Tips for choosing a ski resort for beginners
A long journey to a ski resort means you will have an early start in the morning or late arrival. If possible, choose a resort that is close to an airport or a reasonably short drive away. Failing this, try to break up your trip over a couple of days. A shorter traveling time will mean you are not starting your vacation exhausted. You will have a much more relaxed intro into the world of skiing and snowboarding.
As a beginner, you won’t need a vast area to explore. You will be spending most of your time honing your technique on the easier slopes. Don’t be seduced by resorts claiming to have the most vertical drop, the most black runs, and snowparks. It would be best if you based your choice on the amount of green and blue runs that will allow you to progress. Also, look for a resort with beginner-friendly lifts.
Other stuff to do
When you start skiing or snowboarding, you will discover muscles you never knew you had. You will also get pretty tired quickly; there will be times when you need a break or an afternoon off the slopes. So choosing a ski resort with other non-skiing activities to do is essential. You may also want to experience different possibilities the mountains have to offer. Those afternoons off are the perfect opportunities.
Ski and snowboard schools
You may have a friend that has told you they will give you some pointers, or you might think you will save some money by teaching yourself to ski or snowboard. Both of these are bad ideas. Before you book your ski vacation, check the local ski and snowboard schools' availability for lessons. Learning from a professional is safer, will prevent the development of bad habits, and won't cause arguments with your friend.
You will need to buy a lift ticket to use the ski lifts. Before you buy one, look at your options. For example, you may be encouraged to buy a full area lift ticket. But, as a beginner, you won’t need access to everything on offer. See if there are options for smaller areas to save money. Some resorts offer free lift tickets for young kids, or they may have lesson and lift ticket packages, which are good value for money.
As a beginner, you probably won’t be buying your equipment. The best thing to do is to rent your equipment. By renting ski and snowboard equipment from a decent hire shop or in the resort, you will can sure to have the right equipment for you. It will fit properly and be suitable for your ability, as you will be fitted by an expert. It is best to book your equipment hire in advance, especially at peak times of the season.
You will need skis, boots, and poles as a skier, while snowboarders need a board and boots. It is recommended that you wear a helmet for mountain sports.
Our recommendations for some of the best ski resorts for beginners in North America
Aspen Snowmass is a great destination for beginner skiers and snowboarders of all ages. Comprising of four mountains that have their own ski areas:
- Aspen Mountain
- Aspen Highlands
The best areas for beginners are Snowmass and Buttermilk. They have lots of terrain options for beginners, including the bunny slope, which is perfect for making those first turns.
Hiring equipment in Aspen Snowmass is stress-free, thanks to the knowledgeable and helpful rental staff. You can also take advantage of the after ski shoe service, which means you don't have to walk around in ski boots at the end of the day.
But one of the biggest attractions to Aspen Snowmass has for beginners is that most of the resort's accommodation is located at the side of the slopes, so getting around is super easy.
Nestled on Lake Tahoe banks, Heavenly’s low elevation makes learning how to ski or snowboard a fantastic experience. Heavenly has a wide range of gentle slopes to learn on that are easy to access. A great example of this is the Easy Street green run, accessed from the Heavenly Gondola. This run has been the location of many skier’s and snowboarder’s first turns.
There is an excellent beginner area, accessed by three lifts (Patsy, Groove, and Powderbowl Express), which is a great place to spend the day. Once you have mastered the green runs, it’s time to progress on to the blue runs, such as the Olympic Downhill.
Heavenly also boasts a world-class ski school. This will give any beginner the perfect start to their skiing and snowboarding career.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
The thing about skiing and snowboarding is that the whole experience doesn’t stop when you step off the snow at the end of the day. There is an entire mountain culture and lifestyle to enjoy, and Steamboat Springs is a testament to this.
Some resorts lean towards late-night parties, but Steamboat Springs has more of an aprés scene. There are many Western-style pubs, with great atmospheres serving delicious food, happy hour drinks, and cocktails.
The fact that the nightlife is based around aprés drinks rather than nightclubs should be fresh for a lesson with one of the 550 Steamboat instructors. The ski school offers a range of programs for all ages and abilities.
Beginners can perfect their first turns on slopes with gentle gradients serviced by magic carpet lifts. Some of these slopes feature small hills and banks that help beginners control their speed and direction and include adult learning zones.
Dating back to the 1870s, Steamboat is one of the West’s original ski towns. There are still lots of historical accommodation options for vacationers wanting an authentic visit to the resort. But, there is also a wide choice of modern alternatives that allow you to ski in and ski out to make your stay much easier.
Copper Mountain, Colorado
Copper Mountain in Colorado has an area that is dedicated to beginner skiers and snowboarders. This is the perfect place to get your ski legs, as it has mellow, slopes, a magic carpet, and a beginner ski lift. All this makes your first days on the slopes less daunting.
To make life convenient for beginners, the learning area is located between the Centre Village and the East Village. This makes it super easy to get to on foot no matter where your accommodation is.
Once you are ready to leave the learning area, you can easily get to Copper’s green runs, which are in a zone all to themselves. This means you don’t have to worry about mixing with more experienced skiers and snowboarders. When you compare Copper Mountain to other resorts, beginner skiers and snowboarders have a lot to do. They can even ski or snowboard at elevations around 12,000 feet from the Rendezvous chairlift and enjoy green slopes back to the base village.
Lessons are provided by the Copper Ski & Ride School, which offers programs for all ages and abilities. They will also tailor lessons to your interests. If you are a little more advanced and want to take your first steps into freestyle skiing and snowboarding, you need to check out Woodward. Woodward is Copper’s freestyle program and training facility. Here you can try your hand at launching yourself off indoor ramps, into foam pits, and do some trampoline training. This provides the perfect environment to get into freestyle as safely as possible—the instructors at Woodward train Olympic freestyle and X Games athletes.
Big Sky Resort, Montana
There is a lot to love about Big Sky Resort in Montana, whatever your skill level on skis or a snowboard. But, the beautiful alpine scenery and virtually deserted area of 882 acres of beginner skiing make it ideal for inexperienced skiers and snowboarders.
To enhance its credentials as a beginner ski resort, Big Sky has installed a magic carpet and beginner lift. They also have an excellent ski school with instructors that will ease you into snow sports without any stress.
After a couple of days in the beginner area, you will have the skills to start exploring a little further afield. But, Big Sky makes this very easy thanks to the Explorer lift. This gives you access to confidence-building green slopes that snake their way back down the mountain. You can even reach the foot of 11,166 ft Lone Peak to take in the sheer size of it up close.
To make your first ski trip as simple as possible, you may want to choose one of Big Sky Resort’s ski in ski out accommodation options. There are plenty of options ranging from condos, lodges, and homes to suit all budgets.
Your first ski or snowboard trip doesn’t have to be stressful or scary. With a little thought and research, you can choose a resort to suit your needs. But choosing one of the Best Ski Resorts For Beginners In North America from this list will ensure you have the best time possible.