Ski Resorts You Should Experience at Your Earliest Convenience

by Dan Giesin | January 3, 2024

What makes a ski resort worth your time, money and effort to get to?

There are many criteria — both objective and subjective — that should be considered, of course, and many of those can be of a personal nature.

Some folks want limitless powder, others want exquisitely groomed runs. Some look for the active apres scene, others desire nothing more than cozy lodge and a warm fire. Some look for a bazillion acres of high-speed lift-served terrain, others don’t mind post-holing a few hundred vertical feet above a creaky double chair to earn their turns.

We all have different wants and needs for our perfect ski holiday, and probably none of the 800 or so resorts in North America will please every skier and boarder.

But there are many — perhaps 50 — that come really, really close. And those are the ski hills every shredder of every age and ability should consider putting on their tick list.

As a public service, providing you with a starter six-pack-plus-one of resorts you should get out and ski or ride this season. Because, in the words of the Old Philosopher, If you don’t do it this season, you’ll be another year older when you do.

Aspen Snowmass

Encompassing four separate mountains — each with its own distinct personality and gestalt — the Aspen complex caters to just about every strata of mountain folk. It also has some pretty damn fine riding, especially in the hike-to terrain of Aspen Highlands and the no-beginner-runs-at-all terrain of Ajax Mountain.

Big Sky

Lone Peak, site of America’s first-ever trails rated triple black diamond, is an iconic symbol not only of Big Sky but in modern ski lore as well, and this year it’s been made more accessible with the construction of a 75-person tram. For mere mortals, Big Sky has plenty to offer over its 5,800 acres of skiable terrain, including the lightly used but enormously fun for all abilities  Moonlight Basin pod.

Jackson Hole

Speaking of trams, JHMR has perhaps the most famous one of all. Spanning 4,139 vertical feet of mostly black diamond terrain, “Big Red” is the testing ground for many a would-be hard man or woman. But fear not, the rest of the mountain has delightful terrain for riders of more modest ambitions. 

Jay Peak

New England is not generally noted for its powder skiing, but up there near the Canadian border, Jay has become the pow mecca for Easterners. With a laid-back vibe and renowned tree and glade skiing, the resort is not your typical Yankee winter playground. It even has an indoor water park.

Kicking Horse

Three stats stand out at this eastern British Columbia resort: 3,486 skiable acres and 4,314 feet of vertical but just 5 ways of getting up the hill (and only the gondola goes all the way from base to summit). That’s right: If you’re looking for untrammeled terrain fill with tons of lovely inland BC powder, this is the place. The nearby historic town of Golden ain’t a bad place to hang, either.

Palisades Tahoe

Shane McConkey. Scot Schmidt. Ingrid Backstrom. Jeremy Jones. Cody Townsend. Michele Parker. The roster of big mountain royalty who made their names on such iconic, nay mythic terrain as KT22, Granite Chief, Tram Chute, The Palisades is seemingly endless. That says a lot about the hill. As does the roster of Olympic medalists including Jonny Moseley, Tamara McKinney and Julia Mancuso who called Olympic Valley home.


Perhaps the only thing that can divert your attention from the totally mind-blowing ski terrain at Telluride is the scenery. Located in an aspen-strewn box canyon high up in the San Juans, the town of Telluride is right out of central casting for a rugged yet gentile mountain town. Adding to the mystique: A former teenage sheep herder named Butch Cassidy made his first bank robbery there.

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