Best Ski Vacations in the USA
For those who embrace winter's icy winds and heavy snowfall, a ski vacation is the perfect getaway. The U.S. News ranking of the top domestic ski destinations weighs the most important considerations: accessibility, accommodations, acreage and annual snowfall, along with expert recommendations and readers' top picks. Have a favorite slope? Vote to help determine next year's list.
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Situated about 80 miles southwest of downtown Denver, Breckenridge offers travelers nearly 3,000 acres of skiable terrain spread across 187 trails. And with annual snowfalls averaging roughly 300 inches every winter, odds are you'll enjoy superb conditions while on the mountain. Breckenridge Ski Resort is a great spot for both novice and expert skiers, while the Breckenridge Nordic Center is an excellent place to go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
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This Utah ski haven roughly 30 miles southeast of Salt Lake City played host to the 2002 Winter Olympics. The two premier resorts, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain, offer dozens of diverse runs and unique features like half-pipes for snowboarders. Sports fans will enjoy visiting the Utah Olympic Park, while families will appreciate the kid-friendly Gorgoza Park. What's more, the presence of the city's many luxury accommodations and dining venues up the après-ski ante.
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The chilly temperatures and powder-covered slopes in this Wyoming valley beckon to avid skiers and snowboarders. Though Jackson Hole Mountain Resort features some of the region's best trails, downhill devotees can also hit the slopes at Snow King and Grand Targhee resorts. After shredding powder, take a tour of the National Elk Refuge or a dip in the Granite Hot Springs, the latter of which is heated to 112 degrees during the winter.
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Vail, Colorado, is one of the country's most popular wintertime destinations thanks to its two top-notch ski areas: Vail Ski Resort and Beaver Creek Resort. Both ski resorts boast more than 7,000 skiable acres, offering a combined total of 345 ski trails. The nearby mountain ranges also feature a variety of cross-country paths. But be prepared to splurge: Lodging here is pricey during ski season.
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Steamboat Springs, Colorado's six peaks feature roughly 3,000 acres of trails, making the city a popular place for skiers who desire variety. Visitors will find everything from expert chutes to kid-friendly ski areas here. For travelers who prefer snowboarding, the mountain offers three terrain parks. Following a busy day on the slopes, vacationers can head to Strawberry Park Hot Springs to enjoy a relaxing soak in 104-degree mineral springs.
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Big Sky, MT#6 in Best Ski Vacations in the USA
Home to nearly 6,000 skiable acres, Big Sky in southwestern Montana offers plenty of powder for winter sports enthusiasts. Excellent ski conditions are practically guaranteed here thanks to an annual snowfall total of about 400 inches. After a day of zipping down ski runs, travelers can head to the Mountain Village to relax with a drink by the fire or enjoy a meal at one of the many eateries in town.
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With more than 2,000 skiable acres, this Colorado town draws snow lovers in droves. The massive Telluride Ski Resort boasts 148 trails and a 4,425-foot vertical drop. Once the lifts shut down for the day, the chalets in Mountain Village provide a warm place to thaw. While you'll likely stay close to the slopes, make sure to pencil in time for exploring the boutiques and eateries lining downtown's charming Main Street.
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This tried-and-true winter locale in Colorado caters to all skill levels at its four major ski areas – Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands. And for backcountry skiers, the nearby White River National Forest provides plenty of picturesque cross-country skiing trails. At the end of a long day on the slopes, unwind with a drink at the popular Aspen Brewing Company or venture to Glenwood Springs to take a dip in its famous hot springs.
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Lake Tahoe is beautiful from any vantage point, but the California-Nevada area is quite stunning from the slopes. Ski areas like Heavenly, Squaw Valley and Northstar California resorts lure powder hounds from around the U.S. with their thousands of acres of skiable terrain. Keep in mind, room rates here can be pricey, so consider making reservations in advance or booking a vacation rental to share with family and friends.
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This region in central New York is an East Coast skier's dream. The area around the 11 lakes offers perfect mountain conditions thanks to the huge deposits of lake-effect snow that blanket the region annually. Bristol Mountain, which is home to the highest vertical rise between the Rockies and the Adirondack Mountains, and Greek Peak Mountain Resort are the region's major ski destinations. What's more, the Finger Lakes area boasts miles of groomed trails and parks that are ideal for cross-country skiing.
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Taos, NM#11 in Best Ski Vacations in the USA
Taos is often lauded for its small-town charm, but what many don't know is that it's also touted as the best place to ski in New Mexico. Taos Ski Valley accrues more than 300 inches of snow per year and features 110 trails, 51% of which cater to expert skiers thanks to the resort's placement on the sky-high Kachina Peak. Beginners will appreciate its equally impressive bevy of easier runs, while budget-conscious travelers will love the abundant low-cost accommodation options available throughout the area.
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Sun Valley is one of America's oldest ski spots. Located just east of Ketchum, Idaho, Sun Valley appeals to skiers who seek affordability (in comparison to other top skiing destinations), exceptional powder (220-plus inches of snow fall here every year) and top-notch trails (121, to be exact). When winter sports enthusiasts are not traversing Sun Valley Resort's downhill trails, they can enjoy more than 25 miles of Nordic trails at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center.
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