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November 09, 2009

Ski Resort Smackdown: Defend Your Favorite!



By awayblog
11/09/2009

comments Comments (56)

Ski-contest
SICK DAY: Skier at Jackson Hole, Wyoming (courtesy, JHMR)

Based on a wide variety of attributes, input from an army of snow-a-holic freelance writers, and our own not-so-humble opinions, we’ve selected our top 10 ski resorts in North America (see below). But, the Web being a democratic place, we know our say isn’t the final word. So, if you think we missed one, let us know—DEFEND YOUR FAVORITE RESORT in 150 words or less and the snow enthusiast who makes the most convincing case will win over $400 worth of ski apparel from Outdoor Research.

Join the fray in the comments section below. Did your fave make our list? Great, then tell us how we got it right—and then some. Don't see your hill? Convince us why we're wrong. You have until midnight on Friday, November 20 to make your case. (Click here to download a copy of the official rules.)

Top North American Ski Resorts:
Alta (UT)
Arapahoe Basin
(CO)
Jackson Hole (WY)
Killington (VT)
Mammoth Mountain (CA)
Sun Valley (ID)
Taos (NM)
The Canyons (UT)
Vail (CO)
Whistler-Blackcomb (British Columbia)


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Without a doubt... Vail, Colorado is the best place to go skiing. The back bowls are something almost no other resort can claim. Europeans come to the states just to ski them. Not only that, but they have great restraunts and lodging options. We brought the kids and luckily they were old enough to stay in the vacation condo we rented on keyvacationrentals.com all by their lonesomes. So for the skiing and friendly family environent I choose Vail hands down!

Where else can you ride a whole vertical mile …
in rugged, rough, raw, sick Canadian style?

With 8000 acres and 200 trails …
and half-pipes, and jumps, slalom, boxes and rails?

It’s Whistler and Blackcomb, just north of our border,
that beckons to drive Sea to Sky in short order!

We love cruising aloft from peak tip to peak tip …
from above scoping sweet lines to poach and to rip.

Even more we love days packed with powder to pillage …
and nights sipping toddies slope-side in the village.

Between backcountry, slackcountry, groomers, and steeps ...
Whistler/Blackcomb delivers for all of our peeps.

The number one reason to head north for some hoots?
Those wacky Canucks with their “ehs” and “a-boots”! :)

Do you want to leave your condo, walk 10 minutes to a trolley stop, wait 20 minutes for the trolley, spend another 20 minutes on the trolley, to get to the ski area and pay $100 for a lift ticket and spend the day trying to find your kids/friends/husband/wife on the mountain? Then you probably won't enjoy Red River's family-friendly, mile-long stretch of happiness nestled in the northern mountains of New Mexico. You can step out your door and be walking distance from equipment rentals, tickets, coffee, ice cream, snowmobile tours, ski lifts, and a mountain that has runs suitable for everyone, no matter the experience level. It's like being home, but way cooler.

Purgatory! (DMR, whatevs.) Skiing here was my therapy two winters ago when I was going through a rough personal patch. Everyone's friendly, yet you always see people you know from town and there's little to no pretension. Come ski, fall down, be of Olympic quality--whatever your style, it's no big deal here. AND you can soak at Trimble Hot Springs just down the road afterward...aahhhh, heaven.

We're pretty fond of Red River, New Mexico. Just 35 miles past Taos, 2 of Red River's chair lifts leave from the CENTER of town so you don't have to park a mile away and haul all of your gear up. The whole town is 1 mile long so you can park at your lodge or cabin and walk everywhere (plenty of shopping and dining). Lodging is still very reasonable ($100-$125 night for 4 people) and lift tickets are a mere $61 (but great specials like 4th day free and BOGO for NM residents make them way cheaper). Red River is a very family friendly ski area, and if you want to travel without the kids you'll enjoy Red River's nightlife. We love it and we know you will too!

Copper Mountain Colorado! The staff here is extremely friendly. The mountain is divided in half and one portion is dedicated to the advanced skiiers and spring breakers and the oposite side is perfect for families. This way you don't have olympic skiiers running over children as they head for the lift. My family and I will never go anywhere else. Nearby Dillon, CO has excellent 50% off discounts on rentals. Definitely a MUST SEE! You'll never go anywhere else.

Crested Butte is my favorite ski destination. Great snow, great town, great mountain...

I like the location, far enough from Denver it's not so crowded. Early snow, spring snow, it's really got it.

But since it's the 1st Colorado mountain I skied, & the 1st mountain my family skied, I really like it.

