The Top 10 Ski Mountains in the USA

Winter is coming.  For some people this time change conjures up images of being confined indoors to ward off the elements. Yet for others the step into winter is a most welcome occasion and conjures up images of mountains of fresh powder, warm ski lodges and the chance to tackle some of the best skiing in the world.

Whether you are looking for infinite ski runs, pristine backcountry or vibrant night life and fine dining, the USA is home to some of the finest skiing and snowboarding in the world.

From Lake Tahoe to Stowe, we’re taking a look at the top 10 Ski Mountains in the USA.

Vail – Colorado

Vail mountain ski

Located in Eagle County, Colorade (yes, that Eagle County of Kobe Bryant fame), Vail Mountain is the largest single mountain ski resort in the USA at 5,289 acres.

Suited mostly for the advance skier (59% expert, 29% intermediate, 18% beginner), Vail offers every sort of terrain from backcountry bowls to moguls.

Ranked as the #1 ski resort in the USA 14 times in a 17 year span by SKI Magazine, the dining and nightlife in the town of Vail picks up right where the mountain ends. Offering foodies and booze hounds anything and everything they might hope to find in a resort town.

Sun Valley – Idaho

The elder statesman of ski destinations, Sun Valley was popularized in the 1903 by none other than the perennial ‘man’s man’ Ernest Hemmingway.

The term ‘Sun Valley’ is actually used to encapsulate three mountains: Bald Mountain, Sun Valley Mountain and Dollar Mountain. Much like Aspen, Sun Valley prides itself as being home to the rich and famous with residents such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Clint Eastwood.

Bald Mountain is the flagship mountain and caters to advanced skiers with a vertical drop of 3,400 ft and constantly changing terrain, it is referred to by some as the best single mountain in the world.

Deer Valley – Utah

Deer Valley ski

Playing host to the 2002 Winter Olympics Aerial, Freestyle Moguls and Alpine Slalom events, Deer Valley is on the short list of remaining ski resorts that prohibit snowboarding. With a lift capacity of 46,500 skiers per hour and 2000 skiable acres, Deer Valley operates with a capacity 50% greater than its nearby neighbors.

Deer Valley has been ranked first overall by SKI Magazine for five consecutive years (2007-2011), tangible proof that this is as fine a ski mountain as can be found anywhere in the world.

Aspen – Colorado

Aspen Mountain

Aspen, where the beer flows like wine and the beautiful women flock instinctively like the salmon of Capistrano. Aspen Mountain, or Ajax as the locals know it, has long been revered as a haven for the wealthy and chic looking to mix some skiing with some shopping, dining and nightlife.

At a mere 637 acres Aspen Mt. is considered small by area standards, especially dwarfed by valley neighbor Snow Mass, but this haven makes this list for its reputation as being the epicenter of skiing for the rich and famous.

Jackson Hole – Wyoming

Jackson Hole ski resort

Located in Teton Valley, WY near the Idaho border, Jackson Hole spans two mountains and is geared primarily for advanced riders with 50% expert runs, 40% intermediate and 10% for beginners.

Host to the World Cup ski races in 1967, 1970 and 1975, with its over 4100 feet of vertical skiing, this mountain boasts bowls, glades and chutes to test any advanced skier in the world.

Due to the large expansive terrain, Jackson Hole has developed a reputation as a home to the world’s best free skiers.

Beaver Creek – Colorado

beaver creek ski resort

Just thirty minutes west of Vail and also located in Eagle County, Beaver Creek offers all the perks of Vail without all of the people.

With 149 total runs and a 4,140ft vertical drop, Beaver Creeks has twice played host to the World Ski Championships (1989 & 1999), and was also home to former President and first lady Gerald and Betty Ford.

Taos – New Mexico

Taos ski valley

Sitting at 2200ft above the actual town of Taos, NM, Taos Ski Valley is a welcome departure from the typical desert climate and sweltering heat of New Mexico. With 1300 acres of chutes, glades, moguls and cliffs, Taos is one of the last resorts in the USA to prohibit snowboarding, making it a haven for skiing purists.

Telluride – Colorado

Telluride, Colorado ski mountain

With two thousand skiable acres and 120 total runs, Telluride’s skiing is as pristine and challenging as any mountain in the USA. In addition to just the skiing, Telluride has been on the radar of the rich and famous for decades as it was considered ‘Colorado’s best kept secret’ in the 1980s, attracting residents such as Oprah and Tom Cruise.

Telluride also had the dubious distinction of being a top vacation destination for Mexican drug smugglers throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Squaw Valley – California/Nevada

squaw valley ski mountain

Famous for being home to the 1960 Winter Olympic games, Squaw Valley boasts 4,000 acres of skiable area and a vertical drop of 2,850 feet.

Located on the scenic Lake Tahoe which borders both California and Nevada, this mountain is within close proximity to casinos and all the accompanying nightlife. Making it an excellent option for travellers not wishing to spend every waking second on the trails.

Stowe – Vermont

Stowe, Vermont mountain resort

Considered by most to be the best skiing east of the Rocky Mountains, Stowe is home to the highest mountain in Vermont, Mount Mansfield.

At 4,393 feet it cannot be fairly compared to its big brothers in Colorado and Utah, but being located in the heart of New England it is accessible by driving for all of the greater northeast, and boasts snow that is considerably less ‘icy’ than nearby northeastern mountains.

Additional Reading:

Cushy chair lifts and sitting by a blazing fire in an upscale ski lodge sipping hot cocoa is a killer way to spend a long weekend – but if you’re looking for a ski experience that is a bit more of an adventure, try one of these Epic Backcountry Ski Pilgrimages…

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