There’s always a first time for everything, and with skiing or snowboarding, your first day on the mountain should be nothing short of monumental. Whether you make your skiing debut on the slopes of famous ski resorts, or discovering off-the-beaten path ski destinations, finding the best resort to practice your skills for your first time can make all the difference.
What makes a ski resort good for beginners? Lots of beginner terrain, affordable prices, and tons of snow! TripOutside has gathered data on 50 top North American ski resorts and scrutinized factors like skiable acres, beginner terrain, cost of lift tickets and rentals, and amount of snowfall to determine the absolute best resorts for newbies. Below is our roundup of the best North American ski resorts for beginners!
Review our Ultimate Ski Resort Comparison Guide to review all 50 North American resorts we analyzed!
Best Ski Resorts for Beginners
View this post on Instagram
Good morning from #PowMow! After an amazing storm in the books to start the week, the next storm is already in progress setting up for refills this weekend! Follow the link in our bio to reserve your tickets today. 📸 @chrismorganutah ⛷️ @utahmorgan #PowderMountain #SkiUtah #VisitOgden #NewSnow #PreservingThePow
Known as the secret Pow Mow of Utah, Powder Mountain is a lesser known ski destination that has beginner trails sprawled across the mountain. Powder Mountain boasts a vast terrain – 8464 acres of it – which means there is plenty of space to practice your new skills without worrying about knocking other people out.
An incredible 25% of trails are dedicated to beginners, and with so much terrain, that translates to over 2,000 acres! Beginners to skiing have a number of trail options around the resort. Those just starting out can enjoy the groomed trails near the Powder Mountain Lodge. This ski mountain is marked by long groomed runs which can be accessed by the Hidden Lake Express from all 3 bases of Powder Mountain. Take the Sunrise Poma lift to shorter groomed trails including East 40, Burtonwood, and the scenic Sunrise trail – all are ideal places where you can practice your moves.
Powder Mountain isn’t just a hotspot for beginners. When you feel ready to take on the blues, you will find another 3,400 acres to play around on. If you’re ready to hop on some more challenging trails, do some warm ups at the Dilly Dalley Alley trails.
In total, Powder features 150 runs serviced by 9 lifts including the high-speed Hidden Lake Express. Add in a summit elevation of 9400 feet and the longest run coming in at an astounding 3.5 miles, Powder is an all-around great place for your next ski trip. Last but not least, Powder Mountain lives up to its name with an average snowfall of 500 inches, pow days are extreme.
HometoGo calculates Utah’s Powder Mountain as one of the best when it comes to budget friendly ski resorts. With average daily ski rental coming in at only $35, lift ticket prices of $95 and accommodation prices of only $122 (avg price/person/night), Powder’s $265 price tag is significantly lower than other similar ski resorts.
Where to Rent Gear
You can rent your ski gear right at the mountain at reasonable rates to stretch your budget even more.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
It’s nearly impossible to ignore the call of Lake Tahoe and it’s famous ski resorts. Squaw Valley is the perfect resort for beginners and experienced skiers alike – an enormous, world-class ski resort overlooking the gorgeous shores of the ultra clear blue waters of Lake Tahoe. Squaw’s well-known intermediate runs take center stage at the resort, but because of the vastness of the resort, there is a sizable amount of terrain where beginners can enjoy as much pow as they want.
Just because it’s tagged as the “experts’ ski destination” doesn’t mean beginners can’t enjoy the combined slopes of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows resort (the resorts combined in 2012). Across the two mountains are 6000 fantastic acres of skiable terrain – 25% of which is easy, green trails marked by groomed runs and gorgeous Lake Tahoe views. The action begins in the mid and upper mountain.
Squaw Valley may boast whopping stats for experienced skiers – summit elevation of 9050 feet, and 2850 vertical drop – but it’s also home to 1,500 acres of green runs. Short, easy slopes ideal for skiers of all ages can be accessed by Belmont, Links, and Bailey’s Beach lifts. Hop on the Emigrant chairlift to reach the longer, exceptionally groomed trails stretching up to 3.2 miles. The beginner and family-friendly areas of SnoVentures, Big Blue, and the Blue Room Zone have gentle slopes and safe-to-navigate routes perfect for both learning adults and children.
Squaw Valley is the second largest ski resort in Tahoe after Heavenly, boasting 6200 acres, 270 runs and 43 ski lifts. Snowfall averages 450 inches per year, earning this ski destination a place in the Top 10 resorts with great pow days in Northern America.
Low ski rental and accommodation prices make Squaw an attractive place for those looking for an affordable ski vacation. Ski rentals average $45, and accommodations come in at $111 (average price/person/night). Add in a $159 lift ticket with access to both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, and a $15 lunch and your daily total of $330 makes Squaw one of the lowest priced California ski resorts. Even better, save up to 50% on discounted lift tickets by buying online in advance!
Where to Rent Gear
Get great value and convenience with top notch ski and snowboard rental with delivery starting from just $45 with Black Tie Ski Rental Delivery. Black Tie offers stellar service in addition to delivery and slopeside assistance! If you’re looking for great after-sales service, you can trust this shop – they deliver your gear straight to your door for free!
All about options? TripOutside has gathered rental prices from different ski shops serving Squaw Valley to make sure you get the bang for your buck. Find out which shop to go to while you’re in Squaw Valley with this helpful rental price comparison tool from TripOutside.
Lake Louise Ski Resort
One of Alberta’s top ski destinations, Lake Louise Ski Resort is Canada’s largest ski area with 4200 acres of skiable terrain. Among its 145 runs, 25% are ideal for beginners. The resort is located inside the majestic Banff National Park, with winter offering up the same spectacular scenery without the crowds.
The green trails aren’t hard to find – 1,050 acres of the Lake Louise terrain is earmarked for those who are learning to ski and snowboard. After learning the basics at a ski or snowboard lesson, practice your new skills on one of the longest beginner runs in North America – a whopping 5 miles!
Start at the Magic Carpet run for well-groomed trails perfect for learning against the gorgeous backdrop of Banff National Park. Transition to Rock Isle Road afterwards- a green trail with a slow transition from gentle runs to semi-challenging turns. Pika at Lake Louis is located on the more remote back side of the mountain – a perfect choice if you want to put your new skiing skills to the test. Cascade is another family favorite – new skiers will love the quality groomed trails where you can harness your turns and jumps!
When you’re done with the green trails, you will be pleased to discover another 1900 acres of intermediate terrain. Challenge yourself on these blue trails that dominate 45% of the resort. With a summit elevation of 8652 feet, and vertical drop of 3251 feet, Lake Louise is an ideal ski resort to get into skiing or snowboarding.
Lake Louise pow days come with a bonus – affordability! Ski rentals start at $46, accommodation at $72 (average/person/night), and lift tickets at $93. For only a total of $227, you may be able to squeeze out a couple extra days!
Where to Rent Gear
Looking for a ski shop that goes the extra mile? Black Tie Ski Delivery in Lake Louise is famous for their delivery services free of charge! They feature affordable, premium ski and snowboard rental with stellar customer service. Or compare rental pricing at the best ski rental shops in Lake Louise.
Review our Ultimate Ski Resort Comparison Guide to review all 50 resorts we analyzed!
When you have finished your day on the slopes, nothing beats relaxing at a fun apres ski spot. Check out our top recommendations for apres ski at North America’s best ski resorts!
Wondering what to bring for your first time skiing or snowboarding? Check out our Ultimate Packing List for your next ski trip.