Taos: My heaven is hidden away, tucked in the mountains, surrounded by the desert of New Mexico. “No, not Mexico--New Mexico” I tell my friends when they ask about my winter break plans. Like any “world class” Cancun beach resort could serve a beer as delightful as one enjoyed on the porch of the St. Bernard, as skiers topple down Al’s Run in plain site. “Don’t worry: this is only 1/30 of the mountain,” the sign promises. Trust me, those other 29/30 are pure bliss. Long snaky mogul runs wind through tight trees, offering a sort of peace you’d expect in New Mexico, and often snow deeper than you’d expect anywhere. And that’s not all- The Ridge. The view alone is worth the hike, and the runs, fresher for the effort you have to put it, are simply spectacular.

Alta is the hands-down favorite on this lift. Small, quirky, not the best layout of the slopes, but amazing snow. NO snowboarders to fight with, and overall everything else – the Alta Peruvian Lodge. Even quirkier than the slopes, this is a place where you can cram in four strangers in a room smaller than a regular walk-in closet, have a great time, and make friends for life. Not inexpensive, but almost worth it, even compared to big brother down the hill, Snowbird. Just “hanging” locked up at Peruvian due to avalanche danger and watching the snow fall outside is an experience in itself.
Then, where else can you have a taste of “Polygamy Porter”?
The fact that there are no "heated sidewalks" just makes it a true gem!

I like the small hills better than the big mountains. Nestled near a valley full of vineyards and small lakes is a village called Bristol, NY just between Rochester and another small town called Naples. They have a wonderful selection of trails for everyone from the beginner to the competitive skier or snowboarder. My older teenage girls love the park atop the hill for boards. My youngest daredevil loves to watch the competitions and nationally ranked skiers and boarders that come. She loves all of their trails. We go together as a family each Saturday. They have a wonderful knowledgable staff at the rental or repair shop if you need it. It is very budget friendly too with Wegmans night costing the same as our kid's school ski club. Wonderfully groomed and maintained ski park and facilites. Friendly staff.

vail is not just a mountain, its a world of it's own. you don't even have to ski to be part of the skiing. you can take the gondola to the top, enjoy the 360 panoramic view, sip hot cocoa, watch skiiers all day, go back down and never even have put on a pair of skiis. the mountain and views command you participate in the skiing experience. waking up to the gore range surpasses any spiritual experience i've ever had. the charming european flair of vail village, the meandering covered bridge, and the artistic lighting, flowers, and art take you to the far away fantasy of the world class people vail attracts. you are never the same after vail. you are bigger and you are better. those outdoor hot tubs and pools with the steam in the evening rising to the clear starry night, the smell of those fireplaces, the softness of the snowflakes, the laughter of the tourists....the squeaking of those ski boots in the snow..keeps me coming back to vail for more and more and more. the rest of the year is about waiting...for the mountain to open..only to do it all one more time. vail is king. the restaurants are all great, the dobson ice rink warm and fun, the ski museum so very interesting. it
s easy in and out for parking, easy shuttle bus for getting around, small enough to walk everywhere and big enough to blow your mind. its perfect for familys or lovers or singles. it is truly the 360 degree experience. vail valley is not only a fierce mountain, it is also a place that embraces beginners and challenges the advanced. when i go to vail i know i surround myself with winners. that mountain is a champion.

Whistler/Blackcombe definitely grabs my vote. Whether you drive in from Vancouver along the sea to sky highway or come up through Pemberton along the Lillooet highway, the drive in both cases very different but absolutely breath taking.
Whistler and Blackcombe offer different levels of skiing for everyone. Whistler in my opinion is the easier skiing mountain which lends itself very nicely to family trips. Blackcombe on the other hand is out there for the skier who appreciates a higher level of skilled skiing or snowboarding activities and thrills. The two Mountains are right beside each other and are now linked by a gondola stretching from one peak to the other.
Fantastic ski resort.

Durango Mountain Resort is the best ski resort west of the Mississippi. With a summit elevation of 10,822 there are85 Trails with the following ratings: 21% Beginner,46% Intermediate, 33% Advanced/Expert. They offer a low ticket price and often have many package deals, local cupons and discount ski days. This family friendly resort offers class and schools for the little ones all the way up to adults, with "She-Ride" the all womens clinic held here twice a year. Only a few hours from the glitz of Telluride and local hotspot,Wolf creek; this resort has all the family fun that neither of these resort can provide.

