Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Resort Guide 2023

Top 30 Ski Resorts in the West (2023)

The rankings are live! See where your favorite Western resorts landed in the 2023 SKI Magazine Resort Guide.

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.

What an interesting year for the annual SKI Magazine Top 50 resort rankings. Not in the winners, per se. Those remained the same both in the West and the East. But there was plenty of movement on the rest of the list, most of which tracks precisely with the major industry trends and issues we saw throughout last season.

This is not surprising considering that the Top 50 rankings are the results of the 2023 Reader Resort Survey we sent out last spring. What better way to take the pulse of the ski-travel scene than to hear from the people visiting the resorts? That’s you, our readers.

Most notably this year, one resort took one of the biggest nosedives we’ve ever seen in the history of the rankings. Park City fell from No. 13 to No. 30—dead last in the West. If that’s not a direct commentary on Vail Resorts’ management of the massive resort, we don’t know what is.

We have also one newcomer to the list—check out No. 11, below—as well as several returning ski areas that pop into and out of the rankings depending on several factors. These are places such as Wyo.’s Grand Targhee and Powder Mountain, Utah, both back on the list this year, no doubt a reflection of skiers’ desire seek out less crowded and more pure ski experiences, where things like full parking lots, long lift lines, and exorbitant lunch offerings are not the norm.

Whatever the 2022-’23 season has in store for you, we hope you can use these rankings to inform your decision making, especially if you’re looking to get off the beaten path and check out some of the less crowded and more authentic destinations that you might not have considered before.

The Top 30 Resorts in the West

No. 30: Park City Resort, Utah

A sprawling destination resort with incredible terrain variety and skier amenities, with the lively town of Park City at the ready for after-hours and down-day fun.

Overall Score: 7.36
Last Year’s Ranking: 13
Strengths: Access, Terrain Variety
Weaknesses: Value, Guest Service

Park City RG23
Increased staffing and parking solutions gives skiers hope for a better season at Park City. (Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts)

Suffering by the far the biggest drop in the survey this year, Park City Resort plummeted from No. 13 to No. 30, which tracks with all of the complaints and issues that plagued the mountain last winter. Reader comments were brutal, with many locals and longtime visitors writing that this was their worst experience at the resort ever. The good news is that this over 7,000-skiable-acre resort has great bones, and most of the problems are related to staffing issue, which Vail Resort is vigorously addressing for the coming season. After all, they can only go up from here.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Park City has it all—easy access via Salt Lake International airport, amazing terrain and size, an authentic town with real amenities and world-class restaurants, and nightlife to boot. Family friendly services abound. The only issue is that everyone else knows all of this and flocks to Park City.”

“I am local. The resort was extremely poorly run this year by Vail Resorts. Horrible grooming, long lift lines, limited terrain opening, restaurants never opened on the mountain, several lifts never opened all season. Deer Valley did not have these same issues.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 30, Park City Resort, Utah

No. 29: Heavenly Mountain Resort, Calif.

With lake views by day and casino diversions by night, Heavenly offers its own distinctive vacation experience on the shore of Lake Tahoe.

Overall Score: 7.42
Last Year’s Ranking: 26
Strengths: Lodging, Nightlife
Weaknesses: Snow, Value

Heavenly RG23
Heavenly is pretty as a postcard, with skiing for days. (Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts)

This stunner of a ski resort has a lot to offer, with amazing views of Lake Tahoe and nearly 5,000 acres of diverse terrain straddling two states. Survey-wise, it gets dinged for the region’s inconsistent snow, crowded lift lines and slopes, and not being the most family friendly resort in VR’s empire. But for a couples’ or friends’ weekend, it just might fit the bill.

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 29, Heavenly Mountain Resort, Calif.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Visited Heavenly for the last three seasons and it’s my favorite place for a couples and friends trip. We love the casinos and bars in South Lake Tahoe. It’s the only place where you can go hard at night and during the day on the slopes!”

“First time to Heavenly. Loved the skiing—absolutely the most breathtaking views, and great terrain. On the other hand, the worst lift lines ever. Don’t go on a weekend! Waited an hour in line to go back down on the gondola at the end of the day. Worth the visit. Great for a couples trip. Ski weekdays.”

No. 28: Big Sky Resort, Mont.

Steeped in adventure, Big Sky boasts true big-mountain skiing off iconic Lone Peak, with no dearth of rolling groomers for those still building their skills.

Overall Score: 7.46
Last Year’s Ranking: 25
Strengths: Terrain Variety, Challenge
Weaknesses: Value, Nightlife

Big Sky RG23
All the steeps, chutes, bowls, and couloirs await at Big Sky. (Photo: Courtesy of Big Sky Resort)

Big Sky checks all the boxes for serious skiers—it’s truly a bucket-list destination in North America thanks to the extreme skiing off Lone Peak and oodles of amazing hike-to and lift-served expert lines off the Headwaters Chair and on the Moonlight Basin side. That said, Big Sky dropped slightly in the rankings this year, and it’s probably no coincidence that most readers complained about the added cost for the tram, which the resort rolled out last season. (Yes, we realize that these are the same people who’d be complaining about hour-long tram lines if Big Sky didn’t charge more for it.) It’s a good thing that a new, larger tram, part of the resort’s Big Sky 2025 capital improvements, debuts next season, which will help with skier flow and ease lines.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Big Sky is a great out-West experience. Even though there were a lot of skiers, the runs were never packed. The terrain is varied and the lifts were pretty cool. I thought the eight-person lift was amazing!”

“Big Sky has gone over the top with the cost to go there. Day tickets are $225, and if you want to take the tram, add another $50-$80. Without the tram, you lose access to the majority of the truly great expert terrain. Cool bubble chairs don’t justify their pricing.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 28, Big Sky Resort, Mont.

No. 27: Keystone Resort, Colo.

While its reputation as a family resort is certainly not unfounded, there’s much more to be discovered at Keystone, including scenic hike-t0 bowls and excellent glades.

