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The best ski resorts in the US | Dope Magazine

If you’re looking to shred in one of the world’s best ski resorts, you can’t go wrong with heading to the United States. Home to the Rockies and the Tetons, the Lake Tahoe region, and more, each area is full of legendary spots – from massive ski areas with all the bells and whistles to authentic, independently run resorts.  

Yes, 39 of North America’s states have winter resort facilities. You’ll find some of the most famous resorts in the West (Vail or Mammoth, anyone?). Still, it’s always worth heading East to resorts like Killington and Sugarbush. Of course, it totally depends on what your priorities are for the best ski trip ever. Are you after somewhere with varied terrain, guaranteed powder, insane off-piste, or out-of-this-world après-ski?

We are here to help! We’ve rounded up the 50 best ski resorts from across the US and given them awards based on what they top the list for, to help you choose your next destination. So, find out more about the most well-known spots, discover a resort you never knew existed, and start planning that trip. It’s all here in our ultimate list of best US ski resorts.  

Quick find navigation - Top 50 ski resorts in the US

When’s the best time to ski and snowboard in the US?

Typically, the best time to ski and snowboard in the USA is from late November to April. However, if you can’t wait that long, some resorts open early (depending on the snow conditions). These tend to be Loveland, Wolf Creek, Killington, and Mammoth Mountain. 

And, if the snow sticks around, some resorts even close later in the year – sometimes not until July! These are normally Breckenridge, Keystone, Mammoth Mountain, Sun Valley, and Snowbird. Find out more about these in our list below.

When’s the best time to ski and snowboard in the US?

Dope Mag’s top 50 US ski resorts

Where’s the best place to ride in the USA? Here’s the place to find out! Above every resort guide is our list of awards, highlighting our favorite elements about each place. These range from ‘family-friendly’ to ‘overall value’ and ‘après-ski’. 

FYI, we haven’t ranked the resorts in any specific order! Think of this as an ultimate list rather than ranking from best to worst. Instead, we’ve used badges under each resort’s name. These highlight the absolute best bits so you can find a ski destination that meets your needs.

Ski passes and lift tickets

We’ve also included each resort’s type of ski pass. This is handy to know as buying one of the four main ski pass options – the Ikon Pass, the Epic Pass, the Mountain Collective, and the Indy Pass – often means you can ride at multiple resorts throughout the season. 

Each ski pass also has different options (such as full-access, two-day, base pass, etc.). Even if you only ride twice a year, you might save more money by bagging one of these passes than by buying individual lift tickets.

1

Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado

Family-friendly · Nightlife
1
Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado
  • 5,517 acres
  • 336 trails
  • 40 lifts
  • 4,406 feet of vertical drop
  • 25 feet of snow per year
  • Ikon pass

 Make your trip one to remember with Aspen. There’s nowhere else on earth like it. This world-famous resort comprises four mountains: Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk. Together, they offer an incredible number of runs across an immense area of rideable terrain – so prepare for the thigh burn!

With such a large area, there really is something for every rider. Head to the family mecca of Snowmass, give skiing or snowboarding a first try at Buttermilk, try out the next-level tree skiing in Ajax, or throw yourself into the Aspen Highlands’ open bowls. There are also insane on-hill dining options, near countless hotels to choose from, stellar customer service, and an epic après scene. 

So, let’s chat about après. Whether it’s chilled bar vibes or après/nightlife you’re searching for, Aspen-Snowmass delivers. Our top pick is the W Hotel, offering rooftop après surrounded by those majestic mountains. You won’t want to leave. Well, except to tear up the hill the next day, of course. 

Top tip: Powder incoming? Grab first lifts (duh!) and drop in on Hyde Park or Flip’s Leap. It’s usually skipped by riders keen to head to the summit rather than hunting the lower-down powder stashes. Rookie mistake…

2

Vail Ski Resort, Colorado

Advanced terrain · Nightlife
Snow quality
2
vail colorado
@ vailresorts.com
  • 5,289 acres
  • 267 trails
  • 31 lifts
  • 3,450 feet of vertical drop
  • 29.5 feet of snow per year
  • Epic Pass

On the hunt for powder bowls, tree glades, and wide-open groomers? You’ll struggle to find much better than Vail. This vast ski area is spread out over several mountains, providing extensive terrain and every challenge imaginable. Trust us, Vail Mountain is pretty close to perfection – especially with their incredible lift system *chef’s kiss*. 

There’s no denying that Vail is great for all riders, including families, freeriders, freestylers, and more. At the base, you’ll discover the lively (and hella fun) town of Vail, with more après spots than you can count. 

It’s perfectly positioned for regular snowfall, leading to a deep base and tons of morning freshies (especially when storms from the Pacific roll in). But, as the storms roll in, so can the crowds. Bypass the lift lines and lap the glades of Game Creek Bowl or Northwoods. We’ll charge you a dollar for every time you shout ‘yeeew!’. You won’t be able to help yourself. 

Top tip: Vail can be eye-wateringly expensive. So, skip the dollar signs and head to Vendetta’s. Here you’ll find cheap pitchers and pizza slices, served with a dollop of soul.

3

Snowbird, Utah

Advanced terrain · Snow quality
3
Snowbird, Utah
  • 2,500 acres
  • 140 trails
  • 14 lifts
  • 3,240 feet of vertical drop
  • 41 feet of snow per year
  • Mountain Collective Pass

If it’s consistently light, dry snow you’re after (and who wouldn’t be?), you’ll want to head for the Wasatch Valley to Snowbird. Catch a goggle tan in Mineral Basin, flat-line down Chip’s Run, play in Tiger Tail’s powder glades, and feel the burn on a T-to-B Mach Schnell. 

Yep, this is THE place to push your riding with challenging, steep terrain – or take things more mellow if that’s more your vibe. There are more than enough beginner and intermediate runs to keep you busy.  

If terrain and bucket-loads of snow are top of your wishlist, Snowbird has your back. If you’re after off-slope facilities, however, target bustling Salt Lake City, just a 45-minute drive away. Snowbird is more about riding hard and hitting the hay at a reasonable hour so you can rise early and do it all again the next day!

