If you’re wanting to learn how to ski but didn’t grow up shredding the slopes, it can feel overwhelming to plan a beginner-friendly winter ski trip. The good news is that there are actually several beautiful ski resorts for beginners scattered all over the United States! We created this comprehensive list to share some of the most picturesque, fun, and safe ski resorts for first timers in the United States and Canada.
Ski Resorts for Beginners in North America
1. Steamboat Springs, Colorado
- Location: Steamboat Springs, CO
- Accommodation available? Yes, at Steamboat Grand Hotel
- Highlights: Early opening date (November 15, 2019), wide open trails that are perfect for all levels
Located just under 3 hours from Denver, Steamboat Springs is a charming, picturesque ski resort with over 165 runs. Among those, there are several bunny hills and green trails that are perfect for beginners to ski through. With a full ski school, learning area, and a beautiful lodge, it’s one of the best and most beautiful ski resorts for beginners in Colorado.
Aside from being beginner-friendly and in a gorgeous setting, Steamboat Springs is beloved by locals and visitors alike. Reviewers of all experience levels call it “one of the most underrated ski resorts in all of Colorado” and a “home away from home for skiing.”
Why it’s awesome for beginners: Steamboat Springs has a fantastic environment for beginner skiers – wide, open, easy ski runs, tons of lessons and guides available, and a discounted, comprehensive 2-day learn to ski package deal that includes gear rentals, lessons, and lift tickets.
2. Sugarloaf, Maine
- Location: Carrabassett Valley, 74 miles from Augusta, Maine
- Accommodation available? Yes, Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel is the on-site lodge
- Highlights: Above tree-line slopes mean wide, obstacle-free skiing, and there are a wide array of easy trails to practice on
For East Coast dwellers looking for a beginner-friendly skiing destination, Sugarloaf Mountain is the perfect spot. Located in the Appalachian Mountains, 2.5 hours from Portland, Sugarloaf’s trails cascade down the side of the 2nd highest mountain in Maine. Because it’s located above the tree line and there’s a huge variety of terrain, Sugarloaf is one of the most ideal ski resorts for beginners on the East Coast.
Around 20 of Sugarloaf’s 160+ trails have a green rating, meaning there’s a wide variety of beginner-friendly terrain. On top of that, if you’re interested in trying your hand at cross-country skiing, there are over 100 km of Nordic trails at the resort for that. With private and group lessons, rentals, and a full-service hotel on-site, a winter getaway to Sugarloaf Mountain is the perfect way to learn to ski.
Why it’s awesome for beginners: Sugarloaf Resort is a great beginner-friendly ski resort because most of the trails are located above the tree line, meaning there are fewer dangerous obstacles on the slopes and the views are outstanding. It’s actually the only ski resort on the East Coast where you can find this! They’ve got a great 3-day beginner package deals starting at $150, including rentals, lessons, and lift tickets for all 3 days (plus a free lift ticket voucher to come back!).
3. Canaan Valley, West Virginia
- Location: Canaan Valley, WV (3 hour drive from Washington, DC)
- Accommodation available? Yes, Canaan Valley Resort
- Highlights: 20% of all runs are beginner runs, tubing park for people who don’t want to ski
While there are several fabulous ski resorts near Washington, DC, we’ve decided to start our list with Canaan Valley because it’s a beloved, well-rounded option for all levels of skiers in the East Coast region. With 48 ski and snowboard trails with a vertical drop of 850 feet, Canaan Valley Resort draws in new and repeat visitors from all over the East Coast year after year.
Complete with a year-round resort, as well as a spa, fitness center, and several dining options, Canaan Valley Resort is a perfect spot to enjoy winter in West Virginia. Skiers of all levels can hit their variety of trails and terrain, and nearby city dwellers can take advantage of the economic season passes.
Why it’s awesome for beginners: If you’ve never skied before, there are plenty of options to rent gear and take lessons at Canaan Valley. Around 20% of the ski trails are suitable for beginner skiers, and when you get tired, you can hit the tubing slopes instead!
4. Wintergreen, Virginia
- Location: Nellysford, VA
- Accommodation available? Yes, at Wintergreen Resort
- Highlights: The Discover Ski Package is a great deal on ski rentals, lift tickets, and lessons for first-time skiers (and snowboarders!)
If you’re a beginner skier looking for a fairly accessible set of slopes in a comfortable resort setting, Wintergreen is one of the most accessible ski resorts for beginners for skiing near Washington, DC. Located in Nellysford, Virginia, Wintergreen Resort is a small, family-friendly ski resort located in the scenic, peaceful Blue Ridge Mountains.
Aside from beautiful trails carved into the Blue Ridge Mountains, Wintergreen Resort also offers night skiing, a different, interesting alternative to your average daytime slopes. On the premises, there are several ski trails, a large lodge with a few restaurants, and a spa.
Why it’s awesome for beginners: With daily group classes, ski and snowboard rentals, and a wide variety of easy to intermediate slopes, Wintergreen Resort is a fantastic ski resort for beginners that’s not too far from Washington, DC. Their Discover Ski/Snowboard programs include three days of rentals, classes, and lift tickets at very affordable rates.
5. Park City Mountain Resort, Utah
- Location: Park City, UT (33 miles from Salt Lake City)
- Accommodation available? Yes, at the Park City Mountain Resort
- Highlights: As the largest ski resort in the United States, Park City has a ton of varied trails for less experienced skiers to learn on
With 341 runs, Park City Mountain Resort is the largest ski and snowboarding resort in the country. And while yearly vacationers flock to Park City for some epic, adrenaline-inducing slope time, it’s also a great place for less experienced skiers to learn the ropes.