Overall Score: 7.51
Last Year’s Ranking: 24
Strengths:
Family Friendly, Access
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Après

Keystone RG23
Family skiing and so much more is on tap at Keystone. (Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts/Branden Smith)

A quick trip from Denver and chock-full of family-friendly amenities such as parking-lot wagons and cute mascots walking around the village, Keystone knows its audience, and does a good job keeping them satisfied. There’s plenty more at Keystone, though—get off the frontside and sample the sustained vertical of the blues and blue-blacks on North Peak and The Outback. The intermediate offerings will get even better when lift-served skiing opens in Bergman Bowl next season. Overall, readers had fewer complaints about lines, crowds, and staffing issues at Keystone compared to other Vail mountains, despite the resort falling slightly in the rankings.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Nice LONG, sustained groomers. Lift lines move well. Great place to go and rack up the vertical feet. Invigorating skiing if you know where to go.”

“This resort’s strengths are its extended groomed terrain and night skiing. Frontside friendly for those coming to ski with skis that aren’t the size of boats. Loved the vibe and incredibly quirky layout. It felt like an adventure without crazy stress to ski this beast. Snow quality was excellent, and terrain provided challenges in ways outside of bumps and steps (think random cliff/edge drops onto terrain and tightly packed trees on flats). I can’t wait to go back and give this resort a third and fourth look. It deserves it.”

“In true Vail fashion, they have totally ‘Vail-ified’ what was a great ski hill. Parking is crazy unless you get there at 6 a.m. or pay a crazy number to park in paid parking. Add to that paid parking has like doubled and they took a bunch away to build a condo building to line their pockets with more money.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 27, Keystone Resort, Colo.

No. 26: Crested Butte, Colo.

Small but mighty Crested Butte is one of the West most underrated gems when it comes to expert and extreme terrain, with a authentic town as the cherry on top.

Overall Score: 7.53
Last Year’s Ranking: 21
Strengths: Challenge, Local Flavor
Weaknesses: Access, Nightlife

Crested Butte RG23
When the snow’s good, Crested Butte’s expert terrain is unrivaled. (Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts)

Crested Butte’s “strengths” tell the story here. This is a quirky mountain and town with a distinct personality, and when the weather cooperates, the expert and extreme terrain here rivals the best on the continent. It’s location about a five-hour drive from Denver keeps weekend crowds at bay, so if you can’t hit this during or just after a storm, it’ll be a vacation for the ages.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Crested Butte is a gem. It’s known for its challenge but the groomers are spectacular and extensive and the town is picture perfect. As soon as you arrive at Crested Butte you can feel thats its different than any other ski resort and wonderfully unique.”

“I love Crested Butte. It’s beautiful, laid-back, and quirky, but it has definitely been discovered. I’ve been coming to Crested Butte for the past 10 years and this is the first year I’ve seen my social media pages flooded with pictures of friends trips to CB.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 26, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colo.

No. 25: Snowbird Mountain Resort, Utah

A skier’s mountain to the core, this resort serves up challenging terrain by the boatload, covered by some of the lightest, fluffiest snow in the business.

Overall Score: 7.54
Last Year’s Ranking: 28
Strengths: Terrain Variety, Challenge
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Après

Snowbird RG23
All of the skiing, none of the frills at Snowbird. (Photo: Courtesy of Snowbird)

Like the rankings suggest, come to Snowbird to ski plentiful terrain of all stripes, from extreme chutes and powder bowls to blue cruisers, but don’t expect to party like a rock star afterwards. The small village has enough skier amenities to get you through the day, but no more. Most readers acknowledge that that’s just fine with them—they come to ski and leave satisfied.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Snowbird is one of the most wonderful ski areas in the world. It’s immense, with a wide variety of terrain, though tilted toward more advanced skiers. And it is an easy one-hour drive from SLC, a major airport that is easy to reach from anywhere. The ‘Bird is isolated, you won’t walk out of your hotel and stroll along a commercial promenade. Snowbird is there for the skiing. There is a limited, but adequate, number of good restaurants, but no movie theaters, shopping, or competing entertainment options. As a lover of skiing, I like that a lot.”

“I know Snowbird takes pride in being a difficult mountain, but the grooming really left something to be desired. The main highway trails (Bassackwards and Chip’s Run) were icy throughout. This was even more disappointing given that I skied Alta the previous day and they did an A+ job with grooming. On the other hand, I was really impressed by the lift system. Massive vertical feet on Gadzoom, Peruvian, and the Tramway.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: N0. 25, Snowbird Resort, Utah

No. 24: Grand Targhee, Wyo.

A laid-back, uncrowded ski area where the snowfall is plentiful, the locals are friendly, and the stoke is high all season long.

Overall Score: 7.56
Last Year’s Ranking: n/a
Strengths: Snow, Value
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Lodging

Grand Targhee
Pack your snorkel when heading to Grand Targhee. (Photo: Getty Images)

Grand Targhee doesn’t always make the survey, but when it does, readers generally have positive things to say about the northern Wyoming ski area that serves up a great mountain experience. Is it a destination resort on par with some of the other resorts on this list? With three lodges in walking distance to the lifts and three full-service restaurants—plus two more food outlets on weekends—Targhee keeps skiers adequately housed and fed. Plus there are enough amenities on tap in nearby Driggs, not to mention off-slope diversions such as fat biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, to cobble together a great vacation for more adventurous travelers who value pow, challenging terrain, and a laid-back, authentic vibe.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“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. I recommend Targhee to everyone at every level who loves skiing and being in nature.”

“First time I skied it. Great snow, great fall line, snow stays fresh for days as the ski traffic is lighter, lift lines are almost non-existent, lodging is quite limited, local restaurants are decent. Very good as an add-on for a few days to a Jackson Hole trip but might not stand up as a pure destination resort.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 24, Grand Targhee, Wyo.

No. 23: Taos Ski Valley, N.M.

Heavy on Southwestern culture, expert terrain, and green chile, Taos Ski Valley makes for a unique vacation with a spicy vibe.

