Northstar Ski Resort

The Best Family-Friendly Ski Resort in Each State

Finding the best ski resort in the United States can be a bit of a challenging proposition. Expert skiers will want to see the resorts with the most challenging hills. Beginners will want a hill they can both learn and expand on their skills at. Casual skiers may consider the best ski resort one that has the best amenities within the best state.

For this list, we decided to choose the top resort in each state that the whole family can enjoy. This means that we try to find resorts that have plenty of options to stay the night, enough trails that every skill level, and are close to major metro areas (to make the travel a little easier). Not every ski resort meets every one of our requirements, but we do our best to find.

Alabama

By default, Cloudmont is the best – and only – ski resort in Alabama. To be honest, I’m a little surprised that there are any ski areas in this state.

Cloudmont

Cloudmont is an extremely beginner-friendly ski area. It is in fact one of the easiest ski slopes in all of North America, ranking in the bottom 10% of overall difficulty. This is due to it having 50% of its trails are rated as “beginner”, and a vertical drop of only 150 feet.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  1,800′
Vertical:  150′
Base:  1,650′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  2
Lifts:  2
Acres:  10

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  50%
Intermediate:  50%
Expert:  0%

More Information…

Alaska

Eaglecrest is the only ski resort associated with a nationwide pass system (INDY), and its also in the capital city of Juneau.

Eaglecrest

Eaglecrest can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 80% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  2,600′
Vertical:  1,400′
Base:  1,200′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  31
Lifts:  4
Acres:  640

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  20%
Intermediate:  40%
Expert:  40%

More Information…

Arizona

The largest ski resort in Arizona, the Snowball has a healthy distribution of trails for all skill levels.

Arizona Snowball

Arizona Snowball is more difficult than the average ski slope. 78% of its trails rated as either intermediate or expert-level, which doesn’t leave much for the beginners.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  12,000′
Vertical:  2,800′
Base:  9,200′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  55
Lifts:  8
Acres:  777

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  22%
Intermediate:  43%
Expert:  35%

More Information…

California

While Heavenly is one of the largest ski resorts in the state (and country, for that matter), it also offers quite a bit for the rest of your family as well. There is a wide array of activities for kids of all ages to enjoy, such as family-friendly restaurants, snow tubing, and even an alpine coaster.

Heavenly

Heavenly is one of the hardest ski areas in the country. It ranks in the top 10% of most-difficult ski resorts in all of North America, mostly due to the fact that it has 30% of its trails rated as expert-level, and a vertical drop of 3,527 feet.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  10,067′
Vertical:  3,527′
Base:  6,540′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  97
Lifts:  28
Acres:  4,800

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  8%
Intermediate:  62%
Expert:  30%

More Information…

Colorado

Only an hour-and-a-half from downtown Denver, Keystone Resort has something for everyone, which includes ski classes, their Family Ski Trail, and the gondola.

Keystone

Keystone is more difficult than the average ski slope. 84% of its trails rated as either intermediate or expert-level, which doesn’t leave much for the beginners.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  12,408′
Vertical:  3,128′
Base:  9,280′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  128
Lifts:  20
Acres:  3,148

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  16%
Intermediate:  43%
Expert:  41%

More Information…

Connecticut

The largest ski resort in Connecticut, Mohawk Mountain, has a great mix of trails for every skill level, snow tubing, and local inns that are super close to the resort.

Mohawk Mountain

Mohawk Mountain can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 80% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  1,600′
Vertical:  640′
Base:  960′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  25
Lifts:  7
Acres:  107

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  20%
Intermediate:  60%
Expert:  20%

More Information…

Idaho

While Sun Valley has the highest summit and vertical drop in the state, it also has a healthy percentage of its trails rated for beginners. A part of the IKON ski pass, Sun Valley was also rated North America’s top ski resort in 2021/22 by SKI Magazine.

Sun Valley

Sun Valley is more difficult than the average ski slope. 64% of its trails rated as either intermediate or expert-level, which doesn’t leave much for the beginners.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  9,150′
Vertical:  3,400′
Base:  5,750′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  75
Lifts:  20
Acres:  2,054

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  36%
Intermediate:  42%
Expert:  22%

More Information…

Illinois

Chestnut Mountain is the largest ski area in Illinois, which is a state that doesn’t have many. However, the onsite accommodations, and slopes that fit all skill levels makes this the best place to ski with your family in Illinois.

