A ski or snowboard holiday to the USA is high on most people’s wish lists. The country’s ski areas are famed for their big mountain scenery, light powder snow, perfectly groomed slopes and friendly welcome. Beyond the skiing itself, there are spacious, comfortable accommodation options, great dining and nightlife and the famous American expectation of high service standards delivered. Families with kids will find excellent childcare and other child-friendly facilities for all ages through childhood. In other words, what’s not to love?!
California, Colorado and Utah are America’s most popular ski states, home to world-famous resorts, including some of the best on the planet. Here we’ve chosen four resorts that exemplify the best of skiing in the USA.
The reality though is that the USA is not a close-to-home skiing destination and alas it’s not the cheapest either. The good news though is that with the right destination and some savvy choices, you can maximise your holiday by making the most of your time – and your budget!
If you’re looking for personal advice on creating your perfect ski trip in the States, Ski Safari have been tailor-making ski holidays to the USA for over 20 years. They’ve skied in all the major American resorts and regularly visit the resorts highlighted below. If you’re looking for expertise, they’re your people!
Soak up the real America and spend your slopeside adventure in Breckenridge, a former gold mining town with 2,908 acres of all-abilities skiing. Complete with clapboard houses, welcoming locals and lively evenings on the buzzing Main Street, Breckenridge has a truly authentic atmosphere.
Skiers of all-abilities can enjoy this most American of American ski towns, but with its long, satisfying, fast groomers, fun gladed runs with islands of thinly-spaced trees to ski through, manageable bump runs and gentle bowl skiing, we think that Breckenridge is best suited to upper intermediate skiers. If you’re comfortable on cruisy blues, and ready to challenge yourself on harder black runs, this is your resort.
Breckenridge has a great network of high-speed lifts that whizz you back to the top of the slopes and ensure you spend more time skiing and less sat on a lift or waiting to get on.There are fabulous views around every corner too.
How to Make the Most of Your Breckenridge Trip
To make your Breckenridge stay even better you can purchase the Summit Value Pass which includes the slopes of nearby hidden gem Keystone. This ski area has a tonne more intermediate slopes with high speed lift access and the longest ski day in Colorado with select days open until 8pm thanks to Colorado’s largest night skiing operations. If you travel after 1st April 2024 though it’s better to opt for the Keystone Plus Pass which will save you a third on the Summit Value Pass during the final weeks of the season.
10 nights self-catered at the 3*+ River Mountain Lodge in Breckenridge from £2,420pp based on 2 adults sharing a hotel room. Price based on select departures in April 2024 and includes return flights and shared transfers.
It’s no surprise that Vail is one of America’s best-known resorts, it scores highly on every count. Being created from scratch it has been designed from the start with luxury and high quality at its core, so you can expect world class ski terrain and the best in accommodation, dining, restaurants… everything really. And that’s even by the normally high US standards anyway.
There’s a great choice of stunning, slope-side luxury properties to choose from and when it comes to fine dining, Vail is hard to beat with an eclectic selection of gourmet options covering every type of cuisine you might wish for, from the most exquisite Alpine bistros to Italian, Japanese or the American-staple, steak, taken to a whole new level.
Then there’s the famous huge ski area with something for everyone and a fantastic network of comfortable high-speed chairlifts to whisk you back to the top. At 5,317 acres (8.3 square miles), it is the third-largest single-mountain ski area in the U.S. and incorporates almost 200 runs. There’s a vast choice for both intermediate and advanced skiers, including the popular gladed runs of Blue Sky Basin as well as the legendary Back Bowls.
How to Make the Most of Your Vail Trip
Both the Epic Local Pass and Epic Pass give Vail-based skiers access to the slopes of nearby Beaver Creek, an even more upmarket and exclusive resort and gated community. Although it hosts World Cup racing each winter on the super-steep Birds of Prey course there’s also lots of family-friendly terrain to enjoy with immaculately groomed blue runs. You can of course opt to stay in Beaver Creek for a few nights too if you want to make it a multi-resort trip.
