The List

Criteria

  • At least 1300′ vertical.
  • At least 250 acres of terrain.  This tends to matter more for North-eastern areas because resorts in the Northeast have narrower trails and heavy trees, cutting down on acreage.
  • At least 175-inches of natural snowfall.  This is a pretty low bar but there are some resorts that are not here because of lack of snowfall.  Nakiska, AB comes to mind because it’s a pretty decent resort, but it’s in the rain shadow of the rockies close to Calgary and only gets 98 inches of natural snowfall.  Mont-Tremblant and Mt. Norquay actually fall well below the minimum but were snuck in because they really need to be on the list.  Tremblant has been ranked as the #1 ski resort in the East, and Norquay is a really fun mountain which is very close to one of the top ski towns in North America: Banff.
  • At least 2 ski “pods”, or areas served by distinct lifts.  No “one-lift covers the whole mountain” places unless it is really unique (La Grave, France comes to mind with a 6000′ vertical rise lift).
  • Has to have some challenging terrain.  Skiing is an adventure and for us we need some steep stuff to get the blood pumping.  Trail ratings are not consistent across different resorts, so a lot of research was done by reading reviews and watching Youtube videos of people skiing down the most challenging runs at each candidate resort.  Resorts like Okemo and Stratton were taken off the list for this reason.  If an intermediate skier can ski the double-black terrain it’s not on the list.

After qualifying resorts based on stats, we poured over trail maps and resort reviews to cut the list down to a more manageable 100 resorts.  There are over 600 resorts in North America, so this was not easy.  Most of the places we chose were somewhat known to us already from reading articles in the ski mags or talking to people on the mountain.  In the end, this list is what we think are the best, but not everyone will agree.

Why is my favorite resort not on the list?

There are a few resorts that by stats would seem to qualify, but which we eliminated due to various factors including accessibility, aging facilities, strange mountain layout, poor management, or previous experience that wasn’t good.

Why are Eastern resorts underrepresented?

Yes, it’s true and there are some major Eastern resorts that are not on the list that meet the criteria: Whiteface, Sunday River, Pico, and Mad River Glen.  I have skied at most of them and on a good day they should be on the list, but the problem is that it’s so hard to hit those days.  We were chatting about this with someone on a chair at Fernie, BC one day who was from the East and he said “You should remove all of them!”.  Another person on another day who was from Quebec said that he never goes south to Vermont any more because of the frequent rain so even for him it’s too risky.  Still, there are a ton of skiers in the East and we need to have some representation of their home resorts so we chose the very best ones with the best combination of weather, variety and infrastructure.

Here’s a map showing all 100.  The red markers are the ones that are already done.

West Coast – 24

Rockies & Interior BC – 66

Northeast – 10

Other places we’ve skied 

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