Best Rocky Mountain Ski Resorts

When it comes to great ski destinations, the Rocky Mountains really delivers. The massive mountain range spans from central New Mexico all the way to the Liard River in Canada, with peaks reaching heights of as much as 14,433 feet (that’s the elevation of Mount Elbert in Colorado, for all the explorers out there). Of course, a great skiing spot isn’t just about elevation - prime powder also has a great deal to do with it. While each of these towns are located in the Rocky Mountains, what they can offer to skiers differs greatly between them (it goes without saying that the powder in Taos is distinct from what you’ll find in Aspen or Whistler).

Park City, Utah

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Home to the ski-jumping portion of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, it’s no wonder that Park City has some of the best slopes in North America. After visiting Utah Olympic Park, head to the ski resort to try your hand at one of the many runs (Park City Mountain Resort spans 1,750 acres). There are 19 lifts to choose from and slopes for skiers of all ages and abilities.

Banff, Alberta, Canada

In the heart of Banff National Park you’ll find nearly 8,000 acres of skiable terrain. Banff has one of the longest ski seasons in North America and the park has been declared a world heritage site. Beginners will find plenty of blue and green runs, while experts can navigate the many chutes, bowls and steeps in the park. After a long day of hitting the slopes, cozy up at a bed and breakfast in Banff or nearby Calgary.

Aspen, Colorado

Long a winter playground of the rich and famous, Aspen is a must-see for avid skiers. There are four major ski areas near the city: Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Snowmass and Aspen Highlands. Be sure to stick to designated ski areas, because avalanches occasionally occur in the backcountry. Try planning a trip for spring or fall when there are fewer tourists.

Whistler, British Columbia

When the Whistler and Blackcomb, Rocky Mountain ski resorts merged in 1997, they became the largest ski area in North America, with more than 8,000 acres of skiing and snowboarding areas. Whistler-Blackcomb hosted the alpine skiing events for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, and the two mountains have a combined 200 marked runs. You can buy lift tickets or season passes.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

If you want a more peaceful and isolated skiing experience, travel to Jackson Hole - it’s surrounded by miles of forest in every direction. Located just on the edge of Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole has easy access to excellent powder. The difficulty of the runs range from beginner to expert, and travelers have several lifts from which to choose, including the new 100 passenger aerial tram.

Libby, Montana

Located less than 30 miles from Libby, Turner Mountain is known for its excellent snow conditions and wide-open slopes. The mountain has 22 named runs that range from “beginner” to “black diamond” in difficulty. For a more romantic skiing experience, you can rent an entire hill on non-operational days. The mountain only has one double chair lift, but its uniqueness makes up for it.

Telluride, Colorado

While it may be most famous for its annual film festival, Telluride also has its fair share of top skiing spots - 1,700, in fact. While the area has many killer slopes, there’s also plenty of tame powder available for novices - Telluride has been named one of North America’s top 10 ski areas by both “SKI” and “Skiing” magazines.

Salt Lake City, Utah

The official home of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, Salt Lake City has four world-class ski resorts just minutes from the airport: Alta, Brighton, Solitude and Snowbird. The super pass can be redeemed at any of the resorts (one per day). You can purchase anywhere from one to 10 days worth of skiing, but the lift pass has to be used within a seven or 14-day window.

Golden, British Columbia

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden is one of the newer resorts in the Rocky Mountains, but it contains the fourth-highest vertical drop in North America - only 6 feet shy of the one found in Jackson Hole. It has more than 120 runs and 2,800 skiable acres.