Overall Score: 7.59
Last Year’s Ranking: 7
Strengths: Value, Challenge
Weaknesses: Après, Nightlife

Taos RG23
New Mexico’s flagship ski area makes for a well-rounded vacation experience. (Photo: Courtesy of Taos Ski Valley/Liam Doran)

Taos tumbled quite a bit in the rankings this year, and judging by reader comments, it can be blamed on staffing problems and a frustrating lack of skier amenities, even as construction at the base is ongoing in attempts to provide more options. That said, readers lauded the ample expert and extreme terrain on tap here, as well as the excellent ski school and unique local vibe. Taos is another bucket-list destination when the terrain off of Kachina and West Basin Ridge are open.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Taos is an amazing resort with some of the best terrain I have ever skied. There are fun, steep, fall line cruisers, lots of bump runs, and lots of amazing steeps. Kachina bowl, Stauffenberg, Juarez, Hunziker, and Al’s Run are some of the best Taos has to offer. The snow was very good considering no new snow in the past week and was better higher up the mountain. The lifts are almost all the slowish fixed-grip kind, but they give your legs a rest from the amazing terrain they service.”

“We loved the old Taos but the new Taos is going through some growing pains. Old restaurants have shut down and there aren’t enough dining options.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 23, Taos Ski Valley, N.M.

No. 22: Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

Mammoth boasts one of the longest seasons in the West and snow that just won’t quit once it gets going. 

Overall Score: 7.66
Last Year’s Ranking: 22
Strengths: Terrain Variety, Challenge
Weaknesses: Access, Nightlife

Mammoth RG23
When it snows in Mammoth, it snow in feet, not inches. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Mountain/Peter Morning)

Mammoth held steady at No. 22 in the survey this year, proving at least that its third pandemic season didn’t majorly piss anyone off. And that’s saying something these days. It got dings for weekend crowds, per usual, and being far from just about everywhere, but most readers feel like management is successfully keeping the place humming along and that the overall experience is worth the trip.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“I’ve been skiing Mammoth for over 30 years. It’s the Best of the West hands down—11,000 -foot summit ensures good snow quality and Mammoth always has quantity, even in a low-snow year. The lift system and grooming are among the best I’ve skied, and I’ve skied at least 50 resorts.”

“Mammoth is unique, with the towering Eastern Sierra peaks of the Ritter Range and the Minarets looming in the distance. Snow can be hit-or-miss, but as long as there’s coverage, it’s guaranteed to be a good time.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 22, Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

No. 21: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyo.

With 2,500 acres of terrain, Jackson Hole offers a unique sense of adventure with some of the most steep and challenging terrain in the region.

Overall Score: 7.67
Last Year’s Ranking: 15
Strengths: Terrain Variety, Challenge
Weaknesses: Family Friendly, Access

Jackson Hole RG23
Jackson Hole is famous for Corbet’s Couloir, but there’s much more on tap here. (Photo: Courtesy of Jackson Hole)

Jackson Hole has struggled with its growth and popularity over the last several seasons since joining the Ikon Pass, and its ranking continues to reflect that. (It was also a not-so-hot snow year, which didn’t help the situation.) Regardless, the destination remains one of the best overall ski experiences in North America, with expert terrain to challenge all levels, new family programming and facilities, and side- and backcountry access that simply can’t be beat.

The Good, Bad, Ugly

“Been waiting a lifetime to finally make it to Jackson Hole. It did not disappoint. Terrain, challenge, and scenery were all as advertised. Great way to celebrate a 50th birthday.”

“Great terrain, not overcrowded, well managed, with epic skiing. Locals do look down on you. Probably due to the challenges of living in a ‘billionaire wilderness.'”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 21, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyo.

No. 20: Vail Mountain, Colo.

Vail puts backcountry-like bowl skiing at your ski tips and a world-class village at your feet when the lifts stop spinning.

Overall Score: 7.68
Last Year’s Ranking: 20
Strengths: Terrain Variety, Après
Weaknesses: Value, Local Flavor

Vail RG23
Vail Resorts’ flagship mountain is a world-class destination for a reason. (Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts)

Vail held steady at No. 20 for the second year in a row, but those who know the place also know that this is a mountain that skis way better than No. 20. Over 5,000 skiable acres of all types of terrain, with village offerings for pretty much every budget, Vail is the quintessential image of a destination ski resort. Reader comments fixated on the amazing Back Bowls, access to which gets even better this season thanks to the new Sun Down Express lift, but gripes about staff shortages, weekend lift lines, and parking (lots of complaints about that one—both the cost and the lack of) bubbled up, too.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Best combination of terrain, snow, grooming, scenery, and weather of any place I have ever been. It can get crowded, but when the whole mountain is open, you can always find a place to hide. Love it!!”

“Vail has done a great job keeping its Back Bowls both open and skiable. They almost always have at least one black slope groomed in the back bowls, and of course when there’s powder back there, it’s simply the most fun place to ski without grooming.”

“I am a year-round local and love this mountain. However, Vail Resort’s focus on the bottom line has taken Vail down a notch. While visitors will still have a great time, those who know the potential of this mountain feel it has lost its world-class ranking. On-mountain dining has been homogenized so that all the food on mountain is pretty awful. They used to bake in-house and now sell packaged pastries you could buy at a convenience store or vending machine. Wildwood used to make world class BBQ that competed well with BBQ restaurants elsewhere. The menu is now limited and blamed on Covid and staffing.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 20, Vail Mountain, Colo.

No. 19: Palisades Tahoe, Calif.

From the steeply pitched vert off KT-22 to the hike-to terrain from the Headwall chair, experts can—and do—perfect their craft here.

Overall Score: 7.71
Last Year’s Ranking: 30
Strengths: Challenge, Terrain Variety
Weaknesses: Value, Nightlife

Palisades Tahoe RG23
A new gondola connects the Palisades base with the Alpine Meadows base this season. (Photo: Courtesy of Palisades Tahoe)

Enjoying an 11-spot jump in the survey this year, Palisades Tahoe heads into the 2022-’23 season on a high note, with its decade-in-the-making Base-to-Base Gondola opening. The ride, which will connect the Palisades and Alpine Meadows base areas via a 16-minute trip, will change skier flow throughout the resort and keep traffic off the connector roads, which is never a bad thing. Readers are still griping about the name change (get over it, folks), but no one can change all of the ways that this place brings joy to skiers.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Palisades Tahoe, still getting used to the name change, is easy to get to. You can fly right into the Reno/Tahoe airport and be at the mountain 45 minutes later if the weather cooperates. I hadn’t skied there in 20 years so it was good to go back. Out of the different trips I’ve done to Palisades, this was by far my best trip. The weather cooperated and the mountain was 95 percent open. I was able to ski many runs I had never been able to try before due to weather. This made the mountain really enjoyable as we were able to explore different facets of it. I had a great time and the views of Lake Tahoe are outstanding.”

