Hitting the Slopes: 6 of America’s Most Popular Ski Resorts

By Audrey W. | Arcadia Staff
With winter coming to a close, it’s time to savor the best of outdoor winter activities. From the Colorado Rockies to the Alaska wilderness, the United States houses some of the most renowned ski resorts. They pair cozy accommodations, thrilling ski routes, and stunning views that all come together to make for an unforgettable experience. Visitors can couple their ski trip with a trip to a nearby national park or picturesque winter village. Read on for the 6 favorite ski resorts across the country, and find your final winter vacation destination. 

A ski party in 1929 near Jackson Hole.Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Nestled within the Teton Range of the Rocky Mountains is Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. It’s just outside Grand Teton National Park, and named after the renowned Jackson Hole valley, known for its steep terrain and breathtaking views. The area sees massive amounts of snowfall, making it one of the most popular destinations for skiers. That said, the park welcomes skiers of all levels, offering steep slopes for experts and hands-on training for novices. Visitors have also been known to pair their trip with a visit to nearby Yellowstone National Park, or Grand Teton National Park. Between the slopes and accommodations, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a favorite for skiers.

A photo from the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Telluride ski area in 1972.Telluride Ski Resort

Mountain Village, Colorado

Telluride Ski Resort is one of the few year-round mountain resorts. Located in Mountain Village, Colorado, right next to Telluride, the resort is home to some of the highest peaks in North America, reaching upwards of 13,000 feet. There are over 2,000 routes for skiers to choose from, stretching between historic Telluride and Mountain Village. In the 1800s, Telluride was used as a mining camp - this historic prominence earned it a place on the list of National Historic Landmark Districts in 1964. Telluride Ski Resort officially opened on December 22, 1972, and has continued to be one of the most popular ski resorts in America.

Rock climbing is also a popular summer activity in Little Cottonwood Canyon.Snowbird Ski Resort

Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Since December 1971, Snowbird Ski Resort has been one of the most famous destinations for skiers and snowboarders in the nation. The area began developing in 1869, when silver was discovered in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Mining boomed, and the area became one of the biggest producers of silver ore in the country. Due to this increase in wealth, the population skyrocketed, and because it was surrounded by towering mountains, the town also attracted adventure seekers. The resort opened in December 1971 and is located in the center of the Wasatch National Forest. Snowbird shares the famous Little Cotton Canyon with Alta Ski Area, another favorite destination for skiers. Between the two locations, skiers have 4,700 acres of prime land to explore.

Early skiing in Big Sky.Big Sky Resort

Big Sky, Montana

As the second largest ski resort in the States by acreage, Big Sky Resort in Montana is a favorite for long-time skiers. When it first opened in 1972, it was the biggest ski resort in the United States, spanning more than 5,800 acres. The resort grew consistently over its first few decades of existence, and has more than tripled its terrain since its opening. The resort has also built several lifts, like the Lone Peak tram, which carries expert skiers to the tallest peak in the area. To accompany its winter activities, Big Sky Resort houses other outdoor activities along with its skiing attractions. Zip-lining and snowshoeing are popular in the winter, while archery, tennis, backpacking, and mountain biking see plenty of traffic in warmer months.

President Gerald Ford during a trip to Vail.Vail Ski Resort

Vail, Colorado

Founded in 1962, Vail Ski Resort is the third largest single mountain resort in the country. It is composed of three parts: The Front-Side, Blue Sky Basin, and the Back Bowls. Unlike most other ski resort villages, the town of Vail was built up at the same time as the resort, and designed specifically as a destination for skiers. The resort experienced a boom in the 1970s when Interstate 70 was built, connecting Denver to the mountains. Soon, people were paying the same amount of money for a trip to Colorado as they would for a European vacation. In 1989, Vail hosted the Alpine Skiing World Championship - an event that helped solidify the resort as a must-see destination for skiers.


Alyeska Resort

Girdwood, Alaska

Alyeska Resort is part of the Chugach mountain range, and is the largest ski resort in the state of Alaska. At the top of Mount Alyeska sits the Roundhouse, which was built to accommodate skiers after riding the 5,700 feet via ski lift from the resort below. In 2003, the resort was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Mount Alyeska is known for its rigorous terrain, housing a far greater percentage of expert routes than ones for beginners. In 1963, 1981, 2004, 2007, and 2009, the resort hosted the U.S. Alpine Skiing Championships, making it a famous destination for die-hard skiers, and one of the most-visited resorts every winter.  

Winter may be coming to a close, but these mountains are still welcoming skiers to their slopes for a little while longer. For expert skiers, novices, and everyone in between, these popular ski resorts across the United States have something for everyone. Fantastic views and thrilling rides await visitors at each of the destinations named here, offering an unforgettable winter experience.