Ski Resort Rankings

A Personal Rating of Virtually All the Destination Ski Resorts in the Western US and Canada

One Man's Opinion ... A Man Who Has "Skied-'Em-All" 

What's here?

This is a very personal set of rankings comparing most of the "destination" ski resorts in the Western US and Canada (and a few "locals only" sites as well). Everyone has a mission in life; mine, as it turned out, was to "ski-'em-all". I completed my quest in 2006, and when I had, I felt pretty comfortable with publishing some comparative rankings. They simply reflect my own personal opinions as to which sites are the best.

When I evaluate ski resorts, I analyze them a little differently than most other reviewers; I go by what I refer to as my "Grin Index ". Simply stated, the wider my grin after skiing most of the runs in a given resort, the higher the resort is ranked. When the grin width is the same, I consider the lift system, and the convenience of getting back to the top of the mountain to do it all over again. (It is no accident that the highest ranked sites usually have "bottom to top" lifts.)

Skip the rest, Go to  The Pure Rankings,  or,  The Blurbs

What factors into the " Grin Index " ?

Well, the index is admittedly a bit subjective. I'm not sure that I can specifically define all the components. A representative sampling of grin widening elements would include beauty, slope, and distinctive features (swales, islands of trees to maneuver); length and conditioning of the runs can also contribute. To be quite honest, I LOVE most of the resorts ranked here, and the difference between two resorts ranked as far apart as, say, 5 or 6 places is generally pretty small. My favorite analogy is that skiing the highest ranked resorts is the equivalent of winning a $100 million lotto, and that skiing the lower ranked ones is like winning a $60 million lotto. No real losers either way !

Who am I ?

I am, quite simply,  the world's most enthusiastic skier! Not the best, mind you, just the most enthusiastic. I ski two weeks per year, and I dream about it, non-stop, for the other 50 !

I came to skiing fairly late in life, starting at age 38. (How good can I be?) I had previously eschewed the whole ski scene for a number of reasons:  a) it's too cold (I was raised in Miami); b) it's just a way to show how much money you can waste; c) the "astronaut gear" is too uncomfortable, etc, etc, etc.  Alas, with the wisdom of hindsight, I realize that I wasted 38 years of my life! I still vividly recall the trepidation, but also the unbridled joy, of the early days on the slopes. I can relate to beginners as well as to gifted skiers.

As far as skills, I am a pretty reasonable skier, but, to date, I have not really become one of "them" -- those creatures from another planet who ski with such grace and finesse that you'd sell your soul to emulate their form. (There's a country music song sung by Jo Dee Messina ("I'm Alright") that refers to being "above the below, and below the upper" - a pretty astute summation of my status!) I ski pretty much everything on the mountain, including the trees, the moguls, and the double blacks; but, especially with the double blacks, I continue to have to pick them carefully; I can still "get in over my head". There is at least one (apparently mandatory) moment on every trip where I have to contemplate that, if I simply stay where I'm stuck, I'll be able to walk down the mountain after the snow melts in April..

Why did I take the time to create this site ?

I figured that the dictionary needed a dynamic example of the definition of the term "Labor of Love". . I love skiing, I love to talk skiing, write skiing, think skiing,..You would think that at my age - artfully omitted - I would have better things to do with my time than create this web site (which I probably actually do). But there is nothing I find more enjoyable than ruminating on anything to do with the sport, and I have met so many great people on here - people who seem to share my passion - that it is worth any and all the effort involved... 

What's missing ?

Several resorts are not listed; Taos, Mammoth, and Schweitzer (in Idaho). Taos looks like I'd ski it out in a day, and there's no other site nearby to pick up the slack. Mammoth isn't exactly a hot topic among East Coast skiers, but it may get a nod one day. Schweitzer seems small, but some reliable sources say it's pretty decent, so, it's on the "maybe list".

Another missing standard item is commentary on the "apres-ski"'. In my opinion, it's pretty darn good at most all of them! The ones without it have lower lift ticket prices, and don't hide the fact that they don't figure to be your recuperation site. Personally, although I enjoy a little music and/or singing while winding down from the day, I am there for the runs, so this is not that big a factor for me.

And with reference to ski schools and to children's activities, I haven't seen much difference between any of them. This is NOT a criticism, I think they are ALL excellent ! One is just as great as the next.

And Now, On With The Rankings! (And, some explanation of them.)


The Pure Rankings... an uncluttered standalone listing showing nothing but my overall opinions ...

The Blurbs ... which repeats the rankings, and gives, not surprisingly, a little blurb about each one.

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