Heading from New Zealand to the United States to ski or ride? Whether you’re an accomplished skier whose annual pilgrimage takes you back each year to the northern hemisphere for a northern winter or just starting out, a ski trip to the United States is a ‘must do’ on the ski calendar. The variety of snow conditions and ski/board terrain, combined with an outstanding selection of accommodation choices, including 'ski in and ski out', along with unmissable après-ski excitement make for a memorable ski holiday for all. It’s also worth noting that most resorts in the United States also offer summertime mountain exploration holidays but for now, let’s focus on ski and ride. Below you will find a smattering of what's on offer from a collection of the best ski resorts in the United States of America.
Getting from New Zealand to the USA with Air Tahiti Nui is easy. We operate three flights per week between Auckland and Los Angeles via Papeete, Tahiti. And from L.A. we offer connections on our codeshare partner airlines, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines. We also have the option of flying direct into Seattle from Papeete, Tahiti. For information of our best deals from Auckland to Los Angeles click here.
For snow sports, Air Tahiti Nui is the obvious choice because when you fly on an Air Tahiti Nui operated flight with a ticket (244 tickets) that is issued by Air Tahiti Nui, we include a sports baggage allowance on top of your standard baggage allowance. For flights operated by another airline you would need to pay that airline for this extra bag. Check out our baggage rules for details.
Ski the West
Snow skiing and snowboarding can be quite varied on the west coast of the United States. In California you can choose from the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California, the Sierra Nevada range bordering California & Nevada, or the Eastern Sierra range adjacent to the awe inspiring Yosemite National Park. Heading to the south east you have the Rockies in New Mexico or you could navigate your way north to the Cascade Ranges in Washington State. The choices are numerous but here's a selection to get you started.
Located in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear Lake is a 2½ hour drive from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). There are two ski areas to consider, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. Together they boast 18 lifts and 57 runs. Given its location, the resort does rely on snowmaking facilities as natural snowfall can vary from season to season. Compared to other places in the US, this is a small ski area but the proximity to Los Angeles make it the perfect stopover destination for anyone wanting to spend a couple of days skiing.
Located between Truckee and Tahoe City, on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, Palisades Tahoe is just 68km from Reno, 155km from Sacramento and 315km from San Francisco. The Olympic Valley ski area boasts 29 lifts including one 110-person tram and one 28-person gondola, to cover 24km² skiable terrain. Meanwhile the Alpine Meadows ski area has 13 lifts covering 9.7km² skiable terrain with more than 100 trails and 7 bowls. On average, Palisades Tahoe gets an annual average snowfall of 10.1m.
Northstar California Resort, Lake Tahoe
The Northstar ski area is located on an extinct volcano (Mt Pluto) and has 20 lifts, 100 trails, and 12.8km² skiable terrain with a 695m vertical drop. Truckee Tahoe Airport (TKF) is located just 7km from Northstar, while the Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO) is a 40-minute-drive away.
Located on the southeast end of Lake Tahoe, the Heavenly Ski Resort is 96km from Reno and 326km from San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The ski area varies at Heavenly, with 97 trails and 28 chairlifts covering 19.4km² skiable terrain – the most in the Lake Tahoe area. The 1067m vertical drop is the highest on the West Coast.
With the highest lift-served terrain in the state of California at 3369m and more than 14.1km² of skiable terrain, Mammoth Mountain lives up to its name. The resort ski area lies adjacent to Yosemite National Park on the eastern edge of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, about 530km from both San Francisco and Los Angeles. The ski area consists of two mountains – Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain. The closest regional airports are Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH) located 20 minutes outside of town or Bishop Airport located 45 minutes out of town. Most visitors find accommodation in the town of Mammoth Lakes.
If you’re looking for something a little different you can fly from Los Angeles to Albuquerque (ABQ), New Mexico with our codeshare partner airline, American Airlines before driving 215km to the Taos Ski Valley. Situated in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at the start of the Rockies, Taos Ski has 5.2km² of skiable terrain, 110 runs, and 14 lifts including 1 gondola. The average annual snowfall is 7.6m.
Ski the Pacific Northwest
With Air Tahiti Nui launching our newest route, Seattle, in October 2022 we can’t go past mentioning the Pacific Northwest. However, we should point out that travel between Auckland and Seattle does require an overnight stopover in Tahiti (not really a hardship) in each direction so you need to factor that additional cost/time factor into your planning. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is also only 251km from Vancouver, Canada.
The Summit at Snoqualmie comprises four mountain bases, including Summit East, Summit Central, Summit West and Alpental which features steeper terrain. The Summit at Snoqualmie caters to all types of skiers and boarders and is the closest ski resort to Seattle – a mere 92km from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). In total the area offers 8km² skiable terrain with a maximum vertical drop of 695m and is served by 25 lifts.
Located in the Cascade Range, WA on two national forests, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie in the west and the Wenatchee National Forest on the east. The resort is 126km from Seattle, 93km from Wenatchee and 56km from the Bavarian styled town of Leavenworth. Stevens averages 11.7m of snowfall each year, covering 4.5km² of skiable terrain, including 52 trails.
