Top 100 ski resorts

This is our list of the top 100 ski resorts in North America.  We identified a minimum set of criteria that each resort must meet to start the process.

Looking for paradise on skis

Looking for paradise on skis


  • At least 1400′ vertical.  We measure vertical drop as the largest continuously skiable vertical drop via ski lift.  If you have to climb it doesn’t count.  If you can’t ski from the highest point to the lowest without taking a lift, it doesn’t count.
  • 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.
  • We favor areas that get more than 250″ of snowfall but the lower limit is 120″.  Once you get under 100″ of natural snowfall you are basically skiing entirely on groomed runs that have snowmaking.  If it’s under 175″ of snowfall, it has to be really far north or it’s not going to be consistently good.
  • 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.

Narrowing it down…

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 that 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 do the stats on our reviews not match published resort numbers?

Our reviews hope to capture the truth about skiing at a resort, so only the main lifts are counted and the vertical drop represents the continuously skiable vertical (when available).  Magic carpets and other lifts designated as learning zones aren’t interesting to the average skier and thus are not counted here.  Vertical can be deceptive when you just take the difference between the high and low elevations but it’s impossible to ski between those two points.

Here’s a map showing all 100.

West Coast – 22

Rockies & Interior BC – 64

Northeast – 14

Other places we’ve skied 

24 thoughts on “Top 100 ski resorts

    1. Joe Dunigan

      This is an awesome and comprehensive list. I’ve always done my research on the continuous vertical vs. posted vertical, which can be a difference of 1000′ or more, I’m glad you guys included this.

    1. Ron Thompson Post author

      Thanks Calvin. Powder Mountain will replace Montana Snowbowl on the list…just haven’t gotten around to it. Mt. Baker is too small for this project. I’ve skied it (on a powder day) and if you don’t go out of bounds in the sidecountry it’s a pretty small resort. Yes, it has the most snow (probably on earth?), and the most powder days certainly, but that is not the only focus of our list.

      Edit: Actually, we kept Montana Snowbowl after all. It’s awesome actually. We had a spot open up now that Alpine Meadows and Squaw are combined via a gondola and are now known as Palisades Tahoe.

  1. tom b

    Hello, Ron. Great site. Was wondering what your thoughts would be on Indy Pass resorts (in the Rockies). I need some gnar but also skiing with a blue/black group. Looking at an early Feb trip, 3 days. I was concerned that Brundage/Tamarack didn’t have enough steeps. We’ve been to PowMow, but didn’t get the goods and the steeps are limited. There is a lot of luck involved in a planned ski trip.

    A) Castle Mtn (if CA opens to USA)
    B) Powder Mtn
    C) Red Lodge
    D) Brundage 2 day, Tamarack 1 day.
    E) Other Indy trip or other trip

    1. Ron Thompson Post author

      Hi Tom, I agree about Powder Mountain, but 2 days at Powder Mountain and one day at Beaver Mountain would be fun if you don’t mind a long-ish drive to Beaver. We loved that place even though it’s easy. We stayed in Ogden and just commuted to Snowbasin and Beaver which worked.

      Castle Mountain is one of our favorites and would be an incredible experience for you if you happen to catch good snow. It’s tough to plan ahead that far though, as it can be highly variable and that’s actually a little early to be sure of good snow. There are some great steep avalanche chutes there.

      In your situation my top pick would be Tamarack for 2 days and Brundage for 1. We really loved Tamarack even though the challenge is a little lower. There is lots of tree skiing if you seek it out, and some shorter steep sections. We actually wished we had 2 days there on our trip because 1 was not enough. Brundage is fine, but it’s not really challenging either. It just gets more snow, but the runs are pretty much straight shots down the fall line which is not as interesting as Tamarack.

      Red Lodge is also a gamble on snow, but it’s a really fun place and has some good challenging stuff. You might find it a bit limiting for 3 days though, and it’s really far away from any other resorts.

      Good luck and have fun!

