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SKI's Top 10 Ski Resorts for Each Category

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[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Snow 1.  Grand Targhee, WY2.  Alta, UT3.  Snowbird, UT4.  Solitude, UT5.  Aspen Highlands, CO6.  Jay Peak, VT7.  Arapahoe Basin,…

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Snow
1. Grand Targhee, WY
2. Alta, UT
3. Snowbird, UT
4. Solitude, UT
5. Aspen Highlands, CO
6. Jay Peak, VT
7. Arapahoe Basin, CO
8. Brighton, UT
9. Kirkwood, CA
10. Jackson Hole, WY

In Deep
Grand Targhee has one high-speed quad, one fixed-grip quad and one double. But who cares? The Wyoming resort averages more than 500 inches of snow annually. In 1996, Targhee slid from the sublime to the ridiculous: it was buried under 659 inches-that’s 55 feet. Targhee, in fact, guarantees its snow. If not satisfied, skiers can receive a “Snow Check,” good for any other day that season. Now that’s confidence.
(Photo by David B. Wilkins)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Grooming 1.  Deer Valley, UT2.  Okemo, VT3.  Sunday River, ME4.  Snowmass, CO5.  Mammoth Mountain, CA6.  Nub's Nob, MI7. …

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Grooming
1. Deer Valley, UT
2. Okemo, VT
3. Sunday River, ME
4. Snowmass, CO
5. Mammoth Mountain, CA
6. Nub’s Nob, MI
7. Northstar-at-Tahoe, CA
8. Vail, CO
9. Beaver Creek, CO
10. Bretton Woods, NH

White Velvet
To do any task well, you need commitment, then execution. Deer Valley’s grooming scores in both categories. The Utah resort boasts 18 top-of-the-line $200,000 Bombardier snowcats (commitment), which groom roughly 70 percent of the slopes nightly (execution). Already without peer for laying carpet, how did Deer Valley prepare for this upcoming season? By buying four new snowcats.
(Photo by Scott Markewitz)

Tales From the SlopesSKI readers probably ride more lifts, log more vertical feet and visit more ski resorts than any other single group in the world…

Tales From the Slopes
SKI readers probably ride more lifts, log more vertical feet and visit more ski resorts than any other single group in the world (lucky them). But they don’t always agree on the experience. Here are pro and con comments offered by readers on the same resort.
Squaw Valley, Calif.
(+) “Almost never need to wait in line.”
(-) “VERY crowded. Long liftlines.”
Alta, Utah
(+) “Best area for senior skiers.”
(-)”At 44, I don’t like hiking to a challenge.”
Bogus Basin, Idaho
(+) “This is a great family ski resort.”
(-) “Everyone on the race team got car sick on the way up.”
Vail, Colo.
(+) “It’s the country’s best all-around resort.”
(-) “Vail sucks.”
Hunter Mountain, N.Y.
(+) “Hunter is a steep rock that’s always covered with¿at least¿manmade snow just 2 1/2 hours from Manhattan.”
(-) “Hunter is a steep rock that’s always covered with¿at least¿manmade snow just 2 1/2 hours from Manhattan.”
(Photo by Scott Markewitz)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Weather 1.  Snow Summit, CA2.  Aspen Highlands, CO3.  Snowmass, CO4.  Northstar-at-Tahoe, CA5.  Purgatory, CO6.  Alta, UT7. …

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Weather
1. Snow Summit, CA
2. Aspen Highlands, CO
3. Snowmass, CO
4. Northstar-at-Tahoe, CA
5. Purgatory, CO
6. Alta, UT
7. Copper Mountain, CO
8. Snowbird, UT
9. Solitude, UT
10. Deer Valley, UT

Hot Stuff
Snow Summit boasts more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Add a winter daytime average temperature in the mid-40s and you’re talking spring skiing all day, everyday. (When you’re a skier or boarder living near L.A., there has to be some compensation.) So how does Snow Summit stretch its season from November to April? About 75 inches of snow annually¿and 100 percent snowmaking.
(Photo by Larry Pierce)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Editor's Picks 1.  Alta, UT2.  Loveland, CO3.  Schweitzer Mountain, ID4.  Purgatory, CO5.  Arapahoe Basin, CO6.  Wildcat, NH7. …

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Editor’s Picks
1. Alta, UT
2. Loveland, CO
3. Schweitzer Mountain, ID
4. Purgatory, CO
5. Arapahoe Basin, CO
6. Wildcat, NH
7. Sierra-at-Tahoe, CA
8. Snowbasin, UT
9. Gore Mountain, NY
10. Cannon Mountain, NH

