Thinking of heading to the USA or Canada for your skiing or snowboarding holiday this year? Whether you’re a complete newbie or a seasoned expert, we’ve got you covered with the best resort recommendations for all abilities.
BEST RESORTS IN US AND CANADA FOR BEGINNERS
KIMBERLY ALPINE RESORT - BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Learning to ski or snowboard can be tough enough, let alone if you are battling the slopes in a blizzard! Kimberley Alpine Resort is perfect for all those ‘fair-weather’ skiers and boarders out there - you know who you are! Located in the Purcell Mountains in the East Kootenays of Southeast British Columbia, it is a ski resort known for having the sunniest slopes in British Columbia. Falling over every five minutes seems a little bit more bearable when you are doing it in sunshine!
Kimberley’s lesser known status leaves the slopes gloriously crowd-free, providing you with all the space you need to perfect those parallel turns or ollies.
Getting there: The Canadian Rockies Airport (formerly the Cranbrook airport) is just 20 minutes from the resort, with flights originating from Calgary or Vancouver. Kimberley is 252 miles by road southwest of Calgary International Airport, from where there are shuttle transport options, or you can hire a car. The other gateway airport is Kalispell Montana, 2.5 hours drive south.
BIG WHITE - BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Big White ski resort situated on Big White Mountain in British Columbia, Canada definitely lives up to its reputation of being ‘big’. Absolute newbies should head to Happy Valley, below the main resort, where two Magic Carpets take away the pain of getting on and off ski lifts. One of the best things about the resort is that it’s possible to ski from summit to base all on easy and wide green runs – so no one feels left behind.
Big White Ski Resort Canada is ideal for families because it’s so easy to get around, and there are lots of family friendly activities and facilities such as the award-winning Kid’s Centre.
Getting there: The nearest airport is Kelowna, 35 miles from the resort. For drivers, it’s 280 miles east of Vancouver (5.5 hour drive) and 404 miles west of Calgary (8.5 hour drive). ABTA’s Travel Trends Report 2018 confirms that flights to British Columbia will not break the bank either as from the UK they are surprisingly cost-effective.
BEAVER CREEK - COLORADO, USA
Beaver Creek, located ten miles west of Vail in Eagle County, Colorado, is a great resort for all types of new skiers. Beaver Creek is known for being one of the most luxurious winter sports resorts, and its tagline ‘not exactly roughing it’ certainly delivers. There are heated walkways, escalators travelling from the slopes to the plaza and bus area. Not to mention the free cookies handed out every afternoon!
Beginner terrain is plentiful in Beaver Creek; a fifth of the trails are green circle which range from first time learning zones with magic carpets to fun, meandering trails with great views. It’s the perfect introduction to tree skiing terrain.
As a beginner skier or snowboarder, safety is probably high on the wish list, and Beaver Creek offers ultimate peace of mind, holding National Ski Area Association’s Best Overall Safety Awards.
Getting there: Beaver Creek is 133 miles from Denver International Airport. You can rent a car for the two hour plus drive, or there are loads of transport operators that will shuttle you to your accommodation. Alternatively, if money is no object, Eagle County Airport is just a 25-minute drive from Beaver Creek.
BEST RESORTS IN US AND CANADA FOR INTERMEDIATE SKIERS
BRECKENRIDGE SKI RESORT - COLORADO, USA
Breckenridge in Colorado boasts 187 trails covering nearly 3,000 acres, a third of which are designated for intermediates, with runs that are perfect for those who have found their ski legs but aren’t quite ready for vertical drops. The piste ratings at Breckenridge are a lot easier than at many other resorts, meaning that intermediate skiers and boarders are able to tackle some of the black runs, giving a confidence boost.
From the top of Peak 7, served by the super quick ‘SuperChair’ lift, there are blue runs in every downward direction, offering flexibility for all intermediate skiers and boarders.
Between December and February, temperatures are a lot more consistent than other resorts in Colorado, and the snow is cold, dry and grippy – great for those wanting to step out of their comfort zone in terms of speed and style but to do so in safe and reliable conditions.
Getting there: Breckenridge Ski Resort USA is located 80 miles west of Denver and 104 miles from Denver International Airport.
VAIL - COLORADO, USA
Vail, Colorado is North America’s fourth largest ski area. It’s great for intermediate skiers and snowboarders, particularly in groups because it really does have something for everyone. Massive and varied terrain, extensive and efficient lift networks, vibrant après and restaurants and accommodation for all tastes - and budgets. However, the limitless options come at a cost. With lift ticket prices some of the most expensive in the world, the chances of you coming home with an empty pocket are fairly high.
However, the terrain is hugely varied, from moguls to smooth pistes to tree lined trails and with super quick chair lifts to take you from one terrain to another.
Getting there: Denver International Airport, a major airline hub, is 120 miles away from Vail. Eagle, a small municipal airfield (Vail/Eagle County Airport) is a closer alternative and is 30 minutes from Vail. Flights into Eagle are less regular than to Denver and they tend to cost more.
WHISTLER - BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
We could hardly write a blog about ski resorts in the USA and Canada without mentioning Whistler! A household name in the skiing and snowboarding fraternity, Whistler is in a league of its own and justifiably one of the hottest ski destinations on the planet.
In reality, the resort caters for all ability levels, but for intermediates no other resort can offer the same variety. A whopping 55 percent of Whistler Blackcomb’s 8,171 acres is intermediate terrain meaning you can experience every breath-taking angle of the looming Whistler mountain.
