|Choose a resort and make reservations today
Deciding on a ski resort can be like gazing at a menu at your favorite restaurant: you know everything will be delicious, but it’s tough to choose.
Every resort has its own unique personality and offerings.
Some excel at family fun, some are perfect for fresh tracks on powder days, others have huge terrain parks, or more off-mountain activities, spas…you name it.
To help you decide, we asked visitors and industry experts which resorts are their favorites and why.
Read on and learn how to pick the perfect resort for you with our custom ski resort guide.
When it comes to the sheer quantity and variety of terrain, it’s tough to beat Vail. With nearly 5,300 acres of world-class skiing and snowboarding available, the resort can feel like utopia for snow sports enthusiasts of all ages.
What’s more, there’s variety here, from learning trails to cruisers, powder, glades, steeps, and the legendary back bowls.
A close runner up is Canyons Resort, boasting 4,000 acres and 182 trails across nine gorgeous Utah peaks.
“Keystone is my secret little escape from the Front Range,” says Doug Schnitzspahn, Editor-in-Chief of Elevation Outdoors.
“You can drop the kids off at school in the morning, get up there, hit the gondola, hike a bit of the Outback, grab an espresso at Inkspot, walk back to your car and be back for kid pick-up in the afternoon. It’s an overlooked mountain for sure.”
Best for families
Every resort aims to be family-friendly, but some offer extras that you won’t want to miss. Beaver Creek has a large, dedicated kids teaching area and a gondola just for kids – all designed to make little ones feel comfortable and learn at their own pace.
Guests rave about the fresh-baked cookies, which are handed out on the slopes daily. All the restaurants, even the finest, offer kid-friendly options and special family dining time slots.
And, the base village is easy to navigate with children and gear thanks to the smart layout and the presence of escalators.
Other family-friendly options include Northstar California, which provides free s’mores daily in the village and a full menu of amenities like wagons to tote your gear, arts and crafts, ice skating, and a special lift ticket that allows parents to switch off skiing while the other hangs with the kids at the base.
Also check out the range of kid-friendly lodging, dining and ski & snowboard schools at Vail, Keystone, Breckenridge, and more.
Best off-peak destination
“Sure, Vail can be a zoo scene on a big powder weekend and holidays—but hit it on a quiet day, like a weekday when the back bowls have first opened in December, or even a three-inch day that skis like a foot, and it's pure magic,” Schnitzspahn says.
Other mid-week favorites include Breckenridge and Keystone (there is less traffic mid-week, making it an easy jaunt from Denver on I-70) and Canyons, which is an easy escape from Salt Lake City.
Every resort offers thrills if you know where to look. But a few really take it to the next level. Canyons in Park City, Utah is nearly 50 percent expert terrain with several bowls, glades, and natural halfpipes spread across 4,000 acres of skiable terrain.
Other resorts offer unique adventures, such as snowcat skiing at Keystone, hike-to terrain on Peak 6 at Breckenridge, and the double-black canyons at Heavenly.
Worth the drive
“I love Vail, but when I'm running late and don't want to deal with the parking and lift line scene... I just keep driving to Beaver Creek.
There's unheralded tree skiing, leg burners, easy parking and shuttle service... and they give you cookies in the lift lines."
— Doug Schnitzpahn, Editor-In-Chief, Elevations Outdoors
Best for developing backcountry cred
If you want to learn some backcountry skills, Kirkwood is California's premier center for resort-based backcountry skills and adventure. There are more than 20 programs that include two separate cat skiing venues, skills clinics, mountain guides, specialized avalanche education, women's all-mountain programs, children’s development and backcountry gear.
Marc Peruzzi, Editorial Director of Mountain magazine says that when a storm is brewing in Utah:
“I'm going to the Canyons for steep shots in the trees. The place is devoid of the powder skiing crowds you find elsewhere in the state, but the snow is pretty much the same. Steep and deep.”
Discover other secret stashes at Keystone where visitors say you can usually find fresh tracks in the Outback and in the trees in North Bowl.
Or, at any resort, you can splurge on a private lesson and have your instructor be your personal guide to his or her favorite stashes.
Most beginner terrain
Northstar California is a great place to learn, say guests. There’s plenty of beginner terrain and it’s progressive, so you can advance quickly as you get your legs under you.
Even the blues are progressive, so you can advance at your own pace.
Beginners also love Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone thanks to their world-class ski & snowboard schools and ample learning terrain, including long green runs that allow for continual practice.
Ski two states at once
Heavenly takes the prize here. This unique resort spreads from California to Nevada, offering a variety of terrain and some of the most amazing 360-degree views you could imagine.
Explore the network of trails and you’ll discover stands of old-growth trees, deep powder, cliffs, and plenty of beautiful corduroy descending over views of Lake Tahoe.
Nightlife comes in different flavors, from hard-charging party scenes to live music and sophisticated après cocktail bars.
A few resorts that do nightlife extremely well include Breckenridge with its sheer number and variety of bars on the mountain and in town.
Canyons puts you in the heart of Park City, Utah, where a sophisticated and diverse menu of après activities awaits. Heavenly has gambling at its fingertips, along with more traditional (and casual) ski bars and pubs.
