13 out of America’s 89 ski resorts are already open for the season and now that we’re nearly halfway through November, that number is about to skyrocket. If you haven’t already planned your first big mountain trip now’s the time to start. Whether you’re an experienced skier or boarder or have yet to give either sport a try, there’s a handful of spots that you need to hit up for their abundance of trails that vary in level and terrain as well as their stunning backdrops. Yes, you easterners might need to make a trip (or five) out west in order to experience the best ski spots the country has to offer but once you’re whipping down a tree-lined trail with fresh powder curtaining up on both sides you’ll agree that the journey was more than worth it. Below, check out five of the best ski resorts in America.
Colorado boasts a slew of the best resorts in the country, with one of the top overall destinations being Telluride. The mountain averages over 300 inches of snowfall annually and spans over 2,000 acres containing 148 trails. It’s an especially great spot for families seeing as it offers everything from mellow greens to daredevilish off-piste options, and the views of the San Juan Mountains you’ll be greeted with at the top of the ski lift will take your breath away. As for the town of Telluride, it’s definitely on the pricier end but boasts a lively scene with plenty to do apres ski. If you’re on a budget, check out nearby Mountain Village.
It was too hard to pick just one of the above resorts and seeing as they’re linked it’s only right to include them both. Located in Utah not far from Salt Lake City, the duo are known for getting frequent and excellent quality snow. On average, they get more than 550 inches of snow per year but it’s important to note that Snowbird leaves much of their terrain ungroomed. If you’re an experienced skier or boarder and a rugged and thrilling ride is what you’re looking for, definitely hit up Snowbird. Alta, on the other hand, boasts an array of trails for every skier. That’s the catch—only skiers are allowed, snowboarding is prohibited on the mountain. In terms of the resort towns themselves, they’re extremely quiet and low key. Staying a mere 40-minute drive away in Salt Lake City might be a better option.
While California can’t really compete with Colorado and Utah in terms of snow quality, Squaw Valley is still an excellent resort option for coastal dwellers who don’t want to cross state lines. Situated on Tahoe’s western shore, one of the best parts about the location is the stunning views of Lake Tahoe you’ll be able to enjoy while skiing. The resort encompasses 6 peaks and boasts over 4,000 acres of terrain, with ample trails of all levels. If that’s somehow not enough for you, your Squaw Valley ticket is also valid at nearby Alpine Meadows. You really can’t beat this two-for-one deal.
Located in Wyoming, Jackson Hole is another golden child of ski resorts—it’s pretty much got it all. It averages 460 inches of snow per year, has 133 named trails, and is famous for its extreme terrain loved by expert skiers and boarders alike. If you’re seeking an adventure-packed trip, this mountain is the one for you. It boasts the most continuous vertical in America at 4,139 ft while 50% of the mountain is rated for experts. 40% of it is rated for beginners and the remaining 10% for beginners. If you’re looking for ski-in/ ski-out access, look for a place in Teton Village. Otherwise, the town of Jackson is a more lively alternative.
Aspen is famed for its fall foliage, which turns autumnal hikes into a legitimately magical experience (LINK TO BEST HIKES TO SEE FALL FOLIAGE HERE), but it’s also a breathtaking place to ski. Comprising four separate ski areas, being Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands, it contains more than 5,550 acres of skiable terrain. Aspen Highlands is definitely the place to hit if off-piste adventuring is what you’re after (Highland Bowl boasts 1,040 acres of in-bounds backcountry at 12,392 feet!), while Buttermilk and Snowmass are perfect for intermediate level skiers and boarders. The town of Aspen really needs no introduction seeing as it’s a favorite haunt of celebrities and the like, and for good reason. While pricey, it offers ample nightlife and dining options and often hosts festivals, snowsport competitions (like the Winter X Games), and more.