Craving the adrenaline rush of cutting through fresh powder first thing in the morning? The United States has some amazing ski towns that are rich in history, culture, and of course, slopes, slopes, and more slopes. We know that a lot of people have their favorites they keep going back to, but we’ve rounded up some of the best skiing in America if you feel like trying somewhere new!
Sun Valley was the world’s first ski resort destination, with the first-ever chairlifts on Dollar Mountain. The sun is almost always out on the slopes of Bald and Dollar mountains, making nearly every day of winter the perfect time to ski. While Dollar Mountain still has runs and is rich in history, Bald Mountain is Sun Valley’s premier mountain. It has no flats, no plateaus, and is nothing but vertical downhills — so if you want to ski fast, this is where you go. Bald Mountain offers runs ranging from beginner to expert, so no matter your skill level, there’s a trail for you.
When you’re done skiing, grab a cocktail at the Sun Valley Lodge’s classic lobby bar. The Duchin Lounge is the place to see and be seen, and represents the social epicenter of the town. You’ll also want to check out downtown Ketchum, which is a vibrant area overflowing with shops, galleries, and restaurants.
The sheer amount of winter play-land in Park City is staggering, making it the ultimate winter vacation. The 7,300-acre Park City Mountain Resort is the largest ski area in North America. Then there’s Deer Valley Resort, one of the most luxurious places in the Rockies to hit the slopes. Park City also offers backcountry terrain, cross-country ski trails, and an outdoor ice-skating rink. Advanced and expert skiers can experience as many as six area resorts in a day with the Ski Utah Interconnect Adventure Tour, offered daily when conditions allow. Cross-country skiers will find more than 12 miles of trails at the White Pine Nordic Center.
Olympics fans will want to explore the legacy of the 2002 Winter Games at Utah Olympic Park; at Park City Resort, the site of snowboarding events; and at Deer Valley, which hosted the moguls and slalom events. Park City proper attracts window shoppers and foodies to its historic Main Street, largely built during the silver boom of the late 1800s.
The quaint village of Stowe, Vermont has attracted ski-lovers since the 1930s with an average of 300 inches of fresh powder annually. Surrounded by Spruce Peak and the majestic Mount Mansfield — the highest peak in Vermont — Stowe offers some of the best trails and terrain varieties on the Eastern seaboard. The area's lift system includes a gondola that shuttles guests between both mountains, so you don’t have to choose just one mountain per day. There’s also a sense of camaraderie here. People who ski Stowe keep coming back, so there are usually familiar faces.
Exhausted from all the runs and craving something to eat? While you’re here, it’s worth a 15-mile trip to visit the Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Scenery, charm, and quality snow skiing — Telluride has it all. While many Colorado ski towns have become glossy havens for some of America’s richest, Telluride has maintained its unspoiled frontier roots, giving it a sort of magnetism for many. The mountain has a peaceful atmosphere with minimal lift lines, 2,000 acres of ski-able area, and breathtaking views of the San Juan Mountains. While the San Juan Mountains are notoriously steep, the skiing here offers many wide and well-groomed runs, even at the highest peaks, so beginner and intermediate-level skiers can also enjoy the incredible views. For expert skiers looking for a thrill ride, the Plunge and Spiral Stairs trails offer stomach-dropping verticals.
While it can be a splurge, visit Allred’s Restaurant to dine at 10,000 feet atop the gondola overlooking Telluride. Come for the spectacular views, stay for the award-winning wine list and roasted Colorado rack of lamb.
The standout Taos Ski Valley is New Mexico’s largest ski area, with about 1,300 acres of ski-able terrain, and one of North America’s highest triple chairlifts on 12,481-foot Kachina Peak. Tucked into the southern edge of the Rocky Mountains, Taos skiing was made for those who love hair-raising vertical drops and their powder light and dry. More than half of the marked ski trails are black or double black diamonds, so the runs in Taos are not for the faint of the heart. While there are easier trails, most of them are still considered difficult, so beginners and intermediate skiers should be prepared to learn fast.
The resort’s village has a quaint European vibe, while the town of Taos has a bohemian flair due to its combination of Hispanic and Pueblo Indian cultures. It’s worth a trip into town to check out the adobe architecture, novel shops, and friendly people.
Bend, Oregon — the town that gets less than 30 inches of snow annually, while the surrounding mountains get an average of 30 feet. Head over to Mt. Bachelor outside of town for 360-degree views from its summit, a vertical drop of 3,365 feet, and more than 100 runs. The Mt. Bachelor resort sits atop a dormant volcano and is the highest peak for miles around — so don’t be surprised if it takes your breath away the first time that you see it.
Bend offers a vibrant downtown that you'll certainly want to explore to complete your ski trip. We highly recommend a stop at the famed Deschutes Brewery & Public House, Bend’s original brew pub. While the brewery has another location in Portland, this is the original and has 19 taps for beer-lovers.
Breckenridge is an awesome family-friendly ski area, with four peaks and varied terrain for every ability level. With its close proximity to Denver, affordable passes, and groomed slopes, Breckenridge has become one of America’s most popular ski trip vacations. This also means longer lift lines, so some patience may be required. Breckenridge resort’s pride and joy is the Imperial Express Super Chair, which takes riders up to a whopping 12,800 feet and offers incredible views (but be warned if you are prone to altitude sickness).
The town is rich in history, as it is an old mining town with one of the largest historic districts in the state. The Ullr Fest in January is Breckenridge’s premier annual event, which celebrates the Norse winter god. Festival-goers can enjoy bonfires and parades — so don your horned Viking helmet and enjoy the party!
During the winter months, Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a major ski destination with 133 runs on 2,500 steep, snowy acres. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, at the base of the breathtaking Teton Mountains, has a 4,139-foot continuous vertical drop and is the nation’s longest ski slope. In Jackson proper, there’s also Snow King Resort, with a smaller mountain that’s great for beginners.
Vibrant downtown Jackson Hole is centered around Town Square, notable for its entrance arches made of elk antlers. You can delve into the area’s unique ranching and recreation legacies at the Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum.
Lake Tahoe is renowned for its amazing views, but also for the high concentration of ski resorts within a small area. Large storms are known for dumping massive amounts of snow onto the slopes, with some of the resorts getting up to 500 inches annually. Encompassing most of Lake Tahoe’s southeast shore, the area’s largest community is also home to California’s second-largest ski resort: Heavenly Mountain Resort. In winter, rent a snowboard or skis in Heavenly Village before taking the gondola to access 97 trails and 4,800 acres of ski-able trails.
Across from Heavenly Mountain Resort’s California Lodge, enjoy fireside après-ski with one of Himmel Haus’s many German draft beers. The dinner menu features various sausage plates as well as German classics such as schnitzel, spätzle, and sauerbraten.
While the winter months in Alaska don’t get much sunshine, Alyeska Resort in Girdwood makes up for it. The resort has 375 acres lit up for “night” skiing every weekend, awesome views of the Chugach Mountains, and seven hanging glaciers. The resort’s mountain has intense vertical drops for experts and easier tree-lined runs near the base for beginners, so it’s ready to cater to all levels.
If you’re an adventure junkie, we recommend trying out backcountry heli-skiing. 750,000 acres of untouched powder are waiting to be explored. The team at Chugach Powder Guides will take you to their exclusive-use permit areas while sharing their extensive Alaskan backcountry knowledge.