Ski Resort Life

The Best Ski Resorts in the U.S.

From Vermont's classic glades to the powder-choked bowls of the West, the destinations on this list will delight skiers of all stripes.

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What makes a ski resort great? The answer to that question depends entirely on who’s asking it. For the most diehard, challenging terrain tops the list. For those traveling with people of different skill levels, it’s enough varied terrain to go around. For more mellow-minded skiers, it’s perfect corduroy. In light of that, the very best resorts on the continent just might be the most well-rounded destinations, where a bit of everything is on offer.

Go Deeper: Dive Into Our Full Resort Guide 2022 Coverage

This list below is a compilation of the top-ranked resorts in the East and West, as voted by you, the readers, in our 2022 Reader Resort Survey. From classic Vermont resorts with iconic narrow and gladed runs to the wide-open, powder-choked bowls of the West, there are ski resorts on this list guaranteed to delight skiers of all stripes. Click on the accompanying link with each resort for trip-planning tips collected by SKI’s editors, and make this season your most satisfying yet.

The Best Ski Resorts in the U.S.

16. Sugarloaf Resort, Maine

Sugarloaf is a picture of pristine natural beauty that has some of the best terrain in the East. It’s also somewhat isolated, a fact which can add to its appeal or make it seem like a mountain too far. 

Sugarloaf
Experience what Mainers already know: That Sugarloaf’s snow is the real deal. Photo: Jamie Walter

What Readers Say

“I have been a LOAFER since 1972. While the ride from MASS is about 3:45, it is a nice, quiet, comfortable ride. The mountain is secluded and can be cold and windy quite often but the terrain is unmatched, along with the mountain’s commitment to their clientele. The LOAF is a huge mountain and it all centers around one large base area, without a lot of cross-cuts, poling, connecting lifts, etc. The loyalty of its skiers is unmatched. I am 71 years old and next winter will be my 50th at the LOAF. My children grew up skiing here and now I am skiing with my five grandchildren. Every time I turn the infamous “ohmygosh corner” a couple miles from the access road on Rt 27, I know that I AM HOME!”

Summary

Sugarloaf Resort is an accommodating mountain for skiers of all levels but it favors those who want to test their mettle in all conditions. This is East Coast skiing at its purest, complete with wild weather, incredible terrain, and astonishingly gorgeous views. For most New Englanders, it’s a long road trip … all the more reason to stick around an extra day or two.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Sugarloaf Resort, Maine

15. Steamboat Resort, Colo.

A fun and family-friendly mountain with great tree skiing and an authentic Western vibe, Steamboat and its accompanying town fit the bill for skiers looking for a more down-t0-earth destination that still has all the amenities.

Steamboat
Steamboat’s annual Winter Carnival is the quintessential Western-style ski town event. Photo: Noah Wetzel

What Readers Say

“A great family resort. Lots of terrain on the mountain and lots of things to do off the hill. The area around the resort and the town have lots to offer. Great restaurants, bars and a few breweries make Steamboat a great destination. Spring skiing is fun and the outdoor après facilities are a fun time. They even have live music daily outside.”

Summary

Serving up a different Colorado skiing experience than what’s on tap in the Front Range or in Southwestern Colorado, Steamboat is a little more cowboy and little less glitzy. And that’s just fine by them. The mountain is known for its cold, light powder and amazing tree skiing, and the resort is in the midst of a multi-year upgrade that includes a new gondola, new terrain, and a major facelift to the mountain village. The town of Steamboat, down the road, is just the Western-style ski town of postcard fame, especially if you come during the annual Winter Carnival in January.

Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Steamboat Resort, Colo.

14. Cannon Mountain, N.H.

Cannon Mountain is known for its superb trees, stunning mountain views, and a fine variety of terrain. The area gets enough natural snow that local secrets are often ready to ski—if you can find them.

Cannon Tram
Cannon’s iconic tram serves some of its toughest terrain. Photo: Courtesy of Cannon Mountain

What Readers Say

“The best ski resort in New Hampshire, Cannon has it all—a long season, a great variety of terrain, from first-timer stuff to some of the hardest lines at an Eastern resort, to its own wonderfully contained family area of Tuckerbrook, to the awesome old-school vibes of Mittersill.”

Summary

Cannon has a wealth of excellent terrain packed into a medium-sized mountain. Mittersill is famous for its backcountry history and is now served by lifts. Its intermediate glades are also well-known as a right of passage for skiers who get a chance to find their flow through the trees.

