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8 Best Ski Resorts In The Western United States

8 Best Ski Resorts In The Western United States

Are you researching ski resorts in the United States to plan your American ski trip but unsure which one suits your needs? I can help!

This article highlights some of the best western US destinations for a skiing trip, including ski run levels, ski activities, places to stay, how to get around and what the apres ski is like. What more could you need?

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Choosing the best ski resort in America based on your skiing ability

America is home to some of the most beautiful ski resorts in the world, but with so many to choose from, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.

However, whether you are a beginner or have been hitting the slopes your whole life, one thing is for sure; the most beautiful scenery and picture-perfect views will surround you in the US mountains.

In this post, you will find out which of North America’s most popular ski resorts are best for your skiing ability. I have highlighted some favourite ski resorts in the United States chosen by skiers. Destinations include Colorado, Wyoming, Tahoe, North Carolina, Utah and Montana.

I think you will agree these Western American ski resorts are some of the best places to ski on the planet!

Colorado Ski Resorts

Steamboat Springs – Ski on Champagne Powder® Snow

Steamboat Springs Ski Resort is one of the best ski resorts in the United States because of its Champagne Powder® snow, world-class ski school, and variety of terrain.

To get to Steamboat Springs, fly into the Yampa Valley Regional Airport and take the shuttle or rent a car.

Many condo complexes and hotels have shuttle services around town, so renting a car isn’t necessary unless you want to explore outside the resort in the Steamboat Springs downtown areas.

There are some great Steamboat Springs accommodations to choose from.

Two condo complexes with a shuttle are great places to stay. The Phoenix and Kutuk are within walking distance of the slopes.

The Sheraton is right at the mountain’s base if you prefer to stay in a hotel.

Steamboat Springs is an excellent place for beginners, advanced skiers, and boarders.

It has 170 named trails, with 14% beginner, 42% intermediate, and 44% advanced trails. They also have one of the highest return rates in the country for instructors in their snowsports school.

You know you’re in good hands in Steamboat Springs, making this the perfect place to learn how to ski or board in North America!

Apres Ski in Steamboat Springs

After a day of skiing, head to the restaurants and bars at the base of the slopes.

Truffle Pig is one of the most popular, but it’s on the expensive side. Timber & Torch is also a good option for drinks. You can also go downtown and visit three Steamboat Springs breweries – Storm Peak, Mountain Tap, and Mahogany Ridge.

All three have great food options either in-house or next door.

If you’re visiting Steamboat Springs and don’t like skiing or boarding, there’s no need to worry.

There are plenty of activities to enjoy in Steamboat Springs. Try tubing, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and even a visit to Strawberry Park Hot Springs.

There are also many excellent shopping opportunities downtown.

ski resort with skiers at the top of the mountain

Photo credit – Stuck On The Go

Winter Park – Colorado’s oldest ski resort

Winter Park is the longest continually operated ski resort in Colorado, and it’s easy to see why it’s been running for so long.

This beautiful, family-friendly resort has an array of crisscrossing slopes and trails across 3000 acres of snow, ranging from beginner greens to expert double black diamonds. It’s the perfect place for new and expert skiers, especially those travelling together.

From the base camp, which has plenty of shops, restaurants, ski rentals, bathrooms, and more, there’s a main 10-person gondola heading up the mountain.

For those who want a quick trip (or to avoid getting off a traditional ski lift), you can ski straight back down to the base area or ski school on an easy trail.

For those who want to keep going, you can follow the conspicuous signs and maps to find whatever combination of trails looks the most fun. It’s genuinely a choose-your-own-adventure!

The Zephyr Mountain Lodge is the perfect place to stay at Winter Park.

It has ski lockers, hot tubs, and direct access to the slopes – only 110 feet from the door to the gondola. You’ll also have access to a parking garage if you choose to drive, and all the restaurants and cafes at the base camp are within easy walking distance. 

If you come during the off-season or want to break up your ski days, there are plenty of hiking trails and activities.

Try tubing down the mountain, going on a snowshoe hike for a truly unique experience, returning in summer to ride Colorado’s longest alpine slide, or joining an astronomy tour at night.

How To Reach Winter Park

Winter Park is the closest major mountain destination to Denver, which makes it easy to access.

Most visitors will fly into the city, then either rent a car or take a bus from Denver to Winter Park (an especially great option if you’re not comfortable driving on a mountain with snow).

ski slopes at Winter Park Colorado

Photo credit – Bucketlist Places

Vail – The United States’ prettiest resort to ski

Vail in Colorado is America’s most beautiful ski resort known for its ‘Legendary Back Bowls’ and epic skiing. The resort is also a fantastic place for beginners and kids to ski.  