“It has the the best overall terrain balance for me and any visiting friends, from beginner to expert ‘kill yourself’ terrain. The ‘anywhere you see you can ski’ (unless otherwise marked, of course) casual policy and the lack of requiring us to stay only on groomed (like they do at Heavenly) with both off-piste and relaxed tree skiing gives me a freedom I can’t find at 90 percent of the other resorts around me.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 19, Palisades Tahoe, Calif.

No. 18: Powder Mountain, Utah

If the resort’s 3,000 acres isn’t enough, there’s another 5,000 acres of snowcat and lift-served sidecountry terrain at this uncrowded powder paradise.

Overall Score: 7.76
Last Year’s Ranking: n/a
Strengths: Value, Terrain Variety
Weaknesses: Dining, Nightlife

Powder Mountain RG23
So much terrain, so few skiers at Pow Mow. Is this your season to check it out? (Photo: Courtesy of Powder Mountain/Ian Matteson)

Pow Mow’s inclusion in the survey—coming in in the Top 20, to boot—points to the overall trend of people seeking out the non-corporate ski areas after a couple rough seasons at the mega resorts. Like Grand Targhee, Powder Mountain is chock-full of the qualities that core skiers are looking for: great snow, incredible terrain, side- and backcountry access, and an old-school vibe. It’s correspondingly light on dining, après, lodging, and nightlife, and the facilities it does have could use some TLC. But readers don’t really care. In fact, the most negative comment we could find is “not too fancy.” Fair enough.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“I’ve been skiing Powder Mountain long enough now to know how it works and I love the fact that it controls the number of people on the hill on any given day. That makes lift lines easy and backcountry access excellent. They do it the right way and when the snow is good, it’s reallllllyyyyyy good!”

“This resort has few amenities and that is part of its charm. It’s a good ski mountain.”

“Powder Mountain is a great place for easy powder skiing. I would call it best for intermediate powder skiers. It’s a place for people focused on skiing over anything else.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 18, Powder Mountain, Utah

No. 17: Alta Ski Area, Utah

Little Cottonwood Canyon’s skier-only gem is lauded for its tough terrain, plentiful powder, easy access, and great value. 

Overall Score: 7.79
Last Year’s Ranking: 27
Strengths: Snow, Challenge
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Après

Atla RG23
Alta is combating crowds by removing itself from the Ikon Base pass this season. (Photo: Courtesy of Alta Ski Area)

This might be the highest Alta has ever placed in the survey, another nod to the core-skier mountains that serve up the goods. While there continues to be little in the way of destination-resort style amenities, readers are not put off, applauding the ski area for sticking to its mission and keeping the skiing in the spotlight. Gripes increased about parking, traffic in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and more crowds since joining Ikon—the ski area removed itself from the Base Pass this year to address that—but most people are just tickled to find a place where snowboarders can’t demolish their bumps and steal their powder.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“If you are a serious skier, there’s nothing better than Alta. But, if you’re a serious boarder I’m sorry—you’re out of luck—no boarders allowed. The result is a mountain that is stuck in time … but, in a very good time. Challenging terrain is everywhere and relatively easy to reach, yet the groomers are plentiful. There’s not a lot of beginner terrain, though. And the snow … the snow. Let’s just say that when you close your eyes and dream of extraordinary snow, you are seeing Alta. And when you are there for the 40- to 70-inch storm cycles that Alta (and Snowbird) are known for, just put on your powder cords and get ready to fall, tumble, laugh, get up, and do it again. Lodging is expensive and not very plentiful. And most of it is rustic, which is really nice.”

“Alta is probably my favorite ski area in the country —the terrain is endlessly fun, the snow light and fluffy, the lifts are efficient enough, and the vibes on mountain are unparalleled. It’s impossible to have a bad day at Alta.”

“Great mountain but far too many skiers for the antiquated lift system. Parking is very limited.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 17, Alta Ski Area, Utah

No. 16: Lake Louise Ski Resort, Alb.

With over 4,000 acres of terrain, Lake Louise easily satisfies all levels of skiers with its frontside cruisers and backside chutes, steeps, and high-alpine bowls.

Overall Score: 7.87
Last Year’s Ranking: 14
Strengths
: Terrain Variety, Overall Satisfaction
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Après

Lake Louise RG23
Lake Louise has it all, set against the beautiful backdrop of the Canadian Rockies. (Photo: Courtesy of Lake Louise)

Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful ski resorts on the continent and rivals the Alps in its glorious alpine views. Since its arrival on the ranking a handful of years ago, the resort has consistently placed roughly in the middle of the Top 30. Readers like its friendly vibe, its lack of commercial development (it’s on Canadian national park land), and its capital improvements, including three new lifts and a terrain expansion. It’s not the easiest place to get to, but once you’re there, you have not only this expansive resort’s 4,200 acres, but also the No. 5-ranked Banff Sunshine and little local gem Mt. Norquay to explore, too.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“The views from the mountain and surrounding area are breathtaking. Staying at the nearby Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a wonderful experience. The ski area is excellent for intermediates through experts but may be difficult for beginners.”

“Great variety of terrain with something for everybody. Limited restaurants in the 20-minute radius. No nightlife in the immediate town of Lake Louise. If this is what you are seeking then you are better off staying a bit further up the road in Banff.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 16, Lake Louise Resort, Alb.

No. 15: Beaver Creek Resort, Colo.

Known for its attention to the finer things in the ski life—grooming, service, fresh-baked cookies—Beaver Creek also boasts world-class steeps, chutes, and bumps.

