A ski holiday to the United States is on the bucket list of many skiers and snowboarders. But with so many resorts to choose from, it's hard to know where to start. From the former gold mining towns in Colorado to the sunny ski resorts of California to the legendary deep, dry powder snow of the Rocky Mountains, skiing in America is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where you'll get to know a new culture as well as some fantastic skiing terrain. Here are 9 of our top resorts in the US.
The Lake Tahoe basin is renowned for being the birthplace of more than one famous professional skier and snowboarder. Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows combines California sun with Sierra Nevada powder snow to make the spring skiing capital of America. With more than 11 metres of snow per year and breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe as you ski, it's no wonder many ski bums choose to move here! While beginners will find everything they need on the gentle nursery slopes, this is more of a mecca for powder nuts who want to try their skills on the notorious chutes, moguls and gladed runs.© Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
Arrive at Breckenridge and you might be asking if you accidentally transported yourself back in time or into a Wild West film! Less than a 2-hour drive from Denver International Airport, this Colorado ski resort has reinvented itself since the 1800's and now offers plenty of deep, dry powder to explore instead. 5 peaks, 60% tree-lined runs and bowl after bowl of steeps and chutes make this ski resort popular with everybody from nervous beginners to expert freeriders.
In recent years, Vail Resorts has expanded considerably, purchasing a handful of the biggest ski resorts in North America. Their flagship ski resort in Colorado has almost 200km of ski slopes, placing it among the largest in the US. Three snow parks draw freestylers from across the country, while off-piste fanatics will be thirsty to explore the steep 'n deep terrain in the Back Bowls area. The Epic Pass from Vail also gives access to nearby Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone.Photo: © Jack Affleck Vail Resorts
This former mining town is still dotted with aspen trees, which turn bright yellow and orange in the autum. Four ski areas at Aspen are joined by a free shuttle bus. Beginners can head to Buttermilk, while those looking to carve cruisers all day will do well at Snowmass. Expert and advanced skiers can hit up Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands. Aspen is so popular with film stars that it's become known as the Hollywood of the Rocky Mountains!
Laid-back Big Sky is one of America's biggest ski areas, with 335km of slopes. Under the watchful eye of Lone Peak, skiers and snowboarders tackle steep powder chutes and gladed blue and green runs. Big Sky boasts one of North America's only heated chairlifts, and speaking of lifts, no need to worry about queuing here as the ski area is so mammoth, there's room for everybody. Freestylers can let 'er loose in no less than 8 snow parks. Big Sky was a favourite with the late Warren Miller, the famous skiing filmmaker, who made this ski area his base in the winter.(© Kene Sperry/Big Sky Resort)
The neighbouring ski resorts of Park City and Deer Valley hosted a good portion of the events for the 2002 Winter Olympics. The two resorts are separated by just a fence, and while they have offered joint ski passes in the past, this is not always the case so it's worth checking before going. Posh Deer Valley is one of the few skiers-only resorts in the US, which has drawn its fair share of complaints from snowboarders! Here you'll find everything catered to your smallest whim, including honest-to-God ski valets. For a more down-to-earth experience, head to Park City, which has 7 snow parks to make up for its neighbour (that's "neighbor" in American). You might be astounded to hear that the VILLAGE of Park City has been known to receive 9 metres of snow, so you should have no worries about snow cover during your ski holiday! Both ski areas are a short drive from Salt Lake City International Airport.
Jackson Hole has invested thousands of dollars over the last decade upgrading all its infrastructure and it's paid off, with a brand-new midstation housing a ski school, equipment rental shop and cafeteria. The ski resort is probably best known for Corbet's Couloir, reputed to be North America's toughest black run. Freestylers will have a ball here on the nature-inspired "stash parks", and speaking of nature, everybody can enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding national parks. The Town of Jackson Hole is still very much attached to its roots, with wooden sidewalks and log cabins transplanted straight from the 1800's.
Another skiers-only resort, Alta Ski Area is nevertheless one of the top ski resorts in America, if only for the average yearly snowfall of 14 metres! Unlike most North American ski resorts which have black and double-black diamond runs, Alta doesn't differentiate between the two, so just assume they're all hard! The ski culture here is very hardcore, so don't come expecting spa facilities or world-class shopping. It's all about the skiing, skiing, skiing and if you're a diehard skier just looking to dive into the mountain wilderness, then you'll fit right in.
Located in the Rocky Mountains, Keystone is a family-friendly resort with night skiing and a world-class terrain park. This purpose-built ski resort has been around since the 1970's and now belongs to the successful Vail conglomerate. With around 6 metres of snowfall annually and three mountains to explore, Keystone is a favourite with beginners and experts alike. Just a short drive from Denver International Airport, this is a fantastic option if you're looking for easy ski holidays in the United States.
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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