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Want to learn to ski, but not sure where the best ski resorts for beginners are? We’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of our favorite learn-to-ski resorts in the United States where you’ll not only have a great experience learning to ski but also get the most bang for your buck.
Spoiler: A lot of the best ski resorts for beginners ARE NOT the big-name resorts that you’ve often heard of. We find that smaller ski resorts and budget ski resorts are the best for learning to ski in the United States, so that’s where we focus our efforts.
Smaller ski resorts = smaller crowds which is always better for beginner skiers and gets you the most bang for your ski buck! You’ll find everything from luxury ski resorts to small mom-and-pop hills, and everything in between. If you are looking for places to ski in Canada check out Mont Tremblant, Fernie, or Whistler.
Best Ski Resorts in the US for Beginners
1. Loveland, CO – Best US Resort for Beginner Skiers
Where To Stay Near Loveland: Historic Windsor Hotel
Located in the Rocky Mountains amid famous swanky resorts, Loveland offers a simpler option where skiing and snowboarding are the focus. You won’t find lots of fancy amenities, but you will find GREAT facilities for beginner skiers. Best of all, it’s also one of the best budget ski areas in Colorado!
For beginner skiers, Loveland is a great place to learn, with a separate base area where you can try out your skills without fear of being run over by daredevils. This is so incredible, especially for kids learning how to ski. Loveland Valley is dedicated just to beginners and the terrain is all perfect for learning on. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about lots of advanced skiers and riders flying past you on the way down the the base. This also makes Loveland one of the safest ski areas as well. If you are just learning the basics, a lift ticket to Loveland Valley will only cost you $50 for adults and $30 for kids, so it’s a fantastic deal.
Loveland is also closer to Denver than every other ski resort, so you’ll have less traffic to battle on I-70. It’s one of the most family-friendly resorts in Colorado. If you want a great beginner ski area in the Rocky Mountains, it’s hard to beat Loveland all around!
2. Grand Targhee, WY
Where To Stay Near Grand Targhee: Modern Mountain Family Home
Located in the tiny town of Alta, Wyoming, 12 miles from the Idaho border, Grand Targhee ski resort offers an authentic taste of the Wild West mixed with heaping servings of good snow, making it perfect for beginner skiers.
Even though Targhee is definitely not short on intermediate and advanced runs, it also happens to boast a fantastic beginners’ area making it one of the best places to learn to ski. Their learning areas, fun zones, and animated trails are great for keeping the kids entertained and motivated. The views of the Teton mountains alone make this resort worthy of visiting and the unpretentious town is fantastic for getting a good dose of Western vibe and hospitality.
We skied there a couple of years ago with the kids who then were ages 2-12 and everyone found something they liked. Their ski school there was absolutely OUTSTANDING and the powder that mom and dad can enjoy while the kids are off with their instructors is absolutely LEGENDARY, making it one of the best ski resorts for beginners, and all other skiers who want excellent skiing without the crowds. If you’re looking to fine-tune your skills, they also have plenty of adult ski lessons that are top-notch.
3. Bogus Basin, ID
Where To Stay Near Bogus Basin: Hot Tub and Sauna Condo
Set 16 miles north of Boise, Idaho, Bogus Basin ski resort is somewhat of a well-kept secret as far as ski areas go, which makes it a great place for beginners. You can start off your beginner skiing journey without being overrun by crowds and long lines.
Offering breathtaking views of the mountains and Boise, their ample terrain is divided pretty evenly between beginner terrain, intermediate ski runs, and advanced runs for every age group, with a magic carpet and a bunny hill with lots of beginner terrain that you’ll love and is right at your skill level. It’s an affordable hill that makes it easy to stay in the city while taking a few day trips to the mountains for ski days. The have a great ski school with multi-week programs there which are a fantastic option for learning how to ski in Idaho.
4. Mount Bachelor, Oregon
Where To Stay Near Mount Bachelor: Gorgeous Golf Course, Covered Outdoor Living
Mt. Bachelor ski resort is a dormant volcano set on the eastern face of Oregon’s Central Cascade Range and has lots of fantastic beginner terrain.
Famous for its light snow and diverse terrains, 15% of Bachelor’s 4,300 acres of skiable terrain are dedicated to beginner skiers and snowboarders. Newbies here can learn the ropes at the slopes at the Ski or Ride program, which includes five lessons, rentals, and lift tickets at a great price. They also have the Sunrise Lodge, a base area that caters to first-timers, as well as two chairlifts to take you to ample beginner terrain, Alpenglow and Early Riser.
If you’re looking for a great Oregon ski resort for beginners, Mount Bachelor is one of your best options.
5. Snowbasin, UT
Where To Stay Near Snowbasin: Best Western Plus Canyon Pines
Snowbasin Resort in Utah is home to incredible slopes for all levels of skiers that go from welcoming beginner trails to some very steep ones meant for experts, which means it is the perfect destination for just about everyone. It’s our top pick for the best ski resorts for beginners.
