Skiing or snowboarding can be a tough sport to learn. That’s why finding one of the best ski resorts for beginners is so important.
When learning to ski or board you want a place that has a great ski school and plenty of beginner terrain for you to practice on. Just because you are a beginner doesn’t mean you want to see the same slope all day.
It’s a bonus when prices are reasonable but you won’t always find that at big resorts. The smaller, local ski hills are usually the most budget-friendly and great places to start out.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check out the larger resorts. They typically have great ski schools and plenty to do other than ski in the area for those in your group that don’t want to learn.
You’ll find a mix of both included on this list! Also, the way they are split is east and west with the line drawn north to south from North Dakota to Texas.
Here are a few of the best ski resorts for beginners in the US.
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Best Ski Resorts for Beginners in the Eastern US
Boyne Highlands, MI
Recommended by Brodi of Our Offbeat Life
Boyne Highlands in Petosky, MI is an excellent ski resort for beginners. It offers 435 skiable acres and 16 of those are dedicated to beginners and snowboarders.
In other words, 37% of the ski trails at Boyne Highlands are beginner runs and another 30% are intermediate. This means that entry-level skiers have a wide variety of paths on which to practice their new skills.
The closest airport to Boyne Highlands is in Traverse City. It is approximately a 90-minute drive from the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City to Boyne Highlands ski resort. Thus, renting a car to get to Boyne Highlands is highly recommended for getting to the ski resort and around the Boyne Highlands area.
After the ski day is done, there are also snowshoeing and snow tubing areas available for entertainment on-site at Boyne Highlands. The nearby town of Harbor Springs also has a fun dining and shopping area right downtown on Lake Michigan.
The ski-out rooms at Boyne Highlands resort are a top lodging choice for anyone who wants to wake up and start skiing as soon as the hills are open. There are also tasty restaurants on-site at the resort so guests never have to leave.
Anyone not staying or eating at Boyne Highlands can enjoy hotels and restaurants in downtown Harbor Springs as well. Small Batch is a favorite among locals for breakfast. The eggs benedict florentine is a stellar choice before heading to Boyne to ski for the day.
There are some lovely private vacation rentals in downtown Harbor Springs. However, a more reasonably priced hotel halfway between Harbor Springs and Boyne Mountain is the Best Western Harbor Springs. Surprisingly, it’s one of the top-rated hotels in the area. Don’t let it being a budget hotel chain be a deterrent from staying there.
Lutsen Mountains, MN
Recommended by Ada of Beyond Yellow Brick Blog
Are they mountains? Not really, but that’s part of Lutsen Mountains’ appeal for beginner skiers. The four mountains comprising the Midwest’s largest ski resort are really just large hills rising dramatically from the Lake Superior shoreline.
With gondola rides and beautiful Great Lake views on tap, Lutsen Mountains is a perfect destination for casual skiers. The resort’s 95 runs give you ample opportunity to find your “ski legs.”
Lutsen and the surrounding area offer plenty of other winter activities beyond skiing. Kickstart your day at Fika Coffee with a 740 Estate – an oat milk and cardamom latte.
For nightlife, look no further than the eclectic line-up of live music each weekend at Papa Charlie’s Tavern and Stage at the top of the ski hill. Or unwind at the base of the ski hill with a flight of wines at North Shore Winery.
While the closest airport is Duluth, MN, for more affordable flight options, travelers may prefer to fly into Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.
From there, rent a car and make the approximately a 3.5 mile drive from the Twin Cities. For lodging, you can’t beat the convenience of ski-in and ski-out accommodations at Caribou Highlands with its wide range of lodging options from hotel style lodge rooms to townhouses and five-bedroom cabins.
In addition to easy ski hill access, Caribou Highlands also provides swimming pools, a skating rink, a fire lounge, and a variety of winter games in their outdoor winter village.
You can easily grab dinner at Caribou Highlands’ on-site resort, Moguls Grille. Otherwise, make a reservation at Lutsen Resort’s Scandinavian-inspired dining room for a Northwoods inspired fine dining experience.
Windham Mountain, NY
Recommended by Shannon of Traveling Teacher Girl
Windham Mountain is one of the best ski resorts in the US for beginners. Windham Mountain is located in the Catskills, three hours north of New York City and one hour south of Albany.
There are several tour companies that run day trips to Windham Mountain from NYC, or you can get there via the Adirondack Trailways bus.
You can also get to Windham Mountain by taking the train from NYC to the town of Hudson (located 40 minutes from the mountain) and then renting a car.