Top tip: Although they operate as separate resorts, it’s worth skiing over to Alta from Snowbird, especially if you’re here in the Spring. Between the two, there are more than enough slushy spring laps to have you riding all day (if the slush holds out). 

Fun fact
Fun fact
Loulou
Snowbird is home to the only ski tunnel in North America. Yep, you can ski through the mountain and come out the other side. Core memory stuff, right there.
4

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming

Advanced terrain · Nightlife
Snow quality
4
Jackson Hole
  • 2,500 acres
  • 131 trails
  • 13 lifts
  • 4,139 feet of vertical drop
  • 38 feet of snow per year
  • Mountain Collective

If you’re looking to sink your teeth into more challenging terrain, you’re going to go crazy for Jackson Hole. This is a true rider’s mountain that’ll test even the most expert skiers and snowboarders. 

Trails like Alta Chutes, Expert Chutes, Tower 3, and Corbet’s Couloir are just some reasons Jackson Hole is a place of legend. This resort is full of I-can’t-believe-I-just-did-that steeps and deeps. But there’s also the HEAPS of snow it draws in and staggering views that’ll practically knock you off your feet (if the steep terrain doesn’t). 

A common misconception about Jackson Hole is that it’s just for the experts. In fact, there’s more than enough for intermediates on Apres Vous Mountain and off the Bridger Gondola. There’s also a near-endless supply of rad bars and restaurants (just the way we like it). Terrain like Jackson’s Hole does come at a price, though. It might not be the most budget-friendly resort, but wow, is it one for the bucket list. 

Top tip: If you think you can hack it, try Corbet’s Couloir. Remember, though, that this isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s an extreme double black diamond – and a rite of passage around J-Hole.

5

Park City Mountain Resort, Utah

Beginner-friendly · Off-mountain activities
Terrain park
5
Park City Mountain Resort Utah
  • 7,300 acres
  • 341 trails
  • 44 lifts
  • 3,226 feet of vertical drop
  • 30 feet of snow per year
  • Epic Pass

With 7,300 acres and 17 peaks, Park City is one of the largest ski resorts in the US. And you know what that means: pretty much limitless riding options for you and the crew! Just make sure you have a trail map to hand …

You’re guaranteed to have no two days the same here thanks to the extensive size of this resort. You can easily find expert terrain in Park City, but it’s also skewed towards beginners and intermediates – hence the high amount of lengthy, rolling groomed runs. There are also eight terrain parks and two halfpipes for you to play and perfect your skills in.

Once the lifts close, it’s time to get on the craft beer. There are over 24 Utah brews on tap in the brew pubs and bars in Park City! And to soak it all up? It’s got to be Cloud Dine, a hidden gem with homemade donuts. Yum! 

Top tip: Big up those historical vibes by heading to the 123-year-old Mid Mountain Lodge. While there, order The Boarding House, a potent blend of local Alpine Distilling’s Lafayette spiced whiskey with lemon and Earl Grey syrup. It’s the perfect bottoms-up after your ride down!

Fun fact
Fun fact
Loulou
Park City town is a massive bonus to your ski trip. The town dates back to 1884 and has a historic main street with more restaurants, shops, and après options than you can shake a stick (or ski pole) at. 
6

Heavenly Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe

Family-friendly · Nightlife
Scenery
6
Heavenly Ski Resort Lake Tahoe
  • 4,800 acres
  • 97 trails
  • 28 lifts
  • 3,500 feet of vertical drop
  • 30 feet of snow per year
  • Epic Pass

We’re not sure if we’ve ever found such an aptly named resort. Heavenly is just that. And, while we love the snow, it’s partly for the views, too. The scenery is simply jaw-dropping. From the summit, you’ll have practically endless views of Lake Tahoe on one side and Carson Valley on the other. 

You’re also pretty much guaranteed great visibility (so make sure you pack the right goggle lens!). That’s because Heavenly has 300 days of sunshine per year. Sometimes, you’ll think you’re riding right into Lake Tahoe. Others, you’ll wonder if you’re actually at the Pearly Gates. 

You’ll struggle to ride the same line twice here, too. That’s down to 4,800 acres across two states and nearly limitless tree skiing in Mott and Killebrew Canyons. And, when it’s time to sink a cold one, the après here is epic. Our favorite spot is the outdoor beer garden at South of North Brewing Co. There’s no better place for sinking a pilsner. Believe us – we’ve looked. 

Top tip: For a killer view of the lake, it’s got to be Ridge Run (for you intermediates) or Gunbarrel (for you pros). Don’t forget to focus on the fall line, though, rather than getting distracted by the pinch-me-this-can’t-be-real scenery.

7

Telluride Ski Resort, Colorado

Advanced terrain · Family-friendly
7
Telluride Ski Resort, Colorado
  • 2,000 acres
  • 147 trails
  • 17 lifts
  • 4,425 feet of vertical drop
  • 23 feet of snow per year
  • Epic Pass

Raise your hand if you love diverse terrain. Us too. That’s why Telluride Ski Resort is on our list. Fill your boots with endless powder laps, corduroy groomers, and off-piste routes on light powder before riding down to the charming town of Telluride.

What we love most about Telluride are the short lift lines and small crowds. That’s because Telluride is tucked away at the end of the valley. Yes, this makes it a bit trickier to get to, but it’s well worth the effort once you’re here.

Around 60% of Telluride’s terrain is targeted toward beginners and intermediates, so that makes it a brilliant choice for families. However, if challenging riding is more your jam, the Plunge Express lift takes you over to expert terrain. Expect to ride over 2,000 vertical feet in elevation – and descend some gnarly terrain. 

Top tip: The town’s ice hockey scene is insane! Squeeze watching a game into your shred schedule at the Hanley rink downtown. They’re on most Friday nights – ideal for after your après session, right?

Fun fact
Fun fact
Loulou
Did you know? Telluride’s main gondola is free and runs for skiers and non-skiers.
8

Keystone Ski Resort, Colorado

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Off-mountain activities · Terrain park
8
Keystone Ski Resort, Colorado
  • 3,148 acres
  • 128 trails
  • 20 lifts
  • 3,128 feet of vertical drop
  • 20 feet of snow per year
  • Epic Pass

With 128 runs over six separate mountains, you’ll be spoilt for choice at Keystone. And don’t worry, they cater to all abilities – it’s perfect for families, and there are even some double black runs in there, too, for more advanced riders. If you’re bringing little ones to Keystone, they’re bound to go ape for the gigantic ice rink, cookie-decorating classes, character parades, and more. 

