It may come as a surprise that 37 of the 50 states have resorts open for skiing or snowboarding. Nevertheless, as you might imagine, many of these areas are going to be better than others, and with some of the most dramatic mountain scenery found anywhere in North America the United States has no shortage of ski resorts to choose from.
Although the highest alpine peaks in America remain snowcapped throughout the year, the first resorts to typically open are the ones at higher elevation in the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado. With some resorts opening as early as mid-October, places such as Arapahoe Basin offer slopes which top out above 13,000 feet and are the first to see measurable snowfall during the beginning of fall.
The rest of the winter snow is never very far behind Colorado, however, and by early-December ski resorts from Park City, Utah to Lake Tahoe, California are all open and ready for business. Other resorts considered to be among the best in the country are California’s Mammoth Mountain, Montana’s Big Sky, Colorado’s Vail and Aspen, New Mexico’s Taos, and Wyoming’s Jackson Hole. Further north, Alaska is known for its steep and wild backcountry, and on rare days when the conditions are right you can even ski the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii!
In most years the ski resorts in the western US will stay open until late-May and even early-June, although 4th of July skiing isn’t unheard. At Oregon’s Timberline resort on Mt. Hood it’s even possible to ski all summer on what is perhaps America’s most famous glacier.
While the mountains on the east coast of the United States don’t have quite the same altitude or vertical drops as their brethren out west, classic resorts such as Vermont’s Stowe or New York’s Lake Placid are usually open by late-November and will stay open all the way through May. Resorts further south in the Appalachian states of North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia also offer decent skiing for those without the time to travel far from home, although when it comes to the best skiing in the country the sprawling resorts of Lake Tahoe and the Rockies simply cannot be beat.