Top Five Ski Areas in the American Rockies

The Rocky Mountains are the largest mountain range in the Western Hemisphere, and they contain some of the world’s most impressive terrain, especially for those who like to ski extreme terrain. But with so much to choose from, one can easily be overwhelmed by how much extreme skiing exists.

            As someone from the Rocky Mountains, however, I think there are five certain ski areas that all extreme skiers must visit.

            The Rocky Mountains span over eight states and contain hundreds of ski areas. My top five areas are shown in the interactive map below.

5. Loveland Ski Area, Colorado

            For skiers who don’t like to go to tourist-infested resorts, Loveland Ski Area is the perfect spot. Located on top of the Eisenhower Tunnel and the Continental Divide, Loveland is a local-targeted area with low prices and not a single condo or five-star restaurant in sight.

            “I’ve skied at Loveland for over 30 years,” life-long skier Dave Stevenson said. “I try to make it here at least once a year because it has some of the best terrain for how accessible it is. You can just go up lift 9 and take the RidgeCat to some of the most extreme skiing in North America.”

            Loveland has the second highest lift in North America, in terms of elevation, and over 1,800 acres of terrain, according to their website. If you are looking for wide-open bowls and large cliffs to jump off, Lift 9 at Loveland will amaze you.

4. Grand Targhee Ski Resort, Alta, Wyoming

            Located just west of the world famous Tetons, Grand Targhee Ski Resort has some of the steepest terrain in the Rocky Mountains and quite possibly the world. Aside from being terrifyingly steep, Grand Targhee might be the most scenic area ski area in the Rocky Mountains, with a beautiful view of the back side of the Grand Teton.

            “I’ve skied Targhee several times and every time I’m taken away by that view,” Wyoming native and life-long skier Brandon Wiseman said. “It’s just very nostalgic seeing that view that so few people have seen. It gives you a whole other perspective of some of the most famous mountains in the world.”

            Grand Targhee is also geographically located in a place that gets so many major storms for skiers looking for deep powder on a regular basis.

3. Teton Village, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

            Just over the Tetons is a resort that draws crowds from around the globe, Teton Village or The Village as it is commonly referred to is known around the world for its extreme terrain and iconic tram that takes from the bottom all the way to the top of the massive resort.

            Jackson Hole has birthed some of the greatest freeskiers in the world because of how extreme the terrain is at Teton Village. The downfall to Teton Village is that due its global fame it is very expensive to ski and very regularly crowded.

            “I moved here a year ago and have had the time of my life ever since,” lift operator Jimmy Allen said. “I love how much of the area has to offer. The crowds can get really bad around peak season but if you know where to go you can avoid them.”

            If you are looking to ski the most iconic spot in the Rocky Mountains, I highly recommend Teton Village.

2. Big Sky Resort, Big Sky, Montana

            Three hours north of these two amazing ski resorts is another gem of the Rocky Mountains, Big Sky Resort. With a top elevation of 11,167 feet, Big Sky has a very fitting name. Much like Teton Village, Big Sky has a rather famous tram that takes skiers all the way to the top of Lone Peak, Big Sky’s highest point.

            “The first time I went up Lone Peak I was shitting my pants it was so steep,” Brandon Wiseman said. “It’s like something you would see in a TGR (Teton Gravity Reasearch) movie up there.”

            Big Sky has very extreme terrain that is fairly accessible. But it also has a lot more to offer than extremely steep faces and cliffs, there is a large portion of the mountain for less advanced skiers as well as a very well put together terrain park for those skiers looking to hit big jumps.

  1. Taos Ski Valley, Taos, New Mexico

            One of the last places people expect to find extreme skiing is in New Mexico, but alas tucked deep in the northern mountains is a ski area so extreme that there are warnings when you arrive. Described as a freeskiers’ heaven, Taos Ski Valley has more extreme terrain than any resort in the U.S.

            “I don’t ski Taos as much as I used to,” Dave Stevenson said.” It’s not too far of a drive from where I live, but the terrain is so over the top in places even I get nervous on it!”

            Dave has lived in Red River, New Mexico for over 25 years, just one valley away from Taos. He says he has stopped skiing Taos as frequently due to injury concern.

            According to their website, between five and 10 skiers die annually in accidents at Taos. The terrain at Taos is no laughing matter and beginners are highly discouraged from evening going on the mountain.

            If you are looking for a place in the Rocky Mountains that will make you push your limits, as most skiers do, then Taos is a must.

Summary

            There are so many incredible ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains, but there are several that stand out above the others. While every single one of these resorts listed is incredible, it should be noted that they have very dangerous terrain and should be skied with caution.

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