The wonderful reality of skiing in North America is that it caters to everyone. Whether you’re a newbie, a powder-hound looking to party, or a family looking to bond…one of the over 800 ski resorts will certainly hit the spot.
So the only question for skiers looking a the perfect ski holiday is, “Which particular resort should I go to and when?”
With so much choice, it’s hard to know exactly where and when you should go, so we’ve created this comprehensive guide to get you started.
You'll find most mountains (and snow) on the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. There are literally hundreds of resorts to choose from. We've narrowed it down to five destinations that cater to every type of skier. Whether you're after heli-skiing, cross country skiing, tree skiing, exploring the backcountry, or gentler — but indisputably beautiful — beginner's terrain, you'll find it here.
Whistler is enormous, but as one of the world’s great ski resorts, it has all the amenities to make it accessible.
Ski lessons are easy to come by, with trained instructors for children as young as three, to advanced skiing with Extremely Canadian.
Whistler also has a vast array of accommodation, and if you want ski-in-ski out lodging, there’s plenty of options, such as the Westin Whistler.
Or you can opt for something further from the mountain (but still on the shuttle route) like the affordable Delta Whistler Village Suites.
In terms of activities, Whistler and Blackcomb mountains offer 16 alpine bowls, 3 glaciers, terrain parks and 200+ marked trails. There are unforgettable off-piste adventures and cross-country skiing - complete with Olympic calibre trails.
You and the kids can also enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh rides, outdoor ice-skating at Whistler Olympic Plaza, or you can let the huskies take you on a ride through the snow.
Fairytale beautiful Lake Louise is a hamlet inside Banff National Park and is located around two hours from Calgary and 45 minutes west of Banff.
If you’re feeling trepidatious about your skiing abilities, this is an ideal place to practice. There's a hill especially set aside for teen or adult beginners. It’s a long, gradual slope, and it's away from the Kid Zone. It’s a longer run than what's usually available in beginner areas, and the whole resort is designed so that all abilities can ski from every lift.
It’s very quiet here at night, so for those beginners that are seeking some apres-ski, it’s probably best to head to nearby Banff for some post ski relaxation and socialising.
Mont Tremblant has the steepest trail in Eastern North America and is viewed by many as some of the best skiing in this part of the world.
With a quaint European style village, Mont-Tremblant is the place to embrace winter with your loved one.. Rug up and go dogsledding, take a fondue and snowshoe tour for two, pull maple taffy, or immerse yourself in a traditional Sandinavian spa.
You can stay in the centre of the pedestrian village and hop straight on a gondola that will take you directly to the slopes.
Or, you can opt for the budget option and stay outside the village — perhaps in the original Old Tremblant Village, which is serviced by a local bus route. Whatever your budget, you simply can't escape the romance here.
Only a 90-minute drive from Montreal, it's the cherry on top of one of the world's most romantic locations.
Millionaire’s playground Aspen is still accessible to the rest of us, and, for the solo traveller, offers new people, interesting sights, and a pumping nightlife.
When you arrive, you can get acquainted through a Tour of Aspen, where locals lead orientation tours of the mountain every day — for free. They also give you advice on the terrain and anything else you need to know.
Aspen has four ski areas, known collectively as Aspen Snowmass. Buttermilk is great for beginners (and is a good place to get used to the altitude), Aspen Highlands is for intermediate and up, and Aspen Mountain (also known as "Ajax") caters to intermediate and advanced. Snowmass is larger than all three combined, and contains the bulk of the ski-in-ski-out lodging.
When you’re out and about in Aspen, there’s not shortage on ways to spend money, and whether it’s it, shopping, or après ski, you’re bound to spend a bit of cash. If you’re travelling alone, you might want to try the St Moritz lodge, which has single bunks on offer.
Another way to save cash is to eat alone at the bar: some places will give you a discount, and it’s a good way to meet other solo travellers.
But the best thing about Aspen is the people-watching...which doesn’t cost a cent and is surely this resort’s greatest attraction.
"On the hill, not over the hill" is the tagline for Smugglers' Notch 55+ Club, where everyone is welcome to make new friends and go skiing every Wednesday.
Affectionately known as "Smuggs", this resort has also been described as having a nostalgic feel.
Accommodation is also conveniently ski-in-ski-out and there's plenty of access to glade skiing, cross country skiing, and snowshoe adventures.
For those who prefer a less hectic pace, the Village Center at Morse mountain is 99% beginner terrain. But the resort also boasts the only triple black trail on the Eastern side for those who have honed their skills over the years and want to keep them sharp.
