Top 10 Ski Spots in North America & When To Go
Between Canada and the USA, there’s an excess of excellent ski resorts to choose from. If you are ready to hit the slopes this ski season, contact one of our snow experts by clicking here.
Overall, the ski season storms mid-late November and goes until mid-April at the latest. The best snow falls and stays around from January to mid-February. January, just after the holidays, is the best time to go for soft powdery snow and lower ticket and accommodation pricing. That is if you can bear the cold.
Throughout February, the crowds make their return, and the cold starts to bite. In March and April, most ski resorts experience a significant decline in snow quality, with many slopes turning wet and slippery. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Those exceptions mean you can ski powder slopes with the sun on your face, rather than the tiny teeth of impending frostbite.
Here are our top ten picks of the best ski resorts in Canada and the USA.
Telluride Ski Resort is one of the few resorts whose snow conditions improve as the season moves into late February and March. During March, the mountain has an average temperature of -2.3°C, and an average snowfall of 50 mm for the month. These numbers are exceptional considering that it’s practically spring.
Its slopes are known for a great variety of terrain that accommodates skiers of all skill levels. You’ll never have to worry about taking the wrong chairlift up the mountain only to find no easy way down. The towns around the resort—there’s one at the foot and one halfway up—are relaxed yet highly accommodating. The lack of big brand and big box stores offers a more laid back, small town feel, but there’s still plenty of spas and gourmet dining to enjoy after an exhilarating day of skiing.
Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler is a ski resort town in Canada’s Coast Mountains, which line the southwestern coast of Canada. It’s considered to be one of the top ski resort towns in the world, if not entirely in a class of its own. Whistler hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics’ alpine skiing events, which says plenty about the quality and condition of its slopes and snow. If you want the best of the best snow conditions, early January is the best time to go.
The town around the slopes is a cosmopolitan village void of cars and full of boutique spas, shops, restaurants, and music festivals throughout the season, so your post-ski evenings will always be filled with something fun.
Alta is unique for its old-school feel, like you are in a ski resort during the 70s or even 50s, when snowboarders were banned or didn’t even exist. Lodges were decked in wood panelling, and everyone gathered around an old brick fireplace to warm their feet and dry their socks. Alta has that in spades, even the prohibition on snowboarders. Besides all that, you want to go to Alta for the snow, which is considered the best in North America.
Alta gets regular dumps of powder in January and February. From March to April, there’s still a decent amount of quality snowfall, making for good late-season skiing. The terrain is beginner friendly in places but overall caters to intermediate skiers.
Stay in a log cabin, or a swanky resort, spend the day flying up and down Mount Alyeska slopes above the clouds, relax in the evening with a post-ski soak in a heated saltwater pool, and then catch the aurora borealis at midnight. That’s a typical ski day in Alyeska.
From tree-lined beginner runs on the base of the mountain, to 10 km of cross country trails, to intermediate trails around the peak, the glacier-carved valley makes for a stunning backdrop to any skip trip. Alyeska’s snow quality might not meet the same standards as Whistler or Alta, but the resort’s location offers a unique ski experience, and its climate makes late season trips worthwhile.
Revelstoke, British Columbia
A top-to-bottom run on Revelstoke Mountain is a leg-burning gauntlet of fun and adrenaline. Revelstoke is the highest reaching (1.7 km) ski area in North America and is known for getting, on average, 12 meters of snowfall every year. And yet, Revelstoke is hardly among the megaresorts that seem to take the ski-destination spotlight. Regulars would hardly paint that as a problem though. Instead, they say Revelstoke has three problems: the snow is too deep, the lines are too short, and the slopes are too long. Nonetheless, the ski town has no shortage of cosy bed and breakfasts, luxury hotels, and ways to rest your legs after burning them down the mountain.
There aren’t many national parks that are also ski areas, but Banff is one of them. The stunningly scenic Banff has three ski resorts to choose from, and you can purchase one lift ticket to access all 8,000 acres of skiable terrain. The park gets an average of 10 meters of feather-light, dry Canadian Rockies power every year. The slopes cater to a range of skill levels, and the town offers more than just skiing. After a long day whooping down the slopes, take a soothing soak in Banff’s hot springs before going for a scenic stroll through the town’s dining, shopping, museums and nightlife.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole is the gold standard for more seasoned skiers in North America. Its wide web of trails is expertly laid out so that skiers get the most fun per meter. The ski area receives about 11 meters of snow a year, and its trails reach 1.2km into the sky. The season at Jackson Hole goes into early spring, so you can ski with less shivering weather and better enjoy the fantastic vistas of Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park surrounding Jackson Hole.
Down in the town, you will find a cultural hideaway for the America's Wild West. Cowboy culture is a point of history and pride in Jackson Hole, and yet there's still the air of a laid back, cosmopolitan borough, whether you go for cowboy barbeques, fireplace-heated diners, or sushi restaurants frequented by snowboarding stars.
Snowbird provides the most persistent verticality out of any ski area in all of North America. There’s no sudden flat Nordic track to level out your cruising speed. But that doesn’t mean the difficulty is ramped up across the board. Snowbird has a very even distribution of beginner, intermediate and advanced trails when compared to most other ski parks, and the abundance of powder snow makes for soft landings no matter the difficulty.
The town is quiet and perfect if you just want to lay back after a fun and tiring day of skiing. Still, there are plenty of places to stay, and world class restaurants to enjoy.
Vail has the best snow and the largest ski town in all of Colorado. Its terrain, snow, town and lifts have likely made it the most cosmopolitan of ski areas, with people from all over the world coming to Vail. In case you need proof, Vail has an extensive network of condition-tracking webcams. Many of the mountain’s slopes face north, in the shadow of sunrises and sunsets, so late season trips to Vail are hardly a wash of wet, sloppy snow.
The town has a bevvy of extravagant hideaways and affordable hearths where you can dry your feet, all within easy distance to the lifts. From condos to cabins, to the hotels that will dry and tune up your gear overnight, you don’t have to worry about finding something that fits your style and budget.
Aspen is an icon of American ski culture. It’s the old vintage, the taste of oak whisky barrel, the real mink fur dusted with fresh powder. It’s got everything you would expect from a town that revolves around one of the more expensive hobbies out there. And the snow is pretty light and soft as well.
Maybe you want to take a day off from cutting through the snow. In Aspen, there’s a thriving arts scene, a lively nightlife, top end dining options and easy walking trails through tranquil winter scenery. There’s nothing better than a hot thermos of mulled wine in a cold and calm ice world.
Ready to book your next skiing or snowboarding trip? Contact one of our snow sports experts by clicking here.