Vail Mountain’s Back Bowls are unlike most and are only for experienced skiers. They are a collection of epic hills that advanced skiers will love. It’s free skiing with barely a tree in sight and fun for those who love the sport. 

Families will love Vail’s top-notch ski and ride program, which is suitable for all ages and novice skiers. Kids get highly experienced instructors who will get them on skis or snowboards to develop their skills.

Plenty of green and cruising slopes exist for those who want to enjoy long runs down the mountain. Adult beginner skiers also have a variety of lessons from which to choose.

Apres Ski in Vail

The beauty of Vail is unmatched with its lovely village that looks like you have stepped into the Austrian Alps.

The picturesque village is perfect for Apres Ski, with plenty of restaurants (including two Austrian restaurants), ice skating, and shopping.  

town with snow on rooftops in Vail ski resort, Colorado
The town of Vail, Colorado

Vail’s Adventure Ridge has it all if you want fun winter activities away from the slopes, like ski-biking, snow tubing, and snowmobiling! Everyone loves the mountain coaster, and on non-ski days, you can enjoy mountain tours and discover nature.

Flights for skiers heading to Vail arrive at Eagle Country Airport. It is minutes from the resorts in Vail and surrounding areas, including Beaver Creek.

Visitors can find accommodation in Vail here.

Snowy mountains with skier on slopes in Vail

Photo credit – Bon Voyage With Kids

Wyoming Ski Resorts

Jackson Hole – one of America’s most extreme mountain ski resorts

Jackson Hole is considered one of North America’s most extreme ski resorts. Known for its steep runs with intimidating exposure, the resort in western Wyoming has earned a reputation for being a challenging mountain.

Half of the 133 ski runs within the resort’s boundaries have a black or double black rating. Only ten per cent of the runs are considered suitable for beginners. However, that shouldn’t discourage novice skiers from skiing in Jackson Hole.

Jackson Hole has a world-class ski school where you’ll learn to ski or board through trees and navigate steep runs. For kids, the ski school even has runs that lead through a pirate ship hidden in the woods. Children can even earn a helmet sticker for every run they ski. 

For non-skiers, Jackson Hole in winter also offers epic views of the snow-capped Teton Mountain Range. It has a posh yet rustic atmosphere and many après activities to keep you entertained away from the slopes.

Located close to Grand Teton National Park, you can take a sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge, wander through the adorable Wild West town of Jackson, or go snowmobiling on the Continental Divide. 

View of Grand Teton in Wyoming with a ski trail leading through the snow.
View of Grand Teton

Where to stay in Jackson

When planning a winter ski trip to Jackson, you can stay at the base of the mountain in Teton Village or in the centre of town, about 15 minutes away by car.

In Teton Village, Hotel Terra is a superb ski-in option.

Or stay at The Wort Hotel inside one of the most historic buildings in Jackson.

If staying in town, you can take the commuter START bus to and from the mountain for just a few dollars each way.

There are also many superb ski-in ski-out Jackson Hole properties available to book for skiers who want to be in the thick of the action.

view of snowy mountains at jackson hole ski resort

Photo credit – Parenthood and Passports

Utah Ski Resorts

Park City Mountain Resort – perfect for all ski abilities

Park City Mountain Resort is a world-class ski resort in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. It offers something for everyone, from beginners to experts. With over 7,000 acres of skiable terrain, Park City is one of North America’s largest and most beautiful ski resorts.

One of the best things about the Park City Mountain Resort is the variety of terrain. There are groomed runs for those who want to cruise and intermediate and advanced ungroomed runs throughout the resort.

For riders looking to practice doing tricks, there are four terrain parks with two halfpipes, jumps, rails, wallrides, boxes, and a few bowls and tree runs throughout the resort.

If you want to learn to ski or improve your skills, the ski school at Park City Mountain Resort is top-notch. They offer both group and private lessons for all levels. The Park City side of the resort does have a better variety of bunny slopes for someone looking to learn.

After a long day on the slopes, you can relax in one of Park City’s many luxury hotels or spas. The Westgate Park City Resort & Spa is popular, offering ski-in/ski-out access and plenty of amenities.

Check out the historic Main Street in Park City, which is lined with shops, restaurants, and art galleries.

There are various nightlife options, from bars and clubs to live music venues.