Keystone’s base is at an impressive 9,280 feet, making it a snow-sure resort with a longer season than most. Which is good, because you’ll definitely need to come back at least twice during a season to explore Keystone’s 3,148 acres, anyway. Plus, you just HAVE to visit their award-winning terrain park. Perfect your skills with its 60-acre collection of progressive and creative features. 

Keystone’s villages also have everything you’d expect for an epic ski vacation: fantastic lodging, shops, restaurants, non-skiing attractions, and shuttles to the runs. Oh, but there’s also night skiing available if you can’t quite switch those ski legs off. 

Top tip: Our top rec has to be a spin on the five-acre (yes, really) ice-skating rink in Lakeside Village. Once you’re done making shapes on ice, head to the Bighorn to warm up with a hot cocoa – or something stronger! 

9

Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado

Beginner-friendly · Nightlife
Terrain park
9
Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado
  • 2,908 acres
  • 187 trails
  • 34 lifts
  • 3,398 feet of vertical drop
  • 25 feet of snow per year
  • Epic Pass

Breckenridge is kind of the complete package. If you’re a beginner or with a family, the lower parts and other areas of Breckenridge’s five peaks are perfect. They offer gentle inclines, wide runs, and plenty of space for practicing your first turns. However, if you’re more advanced, just head further up the hill. There, you’ll find open bowls and fresh powder (yes, even in Spring!). 

If you get the itch to shred later in the season, Breckenridge has your back, because this resort averages around 25 feet of snow per year, meaning it often stays open well into May. 

When you’re done riding for the day, head into the historic Victorian town of Breckenridge. Its picturesque (and Insta-worthy) main street is full of restaurants, shops, and après spots. And this is one of our favorite après scenes in the world. We always head straight for RMU Tavern, a ski shop slash tap house with over 16 rotating craft beers. Drool over custom skis and down a microbrew. The perfect combo if you ask us! 

Top tip: Crowded days can be quite common in Breckenridge. But, when that happens, just head off the E-Chair. Ssh, that’s kind of locals-only knowledge. You didn’t hear it from us, okay?

Fun fact
Fun fact
Loulou
Breckenridge is home to the highest chairlift in the US at 12,480 feet. Don't be surprised if the resort literally takes your breath away.
10

Steamboat Ski Resort, Colorado

Family-friendly · Off-piste
Snow quality
10
Steamboat Ski Resort, Colorado
  • 2,965 acres
  • 169 trails
  • 18 lifts
  • 3,668 feet of vertical drop
  • 28 feet of snow per year
  • Ikon Pass

Arriving into Denver, riders tend to hit the famous resorts like Vail, Breckenridge, or Beaver Creek. However, there’s another resort that’s a little further out that still flies under the radar: Steamboat. Yes, this family-friendly resort offers sick conditions and smaller crowds. Oh, and some of the friendliest locals around.

Regular storms guarantee dreamy conditions, and things don’t get much dreamier than that light, out-of-this-world Champagne Powder® that’s perfect for floating in. If you’re a glade fan, you’ll want to stay in Steamboat forever. Its forested mountain sides provide some of the best glades in the riding world. 

There’s a vast array of trails for intermediates, an awesome ski school, and more than enough to keep the kids happy. Steamboat Springs is also an extra cherry on the Steamboat resort cake. Expect classic cowboy culture, friendly locals, and a truly welcoming small-town feel that we just can’t get enough of. 

Top tip: Visit Strawberry Hot Springs! These natural outdoor pools are close to Steamboat and an absolute godsend for relieving aching ski legs.

Fun fact
Fun fact
Loulou
Steamboat is the only resort in the world to have trademarked its snow! Yep, if you want Champagne Powder®, there’s only one place to go. 
11

Big Sky Resort, Montana

Scenery · Terrain park
11
Big Sky Resort, Montana
  • 5,850 acres
  • 317 trails
  • 36 lifts
  • 4,350 feet of vertical drop
  • 33 feet of snow per year
  • Ikon Pass

Big Sky Resort doesn’t do things by half (well, the clue is in the name!). Expect big mountains, big snowfall, big runs, and big lifts. You don’t have to worry about big lift lines, though – it’s about the only thing Big Sky keeps on the small side. 

Because it’s spread out over 5,850 acres, you’ll never see enormous crowds. In fact, you’re more likely to have over two acres of mountain to yourself. And often with cold, dry powder. If only we could have that every day of our lives! 

Big Sky Resort teams winding, family-friendly groomers alongside snowfields, bowls, gullies, and couloirs to engage advanced and expert riders. Oh, there are also eight terrain parks, hella fun bump fields, and out-of-this-world views. Big Sky Resort isn’t one to brag too much about its après scene, dining, or lodging – but who cares? So it’s not the place to party. However, it IS where to come if you’re looking to ski or snowboard until your legs fall off! 

Top tip: Ride Andesite under the light of the moon, Montana-style. Yep, we totally recommend signing up for night skiing. You’ll ride with a private guide, ultra-beaming headlights, and an ultra-wide smile!

12

Sun Valley, Idaho

Family-friendly · Off-mountain activities
12
Sun Valley, Idaho
  • 2,154 acres
  • 121 trails
  • 18 lifts
  • 3,400 feet of vertical drop
  • 18.5 feet of snowfall per year
  • Ikon Pass

With 121 runs across Bald and Dollar Mountain, Sun Valley, Idaho, offers plenty of opportunities for you to ski your legs off. This idyllic Idaho resort blends smile-inducing riding (especially for beginners and intermediates) alongside the down-to-earth Western town of Ketchum, aka the ski resort’s anchor. 

In Ketchum, the après, nightlife, lodging, and dining are close to outdoing some of the bigger resorts on our list. We love that classic Idaho warm welcome, too. And, for down days, Sun Valley delivers. Ever fancied a spin on an outdoor ice rink with the mountains as your backdrop? Now’s your chance. 