Windham Mountain is great for beginners because of its abundance of easy trails. There is a large area for beginners with a magic carpet, as well as 11 easy trails throughout the mountain.
For more advanced beginners – be sure to try the easy trail “Wanderer” that runs from the summit of the mountain all the way to the base. This trail gives the opportunity for confident beginners to practice their skills for a lengthier amount of time compared to typical beginner trails that tend to be very short.
After a day of skiing/snowboarding, visit the town of Windham for cute restaurants, shops, and bars. “Ze Windham Wine Bar” is an adorable outdoor wine bar with fire pits, a great wine list, and a cozy alpine feel.
“Bistro Brie & Bordeaux” is an upscale dinner option in town. “La Patisserie Normande” is a must-visit in town for pastries and croissants. For affordable accommodations close to town, I recommend Albergo Allegria Hotel.
Mountain Top Ski & Adventure Center in Lake Geneva, WI
Recommended by Marquita of Marquita’s Travels
Lake Geneva, WI, about an hour from both Milwaukee and Chicago, is home to The Mountain Top Ski & Adventure Center, one of the best ski resorts in the US for beginners.
The Mountain Top offers very thorough, inexpensive ski lessons for beginners that start at only $38 per person. Not only does the instructor teach you the basics, but (s)he also accompanies you to your first slope, ensuring you safely get on and off the chairlift and down the slope.
For those who don’t necessarily need a ski lesson but want time to practice before going down one of their twenty downhill ski runs, there are a couple of areas designated just for beginners.
In addition to skiing and snowboarding, The Mountain Top also has sledding, ice skating, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. Most interestingly, Lake Geneva is one of five US cities with the infamous Ice Castles, located in The Geneva National Resort & Club.
Ice Castles is an extraordinary exhibit made of hundreds of thousands of icicles in the formations of slides, tunnels, and more. It’s an experience for the entire family.
After visiting the Ice Castles, be sure to leave time to visit Turf Smokehouse, which you actually walk through upon exiting the exhibit.
The food is absolutely delicious and the mouthwatering BBQ will not only warm your body from the chill of the Ice Castles but also your taste buds.
Both The Geneva National Resort & Club and The Grand Geneva, home of The Mountain Top Ski & Adventure Center are wonderful lodging options.
On the same grounds as The Grand Geneva is Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark, which is perfect for families and those who want to take advantage of a waterpark during the winter. As a bonus, there is a shuttle from Timber Ridge Lodge to The Mountain Top, making it even more convenient.
Recommended by Me!
This is one of the best ski resorts in the southeast and a perfect ski resort for beginners! Snowshoe has its own little climate and gets plenty of natural snow throughout the winter.
While most resorts are located at the bottom of the mountain, Snowshoe is actually inverted. So the resort area is on top of the mountain and the ski lifts bring you back up.
They have a fantastic ski school for kids and adults and it’s very reasonably priced. They even have an Intro to Snow package that includes a lesson, your equipment, and a limited lift ticket which is all you need.
There are 37 trails at Snowshoe Basin and 15 more trails at Silver Creek which you can get to by bus and is included on the full lift ticket. 30% of the terrain here is for beginners.
If you are looking for a place to stay and want to be slope-side then we actually have a condo in Mountain Lodge. Walk out the door and you’ll be at the top of Ballhooter lift! It’s one of the best places to stay in Snowshoe, WV.
If you are on a budget then the Inn at Snowshoe will be your best bet. For food – if you like Texmex then eat at the Sunset Cantina. Cheat Mountain Pizza has great pizza and Foxfire Grill has the best BBQ. There are some great restaurants in Snowshoe, WV!
The closest major airport to Snowshoe is in Washington DC and is about a four hour drive.
Best Ski Resorts for Beginners in the Western US
Sun Valley, ID
Recommended by Candice of CS Ginger
A great ski resort for beginners is Sun Valley in Idaho. What makes this such a great place for beginners is that about 35 percent of the ski runs are designed for beginners.
The best place to start out is at Dollar Mountain. Dollar Mountain has only green and blue runs so most of the people there will be beginners. If you’re interested in ski lessons, the ski school is at the base of Dollar Mountain.
After getting the basics down like wedge turns, and stopping, you can head over to Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain where there are more runs that are suitable to beginner skills.
Sun Valley is a quick two-hour drive from Boise, the closest major airport. There is a smaller airport in Hailey which is about 13 miles south of Sun Valley. Depending on your connection, flying into Hailey can be less expensive so it is a good idea to compare flights.
