Best ski areas for beginners

Posted By: The Ski Channel on October 28, 2009 6:20 pm


Are you the one peson out of all your friends who isn’t an avid skier or snowboarder? Feeling kinda left out right about now huh? Well, as the winter months come, it’ll only get worse. Every year you keep saying how excited you are to finally get out there and learn how to ski or ride. Well…make that year this year! Don’t put it off anymore!

OK, now that you’re motivated, where do you go? You may not just want to go where all your awesomely talented friends are going because they’ll leave you face-down in the powder as they go enjoy their ski days. Recommend that you and your friends go to one of these places. They have ideal terrain for beginners, and your more advanced friends will still have a heck of a time. This list is courtesy of


Breckenridge’s Peak Nine training area is one of the best in Colorado for novices and those with intermediate skiing skills. The very smooth, dry snow makes perfecting parallel turns easy, and the high-speed quad chair life means more time to practice and less time traveling. Breckenridge also provides challenging ski slopes for advanced skiers. Many local hotels provide ski-in and ski-out access to Breckenridge’s trails.


Buttermilk took top honors last year in SKI Magazine’s ranking of ski schools nationwide. Buttermilk is part of the Aspen ski resort network, and is ranked second (after Snowmass) as the nation’s best ski destination for families. Classes are small, and the 200 instructors offer personalized instruction designed to get novices on the slopes quickly and safely. All 43 runs are easy enough for beginners, and once you get out of the glut of beginners at the bottom of the slopes, the well-kept trails offer scenic beauty and excellent skiing.

Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain is a perennial favorite, also located in Colorado, and offers some of the lowest-priced packages to be had in the Rockies. Long, wide novice trails occupy the west portion of the resort, and progressively more difficult skiing can be found in the eastern half. Located near Vail, Copper Mountain shares the high country’s superb snow conditions and provides adequate if not spectacular lift access.

Crested Butte

Crested Butte—Another superb Colorado beginner’s venue, features long, smooth, well-groomed runs on which to practice parallel turns and other skiing techniques. Crested Butte, recently the host of the U.S. Extreme Skiing Championship, offers advanced skiing and 150 acres of novice terrain. You can find discount accommodations and even free skiing at specified times. A popular resort for skiing holidays.

Deer Valley

Deer Valley Utah is another location that features smooth, well-groomed, open ski slopes and runs that offer beginners a lot of choice without pushing them past their limits. First-time skiers will delight in Wild West, a beginner’s-only area, free from the unexpected assaults of hot-dog professionals. Deer Valley reportedly offers the best food and customer service in the Rockies.

Mount Snow Vermont

Mount Snow Vermont is reportedly the best Eastern venue for skiers who want to move up from novice to professional skill level. With a wide choice of rapid lifts on its gentler trails, Mount Snow clearly values the beginning skier, and the excellent cruising runs will keep more advanced skiers happy as well


Northstar-at-Tahoe California offers a wide range of ski slopes for the novice and intermediate skier. The terrain is primarily intermediate, and the lower runs are as good as any in the West. For novices who still fear lifts, Tahoe offers a conveyor belt modeled after airport conveyors, called the Magic Carpet, that will whisk them up the slopes without causing a panic attack. Tahoe also has slopes for more advanced skiers.

Park City Utah

Park City Utah is large enough to offer an opportunity to all levels of skiers, from the first-timer to the advanced. The 3,100 feet of vertical drop makes it seem like an advanced skier’s resort; the large network of open intermediate runs provides a venue for the intermediate skier, and the addition of several new lifts make even the central runs accessible to beginners.

Other good beginner’s resorts include Snowmass, in Colorado, which features a Treehouse Kid’s Adventure Center and the Elk Camp Meadows training center. Or visit Steamboat, high in the Colorado Rockies, famed for its welcoming, down-home atmosphere and 164 trails which cater to everything from the novice to the professional. For Vermonters, Timberline features 1,000 vertical feet of runs and one long beginner’s trail. Upper Midwesterners can ski Welch or Afton, in Minnesota. Afton is reported as less pricey, but Welch offers better beginner’s slopes. The lifts at Welch are a little slow and cranky, but the slopes are groomed more often.”