With almost 500 ski resorts, the USA presents a distinct challenge to both the experienced skier, and the winter-loving tourist. I mean, even if you have all of the ski resorts printed out in one catalogue, each resort taking just one page, you’ll be left with a chunky book as heavy as a brick.
But things become simpler once you know what you want. Today, for instance, we felt like some extra winter pampering, so we’re delving into the best luxury ski resorts in the USA.
Of course, on your behalf, because hey – even if you’re just looking for luxury ski resorts in the USA, 500 is still a formidable number. Most resorts out there offer one kind of luxury service or another, which makes it even more challenging to sift through all of them.
But we already did that for you.
So, it’s time for some pampering – pour yourself a glass of wine (or coffee, or a can of beer!) kick back, and join us in a brief – but useful – overview of the best luxury ski resorts in the USA.
If you’re looking to get a taste of ski resort luxuries, Breckenridge (or Breck in short) makes for a good starting point. Why are we saying this? Well, last season, Breckenridge made it to the number one spot of the most visited resorts in the US. And there are plenty of reasons to do so, not the least of which is its famous Imperial Express Super Lift, that drops skiers at the mindblowing height of 12,480 ft. But there are other kinds of heights to reach in Breckenridge too. The scenic town has tons of accomodation options for everyone’s budget (pampering included), and offers fine dining for everyone’s taste. And did we mention the notorious nightlife? Take us at our word, Breck is not to be missed!
- Has the highest lift in North America – the Imperial Express Super Lift!
- Bustling mining town with historic saloons and chill vibes
- Wide range of lodgings, from the very modest to the super luxurious
- Epic wind chill, so put on some extra clothing
- It can get really crowded
- The snow can get blown and frozen into crusty shells, ouch
Known for: Quality alpine skiing, charming town brimming with food and bustling crowds of people, and lots of fun!
Ski Terrains & Snow Quality
Breckenridge is popular because of its nice selection of ski terrains as well. The runs are spread out over five mountain peaks with a total of 2,908 ac of skiable terrain. There are plenty of mild runs for novice skiers, while experts will get their adrenaline pumping from all the hair-raising chutes and expansive bowls. In addition all of that, there is an almost innumerable number of groomers, glades and moguls to keep things interesting.
Likewise, Breckenridge’s elevation makes sure that the snow won’t be melting any time soon, so you can forget your worries. The snow here resembles perfectly smooth, fine flour. But put on an extra jumper and put on another pair of socks, because it can get rather cold here. Which, on the other hand, means excellent snow!
Town & Crowds
If you’re primarily looking for luxury and a good time, Breckenridge’s central town area is the place for you. The town is known for its energetic nightlife, with tons of shopping, drinking, and dining options during the day. Breckenridge Town is also rich with history, having served as a mining town a century ago. This lends it an aura of rustic authenticity, as exemplified in some of its original drinking saloons, like taken straight out of a Western movie, strewn around town. After a long day of skiing and freezing on the impressive mountain slopes, Breckenridge Town offers soothing opportunities to relax and wind down. After you restore your energy levels, you can go skiing or partying again. What’s not to like!
Did we mention that Breckenridge was hella popular? That means that sadly (or luckily) it’s almost always kinda crowded. But one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Those who love to party and socialize will feel right at home in Breck. But even if you’re more of an introvert, there are many cozy, quiet après ski options to enjoy here. So, to each their own, because Breck has it all.
Breckenridge Ski Resort has something for everyone, which also means tasteful, wintry fine dining and luxury accommodations for those seeking to enjoy life to the fullest. Its skiing terrains and entertainment options are not to be dismissed either, because Breck offers some spectacular skiing and unforgettable nightlife as well!
Steamboat is the home of the first ski hill in Colorado, and has hosted more Winter Olympians than any other ski resort in the entirety of the US. But why did Americans start skiing here first? That’s a question for historians to answer in full, but we suspect it has something to do with its cowboy country charm – after all, why stop at rodeo, right? Skiing can be just as fun! But its rustic charm comes packed with some of the best geothermal spa experiences available in the US too, which is why it made our list. If you want to be pampered – by nature, no less – then Steamboat Springs is definitely worth checking out!