There are also events like the adults-only weekly snowshoe adventure dinner. The lift transports you to a candle-lit mountain cabin for a gourmet meal, and then you work off the calories by snow shoeing down to the base lodge.
Be sure to investigate the Smuggler’s Notch season pass deals for seniors, reserved areas in the lodge, and discounts in ski shops, rentals, and the ski school.
One of several independently owned ski areas in New Hampshire, Whaleback is run by a not-for-profit organisation. You're most likely to be mixing with people here who know the area well and are happy to share that knowledge with you and your family.
Whaleback isn’t a large resort, so your teenagers can enjoy more independence here than if you were at a larger ski field. And when they’re ready to come back to the pack, there are events the whole family can enjoy, including Thursday night race league and Friday night family dinner.
For families on a budget, this is an affordable resort, and it’s also possible to buy a Freedom Pass that will give you access to lift tickets at several other independently run fields.
The North American season goes from late November until late April, but it's important to check the weather where you're going. A dry winter means less snow, but the bigger resorts make their own snow, so check each resort when you’re honing in on dates.
Here's a quick guide to get you started:
This is the early season and, apart from Thanksgiving weekend, it’s more relaxed as there are fewer people around. This means good deals on lodging — but beware that all runs might not be open.
Best resorts: Whistler and Lake Louise in Canada get reliable early season snow.
Holiday season is the most popular time — and you’ll need to reserve everything, including restaurants.
Best resorts: Aspen in the US and Whistler in Canada are known for their epic Christmas celebrations.
You'll get excellent snow everywhere at this time of year, and there's plenty of room — especially mid-week (except around Martin Luther King Day and President's Day, when many locals take holidays).
Best resorts: Telluride, Colorado has great snow and fun activities like the annual comedy festival and Gay Ski Week. Additionally, Whaleback Mountain in New Hampshire is only open from the end of December to the end of February.
If you're into the combination of sun and snow, this is the month for you. Of course, it's also when most North American schools and universities have their week-long Spring Break — and not necessarily all in the same week. That means it can get pretty busy, but the upside of that is a contagious energy around the slopes and at apres-ski.
Best resorts: Snowbird, in Utah, and Wolf Creek, in Colorado, both get excellent snowfall due to altitude and north-facing slopes.
Believe it or not, there’s still snow at this time of the year, particularly at higher elevation resorts. This is when you’ll get great deals on lodgings, eating out and ski gear. You’ll also get chilly mornings and warm afternoons - and a lot less crowds.
Best resorts: The Alta Ski area (Utah, USA) gets consistently great snow at any time, and it's still amazing even when most of the others are finished for the year.
Even on inbound, controlled terrain, avalanches happen in the US, with a reported 40 deaths happening every year. Generally it’s because there’s a weaker layer of snow underneath a slab of snow. Human triggered avalanches happen when someone disturbs that top layer by walking/skiing on it.
Hard to believe, but bears can be a real danger in the North American snow. While they usually hide out in winter, they have been known to wander out in the snow, It’s important not to panic if you see one. Stay calm and back away (don’t run).
Ideally, prepare for your trip by starting your pre-ski fitness regime around six to eight weeks before you head off on holiday. Even light skiing uses muscles you might never even realised you had. With some light weights, yoga or pilates, you could avoid serious injury.
If you’re taking part in any winter sports, you need to add a Winter Sports Pack to your insurance policy to be covered for anything arising out of those events.
British Columbia is the heli-skiing capital of the world, and the sport is growing in popularity across North America. Make sure the operator you choose is a reputable one who's taken all the necessary precautions.
The Winter Sports Pack covers claims that may arise from amateur heli-skiing activities that do not involve any form of racing, acrobatics, jumping, aerial, stunting or freestyle. Terms and conditions, limits and exclusions apply. Please see the Policy Wording for more details.
If your sickness or injury is a claimable event under your policy, then you won’t need to pay your bills.
If you are treated as an outpatient, or if the total cost of the treatment will exceed $1000, please contact our emergency assistance service as soon as possible to obtain their prior approval.
In circumstances where the claim is approved, we can then provide written guarantees of payment of reasonable expenses for emergency hospitalisation that may be required while you are in the USA.
We will cover you for stopovers of up to two nights in the US but you must nominate the United States as a destination when you apply for cover.
If your you own winter sports equipment is lost, stolen or damaged (while not in use and in circumstances covered by the Policy Wording) we'll cover it.
If your hired ski rental gear is stolen or damaged, and you have provision to claim, we can cover the rental gear excess, or the cost of the repairs (whichever is lesser).