Besides skiing, there are lots of fun things to do in Sun Valley. Be sure to grab brunch at Cristina’s, a delicious Italian restaurant. If you aren’t staying at the Sun Valley Lodge, stop by to look at the pictures of all of the famous people who have visited the lodge. There are also some fun shops around the lodge.
Downtown Ketchum is a great place to go out to eat and do some window shopping. There are really fun boutiques, outdoor shops, and thrift stores. Ernest Hemingway, the famous American short story writer and Nobel Prize winner is buried in Ketchum.
Recommended by Lisa of PlanningAway.com
Brighton Ski Resort located in Utah is one of the best ski resorts for beginners. It is a local favorite with over 66 runs and 4 terrain parks. Brighton averages over 500 inches of snow in the winter.
Brighton is located less than an hour away from the Salt Lake City Airport. One of the best things about Brighton is that it is close enough to Salt Lake City that you can easily enjoy both the mountains and head down to the valley for dinner. If you do not want to leave the mountain the Brighton Lodge is a great place to stay and dine.
Brighton has on-site ski rental equipment. The prices start at $25 for adults. The prices are very reasonable. In fact, if children are going to participate in a lesson it is only $15 for rentals.
One of the best things about Brighton is that there are lots of options for lift tickets. If you are a beginner and know that you will only be going on green slopes there is a discounted ticket option. Also, kids ski free!
Yes, you read that correctly. Kids ski free with a paying adult. This is perfect if you want your kids to practice but do not want to pay full price for a ticket.
Brighton has an amazing ski school. There are group lessons as well as private lessons. These lessons will teach you how to stand, get on the lift, and ski down. There are also more advanced options if you are an intermediate or advanced skier.
Brighton is one of the best ski resorts in Utah!
One Ski Hill Place in Breckenridge, CO
Recommended by Jenny of Traveling Pary of Four
Breckenridge is a picturesque mountain town nestled at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It’s about a two-hour drive from the Denver Airport and is one of Colorado’s most popular ski destinations. One Ski Hill Place, located at the base of Peak 8, might be the perfect place for beginners.
The resort offers on-site ski instruction for the beginner skier, either group, individual, or family lessons. You can rent all of your gear at the resort.
They have an area dedicated to newbies; then, you progress up the gondola to the next step of your ski education. If you pass this step, you move higher up the mountain to more advanced terrain. But, if you want to stay safe and sound and in your beginner comfort zone, you can do that, too.
The resort offers ski-in/ski-out accommodations. As a beginner, navigating those buses with all of your ski equipment is tricky, plus walking in ski boots is quite the learning curve. So, ski-in/ski-out is essential for the beginner skier. Once you ski-out, you have easy access to ski school and ski lifts.
Snow skiing isn’t the only exhilarating activity in Breckenridge. Steer a dog sled or horseback ride through the mountains and streams. Add mountain biking, snowshoeing, trout fishing, white water rafting, sledding, and tubing to your epic itinerary. Tour a gold mine, sip on a wide variety of local brews, and eat the rainbow trout.
Hop on the Gondola from One Ski Hill Place and head to downtown Breckenridge. Hearthstone Restaurant is at the top of our list of all-time favorite restaurants offering a variety of beef, game, and local seafood in the setting of an old Victorian home. Very romantic.
And for dessert (or the perfect lunch or mid-day snack), find Crepes A La Carte on Main Street for crepes of all kinds, savory and sweet.
Crepes are becoming more and more popular in this country, but Crepes A La Carte on Main Street brings something unique to the game.
I’ve never seen a menu like theirs before that includes sweet treats like Nutella, cheesecake, bananas Foster, and strawberry shortcake crepes. And savory crepes, too — pesto chicken, ham and brie, Philly cheesesteak, and smoked salmon.
Recommended by Meg of Fox in the Forest
Vail is probably one of the world’s most famous ski resorts, and it certainly lives up to its reputation as one of the best ski towns in Colorado. Boasting over 5,000 acres of skiable ground, this cozy alpine town offers a wide array of trails for all skill levels thanks to its incredibly varied terrain, including green runs for newbies.
Moreover, one of the best things about Vail is that the fun isn’t over even after a long ski session. From snow tubing to ski biking at Adventure Ridge or learning about the local history and fauna at the Nature Discovery Center, there’s a little something on the menu for every type of traveler.
Even though there are a ton of lodging options in town, some of the best places to stay is Vail Mountain as well The Manor Vail Lodge for a secluded experience in the mountains.