The resort’s Learn and Earn ski school program caters to first-time skiers looking to learn the ropes of skiing and wind up as experts, as does the Little Cat Lift. Located at the base of the mountain, it offers many green trails that kids and adults alike will enjoy.
Snowbasin’s beginner terrain park makes learning to ski as an older kid or teen, especially fun, and we love the resort’s recent focus on safety. Snowbasin is a fantastic blend of a luxury ski experience and a family-friendly resort and we highly recommend skiing there. This is our top pick for ski resorts for beginner teens.
6. Arapahoe Basin, CO
Where To Stay Near Arapahoe Basin: Hyatt Place Keystone
Arapahoe Basin has a special place in my heart since it’s where our oldest three kids learned to ski. Located 96 miles from Denver, way up in the Continental Divide, Arapahoe Basin, also known as A-Basin, is famous for its laid-back vibe. It’s one of the best beginner ski resorts in Colorado, but also offers no shortage of expert terrain.
We love that the magic carpet and the beginner lift are right next to the Pali chairlift which accesses the most extreme terrain on the mountain. This makes it a perfect place for families who are teaching their kids to ski, but want to quickly and easily sneak away for a run or two and get directly to the best terrain possible. It’s a great ski resort for beginners and experts alike!
This no-frills skiing area is ideal for those who want to experience the rugged side of Colorado’s ski scene. Even though Arapahoe Basin doesn’t have a lot of beginner runs, it is a reasonable place for novices. There are also a few small terrain parks and programs run by the ski school, which include lessons and avalanche courses to prepare riders for the backcountry. Private and group lessons are available here to help you learn to ski better.
7. Sugarloaf, Maine
Where To Stay Near Sugarloaf: Snowbrook ski in/out
Surrounded by Maine´s Western Mountains, Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley has stunning views and over 642 acres of skiable terrain, including 139 fantastic trails for all levels of difficulty.
With three terrain parks designed for different ability levels, you’ll have a great time whether you’re an experienced skier or you’re trying out your skills for the first time. An added bonus are the spectacular views you’ll get. On clear days, you might get to see views of Vermont, New Hampshire, Mount Katahdin, and Canada, all from the same place!
8. Steamboat, CO
Where To Stay Near Steamboat: Club Wyndham Steamboat Springs
Located In Northern Colorado, this high country ski resort has easy access, gentle slopes, and an amazing ski school that beginners love.
With three lifts to take newbies to beginner terrain, first-timers will feel right at home. Steamboat has 550 on-site instructors that offer programs for children and adults. The little ones enjoy learning at the magic carpets and flat, gentle slopes, while adults can learn to control their speed and turns at Swinger and YooHoo, kids will love skiing down Stampede and Lil Rodeo. Splendid views and a good ole’ fashioned cowboy vibe are added attractions.
9. Brighton, UT
Where To Stay Near Brighton: The Brighton Chalet
Brighton was the first ski resort in Utah ski and one of the oldest in America. In fact, it’s where I learned to ski as a kid. Brighton allows kids 6 and under to ski free and regularly has discount nights throughout the year that make learning to ski in Utah very affordable.
With many terrain parks for all abilities and difficulty levels, Brighton has a big appeal with freeskiers and snowboarders alike. Brighton doesn’t have many of the fancy trimmings other resorts have, but they sure know their business and the atmosphere is amazingly family-friendly.
10. Mammoth Mountain, CA
Where To Stay Near Mammoth Mountain: The Westin Monache Resort
As the name suggests, Mammoth Ski Resort has a very large terrain with over 3,500 acres of skiing and snowboarding in east California, close to the world-famous Yosemite National Park.
As one of the biggest ski resorts in California, Mammoth offers no less than 25 lifts to get you up the mountain, giving you the chance to choose between gondolas, 6-pack chair lifts, and high-speed quads. Beginners are catered to with over a fourth of the varied terrain.
11. Schweitzer, ID
Where To Stay at Schweitzer : Humbird Lodge
Ranked as “the best kept secret in North America”, Schweitzer Ski Resort is an emerging resort that is still uncrowded compared to other resorts in Idaho, while having all the trims of a growing enterprising looking to grow in the industry.
The varied terrain is not especially geared for beginners, but they do have their designated area and beginner lift tickets are very inexpensive.
12. Angel Fire, NM
Where To Stay Near Angel Fire: Mtn-View Angel Fire Condo
Located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico, Angel Fire Ski Resort is a popular ski and snowboard destination for locals and visitors alike, and a great place for beginners to try out their skills on the snow.
Considered very beginner-friendly, it offers 21% of its 560 acres as easy trails. Angel Fire has a great on-site village with a nice array of cozy apres ski, dining, and lodging options, making it a great place to soak up the whole skiing scene and experience the New Mexico mountain vibe.