One unique activity you won’t find anywhere else is bobsledding at the Utah Olympic Park. This was the course used for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Are you looking for accommodation in Park City Mountain Resort? Check out the availability and pricing of Park City properties here.

lifts at park city mountain resort above the snow covered pine trees

photo credit – HoneymoonAlways.com

Alta Ski Resort – fresh snow guaranteed

This beautiful Salt Lake City ski resort is a local favourite when planning a ski trip to Utah.

Alta is one of the best ski resorts in Utah, and according to a study by the University of Utah, it has the best snow on earth! It averages over 700 inches yearly, 200 inches more than any other Utah resort! 

Alta is at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, a skier-only resort with no snowboards.

You can take one of six high-speed chairlifts to the top and choose which runs you want to ski. There are over 116 runs, which are a mixture of easy and more complex.

Alta has an excellent ski school with options for ages four and upwards.

You can join a group or private one-to-one lesson with a ski instructor. One nice thing is that there is on-site daycare if you have kids under four, so you can hit the slopes knowing they are in good hands.  

If you are flying, Salt Lake City airport is the closest airport to the resort.

You will probably want to rent a car; however, Salt Lake City has an excellent public transportation system. A ski bus will pick you up and take you up the canyon, which is helpful because parking can be difficult during peak ski season.  

Unfortunately, Alta does not have resort lodging, but there are many Airbnbs near Alta.

You can also stay in Salt Lake City, a 20-minute drive from the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon to the Alta ski resort. 

chair lift heading up a snowy mountain

Tahoe Ski Resorts

Northstar California Ski Resort

With dozens of beautiful ski resorts in the United States, Lake Tahoe in winter is the perfect destination for snow lovers.

Among all these different resorts, Northstar California stands as one of the most famous mountain resorts in the western US, thanks to the terrain diversity, an average of 350″ snowfall, and the number of winter activities offered.

Skiers and snowboarders of all levels can find their preferred trails among 100 runs available, mostly groomed trails. Beginners can take their first lessons from the Northstar Ski and Snowboard School, with classes for kids and adults alike.

Intermediate skiers and snowboarders will appreciate that around 60% are for their level.

Expert riders can test their skills in the back runs and among the tree sides, skiing some of the 2280′ vertical drops of challenging alpine terrain; The Lookout Mountain and The Backside slopes are indeed adventurous riders’ favourites!

Confident skiers looking for jumps and tricks can head to one of several terrain parks.

Non-skiers will enjoy skating on the ice rink, cross-country skiing, telemark skiing, snowshoeing, or fat biking.

Treat yourself to one of the outdoor spas to relax after a cold day, swim a lap at the heated pool, or roast s’mores by a campfire.

Where to stay in Northstar

Northstar Village is packed with accommodation, providing mountain lodges, village condos, or wooden chalets for all budgets and group sizes.  

The resort is about 200 miles, a 4-hour ride from the San Franciso Bay area and the major international airports of San Jose and Oakland. Alternatively, it is a 40-minute drive from the Reno/Tahoe International Airport.

aerial view of Northstar resort showing skiers making thir way through the huge fir trees down the mountain

photo credit – Ze Wandering Frogs

Montana Ski Resorts

Big Sky Ski Resort

One of the largest western ski resorts in the United States, and certainly in Montana, is Big Sky, a skier/snowboarder’s playground. The mountain is vast; it would not be possible to explore all of it in a day, and you could constantly ski new terrain all day if you chose.

With nearly 300 trails, there’s something to experience for all skill levels. For those who want to test their mettle, Big Couloir offers one of the most challenging inbound slopes in skiing. Skiing Big Couloir requires going with a partner and signing an additional waiver.

Big Sky is a destination resort; however, the mountain village is small, with only a few restaurants and bars.

For visitors staying locally, there are some great bars and restaurants in the town, such as the Standard or Independent, for drinks or bites to eat.

Big Sky Ski Resort is about an hour from Bozeman, Montana or West Yellowstone, Montana. Staying in Bozeman will give you more lodging and food options, as Big Sky hotels and Airbnb can be costly during the winter.

Tickets for Big Sky cost over $200 US a day (even more if you add in the lone peak tram); however, a few days are included for those with full Ikon passes.

snowy slopes and mountains at Big Sky Ski Resort  Montana

photo credit – Beyond My Door

Conclusion

So, that’s it! Everything you need to know about eight of the most beautiful ski resorts in the United States.

I hope this article has helped you choose the best place for your skiing needs. Have fun on the slopes!

Please PIN for future travel planning to visit the best ski resorts in the United States.

Want to ski in Europe? Check out my post: 17 Best European Ski Resorts to Learn How to Ski.

Do you need to arrange travel insurance, car hire or accommodation? Please check out my resources page to help you plan your trip.