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Resort Guide 2023

The Top 10 Resorts in the West Guaranteed to Satisfy

These resorts are unequivocally loved by the people who visit year after year—locals and out-of-towners alike.

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Contrary to popular belief, the elusive Overall Satisfaction category is not the same as the resort’s overall ranking. The ski areas that rank high in Overall Satisfaction simply meet or exceed people’s expectations during their ski vacation. They’re not all luxury resorts, and they’re not all skiers’ hills. They’re just very good at making people feel welcome and offering up a kick-ass ski vacation at the same time. These 10 resorts earned top scores for Overall Satisfaction in SKI’s 2023 Reader Resort Survey. See the entire survey results here.

Top 10 Resorts in the West for Overall Satisfaction

No. 10: Grand Targhee, Wyo.

Score: 8.71
Other Strengths: Local Flavor, Value

Access, Dining

Grand Targhee RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Grand Targhee)

What Readers Say

“Targhee is old-school wonderful. You won’t find a resort with nicer or more authentic people to spend your time with. No one is in a hurry and everyone cares about you—definitely, a place to take your family and be confident that they will be safe and well cared for. It’s a breath of fresh air in an industry that is increasingly and obviously corporate.”

“It’s great even for beginners. I put two adults and a teenager into all-day ski school—none had skied before. They all loved it and got much more, and better, attention than the famous resorts provide. At the end of five days, they were all skiers—and talking about next year’s trip.

“Targhee isn’t big, but it has a variety of terrain and I never tire of the place. Even on President’s Day week in 2022, we never had a lift line with more than a four-minute wait.”

No. 9: Alta Ski Area, Utah

Score: 8.75
Other Strengths: Snow, Value

Weaknesses: Grooming, Family

Alta Satisfaction RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Alta Ski Area)

What Readers Say

“I don’t need nightlife, so I feel warm about Alta, both the staff and the people who ski there.”

For my first visit to Alta ever, I was surprised at how the resort exceeded my expectations. I had this vision of a stuck-in-the-past, tired old ski area. It is not glitzy, but it is a gem. I would recommend it to any skier. They do a great job with what they have and treat you well. And that low-angle pow—awesome! The no snowboarders rule will make this place not an option for many. Didn’t really matter to me one way or the other.”

Alta is a classic ski area. We love to go there for the amazing and challenging ski terrain. However, it is certainly limiting in nightlife and restaurant choices.”

No. 8: Deer Valley Resort, Utah

Score: 8.77
Other Strengths: Family Friendly, Lodging

Weaknesses: Challenge, Terrain Variety

Deer Valley RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Deer Valley)

What Readers Say

Deer Valley is the only ski resort I ski at, because it is a ski-only resort, has great blue runs, and the grooming is consistent and covers all of the green runs, most of the blue runs, and an occasional black run every day.”

Easy to get to via direct flights to SLC, amazing food options, good variety of ski terrain, short lift lines.”

Deer Valley has both the very best snow managing and customer service of any resort on a consistent basis across every aspect of the experience. Highly recommend it to any person or group looking for a complete skiing and resort experience.”

Deer Valley offered a much better experience than Park City Mountain this year. I’m buying a Deer Valley season pass next year and it will be the first time in 50 yrs that I haven’t had a Park City season pass.”

No. 7: Telluride Ski Resort, Colo.

Score: 8.80
Other Strengths: Snow, Challenge

Weaknesses: Access, Value

Telluride RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort)

What Readers Say

Telluride offers the best of what I love about skiing in Colorado; amazing views, great town, uncrowded slopes and lifts, a wide variety of terrain, and a great vibe.”

“Telluride is hands-down my favorite resort in North America. What others see as drawbacks (inaccessibility, cost), I see as benefits – if you book appropriately, it’s no more expensive than anywhere in Colorado, and the terrain and overall experience beat the hell out of anything I can drive to from Denver. The staff are all great, patrol tends to look the other way as long as your ability level is there, and I can’t think of a more visually arresting place on the continent. Snow quality is consistently great, the in-bounds-accessible terrain is as gnarly as anywhere, and you can walk from the foot of the hill into Smuggler’s in your boots for a couple of primo pints.”

We love Telluride. It is one of the last authentic western ski towns. Abundant choices for dining, apres ski, and lodging. Tons of things to do on and off the mountain.”

“More raw character, local charm and natural beauty than any other resort. Tucked out of the way, it takes time and effort to get there—but oh‚ once you are there‚ nothing not to like. Great food and fun, a great mountain with a lot of steeps and diverse terrain and never a lift line. Freshies can be hard to come by, but the mountain still rides well. Truly distinctive out West experience.

No. 6: Whitefish Mountain Resort, Mont.