13. Sunday River, Maine
Where To Stay Near Sunday River: Ski-in/out 2-story condo
The ski resort of Sunday River in Maine is perfect for beginners as it features several moving carpets and practice slopes at the South Ridge base station.
Unlike other ski areas and resorts, beginners at Sunday River can ski throughout the entire resort and overall eight peaks on easy slopes marked as green.
They take great pride in their coaching staff who are chosen and trained to make your first time on the slopes an unforgettable experience. The special section with tips for newbies makes beginners feel right at home before even getting there!
14. Bolton Valley, VT
Where To Stay Near Bolton Valley: Best Western Plus Waterbury
Sitting high in the Green Mountains of Vermont, Bolton Valley is an alpine village winterland surrounded by over 5,000 acres and jaw-dropping views.
Three mountain zones offer varied terrain for all levels of expertise, from beginner to advanced. Bolton features numerous recreational opportunities for everyone, which makes it a wonderful option if what you’re after is to take the family to the slopes for the first time but are on the lookout for extra fun after a day on the mountain.
The Bolton Valley Ski and Snowboard School offers lessons for kids and adults of all levels, while the village offers everything you’ll need, including ski-in lodging, restaurants, bars, deli stores, and a Sports Center with jacuzzi, heated pool, and sauna.
15. Liberty Mountain, PA
Where To Stay Near Liberty Mountain: The Lodges at Gettysburg
Liberty Mountain Resort is located an hour away from both Washington and Baltimore.
With four terrain parks designed for different levels, they are incredibly beginner and family-friendly. 33% of their terrain is designated for beginners, with special Family Fun Zones available.
While there are lessons for beginners of all ages, they also have a Children’s Learning Center that offers a variety of programs for the little ones and access to the Snow Cat Alley, a special area with a magic moving carpet where they can learn in a fun and safe environment.
16. Nordic Valley, Utah
Where To Stay Near Nordic Valley: Moose Hollow Condo
If you’re looking for a really budget resort to learn to ski at, Nordic Valley Utah is the place to go, Known by locals as the best budget ski resort in Utah, its recent expansions make it a great ski area for all abilities. Best of all, kids 12 and under ski free, and when you purchase your lift tickets in advance online, lift ticket prices are as low as $10 per day.
Nordic Valley has an easy magic carpet to start the day on and the beginner lifts are adjacent to the magic carpet and lodge making first-day ski logistics even easier.
17. The Summit at Snowqualmie, Washington
Where To Stay Near Snowqualmie: Snoqualmie Pass Apartment
If you’re looking to learn to ski in Washington, Snowqualmie is a fantastic ski resort for beginners. It’s easy access from Seattle makes it a great option for those in the city.
For the best deals, look into their evening learn to ski lesson programs which often offer multiweek lesson options and have other great deals on affordable beginners lift tickets.
How Can I Tell If A Ski Resort Is Good For Beginners?
THere are a few ways to tell if a ski resort is beginner-friendly. The easiest way is to look at how much beginner terrain they have. If the resort has over 30%, that’s a sure sign that it’s a great place to learn to ski. However, some ski resorts have only 15-20% beginner terrain and are still great for beginners.
The other metric that we use is looking at a trail map. Is there immediate access to the base area from the beginner terrain? Is the beginner area separated from the rest of the mountain? Are there multiple options for beginner terrain? If you can answer yes to all of these, it’s probably a good ski resort for beginners!
Do I Need Ski Lessons As A Beginner Skier?
Yes, you’re going to need some sort of ski instruction. You can either signed up for ski school, or have someone who is a solid intermediate or advanced skier teach you the basics. It’s not too hard to teach kids how to ski if you’re a competent skier yourself. If you don’t have someone to teach you, you’ll need to sign up for ski lessons.
What Are The Least Crowded Times For Skiing?
When you’re a beginning skier, avoiding crowds can make your ski experience much less stressful and pleasant. Try to go during the week. If you need to ski on a weekend, plan to get there early, and try to avoid a busy holiday weekend.
Can I Rent Skis At The Ski Resort?
There are lots of options for ski rentals and every ski resort listed above has a ski shop on site. While you will save a little bit of money getting your skis somewhere else, if you’re a true beginner, we recommend renting on the ski hill. Ski gear is notoriously tricky to get a good fit with, and if you rent directly from the ski hill, you have a quick and easy option to switch out gear that isn’t working well for you throughout the day.
How Much Do Beginner Lift Tickets Cost?
The best way to save money as a beginner skier is to buy a beginner lift ticket. Most resorts only allow you to purchase them at the hill, but they’re often discounted by about 50% off the regular ticket price. Beginner lift tickets typically only give you access to a couple of chairlifts, but it’s a great way to save money while you’re just getting into the sport!