Go figure, instead of a trail map, Whistler provides its visitors with an atlas! A training regime of wall squats is essential before any holiday to Whistler, as it is renowned for its super long, leg burning runs.
Getting there: The main gateway airport is Vancouver International Airport, which is located 87 miles south of Whistler Village.
BEST RESORTS IN THE US AND CANADA FOR ADVANCED SKIERS AND SNOWBOARDERS
FERNIE ALPINE RESORT - BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Fernie Alpine Resort is a lesser known resort, making it a hidden gem for advanced skiers and snowboarders. For those in the know, its reputation for deep powder and vertical terrain results in ultimate respect from the ski community.
Here you can enjoy 500 acres of backcountry routes such as Tunnel Creek and Mongolia Ridge which have acquired legendary status among those who just can’t resist returning year on year.
For those who still aren’t satisfied, there are a number of independent operators offering guided ski tours. These explore the Canadian hinterland using snow-cats and other specialist equipment to access remote bowls and glades, offering a genuine challenge to get your heart racing.
Getting there: The closest international airport to Fernie Alpine Resort is the Calgary International Airport, a 3.5 hour drive away.
ALPENTAL - WASHINGTON, USA
Alpental is a resort located in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and offers both day and night time skiing.
The resort is an adrenaline fuelled play area for adventurers, and not for the faint hearted. It offers terrain comprised of steep expert runs, to huge off piste bowls and glades. There’s just 14% beginner terrain in Fernie. This means you won’t be tripping over beginner skiers and boarders as you would in more popular resorts.
Intermediate terrain totals 45% of the resort with the rest perfect for advanced skiers and snowboarders – plenty of difficult terrain to get your heart racing.
Getting there: The nearest international airport is Seattle, 52 miles away from the resort.
Best resorts in the US and Canada for expert skiers and snowboarders
JACKSON HOLE MOUNTAIN RESORT -WYOMING, USA
This is the resort that Ski Instructors fight to work at and the selection criteria here is the toughest in the USA. Nicknamed ‘The Big One’, Jackson Hole is a resort that attracts the best of the best. The steep, often ungroomed terrain is a paradise for ski and snowboard pros such as Travis Rice, who grew up there.
Jackson Hole is made up of Rendevous Mountain and Apres Vous Mountain. The latter is where the experts head, featuring steep chutes, bowls, glades and the legendary Corbet’s Colouir. Will you be the one to conquer its 20-foot drop in?
For the shredders out there, the whole mountain is a big natural terrain park. Otherwise, there is the usual bone shattering and tendon snapping fun available in the terrain park near the Après Vous Chair.
Getting there: There are no direct flights to Jackson from outside the USA but connections are available from Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Denver and Chicago O’Hare.
SNOWBIRD - UTAH, USA
Utah resorts have a reputation for getting huge dumps of dry, light, powder snow and Snowbird is no exception. Snowbird, and neighbouring resort Alta, boast an average of 12.7 metres of the stuff a year – over twice the amount as top Alpine resorts such as Tignes and Chamonix.
Snowbird Ski Resort USA is an amazing playground for advanced riders. With steep, challenging and interesting terrain, Snowbird is a “must do” experience (at least for skiers, boarders are still banned from Alta).
The piste breakdown is 27% beginner, 38% intermediate and 35% advanced/expert. However, these stats simply don’t give justice to describe how good the terrain is for expert riders. With a bit of imagination (aka guts), everywhere in this resort is a potential line, including the many small cliffs for hucking.
The double black diamond runs Silver Fox, Great Scott and Upper Cirque, often neck deep in powder, can leave the most adept powderhounds quaking in their boots. Do you dare?
Getting there: Snowbird UT is an incredibly accessible ski resort, being only 29 miles (47km - 45 minute drive) from the Salt Lake City International Airport. What are you waiting for?!
Silverton Mountain – Colorado, USA
Lonely Planet names Silverton Mountain as one of the most innovative ski mountains in the USA It is a pure mountain experience that’s for experts only. There are no clear-cut runs and no groomed pistes, just 10.16 metres of snow a year and a whole lot of (challenging) fun!
For what Silverton Mountain lacks in frills, it certainly makes up for in thrills. It’s really only suited to those with an adventurous spirit. For most of the year, the only way to access the resort is by guided tour with a capped number of guests per day. Later on in the season is the time to go if you are looking for unguided skiing. Heli accessed ski touring is also available.
There is no lodging at the Silverton Mountain ski area, but there is inexpensive Silverton hotel and motel accommodation in the nearby historic town.
Getting there: The Montrose airport (40 miles from Silverton) has direct flights from Los Angeles, Chicago, Newark, Houston and Atlanta.
Wherever you decide to go this ski season, remember that as soon as you book your holiday you should take out travel insurance, as this will cover you if you need to cancel the trip due to specified reasons as well as providing peace of mind when on and off piste*.
For winter sports holidays, Winter Sports Travel Insurance is essential, offering cover for your winter sports equipment (including any hired kit) against loss, theft or damage. It also covers for piste closure due to weather conditions or lack of snow and if you are unable to use your ski pass or attend pre-booked ski lessons due to an accident or illness, you'll be compensated. For more information, visit our page
Before travelling to the USA and Canada, make sure you meet the VISA entry requirements. The rules may have changed since you last visited. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
* off piste skiing within resort boundaries