If you have a penchant for corduroy, Sun Valley is surely right up your street as it showcases some of the best grooming on the planet. And thanks to the incredible lift infrastructure you can put your pedal to the metal and aim to shred 35,000 vertical in a day. The race is on! 

Top tip: For time off the hill, you’ve just GOT to head to The Gold Mine Thrift Store. This Ketchum gem is a thrift shopper’s dream. Scour the rails for treasure – from near-new skis to designer fashion items. Just make sure you’ve got room left in your luggage to bring it all home …

Fun fact
Fun fact
Loulou
Did you know? It was in Sun Valley that the chairlift was first invented, way back in 1936!
13

Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort, California

Advanced terrain · Family-friendly
Nightlife
13
Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort, California
  • 6,000 acres
  • 245 trails
  • 34 lifts
  • 2,850 feet of vertical drop
  • 37.5 feet of snow per year
  • Ikon Pass

They say you can’t claim to have torn up Tahoe until you’ve shredded at Palisades Tahoe. This is one of America’s most iconic ski resorts, welcoming you to miles upon miles of rideable terrain. 70% of Palisades Tahoe’s terrain is marked as beginner or intermediate, making it perfect for families. Big Blue’s groomer is the one for carving alongside your crew.

If you’re more into gnarly chutes and couloirs, though, Palisades Tahoe has that alongside plenty more challenging, expert terrain. Just drop into the Pacific Crest Bowls for a taste of what we’re talking about. Wide-open snow fields funneling down into hair-raising cliffs? Palisades Tahoe delivers. 

The cute village at the base has everything you’d expect from a classic ski trip. We’re talking mouth watering restaurants, slick bars, lively après spots, and more. The best après bar crawl? It’s got to be Le Chamois, Rocker, The Last Chair, and The Dubliner. 

Top tip: Download the Mountaineer app and request a free shuttle from your door to the trails. That means you can roll out of bed and be riding freshies within 10 minutes! Yeeew!

Fun fact
Fun fact
Loulou
If you’re a fan of bluebirds or deckchair sunbathing, you’ll want to head to Palisades. This area gets over 267 days of sun and clear blue skies per year. Just watch out for that goggle tan… 
14

Alta Ski Area, Utah

Off-piste · Overall value
Snow quality
14
Alta Ski Area, Utah
©Rocko Menzyk - Alta.com
  • 2,614 acres
  • 119 trails
  • 6 lifts
  • 2,538 feet of vertical drop
  • 45.5 feet of snow per year
  • Ikon Pass

Sorry snowboarders: Alta is a no-go zone. For skiers, though, it’s a paradise with world-class expert terrain, peerless powder (and some good beginner runs, too). Expect to get buried in the white stuff on chutes, tree runs, and gnarly steeps. 

Alta is only a 40-minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City and is at the head of Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon. It might be close to Salt Lake City, but it feels worlds away thanks to its cozy-town vibes. And, if an overnight snowfall closes the road from Salt Lake, you and everyone in resort get the mountain to yourselves for a little while! 

It’s not the largest resort on our list (2,614 acres), however, there are more than enough runs to keep skiers of all abilities happy – especially intermediates looking to perfect their powder turns or cliff-dropping techniques. Our favorite runs are High Nowhere and Eagle’s Nest: steep, long trails that make you feel the burn while expanding your love for riding on two planks. 

Top tip: Upgrade your ticket to include neighboring Snowbird to really give your legs a workout. Or, if you’re sticking with Alta, get a workout on Alf’s High Rustler, a 1,200-foot run starting out at a nearly 45-degree angle.

Fun fact
Fun fact
Loulou
Alta is the only ski resort in the world where you can be taught by Kristen Ulmer, former US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame extreme skier and fear expert. Take your riding up a gear with her mindset-only Art of Fear Ski Camp.
15

Deer Valley, Utah

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Off-piste · Snow quality
15
Deer Valley, Utah
  • 2,026 acres
  • 103 trails
  • 21 lifts
  • 3,000 feet of vertical drop
  • 25 feet of snow per year
  • Ikon Pass

Luxury skiing doesn’t come much better than Deer Valley. Spread out over six mountains, you can expect stellar customer service, stunning lodges, fast-running lifts, uncrowded slopes, and mouth-watering cuisine. This is more than a ski trip. It’s a ski experience. But snowboarders beware – unfortunately, Deer Valley doesn’t allow one-planked riding.

To make your experience one to remember, Deer Valley limits the number of skiers on the mountain, so you don’t encounter long lift lines. And that has another incredible advantage: faces and powder stashes remain untouched for longer. Deer Valley is also fantastic for families – its groomers are a memory that’ll stay with little minds for a long time, and a superb ski school customizes its learning programs for the whole crew. 

Deer Valley is perhaps our favorite resort for eating and drinking. Experience a relaxing après from a lounge chair at Silver Lake, the mid-mountain beach, then ride down to the Snow Park Lodge for a cocktail at the EBS Lounge. Afterwards, dine out at RIME in the evenings and prepare to be treated like royalty. The whole resort is also just one free bus ride away from downtown Park City – perfect for letting loose before cranking up your riding the next day. 

Top tip: For an evening with a difference, book yourself onto All Seasons Adventures’ Snow and S’mores tour. Nothing beats snowshoeing to a roaring fire before eating your body weight in s’mores.

16

Sugarbush Mountain Ski Resort, Vermont

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Overall value
16
Sugarbush Mountain Resort, Vermont
©Audrey Huffman - sugarbush.com
  • 581 acres
  • 111 trails
  • 16 lifts
  • 2,600 feet of vertical drop
  • 20 feet of snow per year
  • Ikon Pass

If tree runs are your kryptonite, you’re going to love Sugarbush! Its 111 runs wind down through the trees over two mountains. From there, you’ll end up in multiple base areas, where you can jump on a lift and make your way back up to tackle an alternative line. 

Most of Sugarbush Mountain’s trails are aimed at intermediates (42%) while nearly a quarter are beginner-friendly greens. If you’re pretty pro, though, check out Castlerock with its legendary ungroomed steeps. We think FIS and Black Diamond at Mt. Ellen are tougher, though. 

