The best ski resorts in the US for your next trip to the slopes

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Let’s dispense with the superlatives right here and admit that best means something different to everyone depending on priorities and preferences. What wows an extreme skier looking for bragging rights isn’t necessarily going to provide the most pleasant experience for families or those looking to learn the sport. 

And there are other criteria as well – some of the best ski resorts win accolades for luxurious accommodations and white-glove service while others thrill with wild scenery or an exciting apres-ski scene. 

Then there’s geography – most of America’s world-class ski resorts are found in the west, simply because that’s where the highest mountains are. But those on the eastern seaboard have some classics among them as well. Here is general guide to some of America’s top ski resorts and the reasons each might be the best choice for you.

Aspen Snowmass Resort

From the expert runs of Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands to the expansive and family-friendly terrain of far larger Snowmass, this 5500-acre complex encompassing four ski and snowboarding areas lives up to its reputation as the definitive all-in-one ski destination and among the best Colorado ski resorts

Despite its tony image, there’s plenty of rowdy fun to be had here, like tubing and snow biking under the stars at Elk Kam or ice-karting around a frozen lake in nearby Roaring Fork Valley.  

What to know 

Each of the four Aspen Snowmass ski resorts has its own personality. Aspen Mountain is known for its challenging terrain and easy access to town and its nightlife. Aspen Highlands for its expert runs. Families and beginners can’t do better than the gentle slopes of Buttermilk, especially tot-friendly Panda Peak and the teenager fave X-Games Park. Snowmass offers equally easy access while still pleasing thrill-seekers with its 4,400-foot rise. Speaking of thrills, no other resort offers an experience like the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster, which whizzes through the forest on an elevated track. 

Where to stay

Where you stay will depend on mountain resort you want to spend time in as well as your budget, but there are plenty of choices.

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Rates start at $1,300 per night during ski season, $600 per night off-peak, or 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. There’s no resort fee.

Cross a Gilded Age mansion and a historic national park lodge and you’d get something like the St. Regis Aspen, where guests gather around the lobby’s massive stone fireplace then head out to stroll the streets, taking advantage of the central location. 

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Rates start at $800 per night during ski season and $600 per night off-peak, or from 80,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night, all plus a $50-per-night resort fee.

It’s location, location, location at W Aspen, which boasts stunning 360-degree views from its mountaintop perch, especially those from the rooftop pool wet deck complete with fire pits. Also bookable with points, the W’s rooms and suites range from high-luxe to the over-the-top glamour of the Wow Extreme suite.    

[roundup-affiliate type="hotel" capi-id="9130" post-id="1443993"]

Rates start at $2,000 per night during ski season; $600 night off peak.

One of the toniest hotels in town, the Little Nell wows with one of the area’s best gourmet restaurants, bespoke ski service, including fittings and chauffeured rides to nearby slopes, plus some of the plushest rooms around.

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Rates start at $550 per night during ski season, $250 off-peak, or 55,000 points per night during ski season plus a $50 daily resort fee.

Affordable stays in a slopeside luxury hotel? You can’t do much better thant his family-friendly hotel right in the heart of beginner-friendly Snowmass.

Where to eat

Hit up Aspen Public House for burgers and truffle potatoes or the Spring Cafe for soups, salads and creative breakfast scrambles. For something more celebratory, try the creative French bistro cuisine at Betula or the prime rib at newcomer Catchsteak.

Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort

Park City, Utah

With the recent addition of the Canyons ski resort raising its acreage to 7,300, Park City became the largest ski resort in America, and second only to Whistler Blackcomb in North America. Deer Valley Resort, just three miles away, provides a premium experience, with high-touch service and snowboarders still banned from the impeccably maintained slopes.

What to know

A new eight-person gondola now connects Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons from peak to peak, making access easy. Snowboarders are out of luck at Deer Valley, which is one of the last American resorts open only to skiers. Luckily, Park City and Canyons are snowboard faves.

Where to stay

There are plenty of fabulous lodges to park your skis at the end of a day out on the slopes.

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Winter rates at the St. Regis Deer Valley start at $1,200 or 96,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

Ski in from the slopes or ride up the Swiss-style funicular to this bastion of Old-World style, where rooms feature deep leather sofas, marble bathrooms, and in-room fireplaces. Make sure to leave time for one of the signature 80-minute massages at the 14,000-square-foot spa.

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Winter rates at the Montage Deer Valley are available for $1,500 per night.

Thanks to the Montage Deer Valley’s X-shaped layout, almost every room has its own deck, and with an average of 600 square feet there’s plenty of room to spread out in the accommodations. New additions at the resort include the Empire Club, which features an exclusive lounge with daily gourmet breakfast and lunch service and unlimited snacks, drinks and desserts. And the 35,000-square-foot spa is replete with indulgences.