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

13. Whitefish Mountain Resort, Mont.

Once an under-the-radar destination in the northern reaches of frigid Montana, Whitefish has more recently attracted all types of skiers looking for smaller crowds and friendlier faces. They’ve come to right place.

"Whitefish Mountain Resort, Montana climbs to No. 3 in the West in SKI Magazine's 2020 Resort Guide"
Whitefish’s famous snowghosts—ice- and snow-crusted trees—are ubiquitous on the mountain. Courtesy of Whitefish Mountain Resort

What Readers Say

“Once you have skied or snowboarded in Whitefish, you will always want to come back. It is the perfect mountain to ski, snowboard and après-ski for beginners, experts and everyone in between. It has everything you want and nothing you don’t want.”

Summary

Whitefish has been a rising star in our Resort Survey for the last several years, with more and more people gaining an appreciation for the ski area’s authentic vibe and rad terrain. There’s so much to ski here, from leisurely groomers to some of the best powder glades in the Northern U.S. And at the base of it all is arguably the most down-home, friendliest, and well, real, ski towns you’ll ever have the pleasure to visit—the town of Whitefish. It’s cold there, so come prepared, but also be prepared for some of the best skiing and overall vibe you’ve ever experienced.

Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Whitefish Mountain Resort, Mont.

12. Whiteface Mountain, N.Y.

While all ski mountains revel in natural beauty, Whiteface’s location near Lake Placid is so stunning, it’s almost not fair. The mountain throws everything it can at you, making it a favorite among expert skiers.

"Whiteface Mountain Resort ranks No. 5 in the East in SKI Magazine's 2020 Resort Guide"
Adirondack views come with the skiing at New York’s Whiteface. Photo: Courtesy of Whiteface

What Readers Say

“Whiteface, the Olympic Mountain, dammit! Ski it if you can—groomed, powder, ice, crud, more ice, more crud—get your shit together, sonny. This ain’t no Disneyland, Jim. Lake Placid is a real ski town! No made-up Austrian village made of plastic with plastic women in furs. Everyone is welcome, everyone. And that’s the best part, no airs. Been everywhere and this is the real shiz.”

Summary

From a distance, Whiteface Mountain’s well-named slopes look impossibly steep. It’s not a huge mountain in terms of terrain but you better bring your A-game when you come here to ski. Accommodations and dining in nearby Lake Placid offset the ski-it-if-you-dare reputation of this Adirondacks classic.

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

11. Snowbasin Resort, Utah

Snowbasin may not have a proper village or overnight amenities (yet), but it more than makes up for that with legit terrain, world-class day lodges, and fewer crowds.

Snowbasin
Snowbasin’s opulent day lodges were built for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. Photo: Ryan Thompson

What Readers Say

“I hate letting people in on our secret but sharing is caring. Our resort is one of the best. They work hard for opening day and maintain the mountain so well during the ski season. It can be super busy on Saturday but that’s because the secret is out.”

Summary

If you’re surprised to see under-the-radar Snowbasin on this list, we can understand that. In a universe with so many big name resorts with slopeside lodging and every guest amenity skiers can dream up, Snowbasin, with no mountain village or town to call its own, seems more like a mom-and-pop destination. But that’s exactly the appeal—the vibe of a smaller ski area with the size, challenge, and variety of a major player

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

10. Jay Peak Resort, Vt.

Jay Peak is the benefactor of gobs of natural snow—along with a history of skiers who pushed some of the toughest tree lines in New England. The terrain challenges skiers with well-earned turns, especially when the weather kicks into its deepest winter chill.

Jay Peak, Vt.
Northern Vermont’s Jay Peak receives some of the biggest dumps in the region. Photo: Courtesy of Jay Peak

What Readers Say

“Ja-POW is a real saying and when you can get to Jay Peak on a powder day you won’t be able to walk the following day. I have never skied so hard as I have done at Jay Peak. Miles of terrain, amazing glades, and the tram is truly unique.”

Summary

Jay Peak is so far north, it’s almost in Canada. It can absolutely puke snow for days on end, setting up some of the best tree runs anywhere in America. The area has been subject to development over the years but it hasn’t yet lost its hardcore spirit and remains a prime destination for expert skiers.

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

9. Taos Ski Valley, N.M.

A unique and authentic Southwestern culture complemented by some of the steepest, raddest skiing on the continent make Taos a bucket list destination.