Overall Score: 7.88
Last Year’s Ranking: 16
Strengths: Grooming, Lifts
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Value

Beaver Creek RG23
Groomer, chutes, bowls, and warm chocolate-chip cookies in the village at the end of the ski day. Winning! (Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts/Jack Affleck)

Sitting further west along I-70 than its sister resorts, Beaver Creek is spared the same weekend crowds—and reader complaints—as other Eagle and Summit County ski areas. While some people commented that the attention to grooming has suffered a bit, most people were pleased with the overall condition of the slopes, the amenities in the village, and the level of service. Like at Vail, people are feeling like they’re not getting the same bang for their buck as they used to (as evidenced by its low Value rank). At end of the day, though, Beaver Creek remains a destination resort with plenty of beginner and intermediate terrain—check out the new McCoy Park, the views are amazing—but there’s also some serious vertical that’s rarely crowded, if you take the time to seek it out.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“While I preferred the steeper trees and bump runs, McCoy Park was great area for my fellow skiers to get them excited about skiing trees at a beginner and intermediate level. It also allowed me to get them into untracked snow!”

“Beaver Creek has a wide variety of terrain for beginner to advanced skiers and relative to other resorts is uncrowded, especially on weekdays. The service is always great. BC is known for grooming excellence but on this trip we noticed that there was much less groomed terrain than in the past.”

“I don’t mind spending a lot of money for food, but for these prices, I should be getting a grilled cheese sandwich with artisan bread and local cheese … not a Kraft single in between two pieces of toast!”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 15, Beaver Creek Resort, Colo.

No. 14: Snowbasin Resort, Utah

Easy to get to, with a quick and efficient lift system, Snowbasin and has some of the most underrated terrain in the Wasatch.

Overall Score: 7.91
Last Year’s Ranking: 8
Strengths: Access, Variety
Weaknesses: Lodging, Overall Satisfaction

Snowbasin RG23
World-class facilities and an Olympic-caliber mountain put Snowbasin on the go list. (Photo: Courtesy of Snowbasin)

Snowbasin is relatively new to the rankings, having been consistently included for only the last several five years or so. Last year’s No. 8 was its highest ranking, and this year’s slip to 14 is likely due to the poor snow year combined with plans to build a Club Med at the base—a move toward becoming a destination resort that loyal locals might not appreciate (change is hard…). While Snowbasin isn’t quite under the radar anymore, it is still a relatively uncrowded option that doesn’t require dealing with Cottonwood Canyon traffic—big or Little—that’s home to plenty of terrain for all levels, a state-of-the-art lift system thanks to the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, and some of the bougiest day lodges in skidom.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Snowbasin offers a spectacular experience compared to all of the other resorts around Utah. The terrain is varied with options for all levels, the food and restaurants are wonderful, and the gondolas are the best way to get up the mountain. I’d recommend it to everyone I know who skis and to everyone coming into town. It is an experience that makes guests feel special—something that is so valuable in this day and age.”

“Great mountain layout with easily skiable top-to-bottom vertical. The day lodge experience was a bit pricey, but totally worth it. Rivals Deer Valley in food. Great midweek experience with no lines. It is a shame that Club Med is building here, as I think it will decrease from the experience.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 14, Snowbasin Resort, Utah

No. 13: Arapahoe Basin, Colo.

One of the longest ski seasons in the West, an authentic local vibe, and an upgraded lift should land this homegrown Colorado favorite on your bucket list this season.

Overall Score: 7.91
Last Year’s Ranking: 18
Strengths: Local Flavor, Challenge
Weaknesses: Grooming, Nightlife

Arapahoe Basin RG23
A skier’s mountain with a great local vibe and destination-worthy terrain. (Photo: Courtesy of Arapahoe Basin)

Anyone who skis Arapahoe Basin and has seen the emphasis that management has placed on growing the resort slowly and thoughtfully will not be surprised by its performance in this year’s rankings. Since A-Basin severed its Epic Pass relationship and joined Ikon, there’s been a focus on keeping daily skier numbers in check and making smart decisions about capital improvements, like the new Beavers and Steep Gullies terrain that opened a few years ago. Readers approve of the tactics. A-Basin’s comment section is full of praise for the management, the laid-back vibe, the Beach, the food at Black Mountain Lodge, 6th Alley’s Bloody Marys, and, oh yeah, the skiing. Because that’s what it’s all about.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“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. Setting aside the fact that I can be there in an hour from Denver, the Basin is a true skier’s mountain, built for purists who don’t want (or need) the pomp and glitz of a Vail or Beaver Creek. What it lacks in high-speed quads, the Basin makes up for on variety of terrain, gnarly hike-to options, and the length of the season. On top of it, the food is excellent, 6th Alley makes the best Bloody Mary in the state, and—as a locals’ hill—everyone is welcoming and friendly.”

“The mountain and skiing are fantastic! I would not recommend this mountain to beginners, but I would recommend it to anyone who wants a challenge or wants to improve their skiing skills. The beach spots and parking lot tailgates are the best here—that is one thing that makes this mountain special.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 13, Arapahoe Basin, Colo.

No. 12: Breckenridge Resort, Colo.

Breck boasts nearly 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, six peaks, four terrain parks, and high-alpine skiing like few other resorts in Colorado. 

Overall Score: 7.90
Last Year’s Ranking: 17
Strengths: Terrain Variety, Lodging
Weaknesses: Value, Guest Service

Breckenridge RG23
Popular Breckenridge rose in the rankings thanks to having room to spread out and the best high-alpine terrain in the region. (Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts)

In another first for this survey, Breckenridge overtook sister resort Beaver Creek in the rankings this year—and the two resorts were the only Vail-owned ski areas to trend upward in the survey instead of down. The two resorts offer very different experiences, but in world where crowds and the essence of the experience seems to dominate, the flip-flop seems a bit counterintuitive. Not to knock Breck—the mountain serves up incredible terrain variety, a high-alpine ski experience that offers real adventure, and a fun town with all the amenities, including nightlife. So what are they doing well? Readers acknowledged the crowds, but said that they weren’t as bad as they were expecting, saying it’s big enough to find room to roam. They also liked the variety of the terrain, appreciating the safety of the beginner pod on Peak 9 as well as the hike-to options off the Imperial Express. A well-rounded vacation experience, indeed.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“First time at Breckenridge and it more than exceeded my expectations. I had heard and seen all of the horror stories of ‘epic lift lines’ and I-70 traffic. We planned accordingly (Sunday-Thursday trip) and didn’t encounter any issues. The breadth and quality of terrain was great, especially the high-alpine runs on Peaks 6 and 8.”