      1. tom b

        Great feedback, thanks!!! Our trip moved to Jan 5th (way too early) so I decided SLC would be the best bet for snow. 8 skiers flying in from the East, so SLC airport is hard to beat. 2 Days Powder Mtn then up to stay in BCC for Solitude and Brighton!!! We’ll be dealing with some crowds, yes but hopefully nothing like Park City.

        Our family ski trip has been going over 30 years and this only the 3rd time out West. I see you have a VT hit list and Whiteface. We are also headed to Jay Peak in March for the first time! We’ve done about 25 years at Gore Mountain. Gore is not a NA top 100, but the State of NY has steadily improved Gore over the years. If you haven’t been to Gore in a while, it’s worth a stop if the glades are open (typically in Feb.) “Z” rankings has Gore at 166 which is somewhat low considering some of the resorts ranked higher and all of the on-mountain improvements.

        1. Ron Thompson Post author

          Thanks Tom. Gore was one of the hardest resorts to leave off the list. It definitely qualifies and looks like a really fun mountain when the snow is right. We plan to continue skiing and reviewing resorts after the 100 are done and will very likely ski there some day. There were probably around 20 resorts that qualify for the list in North America but had to be cut. It would be a fun mini project to ski all of those.

          As we do hit new resorts that aren’t on the list, the list may change and names can be added and removed.

          Of course, just like it’s hard for you to go west, it’s hard for us to go east (and it’s even more of a weather gamble) so it’s not a casual undertaking!

  2. Tom Fort

    Fun list to read through. Have you considered putting out a numerical list, or at least grouping it by your star ratings?

    When do you think you’ll be hitting Schweizer?

    1. Ron Thompson Post author

      Hi Tom,

      Lots of “Tom’s” commenting 🙂

      Someone else emailed me and suggested the same thing, so I’m going to put something together by star rating.

      It’s very hard to rank 100 resorts, and we’ve kept it intentionally vague for now by just giving them a 1-5 star rating. This is because the things that make skiing fun are different for everyone. Even between us, AiRung’s ranking will be different from mine.

      When the project is complete, we do intend to take a stab at ranking all 100 but it wouldn’t be accurate until all 100 have been skied!

  3. Kevin

    If you get an opportunity – hit Pebble Creek Ski area near Pocatello ID. Some very steep in area terrain and easily accessible out of area terrain.

  4. Thomas K

    Hi guys,
    I love your list. I’ve gotten a wonderful description of lots of places I want to ski. A resort that I think would qualify is willamette pass in Oregon. I haven’t been there but stumbled upon it in my own research of ski areas. Its small, but seems to meet the criteria with over 1500ft of vertical and 555 skiable acres. It also claims 430 inches of snow.
    There are so many cool places on your list. Thank you for putting it together

    1. Ron Thompson Post author

      Thanks Thomas,

      We are glad you are enjoying the reviews!

      Willamette pass was considered and does qualify on stats. We watched the conditions there for a couple of years and noticed a lot of rain days so it got passed over for resorts with a more reliable climate. Once we finish the 100 resorts on our list we would like to ski a whole bunch of places that just barely didn’t make it on. In the Pacific NW I would put Willamette Pass and Mission Ridge on that list of a handful that were passed over due to inconsistent conditions.

      1. Thomas K

        Thanks for the fast reply. That disqualification makes sense especially given the rising temps. Besides Mission ridge and Willamette Pass, Mt Washington on Vancouver island would also qualify but suffers from similar inconsistencies.
        Thanks again for the excellent resource

  5. Andrew V

    Hi Ron,

    Thanks for writing these wonderful reviews and maintaining your rankings, super informative! Out of curiosity, have you ever skied Red Mountain in BC? Considering moving to Spokane, and as the closest resort on the Canadian powder highway I would love to hear your thoughts if you have any, thanks!