Taos Liam Doran
New Mexican culture complements the skiing at Taos Ski Valley. Photo: Liam Doran

What Readers Say

“I love the mountain and the vibe of TSV—I’ve been traveling there every winter for over 22 yrs. It has a feel all its own, and their Adult Ski Week program is unparalleled—every time I go I advance my skills. Everyone should experience Taos at least once, but it’s addicting! They get a good amount of snow each season, but even during dry spells the snow is kept in great condition.”

Summary

When you’re looking for a ski vacation that’s a little spicier than what’s on tap at your average resort, Taos is a no-brainer. It’s got the terrain, the amenities, and the culture to keep you engaged on all fronts, plus the red and green chile sauces at Orlando’s, in town, are out of this world. Do know that this place has some seriously gnarly terrain—hike Highline or West Basin Ridge, or ski anything off the Kachina Chair to find out for yourself.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Taos Ski Valley, N.M.

8. Mad River Glen, Vt.

Mad River Glen is a throwback mountain that values the deep, real experience of skiing above all other things. It’s a gnarly mountain with great variety paired with a friendly, eternally-stoked staff.

Mad River Snow
Welcome to the white room at Mad River Glen. Photo: Brooks Curran

What Readers Say

“Mad River is the best in the East. It is considered to be among the hardest. But it has easy and intermediate terrain that is beautiful. I love the Vermont vibe, the single chair and the simple but great lodge. Do you want to go to the real Vermont or to a slick resort? Vermont’s where it’s at.”

Summary

Mad River Glen is well-known for its toughest terrain but it’s also a surprisingly friendly mountain. Vermonters tend to be softer on the edges than other New England states and the welcoming vibe at Mad River is a testament to that notion. The after-ski scene is refreshingly honest, perhaps because it’s hard to have a bad day on such a wonderful mountain.

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

7. Telluride Ski Resort, Colo.

Telluride serves up a triple treat of wonderful and varied terrain, jaw-dropping views, and an authentic Western ski town, making it a lock for a great ski destination that’s less crowded than most.

Telluride
You can find all the challenge you can handle at Telluride. Photo: Courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort

What Readers Say

“Telluride is our favorite resort for two reasons. First, the most beautiful ski area, hands down, in the US. Secondly, for the most part, the best snow you’ll ski anywhere. A perfect blend of light, yet dense, so you’ll ski better on this snow than on any other. A complete boost for the ego.”

Summary

We say it over and over, because it’s true: Telluride is the full package. An authentic, Old West-tinged town with some of the best dining and lodging in ski country; a mountain with all terrain any level of skier could ask for, including great hike-to and backcountry access; and San Juan mountain views that go on forever. If there’s a drawback, it’s that it’s far from anywhere—but hey, that keeps the crowds at bay.

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

6. Killington Mountain Resort, Vt.

Killington is a big mountain that has evolved over the years to accommodate the crowds who are drawn to its varied terrain and excellent after-ski scene. Powder days are common mid-winter and the resort tends to stay open later than other East Coast destinations. 

Killington Scenic
First tracks at Killington is an extra-special treat. Photo: Courtesy of Killington Resort

What Readers Say

“4,000 feet of vertical that I can drive to on a day’s drive. So many mountains and angles, you can always find a place out of the wind. So many trails—I have been going there for years and still find new areas. Even new skiers can ski from the top.”

Summary

Killington’s 1,500-plus acres and relatively high elevation give it a mountain west vibe. There are tons of great cruisers, fun trees, and some fearsome steeps. Management has sought to balance the whole experience in recent years, improving bars, dining, and lodging in the area.

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

5. Aspen Snowmass, Colo.

Four distinct mountains anchored by a famous ski town that lives up to its reputation, Aspen Snowmass offers more than meets the eye.

Incredible views and terrain variety are on tap across Aspen Snowmass’s four mountains. Photo: Tamara Susa

What Readers Say

“Aspen is a wonderful vacation for Coloradans looking to get away from the closer-to-Denver mountains. Downtown Aspen is fantastic and as a somewhat local you can still feel at home and not under the pressure to buy into a ritzy trip. Highlands is a family favorite, but Bonnie’s at Ajax is still one of the best—take a break to grab a sweet treat and coffee.”

Summary

Four mountains, oodles of all types of terrain, and one fabulous ski town make Aspen Snowmass among the best ski destinations on the planet. From Ajax’s local vibe and stellar tree skiing to the family mecca of Snowmass and the iconic steep, open bowl skiing of Aspen Highlands, this resort will keep all levels of skiers engaged and impressed with all there is on offer. While Aspen is perhaps the archetypal ski town, Snowmass Village has been the site of most of the upgrades in recent years, and is worth checking out for new dining, lodging, and off-slope activities, especially if you have kids in tow. And if you’re an expert skier and you haven’t skied Highland Bowl, it’s truly bucket-list worthy.

