- Category: Top Picks
The Very Best Ski Mountains | West Coast
The West Coast of the United States is full of great ski mountains. Ski mountains in the west are known for their amazing powder, blue skies, and optimal conditions. Everyone on the West Coast has their particular favorite spot -- determining which are the best is a wonderful challenge! These are just a few of the West Coast's great ski mountains.
Aspen Snowmass, Colorado
Aspen Snowmass is a network of four mountains: Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk. Each of the four mountains has something different to offer visitors, from gentle beginner trails to amazing black diamond trails and even some backcountry experiences.
Snowmass has a vertical drop of 4,406 feet (the most vertical drop in the US), 3,132 acres of terrain, a summit elevation of 12,510 feet, and a longest run of 5.3 miles. The ski area has a total of 21 lifts and 3 terrain parks, a beginner pipe, and a superpipe.
Aspen Mountain has great difficult and expert terrain. On Aspen, skiers will find a summit elevation of 11,212 feet, a vertical rise of 3,267 feet, and 675 acres of terrain. The mountain has 76 trails and 8 lifts.
Aspen Highlands has a great range of beginner to expert trails, and backcountry enthusiasts can hike to the top of Highland bowl (at 12,392 feet) for an amazing in-bounds backcountry experience. Aspen Highlands has 1,028 acres of terrain, a vertical rise of 3,635 feet,and a summit elevation of 11,675 feet. There are 118 trails and 5 lifts.
Finally, Buttermilk is a great spot for beginning skiers and families. Buttermilk has 470 acres of terrain, a vertical rise of 2,030 feet, and a summit elevation of 9,900 feet. The mountain has 44 trails, 9 lifts, and 2 terrain parks.
Park City Mountain Resort, Utah
Park City Mountain Resort was an official venue for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. It has great and varied terrain and is a very accessible mountain resort. The mountain has seven peaks and nine bowls. There are 3,300 acres of terrain and the summit elevation is 10,000 feet. This resort has 108 trials with a nice range of difficulty for skiers and snowboarders, plus 25 lifts. The total hourly capacity of the lift system is 30,800 people. The mountain also has night skiing, four terrain parks, and a superpipe.
Nearby Deer Valley Resort is another 2002 Winter Olympics venue. It is known as one of the best resorts in the country, and it has great skiing. However, the mountain does not accomodate snowboarders. It is a great destination for skiers, with a total of 2,026 skiable acres over six mountains and a vertical drop of 3,000 feet. There are 100 runs, 1 Tricks 'n' Turns Park, and 22 lifts.
Squaw Valley USA, California
Squaw Valley USA near Lake Tahoe was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. The ski area is located among six Sierra peaks. It has varied terrain, a vertical drop of 2,850 feet, and a summit elevation of 9,050 feet. Squaw Valley also has one of the largest lift networks in the world with 33 lifts. With 4,000 acres of skiable terrain, it is also one of the largest ski areas in the country. In addition, the ski area has facilities for snowboarders, including 3 terrain parks and a Super Pipe and a halfpipe.
Vail is consistently considered one of the best ski resorts in North America, and it is the largest ski resort on the continent. Originally, the resort started as a European-style ski village and now it is one of the best ski areas in the world. The ski area gets an average of 350 inches of snow annually. In addition the ski area has 5,289 acres, a peak elevation of 11,570 feet, and a vertical rise of 3,450 feet. Vail has 193 trails, 53% of which are expert-level runs. The ski area is served by 31 lifts and there are 3 terrain parks, a superpipe, and a halfpipe.
Taos, New Mexico
Taos is another West Coast skiing gem, made even better by an average of 300-plus days of sunshine. The ski area has 1,294 acres with 110 trails, of which 51% are expert trails. The trails are served by 13 lifts and there is a terrain park as well. The lift-served summit elevation is 11,819 feet, but for skiers willing to hike a little farther, Kachina Peak (with an elevation of 12,481 feet) has some of Taos's best views and longest runs. Taos has a vertical drop of 2,612 feet from the lift-served area and 3,274 feet from Kachina Peak.
Mammoth Mountain, California
Mammoth is one of California's great ski destinations. Like Taos, it has an average of 300 days of sun per year, so visitor should bring some sunscreen and sunglasses. On top of beautiful blue skies, Mammoth has more than 3,500 skiable acres, over 3,100 vertical feet, and a top elevation of 11,503 feet. The ski area has 150 trails and 28 lifts. In addition, the ski area has amazing terrain parks, including seven parks and 3 pipes.
Mount Bachlor, Oregon
Mount Bachelor is one of Oregon's best ski areas. Visitors will find a wide range of skiing and snowboarding options. The mountain has an annual average snowfall of 370 inches. There are 71 runs and 13 lifts with a nice spectrum of novice to expert runs. There are also over 12 cross-country trails ranging from beginner to expert. The top of the mountain is at an elevation of 9,065 feet with a vertical drop of 3,365 feet.
Durango Mountain Resort, Colorado
Durango Mountain is another one of Colorado's top-rated ski areas. Durango Mountain Resort calls its ski area Purgatory. The annual snowfall is 260 inches; the summit elevation is 10,822 feet, with a vertical drop of 2,029 feet. Purgatory has 85 runs serviced by 10 lifts over total 1,325 skiable acres. In addition, visitors to Durango will find 3 terrain parks.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte, like the other mountains in Colorado, has great powder and great facilities. The summit is at an elevation of 12,162 feet with an overall vertical drop of 3,062 feet (this requires a hike to the Peak Terrain). The lift-served vertical drop is 2,775 feet. Crested Butte has 1,167 skiable acres with 121 trails serviced by 16 lifts. Crested Butte also has 3 terrain parks and a superpipe that is 55 feet wide, 18 feet high with a 17 degree slope.
Solitude is one of Utah's top ski areas. Tt has a great reputation as a place that has first class snow without the lines. The ski area has an average snowfall of over 500 inches. The top elevation is 10,035 feet with a vertical drop of 2,047 feet. Solitude has 1,200 acres of skiable terrain, with 65 runs serviced by 8 lifts. The ski area also has a terrain park and a nordic center, which offers about 20 kilometers of groomed trails.