With a total of 10.5km² of skiable terrain and 85 ski runs, Crystal Mountain is the largest ski resort in Washington State. Located just 2 hours from Seattle in the heart of the Cascade Mountains you also get spectacular views of Mt. Rainier. The mountain averages 12.2m of snow annually and is served by 11 lifts.
Only 19km from the town of Wenatchee on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains you will find Mission Ridge. The ski area offers 8km² of skiable acres over 36 designated trails with 4 chairlifts and 2 tow ropes. Two of the chair lifts go direct to the summit.
Mt Baker is located at the tip of the Cascades National Park and is only 141km from Vancouver, Canada and 236km from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) so is a destination worth considering in tandem with a trip across the border into Canada. The resort has an average annual snowfall of 16.8m and a 457m vertical rise. The total ski area covers 4km² and is served with 8 quad chairs and 2 handle tows
The gateway for a Utah ski holiday is Salt Lake City – the host city for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Flight connections at Los Angeles (LAX) are offered with our codeshare partner airlines, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines. Once you arrive at Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) you have a selection of ski resorts that are in close proximity to Salt Lake City from which you can choose.
Compared to other US ski resorts, Park City is second only to Powder Mountain in size. The resort offers 29.5km² of skiable terrain, more than 330 trails and a vertical rise of 983m. With an annual average snowfall of 9m, you won’t be disappointed. Park City is located a short 40-minute shuttle transfer from Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).
Snowbasin is located 45 minutes from Salt Lake City and offers an expansive 12.1km² of skiable terrain and boasts the most advanced lift system in Utah with two gondolas, a tram, express lifts and more.
Located in Park City, Utah, Dear Valley Resort is just 61km from the Salt Lake City International Airport. The first thing you need to know about Deer Valley is that it is a ‘ski only’ resort so no snowboarding. The resort offers a little over 8.1km² of skiable terrain and 103 runs.
To ski the Beav you will need to drive a little further as it is about 2 hours from Salt Lake City. This lesser-known smaller ski field is great for families and won’t blow the budget. The resort offers 3.3km² of skiable terrain with an average annual snowfall of 11.1m and a 518m vertical drop.
Located near Eden, Utah – about 70 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport, Powder Mountain is the largest ski area in the United States with 34.2km² of skiable terrain. The mountain has an annual average snowfall that’s over 12.7m and 154 ski runs.
Snowbird is a mere 47km from Salt Lake City International Airport and features 10.1km² of skiable terrain, 140 runs, one Aerial Tram, 10 chairlifts and 3 conveyor lifts. It is regarded as one of the most accessible ski resorts in the US due to its proximity to Salt Lake City.
Our primary access point to the Colorado ski region is Denver International Airport (DEN) via Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with our codeshare partners, Alaska Airlines (AS) and American Airlines (AA). However you may also need to book a regional flight on another airline. The main regional airports in Colorado are Aspen-Pitkin County Airport (ASE), Colorado Springs Airport (COS), Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE), Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ), Telluride Regional Airport (TEX), and Yampa Valley Regional Airport (HDN).
If you haven’t heard of Aspen, you probably don’t ski or board. With a ski trip to Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort, on a single lift ticket you get access to 22.3km² of terrain across unique four mountains, Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk, making it a perfect destination for a wide range of skier/snowboard abilities. Aspen-Pitkin County Airport (ASE) is the closest airport. Denver International Airport (DEN) is 222km away.
When you think of skiing in the United States, the name Vail is often one of the first that will spring to mind, and with good reason. With 21.4km² of skiable terrain, this legendary ski mountain is one of the larger ski resorts you will ski, and offers 193 trails serviced with 17 quad chairlifts, 3 triple chairlifts, 1 double chairlift, 2 gondolas, 9 surface lifts. Located only 148km from Denver International Airport the resort is easily accessed direct from the airport via an airport to mountain ski shuttle.
Ranked the #1 Ski Resort in North America by readers of Condé Nast Traveler, Telluride Ski Resort boasts uncrowded slopes and exceptional terrain for all levels and abilities. This mountain village is located in the San Juan Mountains – 105km from Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ). With 8km² of lift-accessible terrain, Telluride’s 1348m of vertical drop is accessed via 19 lifts and 148 runs.
The Yampa Valley Regional Airport (HDN) is the gateway to the town of Steamboat Springs and is located 35km to the west. Free buses link Steamboat Springs hotels to the ski resort. The Steamboat ski resort caters for all skier abilities and offers 12km² of skiable terrain with 17 lifts serving 170 trails.