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Rates start at $365 per night in low season, or around $1,400 in high season, or 110,000 Hilton Honors points.

The pairing of imposing beam-and-stone architecture with plush velvet and crystal chandeliers lends the Waldorf Astoria Park City a distinctive outdoorsy elegance. Book with Hilton points and choose one of the one to four-bedroom suites with a full gourmet kitchen if extra independence appeals.

Where to eat

The lively mountain town of Park City, which is one of the best ski towns in the U.S., lures a younger, hipper crowd to watering holes like Butchers Chophouse  

and High West Saloon and purveyors of fresh, healthy fare like Five5eeds

The Swiss Alps come to Utah at the Deer Valley Resort’s Fireside Dining, where you can feast on warm raclette cheese and classic fondue after arriving by horse-drawn sleigh.

Breckenridge Resort

Breckenridge, Colorado

A western chic vibe still pervades this historic 19th-century mining town, where the resort’s Five Peaks frame a bustling main street lined with gingerbread-bedecked clapboard buildings. An all-season destination known almost as well for mountain biking and hiking as it is for skiing, “Breck” hosts a year-round roster of festivals and events including the International Snow Sculpture Championships, which turn the town into a magical fantasyland of ice during the last week of January every year. The fun vibe continues from town to slopes with plentiful connections including the free BreckConnect Gondola and trails directly from the slopes into town.

What to know

At 9,600 feet above sea level, Breck is among the highest-altitude towns in the U.S. and as such has become known for early fall color and snowfall and late snowmelt, with good snow conditions typical into late spring. 

Where to stay

More casual than some of Colorado’s tonier ski destinations, Breckenridge still has some wonderful places to stay.

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Rates from $400 per night during ski season, or 45,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

You’ll eat well at this all-suite property designed for extended stays, where every unit from studio to two-bedroom comes with a fully equipped kitchen that can be stocked prior to arrival. Rates also include a full breakfast buffet served in the spacious Base Camp lobby.

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Rates from $300 per night during ski season.
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Rates from $350 per night during ski season, or 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (though it can be a challenge finding them).

Where to eat

Dine on elk and buffalo while listening to jazz and blues at Blue River Bistro, known for its three-hour happy hour, or class it up at Legends Steak & Seafood, where the  butcher’s cut of the day is reliably excellent. The restaurant at Breckenridge Distillery is almost as beloved for its celebratory atmosphere and eclectic menu of small plates as it is for its world-class whisky. 

Tip: Take a distillery tour if you have time.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Yes, Jackson Hole is a checkmark for expert skiers looking to prove themselves on its craggy slopes and famously tight chutes like the infamous Corbet’s Couloir. That said, beginning and intermediate skiers will also find some gentler trails as well as recently expanded intermediate terrain. 

What to know

It’s only a 15-minute ride up the mountain on the aerial tram affectionately dubbed Big Red, but get there early during peak times to avoid lines. Families and beginners will love the recently opened Solitude Station ski school and learning hub offering lessons, rentals, and fire pits to make waiting more pleasant. 

Where to stay

Rustic-chic is the name of the game when it comes to luxurious lodges in this former frontier town.

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Rates start at $329 per night

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Rates start at around $2,400 per night in high eason.

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Rate start at around $1,600 per night in high season.

Where to eat

There’s no lunch spot like Piste Mountain Bistro at the top of the Bridger Gondola, where a wall of glass showcases mountaintop views. Local favorite Gather serves up modern American comfort fare in an unusual round dining room surrounded by a spacious patio. The top-of-the-world waffles at Corbet’s Cabin are a must.

Palisades Tahoe

North Lake Tahoe, California

As you’d expect from a resort that hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics and trained 1998 gold medalist Jonny Mosely, Palisades Tahoe is the resort of choice for expert skiers drawn to its extra-steep runs, including several newly designated as double-black diamonds. But it might come as a surprise to  learn that the terrain at today’s resort is almost evenly divided between beginner, intermediate, and expert. 

What to know

Two base areas, the Village and Alpine (the former Alpine Meadows, now part of Palisades), are linked by the brand-new base-to-base gondola, making it possible to ski both in one day. Unlike most resorts, Palisades has beginner areas at the top of the mountain in 8,200-foot High Camp, accessed by an aerial tram. 

Where to stay

More casual and laidback than some other ski resorts, Palisades Tahoe has plenty of accommodation options for travelers of various inclinations.

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Rates start at around $529 per night.

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Rates start at around $250 per night.

Where to eat

Take a lunch break with 8,200-foot views at High Camp’s Granite Bistro, which overlooks the pool and hot tub or savor kebabs and other middle eastern and mediterranean fare at Mogrog Cafe in Alpine base camp. Off-resort on the banks of the Truckee River, the River Ranch Lodge serves elk ribs, bison chops, and seafood like scallops, calamari and ahi poke alongside more conventional pub-style fare.