Score: 8.86
Other Strengths: 
Terrain, Snow
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Lodging

Whitefish Satisfaction RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Whitefish Mountain Resort)

What Readers Say

“I LOVE Whitefish Big Mountain Resort. Feels a bit more like the ‘olden days’ with not a big consortium of areas under a developer umbrella. People are friendly, the snow is amazing, and we love skiing there.”

Please DO NOT come to Whitefish. Because, regardless of what type of skier or rider you are, you won’t want to leave.”

Has been my favorite resort since it was called Big Mountain. A little off the beaten track, not corporate, with tons of locals and local flavor, and great skiing. Fog sucks but you get over it. Would recommend it to anyone who likes to ski.”

No. 5: Aspen Snowmass, Colo.

Score: 8.87
Other Strengths: 
Terrain, Challenge
Value, Access

Aspen Satisfaction RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Aspen Snowmass)

What Readers Say

“Snowmass is my favorite ski area that I have ever skied. It is easy to find your way around—not many cat tracks either. They have something for everyone. I love the ski-in/ski-out lodging.”

I started skiing in Aspen in 1970 and have lost track of how many times I have been there, at least 35 times. I love groomed black runs and Aspen has that. I pretty much just ski Ajax.”

Great all-around resort, particularly if you love groomers as the mountain is so large you can ski all day.”

Great terrain, plenty of lift access. Easy transportation to lifts. Plenty of on-mountain places to eat and drink. Lodging close. Limited and pricey flights to Aspen.”

No. 4: Arapahoe Basin, Colo.

Score: 8.89
Other Strengths: Guest Service, Value
Weaknesses: Dining, Lodging

A Basin RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Arapahoe Basin)

What Readers Say

Staff attitude runs the gamut; some friendly, some not, some indifferent. Flat light on overcast days can make skiing in the alpine less than enjoyable. When you take out the alpine terrain, skiing options are greatly limited.”

We went to A-Basin in a snowstorm, and it was some of the best conditions ever. Their high elevation and great expert slopes made for an amazing day, with some of the best nachos ever at the 6th Alley bar.”

My favorite ski mountain. Great expert terrain, great value, and a great experience for guests.”

If you’re looking for a place with local flair that feels like skiing 25 years ago (in the best possible way), A-Basin is your spot. Highly recommend for out-of-towners looking for a pure local experience and a hill where Shane McConkey would have fit right in.”

No. 3: Powder Mountain, Utah

Score: 8.97
Other Strengths: Guest Service, Access
Dining, Après

Powder Mountain Satisfaction RG23(Photo: Courtesy of Powder Mountain)

What Readers Say

My favorite resort with a variety of terrain, no lines, family-friendly, amazing views.”

Pow Mow is for serious powder skiing. You will not find more untouched powder due to size and capacity limits.”

Powder Mountain has been the most amazing place to improve my skiing. The resort is NEVER crowded (even at full cap days), the vibe is always friendly and you can even find untracked pow a few days post-storm. Pow Mow is special for so many reasons, my favorite resort!”

No. 2: Banff Sunshine, Alb.

Score: 8.98
Other Strengths: Snow, Terrain

Weaknesses: Nightlife, Lodging

Sunshine Satisfaction RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Banff Sunshine)

What Readers Say

“Great variety of terrain. Large mountain, well spread out so crowded areas can be avoided.”

“Is a very unique vibe with a lot of variety. I describe it to people as skiing on the moon on a big mountain terrain park because of how high the base is and all the cool natural features all over the place. Awesome parks too. Big wide-open bowls above tree line. The snow is always great and the season goes until late May which is really cool. Sunshine has two freeride zones in bounds that require avy gear. Big mountain freeriding at the resort. The town of Banff is really close. So much to do in Banff and the local vibe is great. The additional parking added this year fixed the old parking issues. Other than a flat spot here and there and some wicked cold days it is an awesome place.”

“Banff Sunshine has a great variety of terrain and had tremendous snow cover this year. The dining was a bit limited, due to staffing issues. Staff was all very friendly. And you can’t beat the proximity to the town of Banff, with its great dining, local charm, etc.”

No. 1: Sun Valley, Idaho

Score: 9.17
Other Strengths: Guest Service, Grooming

Weaknesses: Snow, Access

Sun Valley Satisfaction RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Sun Valley/Grant Gunderson)

What Readers Say

Great terrain, Lifts, and on-mountain services, excellent grooming on the primary runs, great snow coverage from a base of man-made snow, and blessed with fresh snow several nights throughout the week.”

Good snow coverage with snowmaking, high-speed lifts, vertical drop, proximity to home. Great family trip, recommend to others that don’t mind paying a little more to get a lot more out of it.”

Considering the entire package—snow quality, the wide range of terrain from challenging down to beginner-friendly, tons of vertical, lack of crowds, quality lodging, amount of other stuff to do, total trip cost, local town feel—it’s a safe bet that a trip planned well in advance of winter (which also may include non-skiers) will not leave anyone disappointed.”