Breckenridge is 166km west of Denver International Airport (DEN), 102km east of Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE), and 178km from Colorado Springs Airport (COS). Known locally as ‘Breck’, the town is a charming old mountain mining town with many après ski options and vibrant nightlife. Your Breckenridge lift ticket gives you full access to Keystone and Crested Butte. A 3+ day Breckenridge ticket allows you to ski up to half of the total days at Vail and/or Beaver Creek. The ski resort possesses diverse terrain consisting of 11.7km² skiable terrain, a 1035m vertical drop, 187 trails and 35 lifts including five 6-person chairs, seven 4-person chairs, one 3-person chair, six 2-person chairs, 1 gondola, 4 surface lifts and 11 magic carpets.
Arapahoe Basin is located 110km west of downtown Denver and 20 miles northeast of Breckenridge. The ski area is aimed more at the advanced skier with 75% of terrain rated black or double-black. There are 5.6km² skiable acres, 147 runs, 3 terrain parks, and 9 lifts.
Located just 121km west of Denver, Copper Mountain offers a pure mountain experience. Copper’s terrain provides skiers and riders with access to 10km² of skiable terrain. There are over 140 marked trails and 24 chairlifts including 1 six-person bubble high-speed chair and 1 eight-person gondola.
Keystone Resort ranks as one of the top family resorts for skiing and snowboarding in the world and is located 158km from Denver International Airport. There are 12.7km² of skiable terrain and 130 trails served by 20 lifts. The longest run, Schoolmarm, is 5.6km long.
Like many of Colorado’s ski towns, Crested Butte got its start as a mining town in the 1880's. Travel time from Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC) to Crested Butte is between 30-40 minutes. The ski resort is set over 6.2km² of skiable terrain with a good mix for all ski abilities. A total of 15 lifts service 121 trails.
Winter Park is the closest large ski resort to Denver, a relatively easy 145km from Denver International Airport (DEN) and is ideal for families. Winter Park Resort receives over 8.7m of snow annually across 12.4km² of skiable terrain with 166 designated trails and 23 lifts, including three high-speed six-pack lifts, one 10-person gondola, six high-speed express quads, three triples, six double chairlifts, three surface lifts, and one rope tow.
Ski the Prairie States
The states of Wyoming and Montana may be prairie states, but they are also blessed with several outstanding ski resorts located on the Rocky Mountains so serve up some epic spots to ski and ride.
Situated on the Teton Range within the Rocky Mountains, the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming has long been a beacon for the ski and board enthusiast. To get here you will need to book flights to Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) so a little more planning is required but it will be worth it when you start carving tracks across the 10.1km² of ski terrain, 116 runs, and catch a ride on one of the 14 lifts including one 100-person tram and two 8-person gondolas.
Pitched midway between Bozeman and West Yellowstone in southwestern Montana is the Big Sky Resort. The closest airport is Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) about 86km north of the resort so it will require a little bit of a trek to get here. Big Sky is aptly named - when here you will be carving up 23.6km² of skiable terrain, across 300 named runs and getting carried by 39 lifts that give you 1325m of vertical drop.
Off the beaten track in northwest Montana, you will find the Whitefish Mountain Resort, a scenic 50km drive from the Glacier National Park – a must visit site during your stay. To get there you can fly into Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) or you can take an Amtrak train from Seattle. The ski resort has 12.1km² of skiable terrain, a 717m vertical drop, 111 marked trails and 11 chairlifts plus 3 surface rides to transport you across the resort.
Ski New England & New York
Skiing on the east coast has its own unique flavour. The primary access airports for this area of the United States will be Albany International Airport (ALB) in Albany, NY; Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Hartford, CT; Burlington International Airport (BTV) in Burlington, VA; Logan International Airport (BOS) in Boston, MA; and Manchester Regional Airport (MHT) in Manchester, NH.
Located in the Adirondack Mountains in the town of Wilmington, NY and only 21km from Lake Placid - the venue for the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Whiteface Mountain features 90 trails, 11 lifts, and a 1045m vertical drop, the largest east of the Rockies. If visiting Whiteface a stay in Lake Placid is highly recommended.
Sugarloaf is located in the heart of Carrabassett Valley and is surrounded by Maine's Western Mountains. With 5km² of skiable terrain, 162 runs, 13 chairlifts and a 859m vertical drop, is worthy of a visit. The resort is 181km from Bangor, ME and 275km from Quebec, Canada.
Located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire less than 2km from North Conway Village you will find the small family-friendly Cranmore Mountain. The ski area comprises of 0.8km² of skiable terrain, with 54 trails and glades served by 9 lifts.
The Bretton Woods ski resort is New Hampshire’s largest ski area with 1.8km² of skiing and snowboarding on 63 trails and 35 glades. The ski resort operates 10 lifts, including an 8 passenger Gondola and four high-speed quad chairlifts.
Together, Killington Resort and Pico Mountain deliver 8km² of skiable terrain with 213 trails that are served with 28 lifts including 3 gondolas – making this Vermont ski area the largest in the East Coast.
Stowe is the quintessential Vermont ski town, located a mere 65km from Burlington International Airport (BTV). The ski resort incorporates Spruce Peak and Mansfield ski areas with 2km² of skiable terrain, 12 lifts and 116 trails.