10 nights self-catered at the 3*+ Vail Racquet Club Mountain Resort in Vail from £2,095pp based on two adults sharing a One Bedroom Condo. Price based on select departures in April 2024 and includes return flights and shared transfer.
Park City Mountain Resort is the biggest ski area in the USA with more than 330 separate ski runs spread over 7,300 acres of terrain and served by more than 40 lifts.
Half of the ski runs are rated ‘Expert Only’ meaning over 174 black diamond-rated trails to choose from – that’s more advanced terrain than the entire size of most North American ski areas. That terrain includes a dozen bowls to drop into and delivers an incredible selection of advanced skiing and boarding that’s hardly equalled anywhere in the skiing world.
Add to this the fact that Utah is famed for being home to “the greatest snow on earth” (they’ve even trademarked the phrase and put it on car license plates from the state), meaning abundant feather light powder, and it’s a really winning combination.
Although not obvious when you first arrive at the base of the slopes, there’s a vast maze of bumps, trees and super steep runs. It’s just that most of the expert terrain is located towards the back of the mountain, hidden from immediate view.
Two of the best-loved expert sectors are Jupiter Bowl and McConkey’s, both choc-full of short, steep black and double black runs, as well as gladed trails and when conditions are right, perfect powder. Jupiter Bowl, accessed by the Jupiter lift, is famous for still having untracked powder days after a storm, with runs like 6 Bells and Dead Tree particularly challenging. Scott’s Bowl, meanwhile, offers endless options for dropping off the ridge you traverse from the chairlift. For a bigger vertical it’s about a 5-minute bootpack hike up to the top of Jupiter Peak.
How to Make the Most of Your Park City Trip
Having made it to Utah it’s easy to add on a road trip to some of the state’s world-famous national parks, such as Arches, Zion and Bryce Canyon, perhaps taking in the state’s adventure sport capital. What’s so fantastic about heading to Utah for a ski trip is that Park City is just a short drive from Salt Lake City Airport, so you can easily fly and ski on the same day!
If it’s sunny skies you’re after on your epic American ski adventure, it is hard to beat California and the fabulous Heavenly Mountain Resort. One of America’s biggest ski areas with 4,800 acres of fantastic terrain, its impressive stats also include an average of 300 days of Californian sunshine a year, although it also manages to rack up some serious powder snowfall totals too – perhaps it all arrives at night?
The icing on the cake besides the sun and snow are the most incredible views of the sapphire-blue waters of Lake Tahoe from the slopes and fabulous long runs plunging down the mountainside.
There’s a great range of runs from numerous great groomers for beginners and intermediates or anyone who just like to rip it up to some of the best double black diamond rated (that’s the toughest in North America) freeride terrain and tree skiing.
How to Make the Most of Your Heavenly Trip
If you visit Heavenly you can ski for no additional cost at nearby Northstar and Kirkwood resorts by using the Tahoe Value Pass. You can opt to have a multi-resort trip and actually stay in one or both of these other two great centres as well if you wish. Northstar offers a family-friendly, all-round ski experience whilst Kirkwood has a strong reputation with more advanced skiers. And why not add a San Francisco city break to your package, perhaps seeing Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown and the Golden Gate Bridge to make your trip even more memorable?
10 nights self-catered at the 3*+ Lakeland Village in Heavenly from £2,235pp based on two adults sharing a Lodge Deluxe Studio. Price based on select departures in April 2024 and includes return flights and car hire.
Having skied there extensively, Ski Safari know their American resorts well and can vouch that these for as representing the best of skiing in the USA.
Established in 1996, Ski Safari is one of the UK’s leading ski holiday tour operators to North America, Japan, Scandinavia and Switzerland. With more than 20 years of experience Ski Safari feature 75 ski resorts worldwide, specialising in extraordinary multi-resort ski holidays and city add-ons.
Visit skisafari.com or call 01273 224060.
We have a regular Podcast called The White Out where we review the latest gear, talk about the latest snow forecast and updates on where is best to ski now, as well interviews with absolute ski legends AND we spotlight a resort every week and so much more. You can check out our regular podcast here Apple | Spotify | Podcasts or search The White Out on your chosen podcast directory.