Few things compare to a beautiful day on the slopes — fresh powder at your feet, the cold air on your cheeks, and the angelic feeling as you jump off the chairlift and take in the breathtaking landscape from the top of a mountain.
A ski vacation can be the perfect getaway for families, groups of friends, or romantic trips for two. From beginners to savvy skiers and snowboarders, we know the best locations to visit in the Southwest, and you’ll find them below.
Not a fan of the slopes? We also list other fun non-skiing amenities for each resort. So, let’s get started.
Sunrise Ski Park – Greer, Arizona
The Sunrise Ski Resort boasts three mountains: Sunrise Peak, Cyclone Peak, and Apache Peak. At a reasonable 200 miles from Phoenix and Tucson, it remains one of the most accessible resorts for Valley residents.
Skiers and snowboarders of any level are welcome on the resort’s 65 runs. If you’re not up for jumping on a board or a pair of skis, the resort offers sleigh rides, sledding, tubing, ice fishing and zip lining.
Visit sunriseskiparkaz.com for tickets, weather conditions and a live webcam.
Arizona Snowbowl – Flagstaff, Arizona
Nestled in the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff — a mere 150 miles north — the nearly 80-year-old Arizona Snowbowl gives Phoenix residents a break from the heat year round, with or without snow.
During ski season, Snowbowl offers bilingual instructors for skiing and snowboarding, a scenic chairlift, disc golf, and mountainside dining. Lodgings for the resort are extremely close to both Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon so make sure to add those to your itinerary.
Visit www.arizonasnowbowl.com for tickets, lodging, and specials and discounts.
Telluride Ski Resort – Telluride, Colorado
Nestled in the Rocky Mountains at the southwest corner of Colorado, Telluride Ski Resort spans more than 2,000 skiable acres. Known for being a family-friendly mountain, it offers a wide range of fun attractions besides skiing, including dog sledding, fat bike tours, ice climbing, snow biking, and snowmobiling.
Need a break from the cold? Visit the Telluride Adventure Center or the historical museum. Need pampering after a morning on the slopes? Decide between a dozen local spas and wellness centers.
Visit www.tellurideskiresort.com for trip planning, ski-school prices and more activities.
Park City Mountain Resort – Park City, Utah
After your flight into Salt Lake City, you will be just 32 miles from the beautiful ski resort of Park City. If the name sounds familiar, it hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics and currently holds training courses for the U.S. Ski Team. Video game fans will also recognize the hills from “Shaun White Snowboarding” for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Adding to its fame, Park City Mountain Resort boasts more than 7,300 skiable acres, which makes it “America’s Largest Ski and Snowboard Resort.” Outside of the slopes, enjoy the Flying Eagle Zip Line, the Alpine Coaster, sleigh rides and the famous Viking Yurt.
Visit www.parkcitymountain.com for mountain information, pricing and events.
Deer Valley Resort – Park City, Utah
Side-by-side with the Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley hosted freestyle moguls and aerials, and men and women’s slalom events in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
So what’s the difference between Park City and Deer Valley? Deer Valley remains a ski-only resort. And, according to Ski Magazine, Deer Valley consistently ranks No. 1 in guest service among ski resorts in the United States.
If you want varied scenery, the resort spans six mountains: Little Baldy Peak, Bald Eagle, Bald, Flagstaff, Empire, and Lady Morgan. When you aren’t skiing, don’t forget to visit Historic Park City filled with shopping, art galleries, theaters, bars, and clubs.
Visit www.deervalley.com for lodging, where to eat and ski rentals.
Aspen Snowmass – Aspen, Colorado
Why visit one mountain when you can visit four? Aspen Snowmass consists of Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk. You can spend the entire trip skiing the terrain without ever doing the same run twice.
On the Aspen Mountain, ski the same runs as seen on the Audi FIS World Cup finals or enjoy some mountainside yoga. Want to ski with the locals? Try the Aspen Highlands.
If you crave a more extreme ride, the Buttermilk Mountain hosts the Winter X Games and the Red Bull Double Pipe Event. This mountain fulfills any snowboarder’s dream. For nighttime family events, a visit local staple Ullr Night, a night time winter wonderland party.
Visit www.aspensnowmass.com for snow reports, lesson schedules and events.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows – Squaw Valley, California
USA Today recently voted Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows as the 2016 “Best Ski Resort in North America.” Of course, its fame began well before when it hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.
Today, Alpine Meadows contains over 100 groomed trails and possesses a local, hometown feel. And thanks to its location, you can ski well into spring.
Several deals are currently available, including “fly in and ski free” on the same day with proof of a boarding pass. For non-skiers, enjoy snow tubing, dog sledding, and aerial tram rides.
Visit squawalpine.com for more deals and information.
Taos Ski Valley – Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico
Much like other parts of New Mexico, Taos Ski Valley combines Native American culture with a touch of Spanish culture. The quaint town of Taos offers plenty of history and folklore when you aren’t on the slopes. Of course, that won’t be often.
Taos Ski Valley prides itself in maintaining the highest-rated ski school in the country, so its a great place to brush up on your skills. In addition, The Blake, a long-awaited lodging property at the base of the mountain, opens on February 1 and puts guests within walking distance of Lift 1.
Want to see the slopes without skiing? Check out the hot air balloon rides that travel through the Rio Grande Gorge.
A word of warning: If you are a beginner, make sure to stay on the easy runs. Taos quickly gets steeper on the harder runs, even some green and blue terrains. Make sure to ask a friendly staff member for the best beginner trails.
Visit www.skitaos.com to learn more about season passes and the new Blake.
Vail Mountain – Vail, Colorado
Despite claiming the title of the third largest ski resort in the United States, Vail requires a few looks before you see what truly makes it great. Vail consists of three sections: Front-Side, Blue Sky Basin, and the Back Bowls, which is where the real fun lies.
The Back Bowls consist of the Sun Up Bowl, China Bowl, Teacup Bowl, Siberia Bowl, Mongolia Bowl and Outer Mongolia Bowl, and the Sun Down Bowl, which offer amazing black diamond trails.
Out of ski boots, enjoy the New Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster, mountain tubing and the Nature Discovery Center. In February, the slopes will host the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships.
Visit www.vail.com to check out the Epic Day lift tickets and the winter event line-up.
Alta Ski Area – Alta, Utah
One of the oldest ski areas in the United States, Alta Ski Area opened its first lift in 1939, and it resolutely remains a haven for skiing purists.
Alta offers no 5-star luxury resorts, shopping, spas or late-night bars, only breathtaking lodges that feel like home. The community consists of residents and regulars that are passionate about skiing — no snowboarders allowed — and the traditions of their 1940’s roots.
Of course, just a mile away you will find the Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort which offers more luxuries. Plus, Alta and Snowbird now offer ski passes good for both mountains with transportation back and forth via chair lift or free bus.
Visit www.alta.com for directions, passes, and rental information.