Chestnut Mountain

Chestnut Mountain can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 70% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  1,040′
Vertical:  475′
Base:  565′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  19
Lifts:  9
Acres:  146

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  30%
Intermediate:  40%
Expert:  30%

More Information…

Indiana

Owned by Vail Resorts, Paoli Peaks has the most amenities of the two ski resorts in Indiana.

Paoli Peaks

Paoli Peaks is an extremely beginner-friendly ski area. It is in fact one of the easiest ski slopes in all of North America, ranking in the bottom 10% of overall difficulty. This is due to it having 25% of its trails are rated as “beginner”, and a vertical drop of only 300 feet.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  900′
Vertical:  300′
Base:  600′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  15
Lifts:  8
Acres:  65

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  25%
Intermediate:  55%
Expert:  20%

More Information…

Iowa

While not the most difficult ski area in Iowa, Sundown Mountain has double the number of trails of any other Iowan ski resort. In a state known for its flat terrain, Sundown has an almost 500 ft vertical drop, making it challenging enough for the experienced skier.

Sundown Mountain

Sundown Mountain is an extremely beginner-friendly ski area. It is in fact one of the easiest ski slopes in all of North America, ranking in the bottom 10% of overall difficulty. This is due to it having 40% of its trails are rated as “beginner”, and a vertical drop of only 475 feet.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  1,059′
Vertical:  475′
Base:  584′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  21
Lifts:  6
Acres:  55

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  40%
Intermediate:  40%
Expert:  20%

More Information…

Maine

This came down to Sunday River in and Saddleback. Both are in the western part of Maine, onsite lodging, and average difficulty scores. What brings Sunday River to the top is the fact that it has way more trails than Saddleback, which means you’ll be able to find the perfect run that you and your little ones can both enjoy.

Sunday River

Sunday River can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 70% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  3,140′
Vertical:  2,340′
Base:  800′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  135
Lifts:  18
Acres:  870

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  30%
Intermediate:  36%
Expert:  34%

More Information…

Maryland

While it’s the only ski resort in Maryland, Wisp still holds its own with a 700 ft vertical drop, over 30 trials that are evenly split between different skill levels.

Wisp

Wisp can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 73% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  3,115′
Vertical:  700′
Base:  2,415′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  33
Lifts:  14
Acres:  172

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  27%
Intermediate:  42%
Expert:  31%

More Information…

Massachusetts

Jiminy Peak is the largest ski and snowboard resort in southern New England. It has an adventure park in the summer, and a Kids Rule Mountain Camp in the winter that teaches kids how to ski and snowboard.

Jiminy Peak

Jiminy Peak can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 78% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  2,380′
Vertical:  1,130′
Base:  1,250′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  45
Lifts:  9
Acres:  170

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  22%
Intermediate:  45%
Expert:  33%

More Information…

Michigan

Cannonsburg is an average-difficulty ski resort with loads of activities and programs to teach kids to love the snow.

Cannonsburg

Cannonsburg can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 80% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  1,100′
Vertical:  250′
Base:  850′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  19
Lifts:  10
Acres:  100

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  20%
Intermediate:  25%
Expert:  55%

More Information…

Minnesota

Another Vail-owned resort, Afton Alps has the most lifts and trails of any ski resort in Minnesota. Nestled in the scenic St. Croix River Valley just outside Minneapolis and St. Paul, this sprawling resort provides its guests with multiple restaurants, and top-notch instructors.

Afton Alps

Afton Alps is an extremely beginner-friendly ski area. It is in fact one of the easiest ski slopes in all of North America, ranking in the bottom 10% of overall difficulty. This is due to it having 30% of its trails are rated as “beginner”, and a vertical drop of only 350 feet.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  1,530′
Vertical:  350′
Base:  1,180′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  48
Lifts:  21
Acres:  250

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  30%
Intermediate:  49%
Expert:  21%

More Information…

Missouri

With only two ski resorts located in Missouri, we didn’t have too many options to choose from. Amazingly, both resorts are Vail-owned, so you can always expect a fantastic experience with great food options. We chose Hidden Valley because it has a slightly higher vertical, and a couple more trails than Snow Creek.

Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley is an extremely beginner-friendly ski area. It is in fact one of the easiest ski slopes in all of North America, ranking in the bottom 10% of overall difficulty. This is due to it having 40% of its trails are rated as “beginner”, and a vertical drop of only 310 feet.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  2,566′
Vertical:  310′
Base:  2,316′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  15
Lifts:  7
Acres:  30

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  40%
Intermediate:  47%
Expert:  13%

More Information…

Montana

Big Sky is an experience that everyone has to enjoy at least once. The Mountain Village surrounding Big Sky is one of the best in all of ski-land, and the mountain itself has the best lifts known to man. Yes, it is a difficult resort to ski, but with over 300 trails, everyone will surely be able to find a run (or 10) that suits their skill level.

Big Sky Resort

Big Sky Resort is one of the hardest ski areas in the country. It ranks in the top 10% of most-difficult ski resorts in all of North America, mostly due to the fact that it has 60% of its trails rated as expert-level, and a vertical drop of 3,666 feet.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  11,166′
Vertical:  3,666′
Base:  7,500′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  317
Lifts:  36
Acres:  5,800

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  15%
Intermediate:  25%
Expert:  60%

More Information…

Nevada

Of all the ski resorts surrounding Lake Tahoe, only two are actually in Nevada (Reno, to be exact). Mount Rose has the most trails, the best diversity, and is located in the hotbed of skiing – so it just had to be our pick here.

Mount Rose

Mount Rose is more difficult than the average ski slope. 80% of its trails rated as either intermediate or expert-level, which doesn’t leave much for the beginners.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  9,700′
Vertical:  1,800′
Base:  7,900′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  65
Lifts:  8
Acres:  1,200

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  20%
Intermediate:  30%
Expert:  50%

More Information…

New Hampshire

Loon Mountain is the Goldilocks of New Hampshire ski resorts. It’s not too tall, but tall enough. It also has a respectable number of trails, which are evenly distributed across all skill levels.

Loon Mountain

Loon Mountain can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 80% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  3,050′
Vertical:  2,100′
Base:  950′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  61
Lifts:  12
Acres:  370

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  20%
Intermediate:  60%
Expert:  20%

More Information…

New Jersey

New Jersey is another state that didn’t give us too much to work with. With only 3 resorts (1 is youth only), we decided to go with Mountain Creek. It is the largest of all ski resorts in NJ by a mile, so finding a slope here that fits your skill level shouldn’t be too difficult.

Mountain Creek

Mountain Creek can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 80% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  1,480′
Vertical:  1,040′
Base:  440′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  41
Lifts:  9
Acres:  167

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  20%
Intermediate:  57%
Expert:  23%

More Information…

New Mexico

Taos Ski Valley is the steepest and largest of all New Mexico’s ski resorts. This also means it has the most amenities like onsite lodging and a number of restaurants. While there are a huge amount of black diamond and double-black diamond trails, there are still over 180 acres dedicated to of beginners.

Taos Ski Valley

Taos Ski Valley is one of the hardest ski areas in the country. It ranks in the top 10% of most-difficult ski resorts in all of North America, mostly due to the fact that it has 70% of its trails rated as expert-level, and a vertical drop of 3,281 feet.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  12,481′
Vertical:  3,281′
Base:  9,200′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  110
Lifts:  14
Acres:  1,294

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  14%
Intermediate:  16%
Expert:  70%

More Information…

New York

Whiteface Mountain

Whiteface Mountain is one of the hardest ski areas in the country. It ranks in the top 10% of most-difficult ski resorts in all of North America, mostly due to the fact that it has 38% of its trails rated as expert-level, and a vertical drop of 3,430 feet.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  4,650′
Vertical:  3,430′
Base:  1,220′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  90
Lifts:  11
Acres:  299

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  20%
Intermediate:  42%
Expert:  38%

More Information…

North Carolina

Beech Mountain

Beech Mountain can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 70% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  5,505′
Vertical:  830′
Base:  4,675′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  17
Lifts:  8
Acres:  95

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  30%
Intermediate:  40%
Expert:  30%

More Information…

North Dakota

Frost Fire

Frost Fire can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 75% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  1,350′
Vertical:  350′
Base:  1,000′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  10
Lifts:  3
Acres:  25

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  25%
Intermediate:  25%
Expert:  50%

More Information…

Ohio

Alpine Valley

Alpine Valley can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 67% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  1,500′
Vertical:  240′
Base:  1,260′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  11
Lifts:  6
Acres:  72

