The 10 Best Ski Resorts in the U.S., New Data Shows
Grab your poles, boots, and goggles, and get ready to hit the trails.
While the chill of winter may send most people back indoors for the season, it's high season for anyone who loves to ski. Being able to strap on boots, grab a lift, and hit the slopes in time for an early run with plenty of fresh powder is a joy some people just can't get enough of, no matter how many days on the mountain they manage to get in each year. And with more than 500 ski resorts operating within the U.S., there are also plenty of options that cater to all skill sets, according to SkiResort.info. But which are the ones worth making a special trip to experience?
To find the answer, travel booking company ParkSleepFly dove into the data available for the nation's top 50 ski destinations. They then analyzed everything from the annual average snowfall and lift pass prices to the number of ski lifts and total slope length to establish a ski index score and see how each stacked up against the other. Read on to discover the 10 best ski resorts in the U.S., ranked from great to greatest.
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Palisades Tahoe (California)
Ski index score (out of 10): 6.70
As a one-time host of the Winter Olympic Games, it's no surprise that Palisades Tahoe provides some of the most coveted trails in the nation. The mountain earned exceptionally high marks for its average snowfall, coming in third in the top 10 with 275 inches annually. It also ranked third overall for trail length on the list with 200 kilometers total.
Mammoth Mountain (California)
Ski index score (out of 10): 6.97
Even though it boasts the shortest amount of trails in the top 10, Mammoth Mountain manages to tie for eighth place on the list thanks to other standout features. Besides getting the fourth-biggest annual snowfall at 225 inches, it also comes in third for customer reviews with 4.4 stars out of five and is the eighth most Instagram-worth resort on the list with 424,237 mentions on the social media app.
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Jackson Hole (Wyoming)
Ski index score (out of 10): 6.97
Jackson Hole may not provide the cheapest day on the slopes: At $2,049, its adult season pass is nearly double the next highest price on the list. However, it may be justified based on snowfall with an average of 437 inches per year, making it far and away the first-place leader of the top 10. And all of that fresh powder must make for great snapshots, as the mountain also comes in second for Instagram activity with over 368,000 mentions.
Winter Park (Colorado)
Ski index score (out of 10): 7.06
Looking for the best bargain on the list? Winter Park gets distinction for offering the most affordable adult season pass price in the top 10 at $649. It also gets high marks for its 143 kilometers of trails and relatively high snow accumulation at 216 inches per year.
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Copper Mountain (Colorado)
Ski index score (out of 10): 7.09
Copper Mountain provides another relatively affordable way to hit the slopes, earning high marks for its annual lift pass price of $749, which places it second in the top 10. And while the resort boasts a relatively modest 126 kilometers of total trails, it still has 23 chairlifts and 185 inches of annual snowfall.
Beaver Creek (Colorado)
Ski index score (out of 10): 7.55
If its average rating is any indication, skiers can't seem to get enough of Beaver Creek, ranking second in the top 10 with an average of 4.5 out of five stars. And with 150 kilometers of powdery trails and 202 average inches of snow accumulation each year, it's not hard to see why.
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Ski index score (out of 10): 7.64
With 135 kilometers of trails and 20 lifts, Keystone provides a manageable amount of mountain for skiers and riders looking to hit the slopes. It also appears quite popular with the social media crowd, coming in third out of the top 10 with 538,755 Instagram mentions.
Park City (Utah)
Ski index score (out of 10): 8.16
Park City not only has the distinction of being the only Utah destination to appear in the top 10 best ski resorts, but it's also the only non-Colorado property in the list's top five. It bests all other entries with 250 kilometers of trails and 42 operational ski lifts to keep guests moving, not to mention a not-too-shabby 218 inches of annual snow accumulation. It also appears to have mastered its online presence: The city has more Instagram activity than any other property on the list with 1,313,970 mentions.
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Ski index score (out of 10): 8.22
While Park City might have the total cumulative number of trails on the list, Vail stands on its own with 234 kilometers of skiing and 34 lifts servicing them. But perhaps most importantly, the iconic ski resort town is also the highest rated by visitors, with an average of 4.6 out of five stars. And when you consider that an annual pass to the mountain runs for $859, it's one of the better deals based on how much mountain you get.
Ski index score (out of 10): 8.81
Even in a list of nothing but mountains, Breckenridge still finds itself on top. The famous historic mining town was ranked the best ski resort in the U.S. in terms of the data collected. While it doesn't land any superlatives outside of coming in first overall, it does have bragging rights when it comes to annual snowfall, coming in second with an average of 284 inches. It also has a high ratio of chairs to trails, with 35 lifts servicing 153 kilometers of mountain. And perhaps not surprisingly for the top dog, people are all about sharing their time on the slopes there: It ranks third overall for Instagram activity with 930,091 mentions.