Skiing the slopes: Top 10 mountains in North America

Marion Fernandez

The cold weather months have a tendency to drag people down. With the gray skies and dreary conditions, it can be hard to want to do anything outside. That’s where skiing comes into play. Skiing gets you outside, in the snow itself, letting you take in some fresh air and get exercise while having the time of your life. Whether you are new to skiing or have been doing it for your whole life, there are runs out there that will suit your specific needs. Keep in mind that all of the places on the following list are good for snowboarders too. If you are looking for some new mountains to try, we have the list for you.

1. Whistler Blackcomb, Canada

Whistler Blackcomb, Canada

We have to start with the biggest ski resort of them all: Whistler Blackcomb. The 8,171 acre ski resort covers both Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, giving skiers of all levels something to try. Whistler offers 37 ski lifts and an impressive capacity of 69,939 skiers per hour. Whistler has over 200 marked runs, 16 alpine bowls and three glaciers, giving you options and making you feel like you should be there long enough to try them all.

2. Powder Mountain, Utah

Powder Mountain, Utah

With a coverage of about 8,000 acres of land, Powder Mountain claims to be the biggest ski resort in the United States. Unlike Whistler, Powder has a limit on how many skiers and snowboarders can get in to hit the slopes on a daily basis. With a max ticket sale limit of 2,000 people, you will not find yourself feeling trapped going down the slopes.

3. Big Sky, Montana

Big Sky, Montana

Sitting in the Rocky Mountains, it is no wonder that Montana boasts an impressive ski mountain. Big Sky was the largest ski resort in the United States until it was superseded when a couple of others cropped up in Utah. It may seem like it is significantly smaller than other resorts with its 5,800 acres, but it is nothing to sneeze at. Because the resort is open all-year, it has become a summer escape for many tourists. Beyond the skiing, the mountain has zip-lines, hiking, and mountain biking areas. There are a lot of wild animals in the area, too, but hunting is not permitted.

4. Mt. Bachelor, Bend, Oregon

Bachelor, Bend, Oregon

Mt. Bachelor is certainly not the largest ski resort in North America, but it is still one of the most fun to visit. With 4,300 acres of land, Bachelor is straightforward, meaning you know what to expect when you go down the hill without any nasty surprises. As a perk, Bend is a fun little town to pass through and you get to enjoy the remoteness of Central Oregon.

5. Squaw Valley, California

Squaw Valley, California

If some of the more northern resorts are too far for you to venture to, you can try Squaw Valley Ski Resort. With 3,600 acres, Squaw Valley is near Lake Tahoe, one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Not far from the Nevada border, Squaw Valley feels like an escape from the nearby desert.

6. Lake Louise, Canada

Lake Louise, Canada

Heading back to the great white north, Lake Louise is the third-largest ski resort in Canada. It has been a venue for skiing since the 1920s, making it one of the oldest ski resorts in North America still running today. Lake Louise has 4,200 acres to play in, which include 145 marked sky runs. Like the majority of the mountains on our list, the resort is open all year, giving you ample opportunity to go skiing whenever you need to get out there.

7. Park City, Utah

Park City Utah – Author: Raffi Asdourian – CC BY 2.0

Situated 32 miles from Salt Lake City, Park City Mountain Resort is one of the easiest to get to on this list. The park is perhaps best-known for hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics. There is about 7,300 acres of skiable area, 324 runs, and a top elevation of 10,000 feet. You are not going to run out of things to do on this mountain. Only 15% of the runs are good for beginners, meaning this is not a good mountain to be adventurous with for newbies. If you are a snowboarder, this resort has some of the largest bowls on the entire continent. There is a reason this park is featured in Shaun White’s Xbox game.

8. Aspen, Colorado

Skiers and snowboarders ride up the iconic Lift 1A on Aspen Mountain with downtown Aspen in the background. – Author: AspenSkiingCompany – CC BY-SA 3.0

Aspen is known as one of the best ski resorts in the United States. With 76 runs, and none of them beginner level, Aspen is meant to be a fun place for ski enthusiasts who have already built their passion for it. The area is only open from November to April, making it a good spot for winter skiing, but obviously not for summer skiing. The area had a bad reputation in the early 2000s due to a ban on snowboarding, which has since been lifted.

9. Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge, Colorado

Also in Colorado, Breckenridge Ski Resort is one of the most-visited ski resorts in all of North America. Breckenridge has 32 lifts, 155 runs, and 2,908 acres of skiable area, giving you a lot to choose from. The longest run on the mountain is the Four O’clock, which is a run of 3.5 miles. The mountain not only has beginner ski runs, but has intermediate, advanced, and even expert runs. In fact, expert runs make up 36 percent of the mountain, making this a perfect place for experienced skiers looking for a new challenge.

10. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is situated along the Tetons. It is well-known for its 4,139 foot vertical drop, making it a little terrifying, but mostly exciting to ski down. There are a couple of runs that are okay for beginners, but Jackson Hole is really known for its difficult terrain, making it more of a challenge for experienced skiers. There are also areas outside the resort that can be skied on, but you really need to be an expert skier and carry avalanche safety gear with you in order to not find yourself buried.

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