15 Ski Resorts to Visit This Winter!
Winter has finally come, and that means ski and snowboard season is in full swing! For travel nurses who are also winter sports enthusiasts, being close to a ski resort is a top priority during the winter and early spring. The United States and Canada are pretty spoiled when it comes to ski resorts, with over 500 to choose from between the two countries. The West Coast, Colorado, and New England are world-renowned skiing locales, and all of these regions have a high concentration of top-rated resorts. With so many options for world-class skiing and snowboarding, it can be overwhelming trying to narrow down which resorts you want to visit. Here are 15 Ski Resorts that you should plan on visiting this winter!
Located in British Columbia, Canada, Whistler/Blackcomb is one of the most highly-rated ski resorts in the world. With more than 8,000 acres of skiable terrain and 200 designated ski runs, it’s also the largest ski resort in North America. The resort encompasses two distinct mountains, Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Peak, and the ski areas that were developed on both mountains used to be separate from one another.
After decades of fierce competition, the two resorts decided to formally merge their operations in 2003, and Whistler/Blackcomb was born! The resort is famous for its Peak to Peak Gondola, which takes visitors between the tops of Whistler and Blackcomb, and is one of the longest and highest aerial tramways in the world. Whistler Village is also known for its world-class nightlife, and there are dozens of bars and restaurants at the mountain to choose from including Araxi Restaurant and Oyster Bar, and Dusty’s
Just two hours from Seattle and 1.5 hours from Tacoma, Crystal Mountain is Washington State’s premier ski resort. It’s also the state’s largest ski area, with over 2,600 acres of skiable terrain and 85 named runs. Crystal offers visitors a good mix of beginner and advanced terrain, with 54% of its runs classified as intermediate. There are 11 different lifts, including the Mount Rainier Gondola, which takes people from the base area all the way to the summit. On a clear day, visitors are greeted by stunning views of Mount Rainier which stands guard over the ski area.
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There are several options for refreshments at every stage of the mountain. At the base area, there’s the Bullwheel Pub and Grill, which is perfect for enjoying an adult beverage after a long day of skiing. At mid-mountain, you have the Campbell Basin Lodge, which is great for a quick lunch in between runs. Finally, at the top, there’s The Summit House, a fine-dining restaurant with spectacular views of the surrounding scenery.
Two hours northeast of Seattle, Stevens Pass Ski Area is a local favorite and averages 460 inches of annual snowfall each winter. The ski area includes 1,125 acres of skiable terrain and 52 major runs accessed by 10 chairlifts. Although Stevens is smaller and less developed than Crystal Mountain, lifts tickets are cheaper, with weekday tickets costing $89 compared to $110 for Crystal. Stevens is also revered for its backcountry as well as its terrain park, which is considered one of the best in the state. They also offer night skiing on select days from 4 PM to 10 PM.
If you’re looking for refreshments, head to the Granite Peaks Lodge for some quick grab-and-go food options from the Cascadian Kitchen. For drinks, you can’t go wrong with Bull’s Tooth Pub and Eatery with 10 different beer taps and signature cocktails. Stevens Pass is also just 40 minutes away from the Bavarian-themed city of Leavenworth, which attracts millions of tourists every year
3.5 hours from Portland and 2.5 hours from Eugene, Mount Bachelor is Oregon’s largest ski resort and the sixth-largest resort in the U.S. Known for its long ski seasons and dry snow, Bachelor has over 4,300 acres of skiable terrain to explore! In 2016, Bachelor opened up a new high-speed quad lift, the Cloudchaser, which gives skiers access to 13 new runs and 650 acres of new terrain. The resort also has 53 km. of nordic trails for cross country skiing enthusiasts.
If you’re not a skier or snowboarder, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways you can still have fun at Bachelor! Enjoy tubing at Snowblast Tubing Park, or take a ride through Deschutes National Forest on a sled pulled by a team of actual sled dogs! There are lots of places to stay near the resort, but if you want to enjoy some nightlife, check out the growing city of Bend just 30 minutes from the mountain. With eclectic restaurants and nationally recognized craft breweries, Bend is the perfect place to unwind after a long day at the mountain.
Mount Hood Meadows
Just 90 minutes east of Portland, Mount Hood Meadows is one of the most accessible ski resorts in the Pacific Northwest. The resort is known for its challenging terrain, with over 85% of runs classified as intermediate or expert. 30% of the terrain is rated double black, and there are several bowls and cliff runs that are popular for experts. However, the resort is also known for its groomed runs, which are runs that have been manicured by a snowcat machine so that the snow is even and smooth. Recently, Meadows was voted as having the best cruising terrain in Oregon.