I started skiing in Utah at age 8 and skied all over ,Washington state,Nevada,Utah, Colorado,Vail But going HOME to Snow Basin in Ogden canyon in N.Utah after a fresh dump of POWDER on a sunny day Is HEAVEN on EARTH.Thank you Utah and The Standard Examiner for the LEARN TO SKI campaign to increase interest in the sport $10 got me out of school early every Friday,with grade standards to meet for the privilege of become a heather and very HAPPY SKI-Alcoholic Kevin

Sugarloaf has got to be the best ski resort in the northeast. This mountain may not have the best snow in the US but its got great terrain and the best bars out of any mountain i have ever been to. I mean theres a pub in the middle of the mountain. Sounds crazy right well welcome to maine. On top of all of that its also got a great park and theres tons of chairs so theres always a lift with a short line. Located in the middle of the Bigelow Mountain Range the lift ride is always a good time to. Its got great views and on a good day you can see Mount Washington standing in the middle of nowhere. Where else can you find that. So long story short SKI MAINE.

Alta is absolutely the best. Great powder, no lines, reasonable price, usually great weather, & it's one of the last SKIER mountains!!!! Alta is sun & fun in the deep stuff.

Just flying into Jackson Hole will give you a rush. The Tetons to the west, the cowboy town and that glorious huge mountain. It's only as tough as you want to make it. When the percentage of green is a percentage of a huge mountain, that's alot of green. But if you want Corbet's it's there for you. Sign up for the Verticle Lift Club. On this mountain you'll never want to stop and 25,000 feet of verticle will come quickly - and you'll earn that trip to the hottub. It's all there and it's there for everyone. So take a trip up the tram and see from the top of the world. Ski whatever part of the mountain suits YOU and then relax at the Mangy Moose. You'll swear you're coming back again and again. And you will!

THE CANYONS RESORT ROCKS! My family and I are addicted to their terrain. You have to wait in one line in the morning but then the rest of the day is free and clear! Our record is 37 runs in one day! Never been possible before at other resorts.

Whistler-Blackcomb (British Columbia) - gets my vote! The winding road leading to the resort takes away your breathe. The sea rises to the occasional to gently spray the shore enhancing your drive through winding roads with mountains shining over the horizon. Then when you arrive, the majestic mountains takes away your breathe as if God kissed this very spot. The beauty sings in every tree, snow flake and path.

We've been skiing Taos since 1959 - only serious skiers need apply. At first, the area had one beginner run, two intermediate runs, and the rest were expert or super expert. People used to drive in and drive out after looking up the signature Al's Run. The greatly expanded area offers something for everyone, from steep chutes and hike-in basins to some tamer runs. 9,200 feet at the base, it helps to be in shape and get a good night's sleep - not hard after negotiating this mountain. When the powder arrives, it's unbeatable. When the snow is merely good, it's still the most exciting skiing imaginable - go for it!

Copper Mountain is the most consumer friendly resort anywhere. They cater to families, are usually the cheapest around, are determined to make the visitor happy. They gave us the special discount one year when our paperwork got lost even though we were supposed to subscribe early. The first year that we visited we arrived a little late and had ski lessons for the children. They moved them to the front of the rental line and then pulled them out to the slopes for their lessons so that they wouldn't miss them. That very same year, we locked our keys in the suburban while unloading gear out of the back. One of the managers of the rental facility allowed me to use his personal cell phone while attempting to get OnStar to unlock the doors remotely. This went on until they got a tow truck to come open the door from Breckenridge - all of which took 4 hours. They made sure that our problems were taken care of. As for the mountain itself, it is divided like a ski mountain should. All of the black, blue and green runs are virtually separated from themselves. You do not have hot dogging skiers flying through our beginner children or timid elderly adults. You can access any part of the mountain relatively easily. Almost all ski lines are short and fast moving. The assistants are very friendly as well. For the money, the service, and mountain, there is not a better resort in the U.S.A.

Whistler-Blackcomb is SUPERB. Taking a trip up from Van. to the mountains is like a voyage to a fabulous oasis.
The resorts are second to none; the nightlife and restaurants are abundant and varied- something for everyone.
The high speed lifts at the foot of the hill (super-fast and nice)take you to either of the twin peaks (a link between them is coming soon!)
My Favourite run is Seventh Heaven- I went there and bought the T-shirt too: "Go to Heaven- Ski Like HELL!" Miles and Miles of sweet, always-sunny shooshing.
I live on the East Coast and I've skiied lots of places, but I've made the trip to W-B at least four times. Can't wait to go back!