“I really enjoy Breck but the crowding has really become an issue. Breck has also gone out of their way to crush the ‘soul’ of the ski experience. Like the expensive version of Wal-Mart.”

“We had two great days of skiing, enjoyed the on-mountain amenities, enjoyed the in-town restaurants and had an overall great experience. We were able to avoid the horrific I-70 weekend travel on this trip. The daily price for lift tickets was pretty outrageous at $212 per ticket.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 12, Breckenridge Resort, Colo.

No. 11: Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Idaho

With two new lifts, a boutique hotel, a savvy master development plan, and an influx of people moving to Sandpoint, Schweitzer is on the brink.

Overall Score: 7.94
Last Year’s Ranking: n/a
Strengths: Family Friendly, Overall Satisfaction
Weaknesses: Dining, Nightlife

Schweitzer RG23
Making its survey debut. Schweitzer is luring skiers with its crowd-free skiing and accessible terrain. (Photo: Courtesy of Schweitzer Mountain Resort)

Hello, Schweitzer! This is the northern Idaho resort’s first appearance in the annual SKI Magazine rankings, and we couldn’t be more excited. (Also, a No. 11 debut ain’t too shabby.) If you’re not familiar with the remote ski area, you can be forgiven. It’s been on our up-and-comer list for several years now, but seeing as Schweitzer just opened its first hotel last winter, it could be considered a fledgling destination resort. It’s got what it takes: Almost 3,000 skiable acres, two new lifts, long, cruisy blues and blacks with lake views, fantastics glades, and a cute nearby town (Sandpoint) for all your other vacation needs. Who knows, maybe the resort will crack the Top 10 next year.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Schweitzer is the place to ski for great snow, varied and challenging terrain, high speed lifts and short lift lines during holiday weeks. It’s like having your own private ski resort. The on-mountain dining is good and the resort vibe is friendly, laid-back, and efficient.”

“We were there for fresh snow, so the expert areas took it easy on us. But this was by a wide margin the best tree skiing I’ve ever encountered! Schweitzer is also a 30-minute drive outside Sand Point, Idaho. All the restaurants and nightlife are there, so there’s basically no après scene at the resort itself. But if you prefer to ski, eat, sleep, repeat, I can’t recommend Schweitzer highly enough!”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 11, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Idaho

No. 10: Steamboat Resort, Colo.

With an abundance of moderate-angle glades, be prepared for some of the best lift-served tree skiing anywhere, complemented by a charmingly Western ski town with all the amenities.

Overall Score: 7.95
Last Year’s Ranking: 10
Strengths: Family Friendly, Local Flavor
Weaknesses: Access, Value

Steamboat panoramic
Big changes are on tap at Steamboat over the next couple of years. (Photo: Getty Images)

There’s a lot going on at Steamboat these days, and when the master plan is fully realized in 2025, these substantial upgrades will go a long way toward addressing the issues that have come up in previous rankings. According to readers, the main gripe has been getting out the base area, with massive gondola lines hampering the experience, as well as lackluster dining and après options on the base. The $200 million that Alterra Mountain Co. is investing into resorts will results in new lifts, expanded terrain, and additional village amenities, after which we expect to see Steamboat rise in the rankings, because readers love this place’s balance of intermediate to advanced powder skiing and its authentic Western town.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“The ‘Boat remains what it always has been: a great hill and an authentic, friendly town, not some plastic Bavaria. Steamboat lacks all the pretentiousness of its larger competitors, but none of the challenge and none of the fun. Steamboat is an annual stop, sometimes two or three.”

“I really like Steamboat. My only two gripes are that it’s fairly low, so snow is not always that great, and there isn’t enough true expert terrain. They do have great tree runs though.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No.10, Steamboat Resort, Colo.

No. 9: Winter Park Resort, Colo.

This Front Range mountain has the distinction of being both a local’s hill and a destination resort, though recent upgrades nudge it slightly over to the destination column.

Overall Score: 7.96
Last Year’s Ranking: 12
Strengths: Terrain Variety, Challenge
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Après

Winter Park RG23
Readers love Winter Park’s local vibe combined with its world-class terrain. (Photo: Courtesy of Winter Park)

Winter Park has been slowly but steadily rising in the rankings over the least few years, proving that its loyal fan base appreciates how the way the resort is being run. Although it’s not without issues. Reader comments this year, while mostly positive, harped on full parking lots and traffic around town, suggesting that Ikon access is catching up with the place. But when the offerings are this good, it’s to be expected. People love Parsenn Bowl and the high-alpine world on off the Panoramic Express (when it’s not on wind-hold) the ample glades, and, for those who are so inclined, the legendary bump skiing for which Mary Jane is known.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Winter Park is a Colorado classic! This resort has some of the best dining options (there’s just so many) and has so many different runs. I also love that there are two sides to the resort which helps with overcrowding. This past year I think they got some of the best snow in Colorado and it kept coming well into May! I would recommend skiing here to anyone because there are very easy green runs for beginners but there are also great intermediate runs and expert/challenging runs. The only downside I faced here this past year was traffic and parking (the lots got full quickly).”

“Parts of Winter Park are simply fantastic—there are runs that are just perfect for my style of skiing—moderate bumps, nicely groomed steep slopes, above the treeline bowls—but a good bit of the mountain is left as black-diamond moguls, just too expert and consistently challenging to be fun for a day of average skiing. Really good mountain that could be great if it were tamed just a bit more.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 9, Winter Park Resort, Colo.

No. 8: Copper Mountain Resort, Colo.

Thanks to stellar learning programs, lower prices, and a down-to-earth vibe, Copper Mountain keeps skiers satisfied and coming back for more.