At the base of Lincoln Peak, you’ll find a cute village. Look out for the pedestrian-only area with spas, shops, and ridiculously good restaurants. You’ll also only find Vermont beers on taps. We love a bit of self-repping! Head to the Green Mountain Lounge at Mt. Ellen for classic Vermont vibes (and beer). 

Top tip: For some out-of-bounds fun, go CAT skiing in Sugarbush! With a minimum of six people per group, it’s something you and your crew will chat about for a long time.

17

Wolf Creek Ski Resort, Colorado

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Overall value · Snow quality
17
Wolf Creek Ski Resort, Colorado
  • 1,600 acres
  • 133 trails
  • 9 lifts
  • 1,604 feet of vertical drop
  • 36 feet of snow per year
  • Independent Pass

Are you ready for deep powder, terrain to make you go ‘yew!’, and a close-knit family feel? That’s what it’s all about at Wolf Creek, one of the USA’s most proudly independent, family-run resorts. 

It takes commitment to get here. However, once you arrive at the heart of the San Juan Mountain Range, you’ll find runs to make you grin from ear to ear. There’s a family ski zone, beginner’s area, carving runs, mogul fields, gullies, and even a knife ridge. Experience all this and more through a series of nine lifts. 

Although it’s only 1,600 acres, you’ll never run into a lift line while you’re in the riding zone. That’s the magic of Wolf Creek. Bear (or wolf) in mind that there’s no on-mountain lodging here. For hotels, motels, condos, and B&Bs, head for Pagosa Springs (23 miles away) or South Fork (18 miles). Wolf Creek itself, though, has that awesome small community feel that’s hard to beat. 

Top tip: It’s a general rule at Wolf Creek that the longer you’re willing to hike, the more freshies await! Our favorite hike is the one to Horseshoe Bowl. It takes about 30 minutes but trust us: the powder reward is totally worth it!

18

Brighton Resort, Utah

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Overall value · Snow quality
18
Brighton Resort, Utah
  • 1,050 acres
  • 66 trails
  • 7 lifts
  • 1,745 feet of vertical drop
  • 41 feet of snowfall per year
  • Ikon Pass

Let’s get a little rugged and wild with Brighton Ski Resort. Powder chasers and those after authentic mountain vibes love this small resort that’s home to some of the best snow in the US. Ride here, and it’s like being part of a family. 

And speaking of families, this resort is great for them. Kids aged 10 and under get to ski free (yes, really!). There’s also the Brighton Bone Zone, a free terrain park for finding your freestyle feet. It’s an awesome place for learning to ride and linking those turns, and the ski school offers fantastic value for money. 

For you more advanced riders, Brighton Resort brings it when it comes to natural features and shed-loads of powder. Head for the Millicent side with its bowls, drop-offs, and open spaces. You won’t find much on-mountain lodging here, but its closeness to Solitude and Salt Lake City makes it a fantastic day’s riding in the middle of a longer trip. 

Top tip: When it’s time to après, head for Molly Green’s, a legendary spot. Choose a pizza and pitcher of frothy cold beer and enjoy by the open fire.

19

Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort, Arizona

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Overall value
19
Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort, Arizona
  • 777 acres
  • 48 trails
  • 8 lifts
  • 2,300 feet of vertical drop
  • 22 feet of snow per year
  • Power Pass

Located just seven miles from Flagstaff and about two hours from Phoenix, Arizona Snowbowl is known for being super family-friendly, affordable prices, and insane views over the San Francisco Peaks. Plus, visiting this resort gives you the chance to say you’ve skied or boarded down the side of a volcano! Not bad!

Snowbowl’s family-friendly vibe doesn’t mean you can’t be challenged if you’re more inclined towards steeper slopes. The hike-to terrain from the Agassiz lift into Upper Bowl will reward you with wide-open double-black bowl riding and incredible desert views. How often can you say you’ve seen sand while standing on snow? Plus, the snow here can be legendary. Some days, it’s not unheard of for the mountain to get a foot or two of fresh pow in a single night when a storm rolls through. 

In terms of dining, there are just three restaurants at Arizona Snowbowl. However, this resort does serve up the longest riding season in the state. Spring shred, anyone?

Top tip: Check out Snowbowl’s four terrain parks. Each has a steady progression of rails and kickers to satisfy all riders, from park newbies to pros.

20

Bridger Bowl, Montana

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Off-piste · Overall value
Snow quality
20
Bridger Bowl, Montana
  • 2,000 acres
  • 105 trails
  • 11 lifts
  • 2,600 feet of vertical drop
  • 25 feet of snow per year
  • Independent Pass

How about riding in an independent, community-owned resort in the iconic American West? Head to Bridger Bowl, and you’ll get just that. Its mission? To offer the best riding experience at a reasonable cost to locals and destination riders. That’s a mission we can get behind! 

This place’s history is full of grit and independence. In 1955, 60 powder fanatics independently installed the first lift on the mountain – and it’s been a non-profit, community-owned ski and snowboarding hill ever since.

Today, it’s probably fair to say that this is more of a ski and snowboarding area than a resort as there’s no on-mountain lodging. But, it’s an area that draws plenty of that light, dry powder you dream about, spread over terrain that offers something for everyone – including families and beginners. Plus, the tight-knit community vibe is nothing short of rad. Everyone’s here because of their love for riding. You’ll have no shortage of people looking out for you and sharing in your passion for corduroy, technical lines, chutes, and fun on the mountain. 

Top tip: Throw yourself into it on the epic lift-served runs off Schlasman’s. Don’t forget, though, that these require a beacon to ride.

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Beech Mountain Resort, North-Carolina

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Overall value
21
Beech Mountain Resort, North-Carolina
  • 17 acres
  • 17 trails
  • 9 lifts
  • 830 feet of vertical drop
  • 7 feet of snow per year
  • Independent Pass

Fancy checking out the highest ski resort in North Carolina? We thought you might. That’s why we’ve included Beech Mountain, with a summit elevation of 5,506 feet above sea level and plenty of slopes for beginners and intermediates. Push your technical skills on White Lightning or cruise with ease on the Oz run. 