    1. Ron Thompson Post author

      Hi Andrew, yes I have skied Red Mountain and it’s on the list. AiRung hasn’t skied it yet which is why there is no review. This is pretty low-hanging fruit for us since there is an easy flight available from San Jose to Spokane so I bet we will get to it next year at the latest.

      When I skied Red Mountain conditions were not great with a rain/freeze situation. The terrain is great though — pretty much exactly what we are looking for with variety and challenge. It’s a unique place and I can’t off the top of my head think of another resort that is much like it to compare with.

      There is a snowcat skiing operation there (Big Red Cats) as well that was one of the most memorable ski days of my life. The conditions were better that day and skiing untracked powder all day was a blast.

      As far as Spokane, there is plenty of great skiing a short day trip away. Silver Mountain and Schweitzer were our favorites. 49 North, Mt. Spokane, and Lookout are also decent resorts and you should have plenty to keep you happy.

      Red is subject to the same thing that all the inland PNW resorts are which is some rain now and again. If you live there you should have no problem picking the good days though.

      1. Andrew

        Glad the cat skiing at Red was a phenomenal experience even if the resort conditions weren’t excellent, and hope if you get up there this year the conditions are superb.

        Thanks for the very thoughtful reply, I really appreciate you taking the time to share! Thank you also in a very global sense for all your work on this site, love reading through your reviews and thoughts!

        1. Ron Thompson Post author

          Thanks Andrew,

          We did finally get up there a couple weeks ago and had a great time. Fog was an issue the first day, but we did enjoy the 2nd a lot and got to ski some of the steep stuff. The resort has a great vibe and fantastic terrain. You are lucky to live relatively close by since it sounds like you made the move.

  6. Thomas

    I haven’t skied it, but if/when you make it up to Alaska, you should check out Eaglecrest. It looks like a really cool hidden gem. Also one question – why is Mission Ridge not on the list?


    1. Ron Thompson Post author

      Hi Thomas, Mission Ridge was ALMOST on the list. I can’t really come up with a good reason why it didn’t make it but it looks like an interesting resort. We plan to ski it after we finish the last 2 and it will get reviewed and linked to the site. There are probably at least 10 resorts that should have been included, but then it would be skinorthamerica110 which is awkward!

  7. Kevin Reilly

    Hi Ron.
    Just wanted to give you an update on your review of Brundage ski area (my local mountain).
    First off the high speed ski lift you called “Big Blue” is actually called “Bluebird Express.”
    Secondly, you mentioned in your review that the Centennial fixed-grip was slow and should be replaced. You correctly nailed it!
    I’m happy to report that Brundage has replaced that lift with a high speed lift now called the Centennial Express and is up & running for the 23/24 ski season.
    As I stated once before, your reviews on your site are outstanding and I throughly enjoy visiting your site often just to see the photos and your thoughts on each ski area.
    One last comment: I have often wondered what ski resorts are the biggest and put together my own list using these 2 factors that all ski areas use – vertical & size or acres. Thus when you combine the two, vertical + acres = actual size. In one of your reports concerning Whiteface you mentioned that it skied much bigger than it’s actual size or acres and that’s because it has over 3,200 vertical feet making it look & feel bigger than the just the acres or size. I think it’s fair to use both measurements and add the two to give skiers the true representation of the ski area and I’m surprised this hasn’t been used by the ski industry over the years.
    If your interested I could send you my list via email.

    1. Ron Thompson Post author

      Hi Kevin — Thanks for letting me know about the corrections needed for the Brundage review. I fixed the issues and updated the trail map which now shows Centennial as a high-speed quad. It’s hard to keep up with the changes that happen over 100 ski resorts and that one slipped through.

      Drop me an email with your list: Whistler/Blackcomb is going to come out on top with both a huge vertical and huge acreage but I’m curious to see how our impressions match your formula. I took the approach of providing rankings of vertical and size separately so people could look at whichever is more important to them, but your idea definitely makes a lot of sense.

      I’m glad you enjoy the site, and thanks again!


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