The Scoop
Our readers ski an average of 22 times a year at resorts large and small. So the Top 60 survey is in experienced hands. But there are the inevitable holes, so we present our annual Editors’ Picks. Alta, Utah, for instance, is a purist’s paradise not to be missed. This, of course, is a partial list of ski areas flying under the radar of our Top 60 coverage. There are many others where skiing is still king.
(Photo by Adam Clark)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Family Programs 1.  Smugglers' Notch, VT2.  Snowmass, CO3.  Vail, CO4.  Steamboat, CO5.  Boyne Highlands, MI6. …

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Family Programs
1. Smugglers’ Notch, VT
2. Snowmass, CO
3. Vail, CO
4. Steamboat, CO
5. Boyne Highlands, MI
6. Northstar-at-Tahoe, CA
7. Bretton Woods, NH
8. Waterville Valley, NH
9. Okemo, VT
10. Bromley Mountain, VT

All in the Family
Smugglers’ Notch, Vt., learned early on the successful formula of the recreational industry: Keep the kids happy and the parents will return. Boredom is not on the agenda. Weekly fireworks, a petting zoo, family ski lessons, bonfires, bingo, tubing, sleigh rides, science shows. There’s even a family karaoke night. A parent’s biggest worry? How to keep the kids happy when they return home.
(Photo by Jonathan Selkowitz)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Off-Hill Activities 1.  Whiteface Mountain, NY2.  Aspen Mountain, CO3.  Heavenly, CA4.  Vail, CO5.  Breckenridge, CO6. …

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Off-Hill Activities
1. Whiteface Mountain, NY
2. Aspen Mountain, CO
3. Heavenly, CA
4. Vail, CO
5. Breckenridge, CO
6. Whistler/Blackcomb, BC
7. Sun Valley, ID
8. Tremblant, QUE
9. Stowe, VT
10. Park City, UT

Options Galore
Winter multi-tasking was invented at Whiteface, N.Y. Home to two Winter Olympics (1932, 1980), the Lake Placid area offers downhill skiing, nordic skiing, ski jumping, ice skating, bobsledding, dog-sledding, luging, tubing, tobogganing and snowshoeing, just to mention a few. Then you move indoors. Shopping, dining, drinking, swimming and museum hopping are all worthy possibilities. Sleeping is optional.
(Photo by Doug Berry)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Scenery 1.  Lake Louise, ALB2.  Heavenly, CA3.  Wildcat, NH4.  Jackson Hole, WY5.  Telluride, CO6.  Sunshine Village, ALB7. …

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Scenery
1. Lake Louise, ALB
2. Heavenly, CA
3. Wildcat, NH
4. Jackson Hole, WY
5. Telluride, CO
6. Sunshine Village, ALB
7. Whistler/Blackcomb, BC
8. Bretton Woods, NH
9. Big Sky, MT
10. Cannon Mountain, NH

God’s Rec Room
This is what God had in mind when he said, “Let There Be Snow.” Sparkling snowfields. Turquoise glacial lakes. Towering peaks. Skiers, however, must be vigilant on the slopes. Traffic jams occur when guests new to Lake Louise stop-literally in their tracks-upon viewing another living postcard at trail’s edge. “Could be the most beautiful place on Earth,” a reader says.
(Photo by Doug Berry)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Dream Vacation 1.  Whistler/Blackcomb, BC2.  Vail, CO3.  Jackson Hole, WY4.  Aspen Mountain, CO5.  Sun Valley, ID6.  Deer…

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Dream Vacation
1. Whistler/Blackcomb, BC
2. Vail, CO
3. Jackson Hole, WY
4. Aspen Mountain, CO
5. Sun Valley, ID
6. Deer Valley, UT
7. Alta, UT
8. Snowmass, CO
9. Steamboat, CO
10. Telluride, CO

Aladdin’s Lamp
Dreams are our minds slipping the leash nightly. So we asked readers to go with the flow and tell us where they would visit if given a free “dream ski vacation.” They answered Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C. This Canadian winter wonderland racked up 2 million skier visits for the second consecutive year, the first time that has happened in North America. Visit a dreamier resort? Not likely.
(Photo by Paul Gallard)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Dining 1.  Aspen Mountain, CO2.  Deer Valley, UT3.  Whistler/Blackcomb, BC4.  Sun Valley, ID5.  Tremblant, QUE6.  Vail, CO7. …

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Dining
1. Aspen Mountain, CO
2. Deer Valley, UT
3. Whistler/Blackcomb, BC
4. Sun Valley, ID
5. Tremblant, QUE
6. Vail, CO
7. Beaver Creek, CO
8. Park City, UT
9. Stowe, VT
10. Breckenridge, CO

