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Ski Resort Life

Where to Find the Best Freshly Groomed Corduroy in North America

Here's where to find the best-groomed slopes in ski country—and the classic trails on which to set an edge next season.

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No matter how extreme you like your terrain, every true skier can appreciate an immaculately groomed run. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of setting a ski on edge over a perfectly laid corduroy carpet.

Grooming is one of the big categories we poll readers on in our annual Reader Resort Survey, and it’s no surprise that some resorts excel more than others at the art of grooming, even sending fleets out midday for a little refresher. Here are the resorts in North America with the best grooming operations, and the classic cruisers on which to sample the artistry.

Vote For Your Favorite Resorts in our 2022 Reader Resort Survey, it’s closing at the end of June!

Deer Valley Groomer
Deer Valley’s famous corduroy can be found all over the resort, but the runs off of the Silver Lake Express stay cold and pristine even on sunny days. Photo: Courtesy of Deer Valley

Best Resorts For Grooming in North America

1. Deer Valley, Utah

“Love everything about Deer Valley. Although Deer Valley’s reputation tilts to its world-renown grooming, it is so much more. There is tons of varied terrain for skiers from beginners to experts: great groomers, bountiful bumps, tremendous trees and glades, and challenging chutes.  Like most things, you have to work to find the hidden gems off-piste, but there are plenty of friendly and knowledgeable mountain hosts to point you to secret stashes. Lifts are incredibly well-organized without bogus traverses and flats. And let’s not forget the absence of snowboarders, which among other things leaves pristine skiing for skiers. The Ikon Pass has certainly led to more guests than in years past, but the resort is working to manage the impact on the lifts. “

  • Classic Blue Groomers: Keno and Nabob, off of the Silver Lake Express, are the quintessential Deer Valley cruisers. They’re north-facing, so they’re spared the ravaging of the sun, to boot.

Resort Guide 2021, No. 2 in the West: Deer Valley, Utah

2. Bretton Woods, N.H.

“Bretton Woods Ski Resort does a lot right when it comes to ‘skiing experience’. Bretton Woods is top-notch in grooming, snow quality, scenery, and family friendliness. It offers trails that can challenge any level of skier. The addition of the state-of-the-art 8 person gondola this season has reduced lift lines. The caring ski and snowboard instructors are first rate. The Omni Mount Washington Hotel as well many nearby condos are a huge asset for skiers looking for luxury resort-level accommodations.”

  • Classic Blue Groomers: Off of the West Mountain Express, Jacob’s Ladder and Aggasizz tick the box for nicely pitched cruisers with the added bonus of hiding some sweet glades between the two trails for anyone in the group looking to mix it up.

Resort Guide 2021, No. 7 in the East: Bretton Woods, N.H.

3. Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley is one of the only major resorts where I can actually afford to stay slopeside. Places like Vail, Beaver Creek, and other places in Colorado are $500-$1,500 a night. At Sun Valley, I can get a condo for a week right next to the lift for $1,500-$2,000. They have the best grooming I’ve ever seen and Baldy Mountain has 3,000 feet of sustained black diamond pitch. One of my favorite places to go and cruise. Not a lot of natural snow, but they do a great job of making snow so it’s always reliable and you never have to worry if they’re going to have enough snow.”

  • Classic Blue Groomer: Warm Springs Face, accessed via the Challenger chair, is an Alps-like 3,000 vertical feet of cruisey goodness. Although portions of it are classified green, it’s mostly an intermediate run with moderate pitch and great mountain views.

Resort Guide 2021, No. 1 in the West: Sun Valley, Idaho

"Resort Guide 2020 Beaver Creek"
You can’t go wrong seeking out fresh corduroy at Beaver Creek, where the grooming fleet works overtime to get the job done. Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts

4. Beaver Creek, Colo.

“Nowhere has the quality of grooming like Beaver Creek, but what most people don’t know is that it also has some of the steepest terrain and best tree skiing of all the I-70 resorts. Because the resort is geared toward families and destination skiers who don’t seek out the big steeps and huge bumps, this terrain is usually uncrowded and full of powder stashes for days after a big dump. Sure, Vail has the Back Bowls, but they are not steep and the lifts are packed on powder days. I’ll choose Beaver Creek most days. And finally: free cookies.”  

  • Classic Blue Groomers: The entirety of the Bachelor Gulch pod was seemingly carved out by Mother Nature as a gift especially for intermediate skiers. Our favorites are Grubstake, Gunders, and the wide-open Cabin Fever.

Resort Guide 2021, No. 9 in the West: Beaver Creek, Colo.

5. Wachusett, Mass.

“I grew up not far from Wachusett. I’ve skied in Maine, N.H., and Vermont, but the grooming and conditions at Wachusett, even very late in the season, are unmatched.  You can be guaranteed some terrific runs here!”

  • Classic Blue Groomer: Smith Walton is rated black diamond, but nothing here really vies with the Western resorts when it comes to difficulty, so it’s really akin to a blue at most of the resorts on this list. It’s the run that Wachusett uses for racing, though, so if you like it slick and fast, this one’s for you.

Resort Guide 2021, No. 9 in the East: Wachusett, Mass.

6. Aspen Snowmass, Colo.

“Best of the best in just about every metric. Terrain variety, grooming, safety, employee service, and snow consistency are what set Aspen Snowmass apart. Sure, where Aspen Snowmass is located doesn’t always give the most powder days, but the consistency is always there for a fantastic time with no lift lines!” 

  • Classic Blue Cruiser: We love Sneaky’s at Snowmass because it’s just slightly out of the way, accessed from a cat track off of the Big Burn chair. It’s open, has a nice, moderate pitch, and serves up great Roaring Fork Valley views. 

Resort Guide 2021, No. 5 in the West: Aspen Snowmass, Colo. 

"None"
Smuggs keeps much of family-friendly Morse Mountain groomed, but you can also find plenty of freshly laid corduroy on Madonna Mountain. Photo: Courtesy of Smugglers’ Notch

7. Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.

“Great resort. Wonderful local flavor. The snowmakers and groomers are amazing—they make it work no matter what Mother Nature throws at them.”

  • Classic Blue Groomer: Chilcoot, off the Madonna 1 lift, is a lovely, long cruiser with bonus views of Mount Mansfield. Those in the group looking for some more adrenaline can seek out steep trees in Doc Dempsey’s Glades or just steeps on Upper FIS.

Resort Guide 2021, No. 1 in the East: Smuggler’s Notch, Vt. 

8. Vail, Colo.

“So much terrain, and Vail’s Back Bowls are unlike anything else. Lots of powder, excellent grooming, and everything in the village that you could ask for. The complete ski experience!”

  • Classic Blue Groomer: Riva Ridge is the standard, and although it turns black for a spell here or there, this four-mile, usually-groomed run is a leg-burner and a joy to ski for intermediate and up. It’s located off of the Mountaintop Express chair.

Resort Guide 2021, No. 14 in the West: Vail, Colo.