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11 Best U.S. Ski Resorts for Beginners

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of tearing off, wobbly-legged and your heart pounding, down a steep slope that you weren’t quite ready for. As amazing as they are, many destinations can come across as straight-up intimidating, especially if you’re a beginner. But more often than not, there’s terrain for everyone, with some top-rated ski resorts going above and beyond for those just starting out. Whether you are learning yourself or are trying to teach little ones how to tear up the slopes, these are great points to start within the United States.

Winter Park Resort, Colorado Freshly groomed tracks at Winter Park Resort
Credit: Freshly groomed tracks at Winter Park Resort by Winter Park Resort

Winter Park Resort, Colorado

Winter Park Resort is the longest continually operating ski resort in the States, which is impressive on its own. In under two hours, you can get from the Denver airport to the resort, where there are a lot of rugged terrains but a chunk of beginner trails too. Packages include lift tickets, equipment rentals and even lessons. Snow tubing is just the cherry on top, and the cutest little warming hut, Hill House, rests at the top offering hot chocolate. It’s absolutely dreamy.

Key Amenities:

  • Numerous beginner trails available

  • Packages with rentals, lift tickets and lessons

  • Snow tubing, snowshoeing, snowcat tours and ice skating

Snow King Mountain Resort, Wyoming Chairlift at Snow King Mountain
Credit: Chairlift at Snow King Mountain by Snow King Mountain

Snow King Mountain Resort, Wyoming

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is the most famous in the area, but Snow King is actually right off the town square while the other is a few minutes down the road, in Teton Village. It’s a completely different environment at Snow King. Welcoming beginner runs and much easier magic carpet lifts are nestled nearby a super fun snow tubing hill and a simplistic metal mountain coaster— anyone can get a closer look at steeper hills without having to ski.

Key Amenities:

  • Beginner runs, easy magic carpet lifts and lessons

  • Snow tubing hill and metal mountain coaster

  • Conveniently located off Town Square

Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho Chairlift and beginner run at Schweitzer
Credit: Chairlift and beginner run at Schweitzer by Schweitzer

Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho

With water and mountain views, Schweitzer gets double points for scenery as it overlooks Lake Pend Oreille. What stands out about this resort is the staff, which more than accommodates those learning, even when it comes to being a bit more courteous when it takes a little more time to unload for the lift. This is a big deal to new skiers, as the lift can be extra intimidating.

Key Amenities:

  • Helpful resort staff with getting on/off ski lifts

  • Lessons for all ages

  • Tubing, twilight skiing, terrain parks and Nordic skiing trails

Sun Valley Resort, Idaho Sun Valley Resort
Credit: Sun Valley Resort by Sun Valley Resort

Sun Valley Resort, Idaho

Idaho strikes again with yet another awesome ski destination. Bald Mountain is a beast, but Sun Valley also houses Dollar Mountain, a friendlier relative with much smaller slopes, two high-speed lifts, and the Wundercarpet. Private or group lessons are offered, with some packages including lift tickets. From amazing dining to cross-country skiing down the road at Galena Lodge, there’s a lot to enjoy within the literally sunny valley.

Key Amenities:

  • Two mountains, one offering smaller slopes and magic carpet

  • Private or group lessons including lift tickets

  • Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing

Vail Ski Resort, Colorado Skiers enjoying the slopes of Vail Mountain Resort
Credit: Skiers enjoying the slopes of Vail Mountain Resort by © Steve Boice | Dreamstime.com

Vail Ski Resort, Colorado

Heated streets and walkways within a Swiss-style village—need we say more? Vail offers a plentiful amount of things to do, which ultimately makes this Colorado haven an ideal place to ease into skiing life while having other things to balance it all out. The area offers a large diversity of runs and trails, so groups with varying levels of expertise can find something fun and suitable. What’s even cooler are the other activities offered, from ski biking to kids snowmobiling to awesome snow tubing lanes with a covered conveyor belt to take you to the top.

Key Amenities:

  • Variety of trails for all experience levels

  • Ski and snowboard lessons from world-class instructors

  • Gondola rides, ski biking, kids snowmobiling and snow tubing lanes

Buttermilk Mountain at Aspen Snowmass, Colorado Buttermilk Mountain at Aspen Snowmass
Credit: Buttermilk Mountain at Aspen Snowmass by Aspen Snowmass

Buttermilk Mountain at Aspen Snowmass, Colorado

Even the name sounds the opposite of intimidating—Buttermilk Mountain is the perfect place in Aspen for those looking to gain their ski legs. Buttermilk is one of four mountains at Aspen Snowmass. As an added bonus, there’s some pretty tasty hot chocolate here as well. The Hideout is an onsite learning center to help people navigate the smooth, uncrowded hill, but things shake up a bit when Winter X Games are hosted here. Lessons for children are hosted in a private learning area as they split into age-appropriate groups and include a lesson, childcare, lift ticket, equipment and even lunch.