Belt Isometrics
Gourmands could argue that Aspen, Colo., has more fine dining establishments per resident than any other city in the country. You’ll get no fight out of skiers, who often view “first chair” as prime seating at the hot new restaurant in town. The Little Nell, Conundrum and Campo de Fiori are reasons enough to never buygroceries. How do you get in ski shape for an Aspen ski vacation? Diet.
(Photo by Jack Affleck)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Lodging 1.  Tremblant, QUE2.  Deer Valley, UT3.  Whistler/Blackcomb, BC4.  Sun Valley, ID5.  Beaver Creek, CO6.  Aspen Mountain,…

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Lodging
1. Tremblant, QUE
2. Deer Valley, UT
3. Whistler/Blackcomb, BC
4. Sun Valley, ID
5. Beaver Creek, CO
6. Aspen Mountain, CO
7. Snowmass, CO
8. Vail, CO
9. Smugglers’ Notch, VT
10. Waterville Valley, NH

Rest Easy
Tremblant understands that each ski day begins and ends in your room, so why not make it memorable? The resort works a successful formula: Combine modern amenities with old-world service. The Westin Resort Tremblant, the area’s first five-star property, is open for its first winter and comes with an outdoor saltwater pool, naturally. At No. 3 for Lodging, Whistler (left) offers grandeur, both natural and man-made.
(Photo by Greg Griffith)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: On-Mountain Food 1.  Deer Valley, UT2.  Sun Valley, ID3.  Aspen Mountain, CO4.  Beaver Creek, CO5.  Whistler/Blackcomb, BC6. …

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: On-Mountain Food
1. Deer Valley, UT
2. Sun Valley, ID
3. Aspen Mountain, CO
4. Beaver Creek, CO
5. Whistler/Blackcomb, BC
6. Vail, CO
7. Tremblant, QUE
8. Snowmass, CO
9. Keystone, CO
10. Park City, UT

Eat Easy, Ski Hard
Deer Valley, Utah, knows the fastest way to a skier’s heart. Among the nine on-mountain eateries, there’s fuel for every taste. Deer Valley limits its skiers to approximately 5,000 a day. Most guests assume that’s the mountain’s lift capacity. No. That’s the top number resort management will allow to eat lunch without spoiling the experience. In No. 3 Aspen, skiers can forget to ski after lunch at Bonnie’s (right).
(Photo by Brunham W. Arndt)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Apres-Ski 1.  Aspen Mountain, CO2.  Killington, VT3.  Heavenly, CA4.  Vail, CO5.  Whistler/Blackcomb, BC6.  Breckenridge, CO7. …
Photo Courtesy of Todd Powell

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Apres-Ski
1. Aspen Mountain, CO
2. Killington, VT
3. Heavenly, CA
4. Vail, CO
5. Whistler/Blackcomb, BC
6. Breckenridge, CO
7. Tremblant, QUE
8. Sun Valley, ID
9. Park City, UT
10. Whiteface Mountain, NY

Sleep Later
You’ll excuse skiers who believe the day starts in Aspen, Colo., after the lifts close. America’s biggest little ski town boasts 150 bars and restaurants, 250 shops and enough designer boutiques to make Beverly Hills blush. This is a town where the line between “need” and “want” is aggressively ignored and only moderation is considered an excess. Don’t even bother to fight it. You’re on vacation, after all.
(Photo by Todd Powell)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Accessibility 1.  Loveland, CO2.  Park City, UT3.  Deer Valley, UT4.  Snowbird, UT5.  The Canyons, UT6.  Copper Mountain, CO7. …

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Accessibility
1. Loveland, CO
2. Park City, UT
3. Deer Valley, UT
4. Snowbird, UT
5. The Canyons, UT
6. Copper Mountain, CO
7. Mt. Sunapee, NH
8. Mountain Creek, NJ
9. Alta, UT
10. Loon Mountain, NH

Open Road
In the case of Loveland, Colo., you can get there from here. Strategically located as the first resort on the I-70 ski corridor between Denver and the mountains, Loveland entices travelers who would rather be on the slopes than the road. Beyond drive-friendly Loveland, four of the top five Access resorts use Salt Lake (left) as their gateway city, which helped Utah land the 2002 Winter Olympics.
(Photo by Scott Markewitz)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Service 1.  Deer Valley, UT2.  Beaver Creek, CO3.  Sun Valley, ID4.  Whistler/Blackcomb, BC5.  Tremblant, QUE6.  Snowmass, CO7. …