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

4. Holiday Valley, N.Y.

This western N.Y. mountain is a small hill that punches above its weight. The skiing is pure fun and the friendly atmosphere makes all comers feel welcome.

Holiday Valley
This beloved Western New York ski area provides a well-rounded vacation experience. Photo: Courtesy of Holiday Valley

What Readers Say

“This is my favorite resort in my area. Grew up skiing here. It grew with me. It is like family with the people who work there and the friends I ski with. Awesome lake-effect snow, meticulous grooming, and a good variety of terrain. Not the most vertical, but the most for the vertical it has! It is the gold standard that I use for comparison and recommendations to others.”

Summary

Holiday Valley trades sheer vertical for laps and somehow pulls it off with seamless style. There are 60 trails over 290 acres, which offers a surprising amount of variety for a mountain that only boasts 750 vertical feet of elevation gain. The excellent accommodations, dining, and laid-back spirit make this one of the very best ski destinations in the East.

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

3. Deer Valley Resort, Utah

Deer Valley’s customer service is legendary, as is its groomers and on-mountain food, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find some of the best tree-skiing in the region and considerable steeps, as well.

Deer Valley scenic
These views of the Jordanelle Reservoir are just one of the perks of a Deer Valley vacation. Photo: Courtesy of Deer Valley

What Readers Say

“Deer Valley has been the best resort we have skied at thus far. The customer service is exceptional, the Utah powder is like no other, the food/restaurants/amenities/après both at the resort, and in town, are exceptional. I recommend Deer Valley, and Park City, to everyone. These are the reasons why we have skied there numerous times and will continue to go back every opportunity we get.”

Summary

Deer Valley might have a certain reputation as a super-exclusive destination, but anyone who’s been will tell you that it doesn’t feel that way at all when you’re there, thanks in large part to some of the friendliest and most welcoming staff in skidom. It also has a reputation for having some of the best food in the industry, and we can definitely say that that’s indeed true. While we’re on the topic of reputations, Deer Valley’s groomers are stellar, but so are its glades. And don’t sleep on the Daly Chutes for some really fun—and often empty—steeps on Empire Mountain.

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

2. Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Vt.

Locally owned and operated, this iconic ski mountain has stayed the course over the years with great skiing, friendly confines, and as luck would have it, pretty good natural snowfall. 

"None"
Long a family favorite, Smugglers’ Notch has decidedly grown-up terrain, too. Courtesy of Smugglers’ Notch

What Readers Say

“I have been going to Smuggs since I was 4 and now I take my own kids there. They have learned to ski from the wonderful instructors and are masters of the mountain. Each time we go they gain more confidence, and Smuggs is literally their favorite place to go!”

Summary

Smugglers’ Notch hits a sweet spot with everything that is great about skiing. It’s got a wide swath of varied terrain, it’s family-friendly but also primed for experts, its views are stellar, and it’s not so far away that you have to plan a caravan to get there. It’s independently owned and heavily invested in the local community, so it’s very easy to overlook the lack of a high-speed lift.

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

1. Sun Valley Resort, Idaho

Nestled into its very own wintry nook, Sun Valley has all the components of a perfect ski vacation, from the terrain across two separate mountains and the town of Ketchum just down the road.

Sun Valley scenic
Ranking No. 1 for its second year in a row, Sun Valley is a winter wonderland. Photo: Courtesy of Sun Valley

What Readers Say

“Sun Valley is just magical. The village and the Lodge can’t be topped. The mountain is perfectly maintained and has perfect pitch on every run. The history makes it fun to be a part of. The Holding family are supreme stewards of this jewel.“

Summary

Visiting Sun Valley is like entering into a winter wonderland that’s just far enough off the beaten path to have a magic all its own, from the perfectly groomed slopes with amazing Wood River Valley views to quaint yet sophisticated Ketchum, lined with trendy restaurants, shops, and bars. It’s a place that truly feels like a vacation, with great service on and off the hill and lodging options ranging from the iconic Sun Valley Lodge to the sleek Limelight Ketchum. The skiing? It’s better than ever this year with the addition of the new Sunrise expansion, 350 acres of new expert terrain with a distinct backcountry feel.

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