- Top-notch glade skiing experience
- Some of the best snow in the US (“Champagne” powder)
- Little to no crowds
- Steamboat’s geothermal hot springs are super relaxing
- You’ll feel like you’re in a Western movie
- The lower half of the mountain can sometimes offer poor snow quality
- Kinda far – Steamboat is located further from Denver than most Colorado resorts
- Lodging and dining can be pricey due to the limited capacity
Known for: World-class glade skiing, with a side dish of an energizing geothermal spa that will rock your socks off!
Ski Terrains & Snow Quality
Steamboat Springs has some of the best quality snow anywhere in the USA. Most of what you’ll get here is perfect, velvety “champagne” powder, which, dare we say, is a luxury in itself. But there may be some exceptions – the snow on the lower half of the mountain may sometimes melt, so if you intend to skin on the whole mountain, your best bet is visiting in the dead of winter. And there is plenty of mountain to ski on here! Steamboat boasts 2,965 ac of diverse ski runs, but its crown jewel is the glade skiing – which is unmatched in all of Colorado. The tree runs are diverse as well, offering thrills to novice and expert skiers alike.
Town & Crowds
Did we mention that Steamboat is a bit remote? Depending on your priorities, that can either be a boon or a flaw. It’s one of the ski resorts in Colorado that are situated the farthest from Denver, so if it gets crowded, it’s because it’s hosting the Olympics or something. Or, sometimes, it’s just the weekend.
But fewer people means that you can enjoy the rustic charms of its historic town to the fullest. Steamboat’s central town area is like a scene torn out straight from a spaghetti Western – unique and magical in its authenticity. But don’t let the retro looks fool you, Steamboat Springs is chock full of fine dining options, both modest and pricey accommodation, and of course, the geothermal spa. Don’t leave Steamboat Springs without experiencing this natural luxury. It does wonders for your mind and body, and the memory of this unique pleasure will stay with you for a long time.
If you can brave the snows and the distance, and can afford the lodging and the luxurious geothermal spa, then don’t think twice about paying Steamboat Springs a nice, soothing visit.
Vail is, as the saying goes, “Like nothing on Earth”! And you know what? It’s absolutely true. Vail is one of the most popular ski resorts in the US, with crowds flowing through it like a river of ants, vying for a taste of its scenic village (and its heated sidewalks), infinite après ski activities and exciting skiing. But that being said, Vail’s prices are also “like nothing else on Earth,” especially when it comes to lift tickets. But you know what? It’s totally worth it. Let us tell you why.
- Vail has the largest ski area in Colorado
- Its European-style village is super charming
- Skiing pleasure is unparalleled, thanks to the long, wide runs with top-notch grooming
- Plenty of activities once you’re done skiing
- While Vail is huge, the crowds can still get annoying
- One of the more pricey places to ski
- Vail has gentle slopes, so some can find the lack of steep terrain… lacking
- Which one do you prefer, “corporate polish” or “local charm”? Vail is the former.
- On the off-chance that a snowstorm closes Vail pass, you can get stuck in the town
Known for: Vail is practically the destination ski resort that all other ski resorts want to be! Vail has it all, which makes it really “like nothing on Earth!”
Ski Terrains & Snow Quality
Boasting an immense 5,289 acres of skiing terrain, Vail is the undisputable champion of Colorado, and one of the largest ski resorts in the entire North American continent. Its sheer size covers a wide variety of skiing terrain. The front-side is known for its green and blue groomers and exciting back bowls including the famous China bowl and Blue Sky Basin, which are perfect for incurable powderhounds who can’t get enough glades, bumps, and steeps.
But how’s the snow, you ask. Well, let us share the fact that Vail sees a generous amount of snowfall every year, averaging 360 inches per year. But even if, for some reason, nature decides to get stingy on this perfect snow – no reason to worry! Vail is equipped with extensive snowmaking capabilities, making sure that you’ll enjoy your run no matter what.