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Service
1. Deer Valley, UT
2. Beaver Creek, CO
3. Sun Valley, ID
4. Whistler/Blackcomb, BC
5. Tremblant, QUE
6. Snowmass, CO
7. Vail, CO
8. Aspen Mountain, CO
9. Northstar-at-Tahoe, CA
10. Steamboat, CO

King For A Day
Standard Deer Valley staffing level: one employee for every four guests. And these employees are busy. A smiling “Green-Coat” unloads your skis from your car. A van takes you from the parking lot to the lodge, where you’ll find boot dryers and newspapers. Need to use a phone? Pads and pens will be stocked at all times. DV knows that success is in the details. For Sun Valley (left), No. 3, service is a long tradition.
(Photo by Kevin Syms)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Lifts 1.  Mt. Bachelor, OR2.  Snowbasin, UT3.  Sun Valley, ID4.  Mammoth Mountain, CA5.  Whistler/Blackcomb, BC6.  Vail, CO7. …

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Lifts
1. Mt. Bachelor, OR
2. Snowbasin, UT
3. Sun Valley, ID
4. Mammoth Mountain, CA
5. Whistler/Blackcomb, BC
6. Vail, CO
7. Sunday River, ME
8. Copper Mountain, CO
9. Big Sky, MT
10. Deer Valley, UT

Going Up
In the world of lifts, it’s not how many you have, but how well they work together. Mt. Bachelor offers a symphony of seven high-speed quads that perform in perfect pitch. Liftlines here are the tracks you leave as you weave around the towers of the Summit Express. The ultimate testament to Mt. Bachelor’s efficient lift system? The likelihood that your legs will run out before the ski day does.
(Photo by Eric Schramm)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Challenge 1.  Jackson Hole, WY2.  Snowbird, UT3.  Mad River Glen, VT4.  Squaw Valley, CA5.  Mammoth Mountain, CA6. …

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Challenge
1. Jackson Hole, WY
2. Snowbird, UT
3. Mad River Glen, VT
4. Squaw Valley, CA
5. Mammoth Mountain, CA
6. Whistler/Blackcomb, BC
7. Alta, UT
8. Taos, NM
9. Arapahoe Basin, CO
10. Aspen Highlands, CO

Hurts So Good
Consider Jackson Hole the Manhattan of skiing. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Jackson remains the measuring stick against which skiers rate themselves. (Jumped into Corbet’s lately?) With the longest continuous vertical rise in the U.S. (4,139 feet) , Jackson will not only kick your butt in short bursts, it will knock you silly in the long haul. Here’s where a skier’s self-image meets reality.
(Photo by Greg Griffith)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Value 1.  Alta, UT2.  Mad River Glen, VT3.  Arapahoe Basin, CO4.  Loveland, CO5.  Big Mountain, MT6.  Grand Targhee, WY7. …

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Value
1. Alta, UT
2. Mad River Glen, VT
3. Arapahoe Basin, CO
4. Loveland, CO
5. Big Mountain, MT
6. Grand Targhee, WY
7. Snowbasin, UT
8. Lake Louise, ALB
9. Cannon Mountain, NH
10. Whistler/Blackcomb, BC

On The Cheap
In the land of the gold-plated, Alta, Utah, is proudly pewter. Lift tickets are $35, most lodging rates include breakfast and dinner, and your ski lunch isn’t going to cost what your dinner should. Forget about shelling out for a new ski outfit or the latest gear before you visit. At Alta, what you ski on is not as important as how you ski it. And that, in our opinion, is something you can’t buy.
(Photo by Lee Cohen)

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Terrain  1.  Jackson Hole, WY2.  Whistler/Blackcomb, BC3.  Mammoth Mountain, CA4.  Alta, UT5.  Vail, CO6.  Snowbird, UT7.  Squaw…

[IMAGE 1]The Top 10: Terrain
1. Jackson Hole, WY
2. Whistler/Blackcomb, BC
3. Mammoth Mountain, CA
4. Alta, UT
5. Vail, CO
6. Snowbird, UT
7. Squaw Valley, CA
8. Aspen Highlands, CO
9. Big Sky, MT
10. Arapahoe Basin, CO

Mountain King
Ski resorts can build grand lodges and serve liftline cookies ’til the cows return, but it’s Terrain that ultimately rules. As if its 2,500 acres weren’t enough, Jackson opened the gates to its famous backcountry a few seasons back, which doubled the resort’s skiable terrain. Check out the 32-year-old sign at the aerial tram. It reads, “This mountain is like nothing you have ever skied before.” Amen to that.
(Photo by Greg Griffith)