Skiing in the USA is a very different concept to skiing in the Alps. The skiing areas are smaller but the pistes are much quieter and the chances of fresh snow much higher. Piste grooming in the States is also legendary and the quality of the snow is often excellent. The skiing is often tree-lined and most resorts offer something for everyone. And if you have a car there are often other resorts close by to investigate.
On the downside if you are looking for miles and miles of runs and lots of variety then the big ski areas of Europe might be better. Also if long luxurious lunches on the mountain are your thing, then you may be disappointed in the US as most on-mountain restaurants are self service.
Good All-Levels Skiing in the USA
If you are looking to go skiing in the US but have a group of all levels then Breckenridge, Vail and Aspen, both offer good skiing for all levels. Mammoth and Winter Park also offer something for everyone.
Beginners Skiing in the USA
If you are a beginner there are plenty of great ski resorts in the States where you can learn to ski. Ski schools are of a high standard but your teacher and group may chop and change as the week goes on as it’s not so normal for a week of lessons to be booked as it is in Europe.
Winter Park has excellent beginner slopes and a highly rated ski school. Buttermilk ski area in Aspen is ideal for beginners and in Steamboat there is an excellent beginner’s area at the base. Heavenly has a very good beginner’s area at the top of the gondola. Mammoth has an excellent ski school and a good variety of runs to get beginners moving. Beaver Creek has an excellent nursery slope at the village base and also good runs to progress to. Breckenridge also has a great nursery area at the bottom of Peak 9 with good runs to move up to.
Intermediate Skiing in the USA
Aspen, Vail & Breckenridge are great for motorway cruising, Heavenly offers dramatic skiing with enough cruising skiing for intermediates to enjoy. Mammoth offers well groomed and flattering pistes that intermediates will love.
Expert Skiing in the USA
Aspen has a big selection of challenging double black diamond runs to keep experts happy. Jackson Hole is famous for its steep and deep skiing and for the truly extreme Corbet’s Couloir – a chute that can only be accessed by a scary 4 metre drop. The Mary Jane sector in Winter Park is the place to head if you like your skiing steep and bumpy. Squaw Valley is the home of extreme ski movies and there’s lots of challenging skiing, however a guide is recommended to get the most out of the un-marked ski area.
Off Piste Skiing in the USA
Although many areas in the USA prohibit skiing out-side of boundaries, most resorts do offer back bowls and tree skiing that is patrolled and therefore safer than European off-piste skiing. The chances of getting fresh snow is also a lot higher than in Europe.
The Colorado resorts all have a great snow-record and if the snow comes late the snow-making is so good that good bases are laid down early on.