For serious skiers, winter trips aren’t merely a travel option, they’re a required pilgrimage.
But the inevitable question always arises: Where to ski? Some people adhere to tradition, faithfully returning to the same slopes, the same secret stashes, year after year. For many, however, the draw of finding new experiences requires new plans with novel trips to different resorts.
Ski resorts, perhaps more than any other kind of nature-based destination, lend themselves to being scored, graded and ranked. Whereas the metrics on a beach or a hotel might be subjective, ski resorts have hard measurements that can be compared and weighed, like vertical drop, snow quantity, snow quality and ease-of-travel.
USA TODAY Travel asked ZRankings, which uses a unique mix of hard data and expert opinions to paint a full picture of the 20 top ski resorts in North America, to create custom resort ratings.
ZRankings put significant weight on factors most important to USA TODAY readers, including ease of travel to a resort, the breadth and variety of its terrain, and the quality of a resort’s dining, lodging and nightlife. Using this set of criteria, ZRanking’s system assigned each resort a score called the Pure Awesomeness Factor.
For USA TODAY, this score is referred to as the USAT-PAF, and is used to rank the 20 best ski resorts in North America.
Readers who like more expert terrain or for who seek only the most family-friendly resorts can create their own sets of ski resort rankings using ZRankings’ Perfect Ski Resort Finder.
The top 20 ski resorts in North America ranked by USAT-PAF
1. Park City Mountain Resort, 99.0
2. Aspen Snowmass, 96.1
3. Whistler-Blackcomb, 93.9
4. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, 92.7
5. Telluride, 91.9
6. Snowbird, 91.4
7. Vail, 90.8
8. Alta, 90.5
9. Steamboat, 89.9
10. Beaver Creek, 89.7
11. Winter Park, 89.5
12. Breckenridge, 89.1
13. Deer Valley, 88.7
14. Big Sky, 87.1
15. Squaw Valley, 85.9
16. Copper Mountain, 82.1
17. Crested Butte, 82.0
18. Revelstoke, 81.4
19. Taos, 81.0
20. Solitude Mountain Resort, 80.7