In terms of après, Beech Mountain isn’t the craziest resort in existence. However, there’s live music every Friday and Saturday night at their Beech Mountain Brewing Company, an on-site brewery. Just unclip from your bindings, and you’ll make it to the brewhouse within minutes to check out tons of acts. The alpine village at the base of the slopes also has a park-like plaza with firepits and an ice-skating rink. 

There’s also plenty for families here, particularly over Christmas. Have little brothers and sisters? Take them to Beech Mountain, where they can meet Santa, watch fireworks, and play bingo. An on-site brewery AND bingo? Full house!  

Top tip: If you can hack the temperature drop, try night skiing with LED lighting! It’s something to document on the socials, that’s for sure.

22

Killington Resort, Vermont

Family-friendly · Nightlife
Overall value
22
killington-resort-vermont
  • 1,526 acres
  • 155 trails
  • 22 lifts
  • 3,050 feet of vertical drop
  • 21 feet of snow per year
  • Ikon Pass

Ski-racing culture and love for the mountains are in Killington’s bones. This resort is big and steep enough to hold one of just two yearly US World Cup ski events. But there are also options for every type of rider here. 

Spread out over six mountains, you can cruise on the beginner-level Rams Head or jam at the Stash terrain park (one of only six Burton Stash parks worldwide), with over 65 features and a superpipe. Looking for challenging terrain? The Beast has you covered. Just head to the techy, steep fall lines on Bear Mountain. 

But après is where things really pick up a notch. Killington certainly knows how to party, and its après-ski scene is legendary. Our picks? The Umbrella Bar, Pickle Barrel Nightclub, Wobbly Barn…The list goes on. First chair to last call is how K-Town rolls – and that’s something we can definitely get on board with! 

Top tip: It’s all about the glades! Ride the trees between Devil’s Fiddle and Outer Limits on Bear Mountain for more creative lines than you can imagine.

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Mammoth Mountain, California

Advanced terrain · Nightlife
Terrain park
23
mammoth
  • 3,500 acres
  • 151 trails
  • 28 lifts
  • 3,100 feet of vertical drop
  • 33 feet of snow per year
  • Ikon Pass

Head for Mammoth Mountain, one of California’s – and America’s – highest mountains. This resort is on the east side of the Sierra Nevada and is one of the best places to shred in the USA. Plus, it gets so much snow that you can Spring shred in May – and sometimes even as late as July! 

It’s mammoth in name and size: there are 151 runs and 28 lifts spread over a whopping 3,500 acres of skiable area. Plus, its altitude means it’s also a snow-sure resort, guaranteeing some of the best untouched terrain for bump riding, groomers for first-timers, and family-friendly trails. 

Mammoth is heaven for freestylers, too. It has 11 terrain parks in total – more than enough for you to perfect your 50-50s, frontside 360s, and Cossacks. And once you’ve nailed them, it’s time to head to the bar! Yes, Mammoth is bursting with options. Our quirky take on après? Grab a six-pack and head for the natural hot springs off Benton Road. It’s an après session you won’t forget in a hurry (well, unless you have too many beers, that is!). 

Top tip: If you’re an expert rider, check out Hemlocks bowl, a hike-to terrain area with natural and man-made features. Non-pros rarely get to enjoy this level of riding.

Fun fact
Fun fact
Loulou
Ever thought about skiing in summer? California summer slush skiing is what Mammoth is all about, thanks to the resort often being open until July 4th! 
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Purgatory Resort, Colorado

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Overall value
24
wide-ski-run-at-purgatory-in-durango-colorado
  • 1,099 acres
  • 105 trails
  • 12 lifts
  • 2,029 feet of vertical drop
  • 22 feet of snow per year
  • Power Pass

Shredding in the San Juans is a must! Just head to the southwest corner of Colorado for ‘Purg’, aka Purgatory Mountain Resort. 

Don’t worry, there’s no feeling of being ‘stuck’ here. This laid-back resort has everything to bring the stoke for all riders, thanks to its wide range of terrain. It’s an area that’s totally well suited to beginners and intermediates with shed loads of long cruisers. 

Purg is also a lot more affordable than other larger Colorado resorts. Lift tickets are reasonably priced, and kids under 12 can ski for free! We’re also massive fans of Durango, a sick mountain town close to Purgatory. This is the place to head if you’re after nightlife. As Purgatory is more family-focused, the resort’s après and post-après scene are very low-key. 

Top tip: Get twitchy without your fix of untracked pow? Head to Silverton mountain. This rustic resort is just beyond Purg and is renowned for its untouched powder fields.

Fun fact
Fun fact
Loulou
Make sure you like moguls, though, if you’re heading to Purgatory. Moguls are everywhere here – even in the trees! 
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Eldora, Colorado

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Overall value
25
Eldora, Colorado
  • 680 acres
  • 61 trails
  • 10 lifts
  • 1,400 feet of vertical drop
  • 26 feet of snow per year
  • Ikon Pass

Mix with the locals in Eldora, just 20 miles up the canyon from Boulder. This is where people sneak away to from work for an afternoon. It’s also a fantastic place for kids and beginners to find their ski legs. 

The mountain is divided into two main areas: the Little Hawk Family Area and the main area across split three chairs. The top slope of Eldora is fantastic for intermediate, advanced and experienced riders while locals head for Corona Bowl to tear up the Salto and Moose Glades. 

There’s no on-mountain lodging at Eldora Mountain Resort. Instead, it’s all about the riding. And the riding here is focused on scoring as much vertical as you can – and refueling on chili dogs when you get the chance. 

Top tip: Traverse through the trees into the top of Brian’s glades. There, you’ll find a fun, natural halfpipe hidden among the glades, perfect for jibbing.

Fun fact
Fun fact
Loulou
Eldora’s Nordic Center is one of the top Nordic spots in the country. Experience 25 miles of undulating, groomed trails at 9,200 feet – and train for the American Birkebeiner if you feel up to it. 
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Copper Mountain, Colorado

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Off-mountain activities · Terrain park
26
aerial-view-sunset-on-ski-resort
  • 2,490 acres
  • 140 trails
  • 24 lifts
  • 2,738 feet of vertical drop
  • 25 feet of snow per year
  • Ikon Pass

Copper Mountain might have started life as a copper mine, but today it tells a very different story. Expect great riding, ski-in, ski-out lodging, terrain parks, and plenty for the non-skiers in your group. 

