Ski Vail, CO

What is the Best State for Skiing?

We at Parks & Trips love data. If you could see the spreadsheets of data we have on everything from airports, to local and national parks to ski resorts, you’d be astounded. But we don’t collect it just so it can gather dust. We like to find interesting tidbits of information that is simply not found on other sites.

Which leads us to this article.

We wanted to crunch our ski data – full of information on over 370 US ski resorts – to find out which states are the best for skiing.

What we quickly found out was that “the best” can have many permutations. Are you looking for the best state for beginner skiers? What about the best for expert-level skiers? Does the best state simply have the most resorts? What about acreage?

Clearly, there wasn’t going to be just one answer to this question.

The US Best State for Expert Skiers: Colorado

Colorado has the two most difficult ski resorts in North America (Silverton & Telluride). It’s average Difficulty Score, Vertical Drop and Summit Elevations are all the highest in the US. It’s average skiable acreage is second highest. Everything about Colorado screams “Ski Mecca!”, and experts flock to this state every winter.

The US Best State for Volume: New York

New York has the most ski resorts with 34. Michigan comes in at a close second place with 31. While both states are in the bottom half in average difficulty, each hold their own in terms of overall difficulty range. Both states have resorts that reach into the 70% difficulty range, and as far down as the low teens. So not only do you have the most resorts to choose from in these states, you also have the widest array of skill level resorts too.

The US Best Region: Rocky Mountains

US Mountain Ranges Map

This should come as no surprise to anyone. The Rockies is the highest mountain range in the US, and it has the largest footprint in the US as well. All four of the major mountain ranges in the US have their great ski resorts, but the sheer amount and size of the ski slopes in the Rockies is simply unmatched.

The US Best State for a National Park + Ski Trip: California

California National Parks & Ski Map

California has the most national parks of any singular state, and it is tied for third-most ski resorts in the country. Logic says that they have to come into close contact with each other, and the facts prove that theory right. There are 4 ski resorts near Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon. A handful are in the LA foothills between the Channel Islands and Joshua Tree. Mt. Shasta Ski Park is between Lassen Volcanic and the Redwoods. There are just so many California road trip ideas that combine national parks and skiing.

Second place here would have to go to Wyoming. Yellowstone and Grand Teton are right next to Jackson Hole and a handful of other top-notch ski resorts.

The US Best City for Skiing: Lake Tahoe

OK, ok. This is not a state. But Lake Tahoe borders Nevada and California, so we’ll allow it. You may have thought Vail in Colorado would occupy the top spot here, but resorts there are much more spread out than here. In Lake Tahoe, a one-hour drive around the lake takes you past 14 ski resorts, and some are the best in the country. Heavenly, Palisades and Kirkwood take top billing here, but with over a dozen to choose from, this city works for any skill level skier.

Average Ski Statistics for all States

Table Notes: DS = Difficulty Score. This is our proprietary scoring algorithm that scores each ski area against its peers in metrics like vertical drop, expert-level trails, and total acreage.

StateMax DSAvg DSAvg SummitAvg VerticalAvg AcresCount
New Mexico83%51%10,957′1,847′5328
New Hampshire57%42%2,403′1,316′19117
West Virginia47%39%4,249′988′1354
New York70%38%2,087′864′15930
New Jersey43%32%1,212′643′743
North Dakota42%30%1,860′333′483
North Carolina38%30%4,726′681′626
South Dakota39%25%4,321′648′2352
Rhode Island23%23%315′245′361
US Ski Resorts – Average Statistics
Author Image
Chris Cagle

I love traveling the United States. I hunt down fantastic places to visit in the summer and great slopes to ski down in the winter. The first national park I ever visited was the Smokies, but since then, I've been to dozens. However, my favorite by far has been Zion.