For those of us who embrace winter's icy winds and heavy snowfall, a ski vacation is the perfect getaway. The U.S. News ranking of the Best Ski Destinations in the USA weighs the most important considerations: accessibility, accommodations, acreage and annual snowfall, along with expert recommendations and readers' top picks.
Taos Ski Valley, NM
Famously advanced terrain spilling down from a 12,450-foot summit has always been the draw to mystic Taos, where relaxed, spirited, funky, and cool all go hand-in-hand. The resort kicked off a $300 million renovation two years ago, and it has since resulted in a new chairlift to the expert bowls of Kachina Peak, a renovated children’s center and new beginner areas, and dramatic conservation efforts, which have made it the only ski resort in the world to achieve B-Corp certification, a mark of environmental excellence.
Where to stay: The Blake at Taos Ski Valley, an 80-room alpine guesthouse that opened in February with ski-in/ski-out access at Taos’ base, a spa with treatments inspired by New Mexico’s native cultures, and Restaurant 192, where charred Brussels sprouts with tamari and cilantro are a must.
Jay Peak Resort, VT
East Coast skiers dig the backcountry culture and 100-plus acres of gladed (tree) terrain at this Northern Vermont ski resort, not to mention its above-average annual snowfall at 350 inches. Families can’t get enough of the ice area as well as the massive indoor waterpark with a double barrel Flowrider and lazy river. This month, look forward to the opening of the new 15,000 Clips and Reels recreation center with its 142-seat cinema draught house, arcade with head-to-head basketball and bowling, and climbing facility.
Where to stay: One of 60 new-in-December Golf & Mountain Cottages, primly positioned next to Jay Peak’s new rec center.
For the skier and rider that wants it all, it’s hard to do better than Breck. On mountain, you’ve got five peaks and nearly 3,000 skiable acres, four terrain parks and a 22-foot superpipe for all your jibs and jumps, high-alpine intermediate bowl skiing off Peak 6 (a rarity in North America), and the new high-speed Falcon SuperChair on Peak 10 for experts. There’s also the luxe slopeside One Ski Hill (more on that later) right off five lifts, plus an easy shuttle to Breck’s lively downtown, the largest historic district in the state.
Where to stay: Ski in/ski out at the base of Peak 8 from One Ski Hill Place with its roomy condos, a new tea-flavored oxygen bar, a two-lane bowling alley, and some of the friendliest ski valets in town.
Aspen Highlands, CO
Of the four mountains that make up Aspen/Snowmass, the ultimate rite of passage is here at Aspen Highlands’ massive Highland Bowl. Here’s how to do it: Hike some 45 minutes to the top of the bowl (or ride a snowcat a third of the way and hike the remainder), soak in rewarding 360 views that include the twin-peaked Maroon Bells, and own the drop into almost 2,500 feet of steep bowl skiing. Survive? Celebrate your Aspen street cred later at Jimmy’s with a $42 “Jimmy Mac” cocktail, served with 18-year Glenlivet Scotch over a perfectly round orb of ice.
Where to stay: The Little Nell, with its upgraded guest rooms and legendary après scene at the base of Aspen Mountain.
Park City Mountain Resort, UT
After merging with The Canyons during the 2015/16 season, Park City is now officially part of the largest ski area in the country. Otherwise noteworthy? Location, location, location: Its 7,300 acres are only 35 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport. Park City continues to be rated one of our readers' favorite cities in the country thanks to its varied trail terrain and quaint downtown for top-notch apres-ski.
Where to stay: Hands down, the Waldorf Astoria Park City, although there are numerous other options in nearby Deer Valley.