Grand Targhee Ski

The Most Challenging Ski Areas in the Rocky Mountains

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.

Colorado has over 50% of the ski resorts listed on this page. Montana contains the second most, with Wyoming coming in third.

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.

Silverton: The Most Difficult Ski Resort in the Rocky Mountains

Silverton

Silverton 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 100% of its trails rated as expert-level, and a vertical drop of 3,447 feet.

Mountain Stats

Summit:  13,847′
Vertical:  3,447′
Base:  10,400′

Terrain Stats

Trails:  69
Lifts:  1
Acres:  1,819

Trail Breakdown

Beginner:  0%
Intermediate:  0%
Expert:  100%

More Information…

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 clearcut runs.

The top “normal” ski resort in terms of difficulty is Telluride in Colorado. 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.

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.

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.

Top 25 Challenging Rocky Mountain Ski Resorts

RankResortSummit Elev.Vertical DropExpert TrailsDifficulty ScoreTM
#1Silverton (CO)13,847 ft3,447 ft100%100.0%
#2Telluride (CO)13,320 ft4,570 ft54%89.0%
#3Aspen Snowmass (CO)12,510 ft4,406 ft44%86.0%
#4Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (WY)10,450 ft4,139 ft50%84.6%
#5Big Sky Resort (MT)11,166 ft3,666 ft60%82.5%
#6Breckenridge (CO)12,998 ft3,398 ft64%81.9%
#7Steamboat (CO)10,568 ft3,668 ft44%76.4%
#8Arapahoe Basin (CO)13,050 ft2,270 ft73%75.6%
#9Crested Butte (CO)12,162 ft2,787 ft61%74.2%
#10Bridger Bowl (MT)8,700 ft2,600 ft60%72.5%
#11Vail (CO)11,570 ft3,450 ft44%72.1%
#12Winter Park (CO)12,060 ft3,060 ft54%71.6%
#13Keystone (CO)12,408 ft3,128 ft41%69.3%
#14Montana Snowbowl (MT)7,600 ft2,600 ft50%69.1%
#15Turner Mountain (MT)5,952 ft2,110 ft60%68.1%
#16Red Lodge Mountain (MT)9,416 ft2,400 ft56%67.0%
#17Discovery Basin (MT)8,158 ft2,388 ft55%66.3%
#18Copper Mountain (CO)12,313 ft2,601 ft51%65.5%
#19Whitefish Mountain (MT)6,817 ft2,353 ft50%65.2%
#20Loveland (CO)13,010 ft2,210 ft46%62.7%
#21Beaver Creek (CO)11,440 ft3,340 ft32%62.0%
#22Snow King (WY)7,808 ft1,571 ft58%59.7%
#23Maverick Mountain (MT)8,820 ft2,020 ft45%58.6%
#24Powderhorn (CO)9,850 ft1,650 ft53%58.3%
#25Grand Targhee (WY)10,000 ft2,592 ft20%57.1%