10 Best Ski Resorts in the US for 2021 | finder.com

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10 best ski resorts in the US

10 destinations for thrilling ski vacations.

The US is home to more than 450 ski resorts, each with a distinct personality and loyal fan base that returns to hit the slopes each year. To find the best ski resort for you, your family or your gaggle of friends, we compare the runs, infrastructure, nightlife and overall reputation of dozens of the biggest names, from California to Vermont. Browse our roundup of the best ski resorts in the US to find a ski spot that fits your budget and holiday style for glitz and glam or wide-open spaces.

Which ski resorts are open during the COVID-19 pandemic?

All of the ski resorts on this list are open — in fact, we didn't come across any ski resorts that are closed due to the pandemic in our research.

Skiing during COVID-19

The ski resorts we’ve included state they are following CDC health and safety precautions during the pandemic. This includes mandatory masks in lift lines and public places, increased sanitation procedures and limited capacity for indoor dining. To avoid overcrowding on the slopes, some ski resorts require a reservation at the mountain on days you plan to ski. You may also need a reservation for equipment rental.

COVID-19 precautions depend on local restrictions put in place by the government. Regardless of where you go, expect a different experience than before the pandemic. Check with each resort to understand what to expect.

California

Mammoth Mountain

If you're traveling with a group of people with mixed skiing experience, Mammoth Mountain is a solid option because there's a route for everyone. It offers an extended season from November to June and strikes a lovely balance between well-maintained but not overly posh. You'll find city folk and a more low-key crowd mingling here, as there's a good number of upscale and budget-friendly lodgings.

  • Runs: 150
  • Difficulty: 25% beginner, 40% intermediate, 20% advanced, 15% expert

Location: Mammoth Lakes, California — fly into Las Vegas or Fresno and drive about 5 hours to Mammoth.

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Colorado

Aspen Snowmass

Aspen is home to four different ski resorts: Aspen Mountain (aka Ajax), Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands. The area is renowned for the sheer number of available trails, with the longest run at slightly over 5 miles long.

A shuttle transport takes you between the different resorts. The town has tons to offer as well, with world-class dining and shopping.

  • Runs: 362
  • Difficulty: 6% beginner, 43% intermediate, 17% advanced, 34% expert

Location: Aspen, Colorado — flights into Aspen an be pricey, so look at tickets into Denver. From there, it's a pretty 3-hour drive to Aspen.

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Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Ski bums and laid-back travelers will feel right at home in Crested Butte, thanks to its relaxed culture and friendly atmosphere. What it lacks in glamour it makes up for in thrilling runs for expert skiers. It's also a family-friendly place to tote along the kids. The town feels Western in a way that's less touristy that what you'll find at skiing spots like Jackson Hole.

  • Runs: 121
  • Difficulty: 18% beginner, 29% intermediate, 21% advanced, 32% expert

Location: Crested Butte, Colorado — fly United or American Airlines into Gunnison/Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC), about 4.5 hours southwest of Denver.

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Telluride Ski Resort

Stunning views of the Rocky Mountains are reason enough to book a ski trip to Telluride. Families tend to stay in the mid-mountain village for easy access to the beginner hills, while people psyched about the social scene should stay in the historic old town. There, a shuttle called the Galloping Goose can take you from dinner to the bars. 

  • Runs: 147
  • Difficulty: 23% beginner, 36% intermediate, 41% advanced/expert

Location: Telluride, Colorado

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Breckenridge

If you're looking for a ski resort that serves up stellar skiing and plenty of social activities, choose Breckenridge. While the lift lines can get long and accommodations crowded, Breckenridge has a diverse mix of trails, lots of snow and is a gorgeous 1.5 hour drive southwest of Denver. In particular, this ski resort is known for its dynamic terrain parks, which attract experts and novices alike.

  • Breckenridge has the highest chair lift in North America
  • Runs: 187
  • Difficulty: 13% beginner, 23% intermediate, 36% advanced, 28% expert

Location: Breckenridge, CO

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Idaho

Schweitzer Mountain Resort

Schweitzer isn't as widely known as Breckenridge or Aspen, but its biggest fans like it that way. It's less crowded and more affordable than most of the resorts on our list and still has terrain for all levels of skiing. Families and groups of beginner skiers on a budget will like Schweitzer's special $25 rate for first-timers. For lively nightlife in the company of locals, leave Schweitzer village and head to Sandpoint.

