This blog post was updated on December 13, 2021.
Skiing is one of the leading outdoor activities heading into the cold winter months. Whether you’re an expert skier or you’re just starting out, spending time at some of the best ski destinations in the U.S. is bound to help you improve your skills on the slopes.
From slopes of all shapes and sizes to breathtaking views and an array of amenities, our top six picks for ski destinations are ideal for snowbirds of all levels. So, pack up your skis and your most comfortable jacket — it’s time to embark on a journey to one of the best ski destinations in the United States for your next winter vacation!
Big Sky, Montana
If you’re looking for a ski destination off the beaten path, look no further than Big Sky, Montana. This quiet ski destination is located on the outskirts of Yellowstone National Park and provides an enticing blend of scenic views and challenging slopes. Big Sky is ideal for experienced skiers as it is home to the largest vertical drop in the U.S., clocking in around 4,350 feet. For those who are still learning the craft, numerous routes are available at the nearby Andesite Mountain. We recommend spending a day or two on the smaller slopes before challenging yourself to some epic air over at Big Sky.
In addition to providing unique terrain and stunning views, Big Sky is the perfect location for members of your group who prefer to stay at the resort in lieu of challenging themselves in the great outdoors. Several notable resorts are in the immediate area and most offer ski and lodging packages to help you stay within budget. Enjoy some time on the slopes early in the morning before retreating to your resort in the afternoon to sip hot chocolate and watch the snowfall with your loved ones.
Anyone who loves skiing will tell you that Colorado is the place to be when you’re looking to book your next vacation. One of the most popular ski resorts in Colorado is Vail. Vail is the largest ski destination in the state, and it offers visitors an abundance of slopes to glide down. Be prepared to pay more for this idyllic location as the ski lift tickets are typically more expensive here than they are at other resorts located throughout Colorado. Vail is well worth the price though as you are treated to beautiful mountain views, fresh powder, and well-kept slopes.
One of the best-selling points for Vail is the village surrounding this popular ski destination. Designed in a European style, the village offers numerous hotels, restaurants, and spas for you to visit during the duration of your stay. Easily accessible and walkable, the village provides you with an all-inclusive experience that makes the high price tag easier to stomach.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole is the premier ski destination for those who are looking for a child-free weekend to themselves. Since this location is primarily known for its extreme terrain, it is not advisable to bring children here for a family vacation. If you want to plan the perfect getaway for you and your friends, then pack up for a one-of-a-kind skiing experience at Jackson Hole. This location boasts nearly 500 feet of snowfall per year and has some of the most thrilling steeps you are likely to encounter. Jackson Hole is well-regarded among skiers for its efficient lift network which makes it easier to enjoy multiple trips down these intense but rewarding slopes.
While Jackson Hole gets crowded on specific days, it is considerably less hectic than other major ski destinations. You’ll be able to avoid major lines and delays by choosing Jackson Hole for your next big skiing adventure. The more time you spend on the mountain, the easier it becomes to tackle these expert courses. If you’re in need of assistance to hone your skills, stopover at the ski school to pick up a few pointers.
Related: Looking for an international ski vacation? Check out our post on the 10 Ultimate Ski Destinations Around the World
Aspen has been a premier ski destination for decades, most notably because of the sheer number of celebrities that choose to vacation here each winter. While this may not seem like a major selling point for you, there is a reason why the most famous people in the world choose to ski in Aspen. This location boasts four separate ski destinations for you to enjoy, all for the price of one ticket. Since the four locations are linked through a shuttle system, you can spend your vacation traveling from one slope to the next without breaking the bank. Aspen has over 5,000 acres of skiing terrain for those with any skillset, and it is renowned for the family-friendly amenities offered in town.
The nearby town has a variety of restaurants, shops, and activities for you to enjoy during your time in Aspen. Spend the day hopping back and forth between all four ski destinations before settling in for a night of good food and good company at one of the popular restaurants in town. Aspen is the ideal ski destination for those who want to spend an extended vacation in one area in lieu of springing for a shortened weekend trip.
Lake Placid, New York
Have your eyes on some airline tickets to the East Coast for your winter vacay this year? Well, then Lake Placed should definitely be on your travel itinerary. Besides the many top-rated resorts that include many diverse trails perfect for all skill levels from beginner to expert, this area was also the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics! Resorts in this area, such as the Whiteface Mountain resort even offer many special themed activities like free skating with Olympians and riding in a real Olympic bobsled!
Needs a break from the slopes? The downtown area in Lake Placid is home to numerous art galleries, spas to pamper yourself in and if you’re looking for some holiday cheer, be sure to take your family on one of the Holiday Village Strolls that take place every December. A great time for all ages and an event built into the history and tradition of Lake Placid, the Holiday Village Stroll is a jampacked weekend complete with fun activities for kids, holiday-themed parties, musical performances, dining specials and so much more. The best part is that it’s all free!
Breckenridge is widely regarded as the best ski destination in the United States. Known for its alpine skiing and high lifts, Breckenridge provides skiers with the most all-inclusive experience. Perfect for those who want a high-quality experience for a low-budget cost, this mountain is the preferred destination for experts and intermediates alike. Choose from five different peaks to traverse throughout your trip to ensure you are experiencing everything that Breckenridge has to offer.
Temperatures at Breckenridge are typically lower than other regions, meaning you’re going to experience cool days and perfect powder. The nearby village offers lodgings and restaurants for you to enjoy after a long day of skiing or if you simply want to take a break from the mountain and explore the area one day. If you only want to plan one big ski trip this year, invest your time and money into a Breckenridge vacation.
Have any ski destinations in the U.S. that you think should be on this list? Tell us in the comments below!