Overall Score: 8.o3
Last Year’s Ranking: 11
Strengths: Terrain Variety, Family Friendly
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Après

Copper RG23
Despite its accessible location, Copper manages to spread out crowds and avoid most of the issues plaguing resorts this season. (Photo: Courtesy of Copper Mountain)

Copper Mountain’s special sauce continues to satisfy readers. Rising another few spots to its best position ever in our ranking, this Front Range ski area manages to offer good Denver-area access without weekend-ruining crowds, thanks in part to an efficient lift system, several different base areas, and a well laid-out mountain that naturally separates skiers by ability. Readers would like to see more inspiring dining and après-ski offerings, commenting that the Village at Copper has never seemed to find its footing, but nearby Frisco, if maybe not the cutest ski town in Colorado, certainly helps fill in the gaps when it comes to casual dining and a splash of nightlife.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“This big mountain continues to do it right. Great variety of terrain, efficient lifts, big bowls, easy highway access, and lots of lodging choices. Copper has managed to create a system of interconnected runs that makes for a very enjoyable ski day regardless of snow conditions. Like any hill, a powder day can be incredible, but even on packed-powder groomer days there are plenty of choices for even the expert skiers. All this and the food or beverage prices remain reasonable, as do the options for parking.”

“First time at Copper Mountain. The mountain was great, laid out really well, getting around very easy. Snow was terrific for late in the year. Employees were very nice, almost no line at the lifts! Après scene was almost nonexistent unfortunately. A good bang for your buck for sure. I will go back.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 8, Copper Mountain, Colo.

No. 7: Telluride Ski Resort, Colo.

From downtown’s shop-lined Colorado Avenue to the ski resort’s knee-knocking terrain, skiers just plain love this place, and for very good reason. 

Overall Score: 8.45
Last Year’s Ranking: 6
Strengths: Challenge, Overall Satisfaction
Weaknesses: Access, Value

TellurideA long drive or pricey flight from pretty much anywhere, Telluride has its own natural version of crowd control. (Photo: Getty Images)

Perhaps the consummate destination ski resort, Telluride is another bucket-list destination. The difference between Telluride and other U.S. destination ski resorts, though, is that this is just as much a worthwhile visit in summer or fall as it is in the winter. One of the prettiest places on the planet, Telluride is not easy to get to—a far drive or an expensive flight from everywhere—preserving a boutique-like ski experience for those who make the effort. And a worthwhile effort it is: excellent dining both on-mountain and in town, amazing terrain for all levels, and one of the best ski towns in the business. If there’s a gripe it’s that it’s not cheap. Then again, you get what you pay for.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“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‚ there’s 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.”

“Telluride is beautiful, first class, and pricing me out. I love this place, but it’s gotten super expensive and difficult to take my family of four for a ski vacation. Regardless, I still go, bite the bullet, live the good life for a week and have the memories to get me through the year until my next ski vacation there.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 7, Telluride Ski Resort, Colo.

No. 6: Whitefish Mountain Resort, Mont.

This authentic, old-school Montana skier’s mountain has been attracting attention for all the right reasons: great skiing, laid-back vibe, and welcoming locals. 

Overall Score: 8.12
Last Year’s Ranking: 9
Strengths: Value, Overall Satisfaction
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Dining

"None"
Whitefish is getting discovered, but it’s still a relatively uncrowded and authentic destination. (Photo: Courtesy of Whitefish Mountain Resort)

More than any other resort on this list, the comments for Whitefish come from skiers who want to keep the place to themselves. They know they’ve got a good thing, they see what’s happening to other ski resorts with multi-resort passes and overcrowding, and they don’t want that fate for Whitefish. Little do they know, telling us not to come has the opposite effect. Luckily, this northern Montana outpost has owners and management determined to grow it slowly and responsibly, so everyone need not worry. Sure, the skiing is great—challenging, varied, and cold—but what floats to the top for readers is the overall vibe of the place. It’s one of the few spots where people are still able to live an authentic, outdoor-oriented lifestyle in the shadow of great skiing.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Whitefish ski resort was 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!”

“Whitefish is no longer the best-kept secret in skiing. I almost regret mentioning it at all, but I love it so much that I can’t help myself. It’s almost the perfect mountain, with an authentic mountain town that is not the norm in this world of mega resorts. It’s the best, just don’t come and visit. Ski elsewhere!”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 6, Whitefish Mountain Resort, Mont.

No. 5: Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.

Outsized ski terrain match by a bustling ski city at its base, Whistler Blackcomb is the whole package.

Overall Score: 8.14
Last Year’s Ranking: 4
Strengths: Challenge, Terrain Variety
Weaknesses: Access, Value

Whistler RG23
The top-ranked Vail Resorts-owned ski area is a ski metropolis with terrain and village amenities for all comers. (Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts)

The highest-ranked ski area in the Vail Resort empire, Whistler’s crowning attributes—its incredible variety of terrain and challenging slopes—always keep it toward to top of this list. And as Vail continues to invest in the resort with several recent lift upgrades in place and more planned, that’s not likely to change. Its two connected mountains serve up more adventure than you could explore in a season, complemented by two cosmopolitan villages that offer the amenities of a sizable city. Crowds, rising prices, and questionable weather are common gripes, some of which they can control, others not so much. That said, there’s no way to visit Whistler Blackcomb and not find what you came for, and more.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Snow (and sunshine) can be iffy depending on time of year. Do not recommend for beginners or timid intermediates. Beautiful scenery, abundance of high-quality dining and après and the best variety of terrain anywhere! Love the pedestrian village. No need to drive or shuttle too much. Can be pricey but well worth it.”

“Whistler is awesome in every way and very convenient to get to. The village, restaurants, and nightlife are second to none but can be pricey. They get so much snow. It’s not as light as the interior mountains but sooo much snow. More like chowder than powder, but easy to float on. Only downfall is conditions can vary widely later in the season and lines can be long during peak season. So much variety and fun though. Just watch out for the crud on marginal snow days after a freeze-thaw cycle. Overall, it is easy to see why Whistler has been No. 1 in North America so many times.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 5, Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.

No. 4: Banff Sunshine, Alb.

With views for days and the skiing to match, Banff Sunshine cultivates a unique destination experience thanks to that Canadian hospitality.