Whatever your pleasure, Vail Resort has it all. The mountain sports three different peaks which provide everything for everyone. With long groomed cruisers escalating to steep bump runs which boast more vertical drop than most other resorts, the frontside of Vail Mountain can hold its own. If you prefer wide open powder skiing without interruption from trees or competing skiers, then you should try Vail's Back Bowls. Blue Sky Basin boasts heart pounding cornice drops and more tree skiing than you can handle in a lifetime before even venturing through its back country gates into the wild unknown. Throw in Vail's village with it's world class amenities and the valley's accessibility via car or plane and you come to one conclusion: Vail Resort truly stands alone!

KILLINGTON....has them all beat ! Great terrain on 7 Mountains, from beginner slopes to glades to World Class mogul runs, including Outer Limits for the unltimate test of skills and nerve. The views are breathtaking and the legendary night life is second to none !! Ya gotta ski K'ngtn or ya haven't been skiing !!

Mad River Glen, VT - hands down!

For folks with limited /or no vacation time this year (more and more of us sadly!) MRG is the quinessential New England ski experience and has awesome snow, a great variety of trails, the best ski instruction and mentoring we've ever encountered, a great variety of lodging in all price ranges, wonderful setting and views of the Green Mountains with several other ski areas near by (Bolton Valley; Sugarbush and Jay Peak)for variety; incredible ski pass bargains; Mad River Glen Vermont Is big-mountain skiing with great snow, fabulous terrain and more ski resorts with at least 2000 feet of vertical-more than Maine, New Hampshire and New York. Ice that cake with the 3-5 hour drive to door depending upon your start point and no security checks, no extra charges for luggage/over-sized bags, lost/mishandled skiis at the airport and the ability to deploy and go ski in a heartbeat if the Intellicast report predicts uber sno on the way. Yep - its Mad River without a doubt.

Brian Head is Utah's best kept secret. No lift lines, great mountain if you have large group with different ski abilites. Lots of ski in/out housing at reasonable prices. Time of year determines powder. One year we had nonstop snow in april..powder, powder, powder. However, overall we prefer the spring skiing weatherwise for younger children.

In my experience of skiing, Mammoth Mountain is by far the best and most fun I have seen. It doesn’t even matter what season it is… from Winter to Summer, Mammoth is always the place to be. The slopes are fun and always packed with crunchy white snow. There are fun events to watch and meet other enthusiasts. It also has the best slope mates I have had the pleasure of encountering. Countless times I have overheard other skiers and boarders recounted great experiences with the listener enjoying the tale, with no distain or jealousy. That’s such a great environment to play in! If you want to get out of the snow, there is a bike park and motocross. Whether you’re active on the slopes or watching the events, a novice or an expert, its always exciting to be at Mammoth Mountain! Enough writing…. I’m going to hit the slopes!!!

As I have said to many of my ski friends, when we die and go to heaven....we will ski Alta!

The best place to ski in my opinion is Mission Ridge at wenatchee,washington.WHY?.the snow is always dry and great to ski on.you can park right at the base and walk 50 feet to the chair.( I take my camper and ski right up to the back door!!)the chairs are fast,so you get on to doing what you came there for.the sandwichs they make in the lodge are absolutely delicious and generous on the fixin's and they don't gouge you on the price. they open at nine and if you leave before noon you get HALF of the lift ticket back!!.they have some awesome runs for all skill levels and are very rarely overcrowded.And because of all of these amenities a lot of the good looking girls go there.this is my favorite place to ski.skip all those high priced crowded gouging places..this place is ski heaven..check out their bomber bowl.they have a real world war 2 bomber at the top !!..Jeff Mika

Alta Utah - No snowboarders Allowed. That's why its the best.

Maybe you need a top 12, because I see two big ommissions... Alta's sister SNOWBIRD (same great conditions, but more intermediate and beginner runs) and TELLURIDE (think all the charm of Aspen without the pretension).

Our family has skied at Winter Park, CO for over 25 years. We've seen it grow from a 'locals' area to a world class resort. We're not sure which way we like it best. There is always a run for every member of our family from the 18 year old terrain park aficionado to our nine year old blue run lover. My husband and son bonded over the bowls and my dad got to ski with his granddaughter on some of the best groomed runs in the west.

Nothing compares with Alta. Yes, 600 inches of the best snow on Earth; yes, amazing terrain; yes, amazing people that work there and ski there; yes, incredibly easy to get to. But it's just an amazing place -- hard to explain, this mountain has something special about it. In blizzards and under bluebird skies -- always fun. There are other fantastic mountains around, and I love going to other places. But, we fly from NYC every year to take in the magic of Alta.

