Post Date: Monday, November 21, 2016
FORBES: The Top 10 Ski Resorts In North America For 2017
1. Jackson Hole – PAF: 99.00
BY: Christopher Steiner
Full article here!
The exercise of picking a ski resort, of where to spend a ski trip, offers travelers a unique problem to solve. All manners of things enter a skier’s decision: snow, terrain, lodging, airports, prices and, of course, the novelty of experience. So picking a ski resort for spring break 0r the New Year’s holiday is similar to picking any vacation destination in that some locations may be valued for their newness, their untapped potential, or for widely-spread reputations.
But ski resorts are different from cities and other destinations in that so much can hinge on weather and the state of the mountain upon arrival, something that’s built out of weeks and months of earlier climate activity. So in this way, people booking ski trips make bigger leaps of faith than those merely visiting a city or a region. For that reason, travelers putting ski trip itineraries together should consult more diverse sets of inputs and better data sources when planning their winter adventure.
It is with this in mind that we again produce this examination of the best ski resorts in North America. We consult diverse data points, updated statistics, and our own constantly renewed expert reviews of individual resorts to make the job of skiers, at least when it comes to narrowing where to take their ski trip, easier. This is the most comprehensive and in-depth ski resort list of its kind.
To go past the top 10, head to ZRankings.com for a complete ranking of the 220 best ski resorts in North America.
The 2017 Rankings
We labored—like dogs!—gathering intel from the slopes last season at resorts we’ve never before visited, and at resorts where we haven’t been in a while. The ZRankings – Forbes Ski Resort Rankings crew, of course, had to see the product of the Park City – Canyons merger, resulting in the United States’ largest ski resort at 7,300 acres.
We skied in Alaska, California, Wyoming, Utah, British Columbia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado—updating our data and in-person reporting for more than 20 major ski resorts. This season: more again. If you want us to visit your resort, reach out. I’m an easy guy to find, and ZRankings beanies are becoming rather ubiquitous among the glitterati of the ski world (the latter statement may not be wholly accurate, but you should wear the hat).
Tony Crocker of Bestsnow.net again supplied his normal dissertation-worthy examination of historic snowfalls and standard deviations across North America, with updated calculations and numbers, which were used in these rankings.
We added criteria, turned down weighting on others and, as always, tinkered with the PAF algorithm in an effort to find the perfect mix that will deliver you to ski eden.
At the very least, we’ll deliver you several thousand circuitous words that will help sate your wild thirst for winter, snow, cookies and custom pilsners brewed at altitude.
So get the cookie jar, crack open a can of the purest pils you can find, and settle in: these are the best ski resorts in North America for 2017.
1. Jackson Hole – PAF: 99.00
It’s becoming a bit tyrannical at this point. Every year, same thing. Jackson Hole is to skiing what the Patriots are to the NFL. You take away the copious snowfall and you’re still left with the best fall lines and terrain. Take away the tram and you still have a gondola that covers 2,500 feet of vertical. New England was denied Tom Brady and the team still managed to go 3-1. Jackson Hole does the same for skiers.
And the place just made a key off-season acquisition this year: yet another gondola. It’s not even fair.
The one knock on Jackson was its lack of terrain for the average destination skier, which is to say gobs of blue runs, and that deficiency has been righted with vigor, as the resort has made large leaps in its ability to deliver skiers to wide coursing groomers in nearly every off-season going back five years.
Last season, the resort opened the Teton Lift, which accesses a bunch of terrain that has always been in-bounds, but was skied less often than anything else in the resort, and less often than much of the side country and backcountry terrain for which Jackson is so well known. Off its skier’s-left flank, Teton offers amazing views of the Tetons and fun little gladed shots down the north end of the resort. Off the right, there’s a big apron groomer plus a few hidden powder fields in the trees.
It would be a great year if that’s all Jackson Hole accomplished, but it’s piling it on with the new Sweetwater Gondola, which gets skiers from the base of the mountain to Casper restaurant in one hop. There will be a mid-station where skiers can unload in the Solitude area.
Some stats for the Sweetwater Gondola:
• 1,276 feet of vertical rise
• 4,195 feet horizontal length
• 7.5 minutes from bottom to top
• 2,000 people per hour capacity
• Scheduled opening: Dec. 17, 2016
Jackson has grown more popular during the last 15 or so years, a situation that’s noticeable on big days in the form of lines at the tram and the existing gondola, which are the two main routes up the mountain, although skiers can also climb up the north side of the resort via Apres Vous, a high-speed quad.
The idea behind this new gondola is two-fold: alleviate those occurrences of lines, even though they’re hardly a daily event, and allow skiers seeking intermediate terrain to get to the biggest swaths of it more quickly. The gondola gets skiers right to the area where all of this blue terrain has been added during the last several years in one neat hop.
The area has always been a classic destination for people during the summer, as it’s the unofficial gateway to Yellowstone, but in winter it remains sleepier than some other destination resorts, and there still exist lots of affordable lodging options due to the ballast of units built up for the big summer season.
The food scene continues to ascend.
One of our new favorite spots is the Persephone Bakery, which is run by a former Chicagoan, as are half of the town’s eateries, it seems. Grab an apple pie to go and stuff it into your daypack. It will be an utter mess by the time you’ve done two laps on the tram and are ready for lunch, but its mashed apple goodness is the perfect sating bite to go with that noon cup of coffee. With that in your tummy, you can charge it until last tram.
If you’re not one to cram a pie in your backpack and are simply wandering the town, you can saunter from Persephone, your coffee-sugar buzz rolling, a couple of blocks over to the combined stores of Mountain Man Toy Shop and New West Knifeworks. These places not only sell dangerously sharp sets of cutlery with handles created by hand, but they also sell tomahawks.
I personally have no need for the super-sharp ax that’s designed to be thrown, but you might. Even if you don’t, the shop will let you take a couple of tomahawk throws in the alley, against a dartboard-style target made from a cross-sawn oak log. That’s not a normal shopping experience. Jackson isn’t a normal place.
The Place To Stay: Hotel Terra revels in it what may be the best perch on the mountain, about a 30-second walk to the tram, and across the way from The Mangy Moose, the best après bar in the United States.
The Place To Eat: Spur Restaurant & Bar – This is great food right on the mountain. The burger is a winner. For lunchers, the Bloody Mary is legendary.
2. Snowbird – PAF: 96.76
Snowbird has all of the natural advantages that you would want if building a ski resort from scratch. It has long sustained steep fall lines, a fast tram that goes from the bottom of the resort to the top, a high percentage of north-facing terrain which keeps snow chalky and cold, and, of course, more high quality snow than any other ski resort other than Alta, which resides next door to the east.
3. Alta – PAF: 92.05
No big changes at this Utah stalwart, which benefits from the most prolific quality snowfall of any major ski resort in the world. And yes, we do categorize Alta as a major ski resort, even though it may not include some of the frilly fixings and luxury lodging and dining that have become standard across much of the industry.
4. Telluride – PAF: 91.92
There may be no better town-resort combination in skiing. There’s only three in the discussion: Park City, Aspen and Telluride. We prefer Park City and Telluride to Aspen, town wise, and it’s a close contest between these two.
5. Whistler-Blackcomb – PAF: 91.78
Now part of the empire that is Vail Resorts, Whistler will undoubtedly see a surge of visits from Epic Pass holders the next two winters who want to get some turns in the coastal range of British Columbia. This isn’t a standard reclamation project for Vail, however. Whistler was already a premier resort that employs best practices and is among the best-in-industry among many metrics.
Continue the list of Top Resorts here.
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