Town & Crowds
But just what makes Vail like “nothing on Earth”? Well, a huge part of that is definitely its scenic village, which makes for perfect photos, lots of them Insta worthy too! Besides its charming looks, Vail village also offers tons of fine dining, lodging, and entertainment options, for everyone’s budget – although truth be told, it leans to the expensive side. Golden Peak, Lionshead, and Vail Village proper all offer an impressive assortment of après ski activities, so you can pick and choose to your heart’s content. But if you want luxury, you’ll get luxury here, because in Vail, even the sidewalks are heated and will keep your feet warm.
Sadly, or luckily, Vail can get almost unbearably crowded. For some, this can just add to the excitement and ramp up the good time, but for others who seek some quiet, Vail can get too noisy. Still, paying Vail a visit and splitting can be rather quick, since it’s relatively close to a regional airport. But if you happen to land at Denver International Airport and then proceed by car on the I-70, you should check the weather report first. The highway has been known to get completely shut down during heavy snowstorms, and you definitely don’t want to get stuck in the middle of the road. Plan accordingly and it should be a breeze.
Vail is not the most popular Colorado ski resort for nothing. It’s one of the largest in North America, and offers a luxurious buffet of both skiing options and almost endless entertainment services. Ultra fine snow, exciting ski runs, and heated sidewalks? Vail is, indeed, like nothing on Earth!
Aspen really needs no introduction, does it? It is America’s premiere ski destination for the rich and the famous, growing into an symbol of living the American Dream over the 70 years since it has been open. But Aspen began small, and gradually grew into this impressive world-known ski resort. Today, Aspen is strewn around four main ski areas: Aspen proper (also known as Ajax Mountain), then Buttermilk, Snowmass, and the Aspen Highlands. If this feels overwhelming to you, though, relax. All of these areas are interlinked by a comfortable shuttle system which you can access with a single ticket, flying over one of the most iconic skiing towns in the world. Oh and also, please don’t try to recreate those funny scenes from Dumb & Dumber! Yes, your tongue can get glued in place, and yes, trying to unglue it does hurt.
- Four huge, distinct ski areas
- One ticket gets you literally everywhere
- Some of the world’s best ski lift systems
- Someone at Aspen is a perfectionist – this resort has impeccably groomed slopes
- The central town is as good as it gets, and offers generous après ski activities
- Makes you wish it was closer to the airport
- If you want to reach the terrain above the treeline, you’ll need to hike
- More lifts wouldn’t hurt
- The snowfall can be inconsistent at times
- High-end pricing, so gauge your pampering accordingly
Known for: Aspen is known for… Well, literally everything that Aspen is. It has an iconic ski town with tons of stuff to do, but the ease of access around its four distinct ski areas also gets a lot of word of mouth going. Did we mention Dumb & Dumber?
Ski Terrains & Snow Quality
We’re not gonna lie, Aspen is more or less the ultimate ski destination for the rich and famous. But also, for everyone else. That’s because there’s plenty of room – Aspen Mountain possesses more than 5,550 acres of skiable terrain divided into four huge, but distinct ski areas. These are Aspen proper (aka Ajax Mountain), Snowmass, Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands.
If you’re coming to Aspen for some quality skiing, then your destination of choice should definitely be Aspen Highlands (due to the fewer crowds) or Snowmass. Aspen Highlands’ famous Highland Bowl packs 1,040 ac of backcountry in-bounds, at the whopping elevation of 12,392 feet. Sounds extreme? That’s because it is.
But as we said, Aspen Mountain has something for everyone. For those looking for some moderate winter workouts or intermediate level skiing experiences, there are the wonderful ski runs at Buttermilk and Snowmass.
And the best part? You can move from one mountain to the other with ease. All of Aspen Mountain’s four main areas are linked by a one-ticket shuttle system, making traversal around this immense ski resort a real breeze.
And finally, how’s the snow? Well, it’s excellent. But mostly excellent. Aspen Mountain can be a bit unreliable with its snowfall rates, which can sometimes result in thin snow or rocky steeps. This doesn’t always happen, but as they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry! So, be sure to check the weather forecast before you book that trip to Aspen.
Town & Crowds
Naturally, being one of the most popular ski resorts in the USA, and perhaps even the world – Aspen can get very crowded.