If your goal is to ski the best snow on the best terrain look no further than Alta. You just can't get better snow. 520 inches - I'll say it again - 520 inches of lightest, fluffiest powder (h20 content - 8.5%)falls on the mountain every year. The snow tends to fall in huge dumps leading to great powder days. Dress in layers because many of this mountains most secret stashes require some traversing or hiking powder. Your efforts will pay off in powder stashes days after their latest winter storm and steeps that are not for the faint of heart. At Alta Go Big Or Go Home!

Snowbird, UT. It has the greatest snow on earth, but unlike Alta it lets snowboarders enjoy it as well. Not to mention the faster lifts.

In spite of heavily advertised competion in the Lake Tahoe area, Sugar Bowl remains my favorite. Location, location, location - Sugar Bowl has it over all the others. Don't get slowed down at Donner Summit; get off Hwy. 80 earlier and head for The Bowl. If you get there early enough you're rewarded with a parking spot in the garage. The gondola ride across the gorge is only the first thrill. With 12 lifts, 91 runs and home of the snow gods, skiers and boarders at every level are happy. It's not "Sugar" just because it's white; this is the finest powder around. Scenery is spectacular while cruising Mt. Judah, and doesn't matter while whizzing down Silverbelt. This year, olympic training is an extra kick. You, too, can try the course when they aren't training or watch and be wowed when they are.

I've only seen pictures I have never been sking

Lake Tahoe has my vote...17 ski resorts including Homewood Mountain Resort (best kept secret), Northstar-at-Tahoe, Heavenly Valley, Squaw Valley USA, Alpine Meadows, Incline, Sugar Bowl, Boreal Ridge, Kirkwood, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, Sierra-at-Tahoe... and the list goes on...everything from huge and expensive to intimate and family-oriented local-friendly.

Sunny days, deep snow, spectacular views of gorgeous Lake Tahoe, lots of private homes available to rent...including mine! And plenty to do after skiing as well.

ALTA Utah - only known as "the greatest snow on earth". Enough said.

lake tahoe has so many runs and the bluest sky while coming down the mountain looking at the lake, trees, fresh powder and the feel of beauty surrounding you. Can't wait to get back to top again and do it all day long.

Heavenly in Lake Tahoe is the best place to ski. You can ski in both California and Nevada and have great views of the Lake. The fresh powder was great and the weather was just right.

Since we are talking ski resort, and not just mountain, I've got to throw in me "hell yeah!" two cents for The Canyons in Park City. The mountain has phenomenal skiing, top notch ski patrol, efficient lifts to get you to your next run, and enough runs to cater to everyone's tastes for multiple days. Oh, and then you come off the mountain into a beautiful ski in/out lodge that relaxes and pampers and takes care of everything from valeting the car, to storing your skiis, to showing you to your beautifully appointed room. What could be better?

Keystone in CO has the best skiing for all level of skiers. They have a gondala and fast ski lifts. The runs are excellent even for beginner skiers. There is even night skiing so you can get your money's worth. The view is awesome and it is so peaceful and serene skiing there! Once you've skied Keystone, you'll never ski anywhere else!

Killington is unsurpassed in snow quantity and quality, and the number and variety of trails. I've skied there for a week and never taken the same run twice!

Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe. Sweet skiing on the Nevada and California side. The view of the lake is spectacular. Coming from Alaska really appreciate the milder temperatures to ski in.

Mammoth Mountain rules. My sisters moved there 8 years ago and it is a year round paradise that has yet to be completely destroyed by commercialization. Untracked powder in late April and world quality snow from October through May, there is no place I would rather be. Try heading to the top of the mountain, where the only way down is your board. A truly magnificent little jewel hign in the Sierras. And, oh yeah, Inyo National Forest where a certain friend of ours hit a triple backflip (video included) over the crater.... Not for certifed nuts, regular nuts like it too.

Tahoes Squaw Creek Spa outdoor recreation ski-in, ski-out lodging and 18-hole championship golf and ice-skating rink, oh and heated swimming pools, waterslide, and scenic hiking and biking trails and don’t forget all the great casinos in Tahoe

How could you miss Squaw Valley, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics? It has the best terrain and facilities of any ski resort in the Western U.S. And Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places in the world. You have some great resorts on your list, and Squaw Valley deserves to be among them.

Northstar in Truckee, CA is quickly shredding its rep as "Flat Star" as it's carved and uncovered some truly "gnarly, challenging terrain"and great cruisers. It has some great resort lodging, great food, and plenty of apres' ski activities. Combined with its great season pass for 2 resorts it should not be missed

You have shared valuable information regarding mountain travel. It will helpful for visitors to find the best place.

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