This is a fantastic resort for beginners (on the western side of the mountain) and intermediates (center), thanks to its groomed runs. Having different abilities in differing areas means you never have to fear an expert rider bombing past you if you’re learning or nervous first-timers getting in the way on the advanced section. Yep, there’s also black, challenging terrain on the eastern side, along with some nice, expert-only high alpine bowls. It’s worth doing them just for the views, to be honest! 

At the base, you’ll find three purpose-built villages. Because the terrain is split into differing abilities, so are the bases. East Village is for the pros, West Village (Union Creek) covers beginners, and the Center Village is a split of the two and the main base area at Copper. It’s super easy to get between the area – just shred or jump on a shuttle bus. For the non-skiers in your group, there’s snowmobiling, dog sledding, sleigh rides, ice skating, spas, and more. 

Top tip: Unleash your inner Shaun White and try the superpipe! Or perfect your skills first at Woodward at Copper with snowflex ramps, trampolines, foam pits, and spring floors.

27

Kirkwood Ski Resort, California

Advanced terrain · Family-friendly
Off-piste · Snow quality
27
Kirkwood Ski Resort, California
  • 2,300 acres
  • 87 trails
  • 13 lifts
  • 2,000 feet of vertical drop
  • 50 feet of snow per year
  • Epic Pass

One of our team referred to Kirkwood as ‘powder hound nirvana’ – and it’s easy to see why. Kirkwood Ski Resort can brag about having one of the world’s highest resort snowfalls year after year. And it’s top-quality stuff for freshies, rooster tails, and face-shots. 

This is a laid-back, low-key resort, sniffed out by many a freerider and powder poacher. ‘The Wood’, as it’s affectionately called, has varied skiing and snowboarding terrain, especially for advanced and expert riders. There are lots of lodging options to choose from, too, close to the runs or ski-in, ski-out. 

You’re going to need to bring your own groceries if heading to Kirkwood, however. And that’s because the resort only has a little general store and no large supermarket. In fact, there’s not much more to do here apart from skiing and snowboarding – but many of us wouldn’t have it any other way. Kirkwood is nowhere near as expensive or popular as the main Tahoe ski resorts, making it perfect for dropping off cornices and ripping through trees without worrying about crowds. 

Top tip: If you’re a beginner, don’t let run names such as ‘Trench of Terror’ and ‘Ditch of Doom’ worry you too much. There’s a designated beginner area within the resort, including a kids’ ski school at the Timber Creek Day Lodge.

28

Mt. Bachelor, Oregon

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Overall value
28
close-up-of-mt-bachelor
  • 4,323 acres
  • 119 trails
  • 15 lifts
  • 3,365 feet of vertical drop
  • 38.5 feet of snow per year
  • Ikon Pass

Head to the 9,068-foot summit of Mt. Bachelor, Oregon, and you won’t believe your eyes. On a clear day, you can nearly see the whole Cascade Range: from the peaks of Mount Rainier near Seattle to Shasta, California. And that’s not all – visit Mt. Bachelor, and you can say you’ve shredded around a dormant volcano! 

Cruisers like Marshmallow and Avalanche are great options for intermediates and beginners. And, if you’re more advanced, drop into one of the double blacks on the back side of the Summit chair. 

There’s no mountain lodging at Mt. Bachelor’s base, however, you can definitely stay here if you’re part of the van life community. Overnight paid parking is available, and the amount of RVs will have you setting up your own #vanlife Insta account before you know it! For hotels and other lodging options, head to nearby Bend. It’s also an ideal place for beer lovers, with over 30 breweries! We’d struggle to find anywhere else that can offer pints and pistes in such perfect measure. 

Top tip: When the powder hits, head to the Red Chair area. It’s often overlooked by the crowds sprinting to runs accessible from the Outback lift.

29

Whitefish Mountain Resort, Montana

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Overall value · Snow quality
29
whitefish-mountain-resort-ski-slopes
  • 3,000 acres
  • 106 trails
  • 14 lifts
  • 2,353 feet of vertical drop
  • 28 feet of snow per year
  • Independent Pass

Montana charm meets fierce independence at Whitefish Mountain Resort. The result? Incredible service, fantastic overall value, and an awesome place to ride that’s never lost that super friendly local vibe. What more could you need from a ski resort? Oh, and they have an authentic ski town, too!

Whitefish Mountain is often called Big Mountain, and not ironically. It boasts 3,000 acres of insane terrain with over 50% black diamond and double black diamond runs. If you’re a beginner, there’s a free mountain tour to help you find your bearings, while any kids aged six and under in your group can ride free. 

Many people are hoping Whitefish Mountain stays on the down-low for a little while longer. At the moment, lift lines are pretty non-existent, and it’s super uncrowded compared to other resorts. Join the locals at the Bierstube for après – and cross your heart you won’t crow too loudly about this secret resort.  

Top tip: Whitefish Mountain tends to have a fair bit of cloud cover. However, keep riding until ‘the 4 o’clock clear’ and score the last chair to the summit. From there, you’ll meet knock-you-sideways views and memory-imprinting alpenglow.

30

Northstar Ski Resort, California

Family-friendly · Overall value
30
Northstar Ski Resort, California
  • 3,170 acres
  • 97 trails
  • 20 lifts
  • 2,280 feet of vertical drop
  • 29 feet of snow per year
  • Epic Pass

Discover pristine customer service alongside an impressive lift infrastructure and facilities. The Northstar Ski Resort has all the bells and whistles – and we’re here for it! 

It’s a fantastic resort for families with a top ski school program. It’s also great for beginners with its renowned corduroy groomers. Honestly, Google them! Because the elevation isn’t very high, you’re unlikely to encounter anything crazy steep here. But, if you’re looking to crank up your skills, fear not: Northstar also has plenty of intermediate trails (60% are rated as blue). 

The Northstar Village is where you’ll find the luxury. If you’ve got the cash to flash, check in to the 5-star Ritz-Carlton Hotel or indulge at a day spa. Of course, our favorite thing after shredding has to be the s’mores. Swap stories and warm up by the many fire pits while having a s’more or two. 

