Summary

Classic New Hampshire ski terrain in on tap at Bretton Woods, where you can count on meticulously groomed snow and plenty of greens and blues wending through tree-lined slopes. Everything filters down to the classic Omni Mount Washington Resort hotel, with its signature red roof and excellent service. There’s also slopeside condos and townhomes, good dining, and more family activities than you can shake a ski pole at.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Bretton Woods, N.H.

3. Deer Valley Resort, Utah

It might be known for its skier amenities—and those don’t disappoint—but Deer Valley is a big mountain with lots of different kinds of terrain suited to skiers of all abilities.

Deer Valley Lodging RG23
The ski surface and the guest service are just part of the Deer Valley package. (Photo: Courtesy of Deer Valley)

What Readers Say

“Deer Valley is simply the best ski resort in the U.S. Great customer service and no snowboarders. Excellent restaurants and always great snow.”

Summary

Deer Valley is associated with a certain level of skier services—err, dining, lodging, après, and the like—but savvy skiers know that this Wasatch resort has much more to offer. Hop onto a complimentary mountain tour and ask where to find the best glades—there’s some special spots on tap here. Steeps? Scoot on over to Empire Mountain and check out the Daly Chutes. Got littles in tow? It’s oh so good on Flagstaff Mountain, including kid-centric adventure trails. Don’t miss Cushing’s Cabin for the best cookies and cocoa on the mountain.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Deer Valley Resort, Utah

2. Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Vt.

The reigning East Coast champ wins kids over with its family-centric programming, and their parents with straight-up steep and gnarly terrain.

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Smugglers’ Notch boasts some of the most challenging terrain in the East. (Photo: Courtesy of Smugglers’ Notch)

What Readers Say

“I’m a Smuggs season pass holder three years running because it’s got the best season pass value. I don’t care about being able to ride a bunch of mountains across the country … I want to be able to ride one great mountain, whenever I want, for a fair price.) The terrain is challenging and pushes me to be a better rider and it’s an old-school, independently owned resort for diehard East Coast skiers that’s a shining example of classic Vermont mountain culture!”

Summary

Hoe does Smuggs do it? Simple. They’ve cornered the kid market with an excellent ski school and family-friendly amenities. And they lay claim to a mountain blessed with a natural pitch and fantastic glades. So rare is a place that has the best of both of these worlds, yet Smuggs manages to settle into the sweet spot year after year.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.

1. Sun Valley Resort, Idaho

With the ideal vacation mix of excellent and fun ski terrain and an authentic ski town for après-ski diversions, Sun Valley notches another win for serving up the complete package.

Sun Valley Lifts RG23
Sun Valley’s No. 1-ranked lift network keeps skiers moving swiftly and efficiently. (Photo: Courtesy of Sun Valley/Ray J. Gadd)

What Readers Say

“I’ve been coming here for over 30 years. My parents came here on their honeymoon. Grooming of the runs is impeccable. Lift lines are always short.“

Summary

Sometimes a ski vacation is much more than skiing. It’s attentive service, memorable dining that’s worth the money, luxury lodging that makes you feel pampered, and yes, a fantastic mountain with great snowmaking, grooming, and trail layout. Sun Valley is known for its long, fast groomers, an efficient lift network that whisks skiers up and out of the different base areas and spreads them out across the mountain, delicious dining experiences, and the charming town of Ketchum, about as authentic and welcoming as it gets. The skiing will keep you busy, but when the lifts stop for the day, there’s so much more to do.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Sun Valley Resort, Idaho