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Ski Resort Life

The 7 Biggest Ski Resorts in North America

These seven massive ski areas are ranked by skiable acreage and number of chairlifts.

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1. Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.

8,171 Skiable Acres | 36 Lifts

"Whistler Blackcomb Resort Guide 2020 Opener"
Big views at Whistler Blackcomb. Photo: Eric Berger

Utah’s Powder Mountain technically boasts the most skiable acreage (8,464 acres), but Whistler Blackcomb comes out on top thanks to its 32 lifts compared to Powder Mountain’s nine. And with the recent upgrade of the Green Chair to the Emerald Express six-pack, the Catskinner to a high-speed quad, and the addition of a 10-person gondola from the upper village to the Peak 2 Peak connection, all but three chairs and a few surface lifts are high-speed. That’s quite the uphill capacity—78,000 per hour, to be exact. Whistler does everything big, from its raucous après scene in the village to its thigh-burning 5,280 feet of vertical. It may be trite to say that there’s something for everyone here, but Whistler is one of the few ski resorts where it rings true.

On Active Pass: Built on Tribal Land, Whistler Blackcomb Makes Effort to Reconcile with First Nations

2. Park City Resort, Utah

7,300 Skiable Acres | 41 Lifts

Tree skiing in Park City
Enjoying some well-spaced aspens at Park City Resort. Photo: File photo

This resort located just 35 minutes outside Salt Lake City became the largest ski resort in the United States when Vail Resorts bought Park City Mountain Resort from Powdr Corp. in 2014 and combined it with neighboring Canyons Resort. Despite their connection, this behemoth is best skied one side at a time, as it’s so big that navigating between the two is time consuming and traverse-heavy. That said, there’s a ton of great terrain on both the Park City and Canyons side, from the expert terrain off of Park City’s Jupiter lift to the steeps off of the Ninety Nine Ninety chair at Canyons.

Check out what’s new at Park City Mountain Resort this season.

3. Big Sky, Montana

5,800 Skiable Acres | 36 Lifts

Skiing Big Sky
Going big at Big Sky. Photo: Courtesy of Big Sky

The only Top 5 resort on this list not owned by Vail Resorts, Big Sky is best known for its signature “big” terrain: Big Couloir, an experts-only in-bounds run that drops 1,400 feet from the summit of Lone Peak. Avalanche gear is required, as is signing out at the patrol shack at the top. Another “big” at Big Sky, although in an entirely different way, is the run that starts at the top of Liberty Bowl and ends down at the mountain mall—over 6 miles long.

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4. Vail, Colorado

5,289 Skiable Acres | 31 Lifts

"Vail Resort Guide 2020"
Vail’s seven bowls are a powder-day treat. Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resort/Scott Bellow

Anyone who has skied Vail’s Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin may find its No. 4 ranking hard to believe, because this place skis big. Savvy Vail skiers know how to navigate the mountain to stay ahead of the crowds, which can also be big at this popular Colorado mega-resort. The key is to head to the bowls, which on their own comprise over 3,000 acres of wide-open terrain and are a true wonderland on powder days. The challenge: Make it to Outer Mongolia and back before the lifts wind down at 2:30 p.m.

Related: Where to stay in Vail, Colo.

5. Heavenly, California

4,800 Skiable Acres | 28 Lifts

"Looking at the views at Heavenly"
Taking in big lake views at Heavenly. Photo: Courtesy of Heavenly

Tahoe’s largest ski resort straddles the Nevada-California state line and is know for its massive lake views from just about anywhere on the slopes. Heavenly sits on the southeast side of the lake and serves up some of the best views in the region. For the biggest eyefuls, board the Sky Express to the summit then beeline for Ridge Run, which meanders along the resort’s boundary. The views of the turquoise lake and the white Sierra peaks beyond are simply stunning.

Resort Guide: Best Scenery in the West

6. Mt. Bachelor, Oregon

4,318 Skiable Acres | 15 Lifts

"mt Bachelor Resort Guide 2020"
Bachelor’s 360-degree summit views are unique in ski country. Photo: Courtesy of Mt. Bachelor

This volcano boasts one of the longest ski seasons in North America plus straight-up 360-degree views from its summit, which is truly a sight to behold. Another thing Bachelor goes big on? Snow. The ski area gets over 460 inches a season, burying its 4,000-plus acres of glades, chutes, and bowls and in that signature PacNW powder. The Summit Chair is where it’s at for expert terrain, but the glades off of the Outback and Northwest chairs are money when the Summit is shut down due to wind.

Related: Mt. Bachelor Joins IKON Pass for 2020-’21 Season

7. Sun Peaks Resort, B.C.

4,270 Skiable Acres | 13 Lifts 

Skiing Sun Peaks at sunset
Skiing with the snow ghosts at Sun Peaks. Photo: Courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort/Kelly Funk

Not as well-known as its neighbor to the west, Canada’s second-largest resort is an ideal option for groups with mixed abilities and ages. What really stands out about Sun Peaks is how easy it is to navigate despite its considerable size. All three peaks are skiable right from the main village, a quaint pedestrian area that you can actually ski through to get from your lodge to the lifts and back. One thing Sun Peaks isn’t big on is crowds, so come prepared to breeze through lift lines and rack up big vertical.

On Active Pass: Sun Peaks is On the Rise