The Best Ski Resorts to Visit This Winter

by Kenzie Mastroe
Jan 4, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. ET

I love to tell people I began skiing when I was a month old because it sounds ridiculous, but it's true. My parents were ski instructors and used to strap me into a backpack every time they hit the slopes. Parents these days would probably be reported for such behavior, but hey, it was the '80s. I started skiing on my own when I was about 2 years old, and my parents took my brothers and me to ski resorts all over the place as we got older. I've learned a thing or two along the way about what makes an excellent ski destination.

First, the snow. The best ski resorts are located at high elevations where the snow is drier, fluffier and way more fun to shred. Second, the variety of trails. Skiing is the most fun when you're able to go with friends and family, but not everyone in your group will be at the same skill level, so it's important that a great resort has a wide variety of terrain for every type of skier. Third, the atmosphere. You're going to have fun on and off the slopes, so the vibe of the town you're skiing in plays a big part in your overall experience.

Whether you're an advanced skier looking for the best new off-piste ski destinations to test out or you're a parent looking for a place for your kids to learn to ski for the first time, the following resorts are sure to be an enjoyable experience for everyone.

1 /9: Club Med Grand Massif Samoëns Morillon

1/9 :Club Med Grand Massif Samoëns Morillon

When you hear the name Club Med, a luxury family-friendly ski resort probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. You could not be more wrong. This place is the ultimate ski destination for family-friendly convenience. When you book your stay at Club Med's newest resort, Grand Massif Samoëns Morillon in the French Alps, you give them some info on the type and size of ski equipment you want, and when you arrive, your ski equipment has been adjusted and put in a locker for you. It does not get easier than this, folks.

I visited this resort last month for their grand opening, and I must say, I've skied in a lot of places all over the world, but the snow on these mountains was the best I have ever experienced. It was the perfect dry, fluffy powder that skiers dream of. The resort also caters to every type of skier. There are tons of trails for everyone, from the first-time skier to the expert looking for a new adventure.

If après-ski is more your jam, this all-inclusive resort also features a luxurious spa, three restaurants (one catered specifically to kids and families), a bar, a pool and fitness center and several lounges for you to sit back and enjoy the mountain views from.

A quick gondola ride from the resort also brings you directly down into the town of Samoëns which looks exactly like something out of a Disney movie. There's lots of shopping, bars, restaurants and Instagram-worthy scenery.

2 /9: Lake Louise

2/9 :Lake Louise

Just a short drive from the Calgary airport in Alberta, Canada, Lake Louise Ski Resort is situated in the breathtaking city of Banff. The resort is named after one of Banff's most famous attractions, Lake Louise, and it looks more like a place in Narnia than a real-life location (see proof here). 

Lake Louise offers pristine skiing and a great terrain park, but they also have a ton of other fun winter activities for you to partake in too. Sledding, snowshoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing, heli-skiing... if there's a winter activity you want to try, you can probably do it here.

During your downtime, the city of Banff is very walkable and fun to explore. There are lots of cute little shops, amazing bakeries and restaurants and local arts venues to check out.

3 /9: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

3/9 :Jackson Hole, Wyoming

If you prefer to ski greens and blues, Jackson Hole may not have as many trails for you as some of the others on this list. But if you're looking for some more adventurous trails or even off-piste skiing in the western U.S., this is the spot for you. Known as the unofficial gateway to Yellowstone, Jackson Hole is a gorgeous town that has been growing in popularity over the years but still isn't the tourist trap more popular resorts like Aspen or Breckenridge have turned into. If you're traveling with nonskiers, the town has plenty to keep them occupied while you tear up the slopes. The food scene continues to grow, and there's plenty of shopping and après-ski activities everyone in your group can enjoy.

4 /9: Niseko

4/9 :Niseko

Niseko ski resort, located in Hokkaido, Japan, is just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the Chitose Airport and one of the best-kept secrets of the ski world. The snow is amazing, there are tons of powder-filled bowls and tree lines to ski, but the best part — it's not crowded! And there's nothing worse than having to wait 45 minutes just to get on a lift.

Your ski pass grants you access to four different ski areas (Grand Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village and An’nupuri) as well as a shuttle to take you to the different areas. Kids under 6 years old ski for free, and with access to four separate areas, there is a huge variety of trails for everyone to enjoy.

5/9 :Alta

Alta ski area, located south of Salt Lake City, doesn't have all the luxurious amenities some of the other places on this list have, but it does have amazing snow and great terrain. There are lots of groomers for new and intermediate-level skiers and tons of great backcountry skiing for the thrill seekers. 

6 /9: Squaw Valley

The Best Ski Resorts of 2018

6/9 :Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley ski resort is another great option for families or groups with varying levels of skiing abilities. It's located in the gorgeous Lake Tahoe area of California and has a whopping 6,000 skiable acres. About 65 percent of the resort is dedicated to beginner and intermediate skiers, but there are still plenty of trails for the more advanced skiers.

Another cool thing about Squaw Valley? They have a lot of environmental initiatives that ensure California's amazing natural alpine environment is preserved so the area can continue to be enjoyed by future generations.

7 /9: Wolf Creek

7/9 :Wolf Creek

Colorado is famous for its skiing. You've probably heard of (or been to) Aspen, Telluride, Breckenridge or Vail, and there are a lot of great things about each of those places. They're all beautiful and have great skiing, but if you've been to one of them, you know they can also be some of the most crowded places on Earth during the winter. 

That's why I have included the lesser-known Wolf Creek on this list. It's located in southern Colorado near Papago Springs. It's smaller than the more famous resorts further north, but it has everything you need for epic skiing. There's terrain for every level and several eateries right on the mountain. It's not the fanciest resort you'll ever visit, but it is a very authentic Colorado skiing experience. 

8 /9: Mt. Baker

8/9 :Mt. Baker

We couldn't leave the gorgeous Pacific North West off this list. Situated in the picturesque Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington state, Mt. Baker continues to grow in popularity.

Year after year, they have one of the highest snow bases in the U.S., so you know the snow is good. It's also one of the most affordable spots on our list, mostly due to their killer deal for beginners. For just $49, you can get a beginner's lesson, rentals and a ski pass for the day. They also have live music right on the mountain almost every weekend. This gives Mt. Baker a super-low-key but fun vibe.

Mt. Baker is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Seattle, so you can easily squeeze in some time in the city during your stay.

9/9 :Pin it!

Don't forget to pin this list for later!