Photo: Squaw Valley Ski Resort, by Rennet Stowe on Flickr.
Defining the “top” anything is very difficult, and ski results are no different. The best snow is rarely any farther east than the Rockies, and yearly snowfall can have a big impact on the quality of the runs. While this list will give you the top places for this year, in reverse order of awesomeness, the exact arrangement of the best places will vary from year to year. None of these resorts is ever bad, and any of them would be a great choice for a ski vacation.
6. Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe, CA
A single shuttle service gets you to either of these resorts which share season passes, lift tickets, and owners. The terrain is amazing and Squaw has a high speed gondola that is capable of operating even in high winds, which happens frequently in the Sierra.
5. Deer Valley/The Canyons, in Park City, UT
Although these are separate resorts, one Park City shuttle bus gets you to all of them. The three mountains surround the town of Park City, which also happens to be a great place to take a break. If you fly in to Utah, take the Park City airport shuttle to get here. Then choose your mountain. The Canyons is the largest, Deer Valley has the best powder and Park City is the most popular.
4. Vail, CO
Vail is the largest resort in the U.S., and therefore one of the most popular. Fortunately the resort has continued to improve the lifts and add gondolas. For the tech-minded, you can download an app that will track vertical feet skied; it’s much easier to brag when you have the proof on your mobile device.
3. Telluride, CO
The surrounding mountains often leave the town in shade for much of the morning, so hit the slopes early if you want to see the sun. Telluride has added some runs in the last few years and expanded some of the existing ones. The gondola is worth a ride just for the pleasure of it.
2. Alta/Snowbird, UT
Little Cottonwood Canyon is only about half an hour from Salt Lake City, making these resorts easy to get to for a fly-in skier. If you aren’t sure which resort you’d like, buy a joint lift ticket; they are that close. The incredible powder days draw a lot of visitors and lines can be long, but they worth every minute of waiting.
1. Jackson Hole, WY
It’s the best skiing in North America, period. They’ve improved the trams to ease up wait lines on some of the best runs, and if there is a line, it is worth the wait. Not only is the skiing incredible, so is the food. If you only get one ski adventure this year, Jackson Hole is the place to go.
Your local resort may be perfectly fine for most of the season, but if you get the chance, choose one of these amazing ski destinations for some of the best skiing you’ve ever experienced.