Overall Score: 8.21
Last Year’s Ranking: 5
Strengths: Snow, Challenge
Weaknesses: Nightlife, Access

Banff Sunshine RG23
Banff Sunshine relies on 100 percent natural snow—and has the longest season of any resort in the region. (Photo: Courtesy of Banff Sunshine)

Flip-flopping with Whistler in this year’s rankings, Banff Sunshine could not be more different. Relying on its higher elevation to bless it with 100 percent natural snow, Banff Sunshine bring challenging—even extreme—terrain to the table but with a far more communal and intimate vibe than worldly Whistler. There’s barely any lodging at the resort—just one hotel, actually—and the on-mountain dining and amenities are lacking (there are plans for a new, much-needed day lodge), but readers love Sunshine for everything its not: It’s not a mega resort, it doesn’t feel corporate, and it’s hardly glitzy. Just great skiing in good company.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“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 and local charm.”

“Like Lake Louise, Banff Sunshine has jaw-dropping vistas and the most beautiful mountain ranges you could ever see while skiing. You’re literally on the Continental Divide between Alberta and British Columbia. The Canadian hospitality is without peer, and the scenery is absolutely spectacular. The lift network is slightly wonky, but there are more high-speed quads here than you can count.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 4, Banff Sunshine, Alb.

No. 3: Aspen Snowmass, Colo.

The four mountains that make up Aspen Snowmass set the gold standard for American skiing, and serve up memorable experiences no matter what you came looking for.

Overall Score: 8.31
Last Year’s Ranking: 3
Strengths: Terrain Variety, Overall Satisfaction
Weaknesses: Access, Value

Aspen RG23
Four mountain and oodles of all types of terrain keep Aspen Snowmass at the top of the rankings. (Photo: Courtesy of Aspen Snowmass)

Four distinct resorts anchored by perhaps the most iconic town in skidom? That’s Aspen Snowmass, which is holding onto its No. 3 spot in this year’s rankings. We know we use the “something for everyone” refrain pretty often, but if there’s every a place it truly applies, it’s here. From never-evers getting their ski legs under them at Buttermilk to seasoned lifers hiking Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands, these four mountains offer incredible variety, challenge, amenities, family programs, guest service, lifts, and local vibe. No wonder it scores so high in Overall Satisfaction—Aspen Snowmass is the whole package.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Four separate mountains each with distinct characteristics. Something for everyone and not too crowded. A real community, not just a ski resort. Gold medal fly fishing, amazing hiking, excellent mountain and road biking. Off-piste skiing and great hut system. The airport is so close and down valley towns like Basalt are nearby. Needless to say, it’s pricey to own a home and renting a condo or home is probably at the high end of the market. Having skied at many resorts around the world, I still rank Aspen No. 1.”

“Aspen Snowmass has something for everyone and it never feels crowded. Hard to get to but that keeps it like your own private mountain since there are rarely crowds, even in peak times of year.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 3, Aspen Snowmass, Colo.

No. 2: Deer Valley Resort, Utah

Across its 2,026 skiable acres spread over six peaks are the well-coiffed cruisers that skiers have come to know and love, but also perfectly spaced glades, chutes, and bowls, if you know where to look.

Overall Score: 8.40
Last Year’s Ranking: 2
Strengths: Family, Access
Weaknesses: Challenge, Value

Deer Valley, Utah
Readers love Deer Valley’s skier-only brand of luxury mountain vacation. (Photo: Deer Valley Resort)

Since Deer Valley ceded the No. 1 rank to Sun Valley a few years ago, the two have gone back and forth as to which resort carries the torch in the skier amenities categories. This year, Deer Valley bested its rival in the Grooming, Service, Lodging, and Family categories, nabbing No. 1 in all four. Not surprising to anyone who knows the place. Deer Valley’s speciality is making a ski vacation feel like an actual vacation with services like the complementary ski valet at the base, daily mountain tours, and the friendliest staff in the business. Readers felt that the slopes were more crowded than usual, but still oodles better than at neighboring Park City Resort. And yes, while wide, corduroy boulevards are the draw, don’t think that you can’t find the goods if you put in a little bit of effort.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Resort has great guest service. Personnel go out of their way to welcome guests, especially first-time visitors. Grooming is good. Many choices of terrain. A family skiing with all levels of skiers will feel comfortable at Deer Valley. Childcare and lessons for everyone are very good.”

“Deer Valley has more skiers since joining the Ikon Pass. Moving off the Ikon Base will help… and I’m fine with paying more for the full Ikon to keep my seven days of skiing there. But only because Snowbasin and Sun Valley were added to the Ikon. Otherwise, Deer Valley is the same as it ever… a great place to ski as a break from the Cottonwoods.”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 2, Deer Valley Resort, Utah

No. 1: Sun Valley Resort, Idaho

Sun Valley’s intermediate to expert terrain on Baldy and beginner’s paradise at Dollar Mountain satisfies all comers. And that’s not even touching authentic Ketchum’s many draws.

Overall Score: 8.61
Last Year’s Ranking: No. 1
Strengths: Lifts, Overall Satisfaction
Weaknesses: Snow, Access

Sun Valley RG23
Sun Valley keeps its top rank for the third year running thanks to its attention to the complete vacation experience. (Photo: Courtesy of Sun Valley/Steve Dondoro)

Sun Valley comes away with the No. 1 rank for the third year in a row thanks to its own special combination of great terrain, luxurious vacation amenities, and a unique and authentic vibe that skiers of all stripes love. Sun Valley doesn’t boast the gnarliest terrain on this list, nor the best snow (quite the contrary, actually), but readers appreciate this special destination’s long, sustained cruisers and mountain op’s ability to do wonders with a snow surface that’s not always blessed by Mother Nature. Crowds are kept at bay thanks to it’s remote location, and the move off of the Epic Pass and onto Ikon has been exceptionally well received.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

“Sun Valley is a very special place. It is one of the few remaining ski towns with true local flavor and unspoiled atmosphere. No huge condo complexes, no lift lines, excellent ski terrain with comprehensive snowmaking and grooming. A real pleasure to ski here, especially with the constant care of the yellow-jacked guest services staff on the mountain. Because it can be tricky flying into Sun Valley during heavy snowfall, getting to the resort is sometimes a challenge. Once there, it is brilliant.”

“Sun Valley is virtually the only major resort in the U.S. that has maintained its rich history and friendly, laid-back atmosphere and has NOT turned into a mountain next to a shopping center!”

Read the resort review and get trip-planning tips: No. 1, Sun Valley Resort, Idaho