10 of the Best Ski Resorts in USA & Canada


, by Charlie Boscoe

Aspen skyline at night. Photography by: jdross75 / Shutterstock.

With 775 ski areas spread out across 38 US States, 10 Canadian provinces, and 2 Canadian territories, there are plenty of options for winter sports lovers in North America - the real challenge is figuring out which one to choose! 

Every one of the ski areas across the continent has something that makes it unique, whether it's Four Lakes Ski and Snowboard Area's 100 feet of vertical (which wasn't even the smallest vertical for any ski hill in America until Sawkill Family Ski Center in New York closed), or Breckenridge's Imperial Express chairlift, which takes skiers to a headache-inducing 12,800 feet. Even those ski areas without notable features are loved by locals for less definable, more intangible reasons. Some people ski the same hill their whole lives and love it; others constantly seek that new horizon - skiing is a broad church and all the better for it. With that in mind, here's our list of the most iconic ski resorts in the USA and Canada selected on no criteria beyond having something unique and exciting about them!

1. Aspen

When Jim Carey's character, Lloyd Christmas, and his equally hapless friend, Harry Dunn (Jeff Daniels), are trying to figure out where Lloyd's dream woman has gone on her ski vacation, Lloyd finally solves the riddle and utters the immortal line, "I'm talking about Aaaaspen, baby!" Only the most iconic ski hills can be dropped into movie dialogue without further explanation.

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Even in the real world, just hearing the word "Aspen" conjures images of snow-covered mountain town streets, wide-open ski runs, and glitzy restaurants. It's a glamorous town with a hint of ski bum culture, making it feel more "real" than some of the more famous European resorts. The skiing in Aspen is reliable and exceptional, but you pay the price for quality - Aspen has the most expensive real estate of any ski town in the world. Get saving!

2. Whistler-Blackcomb

Whistler and its mountains at sunset. Photography by: Juana Nunez / Shutterstock.

With the most skiable acres of any ski hill in North America and having hosted the ski events at the 2010 Olympics, Whistler is a legendary place to ski. The huge Whistler lift network transports around 2 million people every winter, and they've got a staggering array of terrain to choose from. Whistler has tree skiing, open bowls, gullies, and everything in between, as well as 200 groomed runs. It's a vast ski area with something for everyone, and the town itself is steeped in ski culture. If you want a lifetime's worth of terrain and a fun aprés-ski scene for when you're done on the hill each day, Whistler is the place for you.

3. Jackson Hole

The amazing views from Jackson Hole Mountain. Credit Serge Skiba Shutterstock

Jackson Hole is the closest North America has to a Chamonix or La Grave - it has one huge lift (plus a good selection of smaller ones) and a massive amount of extreme, un-groomed terrain. Jackson Hole is a mountain best suited to expert skiers, with its backcountry terrain being the primary reason for its fame. If you go to Jackson with avalanche gear, know-how, and a sense of adventure, you won't be disappointed! Even the drive there, over Teton Pass, takes you past some of the finest ski touring on the continent, and that's before you've even ridden a lift!

4. Big Sky

Montana's tagline is "Big Sky Country," and the iconic ski resort after which this slogan is coined is worthy of the hype. Big Sky is excellent for those seeking groomers, and it's a wonderfully wild place for those with the requisite freeride skills. The terrain is steep and remote, and it's all nestled deep in the Montana mountains, giving it a "Wild West" feel that is in keeping with this most iconic of states.

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Big Sky is - after Palisades Tahoe and Park City - the third largest ski area in America by acreage, but its remote location means that it is rarely as busy as the more famous resorts on this list.

5. Tahoe

Skiing with Lake Tahoe dominating the view in the background. Photography by: Stas Volik / Shutterstock.

Including Tahoe as one resort (when it's actually six ski resorts and a whole load of backcountry terrain) is a little cheeky, but narrowing down the area around California's most famous lake is to miss the point. Lake Tahoe is a fabulous place to ski because you can access so much from it and follow the conditions wherever they lead you. Moving around the area also gives you an unrivaled variety of groomers, freeride terrain, and restaurants.

California isn't somewhere that necessarily springs to mind when you think of winter, but the ski season around Tahoe is long and can easily be 7 or 8 months in a good snow year. Even if you ski every one of those 200-ish days, you'll still have plenty to explore next year!

6. Silverton

This is probably the least-known location on this list, and it's a niche "resort" reserved only for high-level skiers and boarders. Silverton has the least groomed runs of any North American resort - zero - and is an off-piste, backcountry freeride area. There's one lift, plus a heli-ski operation, to transport you into the mountains, and once in them - adventure awaits! 

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For most of the year, Silverton can only be skied with a mountain guide, but come mid-March, there is the option to ski the mountain unguided, provided you have the required gear and expertise. Whether you choose to look after yourself or hire one of the local experts, skiing Silverton is an experience unlike any other in the North American ski scene.

7. Stowe

Nestled on the slopes of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest mountain, Stowe is arguably the leading ski destination in New England. The reasons for its popularity are numerous, but excellent and well-maintained groomers, a fun and unique aprés ski scene, and a traditional ski town to serve them are key elements. 

Stowe is also one of the oldest ski hills on the continent and turned 90 years old in December 2023. It got its first lifts relatively recently (in 1937!), but human-powered skiing had been going at Mount Mansfield for more than 15 years before that. In the intervening years, Stowe has become a favorite amongst skiers from across the northeast, with mountain sports lovers regularly coming up from Boston, New York, and even further afield. 

8. Revelstoke

Downhill skiing at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, British Columbia, Canada. Photography by: CSNafzger / Shutterstock

In stark contrast to Stowe, Revelstoke was barely a ski hill as recently as the turn of the millennium, but in 2007 Mount Mackenzie and the small town below it were transformed forever by the construction of Revelstoke Mountain Resort. What was a tiny, locals-only hill became one of the most famous ski destinations on the planet in the space of year.

Revelstoke has some superb long groomers, but it is best known for the huge amounts of powder it receives and the fast, efficient lift system that allows you to lap it. Revelstoke has transformed itself into a fixture on the bucket lists of freeride skiers the world over, and a single run from the top of the Stoke chairlift will help you understand why!

9. Park City

Registration plates on many Utah vehicles read, "The Greatest Snow on Earth," and there's nowhere better to sample that white gold than at Park City - the largest ski resort in the United States. 

Park City is just over a mountain ridge from Alta and Snowbird (which might consider themselves unlucky not to make this list) and sits within an hour of downtown Salt Lake City, meaning that its legendary slopes are easily accessed. Having made the short trip from SLC, there is a lifetime's worth of exploration, be it on the smooth groomers, steep tree runs, or wide-open bowls. Park City is as varied as it is enormous, so it's excellent for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels. 

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With direct flights to SLC from across North America, you're all out of excuses - get a trip booked!

10. Lake Louise

Amongst Earth's most famous mountain towns, Lake Louise is home to an eponymous ski resort that enjoys scarcely believable views across the Rocky Mountains. The skiing is pretty mind-bending, too, with a relatively small number of lifts accessing a staggering amount of terrain. Wide open slopes, beautiful piste runs, and some epic tree skiing add up to a package worthy of Lake Louise's location. 

Once you've made your way to the Lake Louise region, having a day at nearby Sunshine Village is a highly recommended way of getting yet more superb skiing in.

If you want to start exploring North America's finest ski hills, you could do much worse than checking this guidebook out!

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