  • Runs: 92
  • Difficulty: 20% beginner, 40% intermediate, 35% advanced, 5% expert

Location: Sandpoint, Idaho — fly into Spokane and drive about 2 hours northeast to the resort.

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Utah

Alta Ski Resort

Alta Ski Resort first opened in 1939, making it one of the oldest in the country. Snowboarding isn't allowed, so make sure everyone you're traveling with wields two poles. People at Alta tend to be hardcore skiers, yet the atmosphere is friendly to beginners. That said, Alta's well known for its expert and intermediate terrain.

  • Alta's slopes tend to be crowd-free on weekdays.
  • Runs: 116
  • Difficulty: 15% beginner, 30% intermediate, 55% advanced

Location: Alta, Utah — book cheap flights into Salt Lake City and drive to Alta Ski Resort in less than an hour.

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Park City Mountain

You'll pay premium prices for lift tickets at Park City Mountain — about $180 a day for adults — but the short drive from Salt Lake City might make up for that. For a more affordable ski vacation, stay and dine on the outskirts of the city. Those in search of social festivities and high times will pay a pretty penny on Main Street, but the fun factor is practically guaranteed.

  • Park City Mountain is just minutes from the popular Deer Valley resort.
  • Runs: 348
  • Difficulty: 8% beginner, 41% intermediate, 28% advanced, 23% expert

Location: Park City, Utah — fly into Salt Lake City for a beautiful 40-minute drive to the mountain.

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Powder Mountain

We love Powder Mountain because it's easy on the wallet and feels off the beaten path, though it's less than two hours away from Salt Lake City. Pow Mow doles out only 1,500 lift tickets a day, and popular season passes like Epic and Ikon aren't valid here, making it perfect for skiers that prefer wide-open space. A fleet of shuttles and buses provide transportation around the resort.

  • Runs: 154
  • Difficulty: 25% beginner, 40% intermediate, 35% advanced

Location: Eden, Utah — fly into Salt Lake City and drive 1.5 hours northweast to Powder Mountain.

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Vermont

Okemo Mountain Resort

This family-owned and -operated ski resort overlooks the cozy town of Ludlow, Vermont. Keep in mind that 98% of its terrain is man-made snow, so diehard skiers should stick to resorts in the west for fresh powder. But for east coasters that want to book a ski vacation nearby, it should check all the boxes.

  • Runs: 121
  • Difficulty: 33% beginner, 38% intermediate, 21% advanced, 9% expert

Location: Ludlow, Vermont — it's a 2-hour drive from Albany and a 3-hour drive from Boston, so you can compare prices and fly into whichever airport is cheaper.

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How did we choose these ski resorts?

We analyzed each ski resort's number and difficulty of trails, quality of shopping and dining in town, lift infrastructure, proximity to major airports and overall reputation among expert skiers. We weighed our research against our team's personal experience booking and taking ski resort vacays, and dove into discussion boards on Reddit and TripAdvisor to see how wider experiences stack up. Finally, we included ski resorts across the country at a range of prices, so that you can find a resort that best matches your budget, skill level and vacation preferences.

How much are lift tickets?

Lift tickets vary by ski resort but range from from $50 to $180 a day for adults. You can often save money by buying more than one lift ticket at a time or bundling your lift tickets with a hotel deal. Kids under 5 and seniors over 80 usually ski for free — though they'll need a pass to access the mountain.

  • Most ski resorts offer discounts on lift tickets to active military and veterans, college kids and AARP members.

See how much you'll pay on the daily at each of our favorite ski resorts. Note that rates tend to be pricier on weekends and

Prices current as of February 2021.

Alta Ski Resort 

$71

$141

$141

Aspen

$116

$175

$116

Breckenridge 

$116

$179

$169

Crested Butte

$63

$109 

$92

Mammoth Mountain

$32

$79

$65 — free for seniors over 80

Okemo Mountain Resort 

$79

$104 

$89

Park City 

$115

$179 

$124

Powder Mountain 

$55

$99

$75

Schweitzer Mountain Resort

$50 for ages 7 to 17
Kids 6 and younger ski for free 

$89 weekdays $95 weekends and holidays
It has a special $25 daily rate for beginners 

$89 weekdays $95 weekends and holidays

Telluride 

$96

$169

$147

Traveling during COVID-19

The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, though it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated travelers as of April 2021. It recommends that you delay travel if you are not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.

When traveling, follow safety measures that include wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing your hands. If you are diagnosed with, have symptoms of or are waiting for COVID-19 test results — or are otherwise at risk of illness — do not attend gatherings or travel for 14 days.

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