Moreover, there are two other ski areas within 20 miles of Meadows, Ski Bowl and Timberline. Although there is no lodging at the resort, there are places to stay in the town of Government Camp just 11 miles away. The city of Hood River is also just 35 miles from Meadows and is known for its world-class wineries and breweries like Marchesi Vineyards and Full Sail Brewing.
Overlooking the awe-inspiring Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Mountain Resort is the largest and highest ski resort in the Tahoe area. The resort is right on the border between California and Nevada, with 4,800 acres of skiable terrain to explore on both sides of the state line. There are four separate base areas where you can access the mountain, which gives skiers some flexibility in choosing where they want to start/end their day. There’s also a gondola that takes riders from downtown South Lake Tahoe all the way to the middle of the mountain. The gondola is within walking distance of several hotels and casinos in South Lake Tahoe, and it’s also great for sightseers to enjoy unparalleled views of Lake Tahoe.
South Lake Tahoe is the perfect home base for a Tahoe ski vacation, with other ski resorts like Kirkwood and Sierra at Tahoe close by. Marvel at the beauty of Lake Tahoe with a walk along the lakefront trail, or enjoy dinner lakeside at the luxurious Edgewood Tahoe.
Formerly known as Squaw Valley, Palisades Tahoe is the largest ski area in the Lake Tahoe region, with 6,000 acres of skiable terrain across two mountains. Located on the northwest side of the lake, the resort hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics and is still a popular training site for Olympic athletes. With an average annual snowfall of 400 inches, Palisades Tahoe consistently enjoys long ski seasons and is known as the Spring Ski Capital of the U.S. Highlights include the legendary lifts of KT-22, featuring some of the most advanced terrain the resort has to offer, and Siberia, which has stellar views of Lake Tahoe.
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Furthermore, the Sherwood Chair gives you access to the famous backside with sun-soaked bowls and inviting groomers. The Village at Palisades Tahoe is nothing short of world-class, with over 50 unique bars, restaurants, and boutiques to satisfy all tastes. Try local favorites like Fireside Pizza or The Chalet an on-mountain Bavarian restaurant and beer garden.
1.5 hours west of Denver, Vail Ski Resort is the largest ski area in Colorado and the fourth-largest in North America. The resort has 5,317 acres of skiable terrain divided into three distinct sections: Front Side, Blue Sky Basin, and the Legendary Back Bowls. Vail’s popularity quickly grew after opening in 1962, due to the resort’s wide-open runs and near-perfect snow. The Legendary Back Bowls are Vail’s crown jewel and have a good mix of intermediate and advanced runs, so you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy them. You will be struck by the beauty of skiing through pristine Aspen groves which are dispersed throughout the backside.
If you get tired of Vail’s legendary terrain, you can always head to the neighboring Beaver Creek Resort, which is just 13 miles from Vail and is also owned by Vail Resorts. Vail Village is modeled after traditional Bavarian ski towns, and the three base areas are connected by pedestrian-friendly cobblestone streets with great bars and restaurants like El Segundo and Garfinkel’s.
37 miles from Vail, Breckenridge Ski Resort is another Colorado ski area that has earned worldwide acclaim. With a summit of nearly 13,000 ft, Breckenridge is one of the highest ski areas in the United States, and you’ll be treated to stunning views of the surrounding landscape if you make the journey to the top. You can reach the summit via the Imperial Express chairlift, which is the highest operating chairlift in the world.
If you want to experience high alpine skiing with more intermediate terrain, head over to the Kensho Superchair which is the highest six-person chairlift in the world. The Kensho Superchair takes you to the top of Peak 6, around 12,300 ft. high, and provides access to easier bowls and tree chutes. If you have some extra time, consider visiting other resorts near Breckenridge like Keystone and Copper Mountain. Also, enjoy Breckenridge’s historic downtown with tons of pubs and restaurants like The Canteen Taphouse and Tavern and Blue River Bistro.
3.5 hours from Denver, Aspen/Snowmass is one of the most famous ski areas in the world. The resort could be considered a conglomerate of ski areas, with four separate ski areas under its umbrella. Together, the four mountains provide skiers and snowboarders with over 5,000 acres of terrain to explore, and you can access all four areas with a single lift ticket. Aspen Mountain was the first resort to open back in 1947 and was the brainchild of skiing champion and WWII veteran Friedl Pfeifer. Buttermilk and Snowmass both opened in the 1960s, followed by Aspen Highlands in the 1990s.