Among other reasons, that’s also because Aspen Town is the undisputed king of après ski activities, with nearly endless dining and nightlife options. From the family friendly festivals at Wintersköl known for their beautiful ice carvings and fireworks, all the way to live DJ sessions at the famous Ajax Tavern, Aspen Mountain has everything for everyone. Yes, even for the powderhounds! If you can’t get enough of winter sports, head over to one of Aspen’s many annual Winter X Games events, and feast your soul on the world’s best snowboard and ski acrobatics.
But all of this comes at a price. And it kinda should, because you get a really high value from Aspen in return! If you have the means and the time to visit Aspen, you’ll never regret it. You also might get your hand on a celebrity’s autograph or two. Which, as you can guess, also brings in the crowds. Oh, well!
What more can be said about Aspen? It’s a world-class ski resort, offering you everything you can imagine. Yes, luxuries included. So if you’re looking for a world-class winter wonderland experience with tons of entertainment and sports activities, don’t hesitate and book a trip to Aspen Mountain. You won’t regret it!
But hey, this is a list of the best luxury ski resorts in the USA, you know. Not a list of merely the best ski resorts. And when it comes to unique and luxury experiences, we have to say that Beaver Creek comes up first. It has what all the other ski resorts have, and more. A smaller town just ten minutes west of Vail, Beaver Creek sees fewer, but more select crowds. The ski runs are groomed to perfection. The village itself is designed from the ground up for pampering – including a performing arts center offering everything from famous Broadway plays to the best snowboarding movies. Wanna have the absolute best? Beaver Creek has the absolute best.
- World-class terrain grooming
- Great snow conditions are virtually guaranteed at all times
- Fewer crowds, meaning an efficient ski lift system with short waiting lines
- Free chocolate chip cookies every afternoon
- Performing arts center for those who are artistically inclined
- Can be more expensive than the other resorts on this list
- If you’re into bowl skiing your options will be limited
- Lack of skiable terrain above the treeline
Known for: Immaculate skiing experience combined with luxurious off-the-trail pampering.
Ski Terrains & Snow Quality
Beaver Creek is kinda close to Vail, but unlike Vail, it lacks that high-alpine terrain which means there are hardly any runs above the treeline. However, for what it lacks, Beaver Creek makes up tenfold. The terrain is impeccably groomed, making for the flawless skiing experience, and even putting its Birds of Prey downhill run on the track roster for the World Cup tour. And if impeccable grooming and world-cup-worthy runs weren’t enough, Beaver Creek has excellent snowmaking capabilities as well, making sure that everyone gets the perfect skiing experience at all times.
The snow is, needless to say, perfect.
But who is it for? Well… Everyone. Beginner and intermediate runs make the majority of the tracks, but rest assured, Beaver Creek throws challenges at the feet of experienced powderhounds too! And it does all that while at the same time offering wonderfully scenic views of the area. The traversal of which is also effortless – high-speed ski lifts abound in Beaver Creek, making the whole experience even more pleasurable!
Town & Crowds
But what can you do when you come down from the slopes and want to chill for a while? Well, here’s where the fun starts. The Beaver Creek base village was purposely built to serve the needs of the resort, which means that everything here exists for your own needs and pleasures. This intentional design makes the village compact and easy to navigate, while offering tons of off-slope activities, including shopping, fine dining, and even a performing arts center.
After you’ve shopped and dined to your heart’s content, and ennobled your soul with art and beauty, all it takes to get back to the glittering snow slopes is… An escalator. Yes. Because who needs stairs, trails, or waiting in lines for the next ski lift when you can have the comfortable efficiency of an escalator? Everything in Beaver Creek is designed with extravagance and comfort in mind, so if you’re looking for a pampering weekend getaway on a snowy mountain, this is the place for maximum self-love!
Oh, and did we mention there are almost no crowds? Nearby Vail seems to whisk most of the noise away, while remaining accessible in case you wish to go and mingle for a while. Perfect.
Beaver Creek may be small, but it’s precious. The perfection of its skiing terrains, along with the extravagance of its central village area leave very little else to desire. So, if you’re looking for a luxurious stay at an almost perfect ski resort, look no further – that’s definitely Beaver Creek.