Key Amenities:

  • Kids’ lessons split by ages in private learning area

  • One-stop shop for lessons, rentals and tickets

  • Winter X-Games hosted on mountain

Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont Village of Stowe Mountain Resort
Credit: Village of Stowe Mountain Resort by Stowe Mountain Resort

Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont

At the bottom of Mount Mansfield, Stowe might be one of the most gorgeous places to visit in Vermont. Immerse into ski culture by hitting the slopes or start by delving into the museum. There are group lesson packages available, or you can opt for a private lesson so the whole family can learn together. On-site childcare is also available if parents want to get in a kid-free day on the slopes. After hitting the snow for a bit, retreat to the spa, fish, tour the nearby Ben and Jerry’s factory, dine, ice skate, go zip lining—seriously, we could keep going.

Key Amenities:

  • Group lesson bundles include equipment and lift ticket

  • Private lessons available for families

  • On-site childcare available

Big Sky Resort, Montana Swift Current 6 at Big Sky Resort
Credit: Swift Current 6 at Big Sky Resort by Big Sky Resort

Big Sky Resort, Montana

Lone Peak is terrifying, earning top ski resort Big Sky a bad reputation for those clicking into skis for the first time. Gentle slopes toward the bottom of the mountain actually create a great place to learn. Generally, it’s not too crowded, ultimately cultivating an amazing place for beginners. You can catch lessons at three different locations from certified child instructors. Big Sky Resort even caters its snow to beginners, offering “terrain-based learning” that allows you to naturally control your speed and body position.

Key Amenities:

  • Less crowds make it ideal for learning

  • Lessons at Mountain Village, Madison Base or at select hotels

  • Terrain-based learning and certified child instructors

Powder Mountain Resort, Utah Skiers heading down Powder Mountain
Credit: Skiers heading down Powder Mountain by Powder Mountain

Powder Mountain Resort, Utah

Only an hour north of the Salt Lake City Airport, you can see Wyoming, Idaho, and of course, the beautiful Utah landscape from Powder Mountain Resort. The complex downtown features lovely hotels, which all will be connected to ski lifts and nature trails. What makes us love the resort even more is its focus on culture and conservation. Simpler slopes team up with a ski school offering private lessons amongst the completely natural snow. At least 25 percent of runs are specifically for beginners, and 40 percent are intermediate for those who learn quickly.

Key Amenities:

  • Simpler slopes and natural snow

  • Private lessons and first-timer lessons available

  • 25 percent of runs specifically for beginners

Mammoth Mountain, California Mammoth Mountain
Credit: Mammoth Mountain by Wikimedia Commons

Mammoth Mountain, California

Mammoth has earned its name because it’s the highest summit elevation in the state of California. Sometimes, snow falls late into the year, so summertime skiing is possible. Despite 3,500 skiable acres and a 3,100-foot vertical drop, it’s a good starting point with plenty of smooth terrains. Main Lodge, Canyon Lodge, The Village, Eagle Lodge and The Mill provide plenty of recreation and amenities at just an hour’s drive from Yosemite National Park. The younger kiddos (under age 4) and the kids at heart (seniors over 80 years old) get free lift tickets.

Key Amenities:

  • Kids under four years old and seniors older than 80 ski free

  • Lesson, half-day and full-day childcare provided

  • Snowcat tours, cross-country skiing, gondola rides and snowmobiling

Steamboat Ski Resort, Colorado Steamboat Resort
Credit: Steamboat Resort by Steamboat Resort

Steamboat Ski Resort, Colorado

The gradual slopes within the mountains at Steamboat Resort allow newbies to really get in there rather than simply scooting down bunny runs at the bottom. Sunset skiing is unforgettable, and geothermal hot springs within the area are perfect for soothing sore muscles. Steamboat is known for its famous fluffy Champagne Powder snow, named for its low water content that provides a softer landing for falls.

Key Amenities:

  • “Champagne Powder” dry snow for softer landings

  • Private short lessons for kids or full/half days

  • Ice skating rink, hot springs, horseback riding, snowmobiling and night skiing

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