What used to be a sleepy mining town, was suddenly transformed into one of the most luxurious winter sports destinations in the world. Aspen routinely hosts professional events like the Winter X Games and is a popular home base for Olympic athletes. The town of Aspen also boasts world-class shopping with dozens of outlet stores and has established itself as a foodie destination with eateries like the White House Tavern and Matsuhisa.
Located on Colorado’s Western Slope, Telluride Ski Resort is often overlooked with regards to the Colorado ski resorts due to its remote location. However, if you’re able to stay overnight it’s well worth making a trip! The resort was the Editor’s Choice for Ski Magazine’s Best Ski Areas of 2021, and Travel + Leisure Magazine described Telluride as one of the most idyllic ski towns in North America. The resort boasts some of the best backcountry skiing on the planet, and there are also plenty of opportunities to hike to expert terrain within the boundaries of the ski area.
You can access the resort from the historic town of Telluride or from the town of Mountain Village which is perched almost 1000 ft. above Telluride. Getting around the area is a breeze thanks to a free gondola that transports people between the two towns. If you’re looking for dinner with a view, check out Allred’s Restaurant located on the mountain at the free gondola’s San Sophia stop. For drinks, it’s hard to beat an ice-cold beer from Telluride Brewing Company!
Just 40 minutes from Salt Lake City, Park City Mountain Resort is the largest ski resort in the United States, with over 7,300 acres of skiable terrain and over 330 designated runs. Park City opened in 1963 as Treasure Mountain, and in 2014, they absorbed the neighboring Canyons Resort which added 4,000 acres of terrain. Park City is known for its intermediate groomers, with over 115 runs groomed on average every night. It’s also considered one of Utah’s best areas for beginners, and High Meadow Park is the best place to go if you’re still learning or want to take lessons.
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Park City is just one of many options for skiing in the Salt Lake City area, and you can ski at other top-rated resorts like Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude. You’ll definitely want to spend some time exploring Park City’s historic main street, with lots of boutique shops and delicious restaurants like Firewood. If you like whiskey, be sure to stop by High West Distillery and try their award-winning American Prairie Bourbon.
One hour south of Bozeman, MT, Big Sky Resort is the largest resort in Montana and the third largest resort in North America, with 5,850 acres of skiable terrain. One thing is for sure, they definitely know how to go big at Big Sky. The resort is lauded for its wide-open runs, plentiful snow, and cutting-edge chair lifts. In 2018, the resort opened the first high-speed 8-person chairlift in North America, the Ramcharger 8, which has been dubbed the most technologically advanced chairlift in North America. It even has weatherproof bubbles and heated seats to keep you more comfortable in the elements.
Expert skiers will enjoy skiing the impressive 4,350 ft of vertical terrain from the top of Lone Peak, and awe-inspiring 360-degree views from the summit. The Mountain Village is Big Sky’s central base and is known for its ski-in/ski-out lodging. For a quick lunch, try the specialty hot dogs at Yeti Dogs. Or, head to the Cabin Bar and Grill for traditional American favorites and a pint!
The only east coast resort on our list, Stowe Mountain Resort is located in Vermont about an hour away from Burlington. The resort comprises two separate mountains Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, and the first ski runs were established by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The highest point of the ski area is just 3,625 ft. which makes it the resort with the lowest elevation on this list.
Despite the lack of altitude, Stowe still averages over 300 inches of snow per year and manages to fit 116 designated runs on just 485 skiable acres. It’s a paradise for intermediate skiers, with 55% of the terrain classified as such. Stowe is also known for its cross country ski trails, with 45 kilometers of groomed trails and 30 kilometers of backcountry terrain to explore. There is plenty of lodging available at the resort and also in the town of Stowe just 7 miles away. Stowe is known for farm-to-table cuisine at restaurants like Michael’s on the Hill, and craft breweries like The Alchemist.
Last but not least, Taos Ski Valley is located in northern New Mexico at the southern end of the Rocky Mountains. If you’re a novice, Taos is one of the best places in the country to learn and has one of the highest-rated ski schools in the U.S. Taos has a plethora of powder stashes and a lower volume of riders, which means that fresh powder on the mountain can go untouched for days.
The pièce de résistance of the resort is Kachina Peak, which has legendary expert-level terrain. It used to be a 45 min hike to the summit before the addition of the Kachina Peak Lift, which is the highest three-person chair lift in North America. If you make the journey to the summit, you may see herds of Bighorn Sheep perched on the rocks as you ski down. If you have some spare time, check out the historic town of Taos and the Taos Pueblo, historic Native American dwellings that are now a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the ski valley, enjoy restaurants like the Blonde Bear Tavern, or breweries like Taos Mesa Brewing.