Trails at the resort are groomed every night to ensure excellent snow conditions, meaning you’ll have a smooth ride basically all of the time. Many of the trails tend to be on the longer side, so you won’t have to constantly ride up the lifts between runs.
Why it’s awesome for beginners: Besides being the largest and most well-known ski resort in Utah, Park City was built to be family friendly and cater to all levels. There are plenty of opportunities to take lessons (even if you’re a first-time skier), rent gear, and enjoy apres-ski by the slopes in this picturesque and fun ski resort.
6. Whistler, British Columbia (Canada)
- Location: Whistler, BC, 1.5 hours from Vancouver
- Accommodation available? Yes, Whistler Blackcomb Resort
- Highlights: Biggest ski resort in North America, with stunning views and a huge variety in terrain
If you thought Park City was big, wait until you hear about Whistler. As the biggest ski area in North America, Whistler’s resort area actually spans two mountains (Whistler and Blackcomb). There are so many runs at Whistler that you could ski for several days without having to repeat any trails.
For people who get bored easily, Whistler is a playground. Aside from skiing and snowboarding, there’s a town and an extensive resort area to explore. With its huge variety and well-staffed learning center, Whistler is great for beginners, but is also ideal for any skill level.
Why it’s awesome for beginners: In addition to having the typical beginner amenities, like lessons and gear rentals, Whistler’s large resort area is composted of many different varieties of ski conditions and terrain. This means you can learn how to ski in a diverse set of conditions, prepping you for lots of different scenarios in your ski journey.
7. Northstar, California
- Location: Lake Tahoe on Northern California side
- Accommodation available? Yes, at Northstar California Resort
- Highlights: Fun, family-friendly resort atmosphere with options for tubing and ice skating in scenic Lake Tahoe
At Northstar California Resort, which is located in the gorgeous Lake Tahoe, beginners have a lot of options. Accessible from both San Francisco and Los Angeles within a day’s drive, there’s so much to love about this big, family-friendly resort.
While there’s a smaller percentage of beginner ski trails (13%, to be exact), the fun, vibrant atmosphere makes up for it. Visitors to Northstar will also ski on top of an extinct volcano, which is pretty freaking cool. Plus, while you’re not skiing, you can take advantage of the hotel’s many amenities, like an outdoor skating rink, tubing, and a spa.
Why it’s awesome for beginners: Northstar has beginner lessons and rentals and a friendly easy area to learn to ski. Moreover, it’s a resort you can grow into, with plenty of intermediate trails for when you’re ready to level up. Additionally there are opportunities to go tubing and ice skating on the resort grounds when you’re ready to leave the slopes for the day.
8. Stowe, Vermont
- Location: Stowe, VT (1 hour drive from Burlington)
- Accommodation available? Yes, The Lodge at Spruce Peak
- Highlights: Beautiful ski resort in Vermont that spans two mountain peaks
Stowe, Vermont is a year round destination that we think is best to visit during ski season. Why? Because this beautiful, forested mountain area is one of the most picturesque ski resorts on the East Coast. Not only is Stowe one of the most beloved ski resorts in the Northeast region, it is also accessible from major cities like New York City and Boston.
While there are a good number of ski resorts in Vermont, Stowe is one of our favorites for beginners because of its smaller crowds. Additionally, Stowe Ski Resort is located on the tallest mountain in Vermont (can anyone say bragging rights?).
Why it’s awesome for beginners: Crowds are few, condos are many, and it’s just really pretty in Stowe. Plus, they’ve got ~16% of beginner trails across two mountains, which you can pair with lessons and gear rentals throughout the winter.
9. Breckenridge, Colorado
- Location: Breckenridge, CO (2 hours from Denver)
- Accommodation available? Yes, at multiple resorts and lodges in town
- Highlights: Tallest summit on our list with tons to do for tourists, as it’s one of the most popular ski resorts in the country
With its towering 13,000 ft summit, Breckenridge Resort’s incredible 187 runs constitute one of the most visited ski resorts in the United States. It’s for good reason – the slopes here are very well-maintained and they’ve got a fantastic infrastructure for handling the many skiers that come their way.
(Pro tip – go in March or April for smaller crowds and lower hotel prices.)
Why it’s awesome for beginners: Who wouldn’t want to say they skied on a 13,000 foot mountain? Breckenridge markets itself as a family-friendly resort open to all levels, and it delivers with tons of lessons (private and group), gear rentals, and other resort amenities for when you’re ready for apres-ski.
10. Schweitzer, Idaho
- Location: Sandpoint, ID (1.5 hours from Spokane)
- Accommodation available? Yes, at the Schweitzer Resort
- Highlights: Both downhill and cross-country trails are available in this mid-size, scenic resort close to the Canadian border
Most people don’t think of Idaho as a prime skiing destination, but Schweitzer will certainly prove this belief untrue. Schweitzer Resort is a family-friendly ski resort that’s perfect for first-time skiers. In addition to 92 downhill trails, there are over 32 km of Nordic trails where you can try your hand at cross-country skiing (trust us, it’s harder than it looks!).
Overlooking Lake Pend Oreille, Schweitzer is close to the Canadian border and a bit more off-the-beaten-path than many of the ski resorts in the Pacific Northwest. However, if you make the trek here, amazing views and great powder will greet you.
Why it’s awesome for beginners: Of Schweitzer’s 92 trails, 20% are suitable for beginner skiers. Plus, it’s a lot less crowded than some of the more popular resorts on the West Coast and near the Pacific Northwest.