If you’re visiting on a budget, Cohabit in the nearby town of Avon is another lovely choice. As for where to dine, a must for avid foodies is The Slope Room at Gravity Haus, which offers a modern take on local meat and produce.
For a truly unique experience, head to the Game Creek, where you’ll be served five-star cuisine and an award-winning wine list. There’s a little catch, though: You can only get to this chalet-inspired restaurant via snowcat, which makes eating here a true alpine adventure!
Vail’s closest airport is Eagle Regional Airport, which is a local airport set just a 30-minute drive away from town. The closest major airport is Denver International Airport, located 120 miles east.
Steamboat Springs, CO
Recommended by Me!
While Steamboat Springs may seem a little intimidating for your first time, the ski school there and the snow make it the perfect place to learn!
Yes, Steamboat is an incredibly expensive place to go but you can find package deals on lift tickets, rentals, and lodging. I thought I hated snowboarding until I tried it out here. They call it champagne powder for a reason!
You can book a group lesson for a full day and if you go during the week there’s a good chance you’ll be alone or with a small group. Unless you go during a Holiday week.
There are 169 different trails here – the place is huge – and 14% of those are for beginners. 42% is intermediate so it’s a great mountain to grow on.
We love staying in The Phoenix since it’s a quick walk over to the mountain and much cheaper than staying slope-side. For couples check out the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas.
There are so many wonderful places to eat but for your first time in Steamboat Springs make sure you eat at Truffle Pig on the mountain and Mazzola’s downtown.
You’ll find many cute coffee shops in downtown Steamboat too.
Ski Apache Ruidoso, NM
Recommended by Taylor of We Roam Away From Home
Ski Apache is a great place for beginners because it isn’t as crowded as a typical ski mountain. Fewer skiers means no lines and more time to master the trickiest part about learning how to master the slopes: the chair lift. They offer lessons for various experience levels and have a laid-back atmosphere on the mountain.
Ski Apache trails are organized into difficulty levels that make it easy for a beginner to navigate. “Easy Street” is the area of chair lifts that go to green-circle runs only.
They have plenty of signage telling you when to get off to avoid more difficult runs, so you can stay on the mountain the whole day without accidentally winding up on a black diamond (we’ve all had that terrifying moment as beginners).
When you feel ready to move up, you can head to the top of the mountain where they have blue-square runs flowing into those green circles you conquered earlier.
The best part about Ski Apache’s location is that you’ll be staying in a cute mountain town with plenty to do.
There are family-friendly mini-golf courses and bumper cars, local breweries with live music, and boutique shops all within a few minutes of each other.
For a more rugged adventure, you can visit the surrounding forests, go snowmobiling, ziplining, or rent an ATV. No matter what, there are so many fun things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico!
The closest major airports are Albuquerque/ABQ (3 hrs) and El Paso/ELP (3 hrs) but there is also a regional airport a little closer – Roswell Air Center/ROW (2 hrs).
Inn of the Mountain Gods is a beautiful casino hotel full of fun activities and a shuttle to and from the mountain. Oso Grill just outside of Ruidoso, New Mexico has the best post-ski burgers and beer to end the day.
Recommended by Bernadette of Live a Relaxed Life
One of the longest ski seasons is in California believe it or not! Mammoth Lakes is located in Central California in the Sierra Mountains. In a good year, the season lasts from November to August.
There is awesome skiing for all skill levels with more than 3,000 miles available for skiing. Around 25 percent of the skiable area is specifically rated for beginners. And like any Alpine ski area, all the equipment can be rented and numerous ski instructors are on-hand for lessons.
Most Californians take a road trip to visit the mountain but it is also possible to fly into the area. The Mammoth Yosemite Airport is just a couple of minutes outside of town so it is a convenient option.
For excellent views of the ski slopes, the Mammoth Mountain Inn is a great option to make as a home base. It is just across the ski area’s Main Lodge so all you have to do is walk over and you can go skiing.
Of course, all winter activities can be done by those who aren’t skiing fans – dog sledding, ice skating, going on a gondola ride, and tubing are among those activities.
There are also numerous cafes to take a load off in and get a caffeine fix. For an after skiing drink, the Yodler Restaurant and Bar is the place to go for an Après-ski drink and to fill up on Bavarian-style sausages, fondue, and beer.
It is California so visitors can expect blue skies that are the perfect backdrop to snap a couple of pictures. If the timing is just right you may be able to ski in just a sweater!