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  33%
Intermediate:  34%
Expert:  33%

More Information…

Oregon

Timberline Lodge

Timberline Lodge is more difficult than the average ski slope. 75% of its trails rated as either intermediate or expert-level, which doesn’t leave much for the beginners.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  8,540′
Vertical:  3,690′
Base:  4,850′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  41
Lifts:  8
Acres:  1,415

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  25%
Intermediate:  50%
Expert:  25%

More Information…

Pennsylvania

Blue Knob

Blue Knob can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 85% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  3,172′
Vertical:  1,098′
Base:  2,074′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  34
Lifts:  5
Acres:  100

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  15%
Intermediate:  41%
Expert:  44%

More Information…

Rhode Island

Yawgoo

Yawgoo is an extremely beginner-friendly ski area. It is in fact one of the easiest ski slopes in all of North America, ranking in the bottom 10% of overall difficulty. This is due to it having 50% of its trails are rated as “beginner”, and a vertical drop of only 245 feet.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  315′
Vertical:  245′
Base:  70′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  12
Lifts:  4
Acres:  36

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  50%
Intermediate:  30%
Expert:  20%

More Information…

South Dakota

Terry Peak

Terry Peak can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 80% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  7,100′
Vertical:  1,100′
Base:  5,900′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  30
Lifts:  5
Acres:  450

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  20%
Intermediate:  60%
Expert:  20%

More Information…

Tennessee

Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 80% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  3,300′
Vertical:  600′
Base:  2,700′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  10
Lifts:  4
Acres:  32

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  20%
Intermediate:  60%
Expert:  20%

More Information…

Utah

Deer Valley

Deer Valley is more difficult than the average ski slope. 73% of its trails rated as either intermediate or expert-level, which doesn’t leave much for the beginners.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  9,570′
Vertical:  3,000′
Base:  6,570′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  103
Lifts:  21
Acres:  2,026

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  27%
Intermediate:  31%
Expert:  42%

More Information…

Vermont

Killington

Killington is more difficult than the average ski slope. 83% of its trails rated as either intermediate or expert-level, which doesn’t leave much for the beginners.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  4,241′
Vertical:  3,076′
Base:  1,165′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  155
Lifts:  22
Acres:  1,526

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  18%
Intermediate:  43%
Expert:  40%

More Information…

Virginia

Massanutten

Massanutten can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 70% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  2,925′
Vertical:  1,175′
Base:  1,750′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  14
Lifts:  7
Acres:  70

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  30%
Intermediate:  35%
Expert:  35%

More Information…

Washington

Crystal Mountain

Crystal Mountain is more difficult than the average ski slope. 89% of its trails rated as either intermediate or expert-level, which doesn’t leave much for the beginners.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  7,012′
Vertical:  2,612′
Base:  4,400′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  85
Lifts:  10
Acres:  2,600

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  11%
Intermediate:  54%
Expert:  35%

More Information…

West Virginia

While Snowshoe Mountain is West Virginia’s largest resort, that distinction provides more beginner trails than others, as well as onside lodging and more space to get out and have fun.

Snowshoe Mountain

Snowshoe Mountain can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 60% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  4,848′
Vertical:  1,500′
Base:  3,348′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  61
Lifts:  12
Acres:  257

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  40%
Intermediate:  33%
Expert:  27%

More Information…

Wisconsin

Wilmot Mountain

Wilmot Mountain can be beginner-friendly, but it depends on the ski trails you ride. While it ranks in the lower half of all North American ski areas in terms of overall difficulty, it still has 70% of its trails rated at or above intermediate ski level.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  1,030′
Vertical:  230′
Base:  800′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  25
Lifts:  8
Acres:  120

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  30%
Intermediate:  30%
Expert:  40%

More Information…

Wyoming

Grand Targhee Resort is very family-friendly. In addition to being much more affordable than the more popular ski resorts in Wyoming, they also offer a beginner area with its own lift ticket and children under 5 always ski free.

Grand Targhee

Grand Targhee is more difficult than the average ski slope. 90% of its trails rated as either intermediate or expert-level, which doesn’t leave much for the beginners.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  10,000′
Vertical:  2,592′
Base:  7,408′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  72
Lifts:  5
Acres:  3,000

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  10%
Intermediate:  70%
Expert:  20%

More Information…