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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.
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Winter Park 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’s a lot of rugged terrain, but a chunk of beginner trails too. A “Family Easy Start” program includes lift tickets, equipment rentals and even lessons—there’s on-site childcare as well. 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.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is most famous in the area, but Snow King is actually right off town square when the other is a few minutes down the road, in Teton Village. It’s a completely different environment at Snow King—welcoming beginners 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.
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.
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 and three lifts. From amazing dining to cross country skiing down the road at Galena Lodge, there’s a lot to enjoy within the literally sunny valley.
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, kids snowmobiling to awesome snow tubing lanes with a covered conveyor belt to take you to the top.
Even the name sounds the opposite of intimidating—Buttermilk Ski Area is the perfect place in Aspen for those looking to gain their ski legs. 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 Events terrain games are hosted here.
At the bottom of Mount Mansfield, this might be the most gorgeous places to visit in Vermont. Immerse into ski culture by hitting the slopes or start with delving into the museum. 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.
Lone Peak is terrifying, earning Big Sky a bad reputation for those clicking into skis the first time. Gentle slopes toward the bottom of the mountain actually create a gradually sloping place to learn. Generally, it’s not too crowded, ultimately cultivating an amazing place to learn.
Only an hour north of the Salt Lake City Airport, you can see Wyoming, Idaho, and of course, beautiful Utah landscape from Powder Mountain. 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.
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 terrain. Main Lodge, Canyon Lodge, The Village, Eagle Lodge and The Mill provide plenty of recreation and amenities at just an hour drive from Yosemite National Park.
Gradual slopes within the mountains 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.