Top tip: It’s all about the trees at Northstar! When nearby resorts are closed because of high winds, head for the trees on Lookout Mountain. Puking snow and tree lines? Sign us up!

31

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Off-mountain activities · Overall value
31
Bretton Woods New Hampshire
©Courtesy of Omni Mount Washington Resort
  • 467 acres
  • 98 trails
  • 10 lifts
  • 1,500 feet of vertical drop
  • 17 feet of snow per year
  • White Mountain Pass

Ride long groomed trails and soak up stunning views of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range in New Hampshire’s largest ski area. Yes, we’re talking about Bretton Woods, home to over 10 miles of gladed terrain spread over three peaks. 

This resort is fantastic for beginners (23% of runs) and intermediates (30%). Backcountry lessons are also a big deal here. Get ready to discover some spots you didn’t know existed. 

Bretton Woods is loved by riders for its lodging, too – particularly the 100-year-old Mount Washington Hotel. This historical site is just a free two-minute ride to the runs. And, when you’re done riding for the day, you can come back to their how-is-this-place-real spa. 

With someone who’s not into riding? Bretton Woods has plenty to keep them occupied. There are sleigh rides, winter biking, outdoor and indoor rock climbing, Nordic trails, tubing, and more. There’s also a new mountaintop lodge with views to die for. It’s accessible by gondola for those who don’t want to switch their walking boots for their riding ones. 

Top tip: Bretton Woods Canopy Tour. Okay, we know this means time away from riding (gasps!). However, this sky-high tour is incredible in the winter. Soar over trails on zip lines with the GoPro in hand!

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Sugar Bowl Resort, California

Family-friendly · Off-piste
Overall value
32
Sugarbowl
©sugarbowl.com
  • 1,500 acres
  • 105 trails
  • 13 lifts
  • 1,500 feet of vertical drop
  • 42 feet of snow per year
  • Mountain Collective Pass

Experience the sweetness of life by visiting Sugar Bowl Tahoe. Instead of the glitz (and crowds) of some of the bigger Tahoe resorts, you’ll find a well-developed ski area with mellow tree-lined groomers, terrain parks, and plenty of friendly vibes. And fun fact, did you know that Walt Disney was an early investor of the resort? As a result, Sugar Bowl named their first chairlift after him in 1939 – The Disney lift was the first chair to be installed in California! – and renamed Hemlock Peak “Mt. Disney”.

It isn’t all Mickey Mouse runs here, though. If advanced terrain is more your thing, Sugar Bowl has you covered (38% of the trails are for advanced riders). There’s plenty of challenging tree riding, cliff sections, alpine bowls, steeps, cornices, backcountry, and sidecountry across its four peaks. 

Within the two base areas at Sugar Bowl Resort, you’ll find a day lodge and a couple of dining and drinking options. There’s also a day spa and a fine-dining restaurant. Although Sugar Bowl doesn’t have the biggest area, it’s perfect for combining with other Lake Tahoe ski resorts for an epic road n’ ride trip. 

Top tip: Love Nordic skiing and down-hilling it? The Sugar Bowl village connects to the Royal Gorge Cross Country ski area. This means you can enjoy an expansive 124 miles of groomed trails across 6,000 acres at the stunning Donner Summit.

33

Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont

Family-friendly · Nightlife
Off-mountain activities
33
Stow Mountain Resort, Vermont
  • 485 acres
  • 116 trails
  • 12 lifts
  • 2,360 feet of vertical drop
  • 26 feet of snow per year
  • Epic Pass

Kick back and shred hard on Mount Mansfield, New England’s highest mountain. Stowe is known far and wide with its steep Front Four, a shiny red gondola, and its classic New England town. Head to the summit, and you’ll find icy, jaggy rocks above you – perfect for a dose of that East Coast ruggedness that’s hard to find anywhere else. Below you lie 116 trails for you to tear up again and again. 

This resort is small in size, but it packs a punch. There’s something for every rider – push your skills with iconic trails like Chin Clip and Goat or mellow out on kid-friendly groomers around the Spruce base area. Don’t forget the Toll Road trail, a winding green with a cute chapel stop.   

And, once you’re off the hill, there’s something for everyone, too. The postcard town is full of après spots, fantastic dining, and cozy lodgings. To put it simply, there’s a lot of awesome stuff here: a lot of terrain, a lot of the white stuff, and a lot of amazing facilities. 

Top tip: It’s got to be Ranch Camp. This half-bike-shop-half-restaurant is a mile or so away, but it’s so worth the trip. Burritos, tacos, beer, and good times guaranteed? You’ll think you’ve stumbled across a mirage.

34

Winter Park, Colorado

Advanced terrain · Beginner-friendly
Family-friendly · Off-piste
34
Winter Park, Colorado
  • 3,081 acres
  • 168 trails
  • 25 lifts
  • 3,060 feet of vertical drop
  • 30 feet of snow per year
  • Ikon Pass

Places rarely get more iconic than Winter Park Ski Resort, Colorado. Head for the Colorado Rockies, and you’ll find this historical resort, famous for its world-class moguls, glade riding, and black diamonds. The whole place has inspired a fanatic, cult-like following. 

Yep, many consider Winter Park to have some of the finest (and most challenging) terrain in the US. But Winter Park is also known for its gentler cruisers across its seven territories. Trails like Jabberwocky and Crammer mean it’s not a bad resort for families, either. 

Winter Park is a destination resort without killing that local-hill vibe. It’s still a rider’s mountain, which means it trumps a focus on the hill over a rocking nightlife. But with 3,081 acres to explore every day, we won't miss having an après-induced hangover. 

Top tip: You HAVE to have a go at the legendary Mary Jane Mountain. Expect moguls, moguls, and more moguls alongside plenty of tree riding. Make sure those legs are strong because this is a workout like no other!

35

Loveland Ski Area, Colorado

Beginner-friendly · Family-friendly
Overall value · Snow quality
35
Loveland Ski Area
  • 1,800 acres
  • 94 trails
  • 10 lifts
  • 2,210 feet of vertical drop
  • 35 feet of snow per year
  • Loveland Pass

Loveland is a powder hound’s dream. This warm, friendly resort is just behind Wolf Creek in terms o