The Rocky Mountains region of the US is considered the best ski region in the United States. Colorado and Wyoming contain the top four most difficult ski areas in North America.
Explaining our Criteria
Here at Parks & Trips, we created a proprietary Difficulty Score thats generated by combining a number of metrics for each resort. Primarily, we look at the count of easy-intermediate-expert slopes by acreage and the maximum vertical drop of the overall resort.
Our algorithm compares each resort’s metrics with all others in North America, then gives each a Difficulty Score, which we use to rank them accordingly. Resorts with a lower score are easier than those with a higher one. However, a high score does not mean that the resort does not have any easy slopes, or vice versa. This is just an overall score given to the resort based on all its metrics grouped together.
The Most Difficult Ski Resort in the Rocky Mountains
1. Silverton, CO
Silverton is a unique ski area. Not really a “resort”, this massive mountain has none of the frills that you’d typically see. Silverton boasts that its average total snowfall actually exceeds its amount of daily visitors. This mountain only has advanced and expert trails, no groomers, and no clear-cut runs.
2. Aspen Highlands, CO
The top “normal” ski resort in terms of difficulty is Aspen Highlands. Aspen Highlands is a part of a 4-resort hill that also includes Aspen Snowmass, Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk. What makes Aspen Highlands so difficult is that out of its 144 trails, not one is rated for beginners. While it isn’t the largest or steepest, it is about as purely difficult as a ski resort can get.
3. Telluride, CO
The next most difficult ski resort in the Rockies is Telluride. Telluride has the steepest vertical drop in the region and the second-highest summit, just behind Silverton. In fact, these two ski area summits are only a few miles apart, however the drive is over 79 miles away.
4. Aspen Snowmass, CO
200 miles north of Telluride, Aspen Snowmass comes in third place of most challenging ski resorts in the Rockies. While Telluride and Aspen Snowmass have a similar vertical drop, Aspen has about 10% less expert-level trails.
5. Jackson Hole, WY
Jackson Hole in Wyoming rounds out the top four. This iconic ski resort is the town of Jackson, and is by far the largest ski area (by elevation and size) in the state of Wyoming.