And Vail Village is always hopping with music, cocktails, fine food, and couples out for a stroll on the heated streets.
Complimentary champagne at 3:30 p.m. and fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies in the lift lines? That’s just the beginning at Beaver Creek. After a day of treating yourself to some amazing mountain terrain, cruise on down to one of the world-class spas for a hot stone massage, body wrap, or aromatherapy treatment.
Then shop for a cocktail dress or sport coat at one of the luxury boutiques. You’ll need the fancy clothes for your five-course meal at one of the internationally acclaimed restaurants in town.
After dinner (and maybe dessert and a night cap), collapse into the plush king-size bed inside your well-appointed condo, sleep soundly.
Wake, and repeat.
Your next trip is just a few clicks away. Choose a resort to make your reservations today.
Best for large groups
Groups tend to gather where there’s abundant lodging, including well-appointed condos, townhomes and rental homes. One can’t-miss group or large family experience is the Trappers Cabin at Beaver Creek. This unique getaway features a private chef, concierge and cabin keeper who attends to every possible need of the guests (up to 10). Located in a secluded aspen glade above Bachelor Gulch, Trappers Cabin is the ultimate mountaintop escape.
Heavenly is a popular destination for groups of friends who plan to party both on and off the mountain (the Nevada side has casinos). Other lodging ideal for large groups includes: Settler’s Creek Townhomes in Keystone, and several large mountain home rentals are available in Breckenridge, Northstar, Vail, Canyons, and other resorts.
Best terrain parks
Keystone Resort has one of America’s best terrain parks, boasting 60 acres with more than 100 features and a lift that services just the park.
The A51 Terrain Park is famous for its unique features and has been honored with numerous awards, including No. 2 Terrain Park by TransWorld magazine and No. 3 Terrain Park by Freeskier magazine.
Breckenridge also ranks high for visitors who crave rails and jumps. Freeway and Park Lane are the biggest and gnarliest parks on the mountain.
And, Northstar California boasts seven award-winning terrain parks and a superpipe to boot. The parks here are progressive, so you’ll never run out of options as your skills grow.
For festivals so big they spill over to the town, look to Breckenridge.
The annual Ullr Fest is a can’t-miss, weeklong celebration of snow, with activities for all ages. Breck also hosts snow-sculpting contests, beer festivals, parades, free concerts, and of course the Spring Massive, which wraps up the season with food, films, music, art, nightlife and various competitions.
Best spring skiing
Keep an eye on the spring weather. Many resorts get late-season dumps that can rival the peak season powder any day. Bonus: Spring skiing means warmer temperatures, more bluebird days, and a rocking good time on the slopeside patios, where skiers and riders hang out each afternoon.
Some resorts, like Vail and Breckenridge amp up the party in the spring with live music, burgers on the patio, and plenty of soft snow to enjoy well into April. Vail offers its annual Spring Back to Vail festival with the infamous World Pond Skimming Championships.
Further west, Kirkwood stays open longer than many resorts, usually until the end of April. It’s a popular spot for spring breakers and families who like to spend time on the “beach” with a cool drink.
Best Night Skiing
The fun doesn’t end when the last bell rings at Keystone. Night skiing opens up a whole new adventure. Watch the sun set at Summit House and then continue to ski or ride after dark.
The later closing also means you can fly into DIA in the afternoon, catch a shuttle to Keystone, and still have time to hit the slopes before you retire to your condo that night.
Bonus: A51 terrain park is open and lighted until 6:00 p.m.
Best tree skiing
You can peek in and out of fun glades at almost any resort, but a few stand out for their pristine tree skiing. It may surprise you to hear that Beaver Creek has some amazing tree stashes. Check out the glades on Grouse Mountain and the Stone Creek area.
At Canyons in Park City, Utah, locals rave about the abundance of tree skiing and in-bounds terrain that’s off-the-beaten-path (and often untouched).
In California, Heavenly takes the prize, serving up the best tree skiing both in-bounds and in the sidecountry (for expert skiers only).
Great for snowboarders
Snowboarders appreciate resorts that offer plenty of groomers with easy lift access (no long catwalks, please). They also love many of the same things skiers love: powder, a variety of terrain, jumps, and parks for the jibbers.
For all that and more, head to Vail for the frontside cruisers and 3,000 acres of back bowls. Breckenridge has terrain parks dialed with five parks covering every skill level.
Northstar California is a great place for beginner and intermediate riders to advance to the next level. And Keystone’s A51 terrain park is a must-ride.
Most surprising for experts
Keystone has a reputation as being family- and beginner-friendly, and it’s true.
But did you know nearly 50 percent of Keystone’s terrain is rated black or double black diamond?
Bergman Bowl, The Windows, Outer Limits, and the snowcat-served Independence Bowl will surprise visitors who love their skiing steep and deep.
World’s fastest gondola
Vail’s newest gondola, "One", commemorates Vail’s original gondola in that location. The cabins carry 10 passengers and each feature heated, cushioned seats and free Wi-Fi access for guests. With a speed of 1,200 feet per minute, the gondola is the fastest of its type in the world, creating a 40 percent increase in uphill capacity. One has a ride time of 7.5 minutes to Mid-Vail.
Click A Resort Logo Below To Learn More: