4 Best U.S. Destinations for Beginner Skiers

Backcountry Skier

Written by Jenny Hart on

Jenny Hart is a Brooklyn-based writer and surprisingly bad swimmer. She was once eluded by an octopus while diving in Spain and now will not rest until she sees one in the wild. Follow her on Instagram @jennyjhart.

Backcountry Skier

The shorter days and cooler temperatures of winter welcome in one of the all-time greatest outdoor activities: skiing. A sport as exhilarating as it is gorgeous, skiing can also be a bit daunting for those new to the slopes. (You are propelling down a mountain, after all.)

Thankfully, at the right mountain resort, skiing can be as easy as the pros make it seem. Whether you’re a newbie looking to develop your skill in a controlled environment, or are more interested in the après aspect of the sport, here are the four perfect U.S. winter retreats for beginner skiers. Pack your bags—the mountains are calling, and you must go.

Park City

Home of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Park City, Utah (just 28 miles east of Salt Lake City) is the ultimate place to learn to ski. If you end up taking a tumble or two, it’ll hardly hurt, as the powdery snow is as soft as a cloud.

Where to ski: Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort both boast incredible skiing, and as they are only minutes down the road from each other, it’s easy to clock in runs at each.

Where to eat and drink: Fireside Dining at the Empire Canyon Lodge offers a quintessential mountainside experience: Enjoy a four course meal served directly from stone fireplaces (featuring raclette, of course), then end the night with a horse-drawn sleigh ride outside.

Where to relax: Serenity Spa at Westgate Park City is one of the best spas in town. Rest your weary muscles in their waterfall-adorned indoor hot tub, which looks straight out of an episode of The Bachelor.

Where to play: Load your daypack with a few necessities and spend an afternoon adventuring at Utah Olympic Park. Try your hand at the ropes courses, or zoom down the official bobsled track from the 2002 Olympics—a professional driver will help you achieve speeds up to 60 mph.

North Lake Tahoe

Sitting along the California/Nevada border is Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America. Due to its sheer size, Lake Tahoe is actually split into two regions: North and South. Tahoe South (primarily Nevada) tends to get more attention, but as a result is often quite crowded. North Lake Tahoe (primarily California) has the same great quality of skiing, and far fewer folks to bump into on the bunny hill.

Where to ski: North Lake Tahoe boasts 11 ski resorts, with the largest (and arguably best) being Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. Home to the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley’s ski school is held at the top of the mountain (rather than at the base), so skiers of all abilities can take in the stunning views of the lake as they glide around.

Where to eat and drink: In addition to great dining, PlumpJack Café has a wine list to rival the best sommelier’s. Order a flight so you can taste as many as possible.

Where to relax: The Spa at Squaw Creek has incredible options for all ages. While adults enjoy a massage or facial, kids ages seven to 17 can unwind with one of the spa’s “Chillax Sessions.”

Where to Play: For an evening of fun, head to nearby Reno. Try your hand at the craps table and check out the local street art scene before dancing the night away at the Peppermill’s EDGE Nightclub.


While East Coast mountains tend to be icier than those in the West, this actually makes it a great place to learn to ski because it prepares you for all the elements. Vermont is well known to have some of the best skiing in this part of the country.

Where to ski: Jay Peak Resort in Jay, Vermont is one of only a few ski areas in the U.S. to offer “Terrain Based Learning,” which uses specially shaped terrain to help control a new skier’s speed and fight the fear of falling. Meanwhile, Cochran’s Ski Area in Richmond features former Olympians giving lessons.

Where to eat and drink: Head to the quaint town of Manchester to enjoy a classic New England dining experience. Built in 1769, Marsh Tavern counts many U.S. presidents among its past diners.

Where to relax: For true Vermont rejuvenation, have a Maple Scrub at the Spa at the Equinox in Manchester. Lumberjack or not, you’ll smell as good as you feel.

Where to play: The Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster at Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow offers an alternative—and equally epic—way to cruise down the mountain. Riders can control the acceleration of their sled-like cars, which are able to hit pretty considerable speeds.


The Colorado Rockies set the standard for American ski destinations, and Vail, home to Olympians such as Lindsey Vonn, is no exception.

Where to ski: Though Vail Resorts now owns mountain resorts across the globe, there’s nothing like skiing the OG, Vail Mountain. With 5,289 acres of skiable terrain, it’s one of the largest in the world.

Where to eat and drink: There is no better way to start your day than with breakfast at Ludwig’s. Order a la carte or indulge in its critically acclaimed buffet to nom on every morning treat imaginable.

Where to relax: The Sonnenalp Spa is next level. In addition to its treatments, the spa has a cozy fireplace, heated indoor and outdoor pools, and an oxygen bar to combat any altitude sickness.

Where to play: The twinkling lights of Vail Village are home to a lovely ice skating rink, spots to sip tasty beer and whiskey, and many shops, some of which sell t-shirts poking fun at Vail’s rivalry with nearby Aspen.

Whether you’re new to skiing or not, don’t forget to use packing cubes and dry sacks to tidily separate souvenirs from worn ski gear before your journey home.

Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

How to Survive the Crowds During a Holiday Ski Trip

How to Get Over Your Fear of Skiing

4 Pre-Ski Exercises That Will Keep You Limber