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

The banner year that was forecasted for the 2023-24 ski season, thanks to persistent El Nino weather patterns, hasn’t materialized across U.S. resorts quite yet. As we head into peak season, conditions are currently below average, with warm, dry weather resulting in base depths well below the norm at resorts across the country.

California and East Coast resorts have had an especially late start. In the Rockies, which is faring the best so far, big-name resorts like Jackson Hole, Breckenridge, and Park City are operating with less than 70% of terrain open, with many lifts not yet running, according to data from On the Snow.

While no one can truly predict snowfall months or even weeks out, opting for flexible hotel and flight bookings — while also staying updated on the latest snow conditions — is the best strategy to ensure you can satisfy your powder cravings.

Beyond selecting the best U.S. resort based on optimal snowfall, if you haven’t yet booked your ski trip this year, there are many other factors you should take into account.

First, though, 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 beginners.

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 in the West, simply because that’s where the highest mountains are. But those on the East Coast have some classics among them as well.

Here is a 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 5,500-acre complex encompasses four skiing and snowboarding areas. It lives up to its reputation as the definitive all-in-one ski destination and one of the best Colorado ski resorts. And thanks to the addition of a new high-speed quad and a significant terrain expansion on Aspen Mountain, there will be even more to explore this winter.

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 nightlife, while Aspen Highlands is famed for its expert runs. Families and beginners can’t do better than the gentle slopes of Buttermilk, especially the tot-friendly Panda Peak and the teenager favorite X 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.

In terms of dining, hit up Aspen Public House for burgers and truffle potatoes or Spring Cafe for soups, salads, and creative breakfast scrambles. For something more celebratory, try the French bistro cuisine at Betula or the prime rib at Catch Steak.

When it comes to accommodations, there are plenty of choices in Aspen. The recently opened Mollie Aspen is a great option for those looking for a quieter, simple boutique hotel in the center of town. The St. Regis Aspen Resort is ideal if you’re hoping for a dose of luxury just a few steps from the lifts at Aspen Mountain. The Little Nell is another top choice for skiers who want top-notch luxury accommodations steps from the slopes and right in the heart of town.

Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort

With the 2014 addition of the Canyons ski resort increasing its size to 7,300 acres, Park City arguably became the largest ski resort in America. It’s second only to Whistler Blackcomb in North America.

Deer Valley Resort, just 3 miles away, provides a premium experience with high-touch service for skiers; snowboarders are still banned from the impeccably maintained slopes.

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 three last American resorts open only to skiers.

Park City has no shortage of terrific dining options. You’ll find plenty of chef-driven culinary haunts along Main Street, including Riverhorse on Main, Grappa, and Chimayo. You’ll pay handsomely for the scenery and prime location, though. A younger, lively crowd flocks to The Spur Bar & Grill, which offers live music and a bustling atmosphere.

In terms of accommodations, there are several options to choose from. The St. Regis Deer Valley is a luxurious ski-in, ski-out resort that offers stunning mountain views and impeccable service. The Stein Eriksen Lodge is another top choice, known for its world-class amenities and ski-in, ski-out access. For a more budget-friendly option, the Park City Peaks Hotel offers comfortable rooms and a convenient location.

Ultimately, the best ski resort for you will depend on your individual preferences and priorities. Whether you prioritize optimal snowfall, luxurious accommodations, or a lively apres-ski scene, there are plenty of options to choose from in the United States. Just be sure to stay flexible with your bookings and stay updated on the latest snow conditions to ensure a successful ski trip.

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