Sun Valley Resort

Sun Valley, Idaho

Hemingway finished “For Whom the Bell Tolls” there; Tom Hanks, Ashton Kutcher, and Jamie Lee Curtis own homes there; and so many Hollywood celebrities vacation there that it’s known as the New Hollywood North. Yet Sun Valley, Idaho, has plenty to offer the rest of us, from the beginner terrain on Dollar to the pristine and well-groomed trails on Bald Mountain, plus up to 120 days of sunshine 

What to know

Dollar Mountain lures beginners with easy-to-navigate trails, while experts head for Bald Mountain or “Baldy” for black diamond runs. Sunrise, a new 380-acre terrain park that opened in 2020, expands the resort’s skiable acres by 20 percent. 

Where to stay

[roundup-affiliate type=”hotel” capi-id=”9245″ post-id=”1452208″]
Rates start at around $471 per night.

[roundup-affiliate type=”hotel” capi-id=”8795″ post-id=”1452212″]
Rates start at around $260 per night.

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Rates start at around $400 or from 32,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

Where to eat

Pub-style food and a convivial atmosphere makes The Warfield Distillery & Brewery a good place to chat with locals and catch the occasional live band. 

Telluride Resort

Telluride, Colorado 

Tucked into a box canyon between 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks, Telluride is the picture-perfect mountain town. Its gold rush history is evident in the 19th-century buildings along the compact eight-block main street. No need for a car thanks to the Galloping Goose, or “G” to locals, a free, pet-friendly and ski-, snowboard-, bike-, stroller- and disabled-accessible shuttle that loops through town every 10 minutes.

What to know

A free gondola connects town with the resort’s mountain village. If the 44 new acres of advanced runs accessed by Lift 9 aren’t enough, you can go heli-skiiing to take advantage of even higher alpine skinning. 

Where to stay

Fabulous luxury hotels and lower-key lodges abound in this quintessential mountain village.

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Rates start at $1,599 per night in high season.

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Rates start at $550 per night.

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Rates start at $1,300 per night during ski season.

Where to eat

No place says Telluride like a flight of local craft beers at Stronghouse Brewpub, located in one of the town’s oldest stone buildings, or at Smuggler Union Restaurant, where the menu ranges from chili and wings to empanadas and veggie-centered soups like cauliflower & leek. You won’t get a better breakfast in town than at The Butcher and the Baker, also known for its soups, salads, and sandwiches on fresh-baked bread.

Big Sky Resort

Big Sky, Montana

Halfway between Bozeman and West Yellowstone in Montana’s Madison range, Big Sky is the out-of-the-way destination every skier dreams of. The resort recently became another contender for largest ski resort in the U.S. with the addition of Moonlight Basin, now encompassing 5,850 acres with lifts and runs connecting it to the privately owned 2,200-acre Yellowstone Club, open only to those owning property or staying there. 

What to know

Four connected mountains and seven terrain parks give Big Sky a huge variety of runs and conditions. It also boasts the second-longest vertical drop in the U.S., an adrenaline-surging 4,350 feet from the top of Lone Peak.

Where to stay

Thanks to cozy town hotels and new over-the-top luxury lodges, Big Sky is quickly becoming one of the country’s premier ski resorts to visit.

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Rates start at around $650 per night.

[roundup-affiliate type=”hotel” capi-id=”9244″ post-id=”1452238″]
Rate start at around $380 per night.

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Rates start at around $324 or 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

Where to eat

Fuel up for the day at Blue Moon Bakery, which also serves up a mean pizza. Celebrate a special occasion – or just a successful day on the slopes – at Alpenglow, the Montage’s swanky brasserie. 

Killington Resort

Killington, Vermont

Living up to its nickname of The Beast of the East, Killington boasts the most trails and terrain parks of any resort in New England. The 3,000-acre resort in the Green Mountains also prides itself on being the first to open and last to close, keeping the snow guns running as late as June.  

What to know

The Snowshed base area is the perfect starting point for beginners while Ramshead Mountain is Killington’s playground, making it one of the best family ski resorts. Serious skiers head for Killington Peak, known as K-1, which has the park’s most challenging terrain including the second-largest vertical drop on the eastern seaboard.

Where to stay

Even in a little ski destination like this, your hotel points could come in handy.

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Rates start around $505 per night. 

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Rates start at around $150 or 36,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

Where to eat

Pizza and calzone from Domenic will fill up the family while The Foundry is the local hotspot for a festive meal. The Lookout Tavern is a lively spot for beer and the family basics, including a large, well-priced kids menu.