Top 10 Ski Lifts in the Rocky Mountains, USA:

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Grand Targhee and the Grand Tetons. image: grand targhee
Grand Targhee and the Grand Tetons. image: grand targhee

The Rocky Mountains are known for having some of the best skiable terrain in the world. An expansive mountain range, the Rockies span over 3,000 miles from British Columbia to New Mexico.

This list contains a collection of the best chairlifts & trams in the Rockies. They’ve been chosen for their access to incredible terrain or their memorable histories.

The Top 10 Lifts in the Rocky Mountains, USA:


#1. Jackson Hole Aerial Tram – Jackson Hole, WY

The world-famous Tram at Jackson Hole is known for its unparalleled access to some of the wildest terrain in the Rockies. With the longest vertical rise of any lift in North America, the Tram provides access to over 2,500 acres of in-bounds terrain and over 3,000 acres of backcountry terrain.

Originally built in 1966, the Tram was redone in 2007, making significant improvements to capacity and speed.

#2. Silverton Chair – Silverton, CO

Silverton’s one and only lift is truly in a league of its own. The terrain at Silverton is so gnarly, there are no roads. The two man chair had to be installed by hand – each tower pit was dug with picks and axes.

Most of the terrain is accessed by hiking from the top of Silverton Chair, and hikes range from 5 to 45 minutes. From January to March, access is limited to guided groups of 8, but early & late season access is open to the public.

#3. Lone Peak Tram – Big Sky, MT

Before the installation of the Lone Peak Tram in 1996, Big Sky was known for moderate terrain and light lift lines. But core riders at the resort wanted something more extreme, leading to the expansion which furthered Big Sky’s skiable terrain by over 1,200 challenging acres.  Now Big Sky is known for it’s expert terrain. 

Get this: the inside of the cabins were originally painted pink to have a calming effect on the passengers.

#4. Snowbird Aerial Tram – Snowbird, UT

Snowbird Tram. photo: snowbird
Snowbird Tram. photo: snowbird

The Tram at Snowbird brings you up to the 11,000 ft. summit of Hidden Peak, providing access to 90+% of terrain in one lift ride. With an average snowfall of 500″ per season, Snowbird is a no-brainer for great terrain in the Rocky Mountains.

Supposedly, during the Freeskiing World Tour in 2004, there was a party on the Tram – the two cabins parked next to each other mid line, and DJs played for a once in a lifetime beer fueled Tram banger.

#5. Kachina Peak Lift- Taos, NM

This epic peak, now has a chair on it. Kachina peak, Taos.
This epic peak, now has a chair on it. Kachina peak, Taos.

Summiting at 12,240 ft, the Kachina Peak lift at Taos Ski Valley is one of the highest lifts in the country. Installed in February 2015, this $3 million chairlift increased Taos’ lift accessible acreage by 50%.

Kachina Peak’s double black diamonds were previously only accessible by a 45 minute hike.


#6. Pallavicini Lift – Arapahoe Basin, CO

slide 2

The Pallavicini Lift at Arapahoe Basin rises over 1,300 ft, providing access to some of the steepest terrain in Summit County. The top of Pallavicini face measures 40 degrees, and this run is a favorite amongst locals on powder days.

The base of Pallavicini is adjacent to the early riser’s lot – so get there early to ski directly to and from your car.

#7. McConkey’s Express – Park City, UT

Named after Jim McConkey, father of skiing legend Shane McConkey (and a legend himself), this high powered six-person express chair was built in 1998. With a lift time of only 4 minutes, McConkey’s Express allows experienced riders to lap the expert double black bowls and trees of Jupiter Peak.

#8. Sacajawea Lift – Grand Targhee, WY

Grand Targhee and the Grand Tetons. image: grand targhee
Grand Targhee and the Grand Tetons. image: grand targhee

Grand Targhee provides access to the best side and backcountry in the Rocky Mountains. Located on the Idaho side of the Tetons, Targhee gets a whopping 500+ inches per season.

The Sacajawea lift opens up 1997, some of which rivals that of Jackson Hole. Grand Targhee is also known for it’s crazy cliffs – Jamie Pierre set a World Record at the resort, sending a 255 foot drop via Scotty’s backcountry gate off the hike to Mary’s Nipple.



#9. Chair 14 – Telluride, CO

Gold Hill Express.  photo:  dave's blog
Gold Hill Express. photo: dave’s blog

Also known as the Gold Hill Express, Chair 14 at Telluride is famous for its short lift lines, high speed, and incredible terrain. Prior to its construction in 2001,Telluride’s best terrain was a long hike away.  The Gold Hill Chutes weren’t even on the map, and the ski boundary ended at Little Rose.

From the top of Chair 14, you have 360 degrees of skiable terrain. Open bowls, tight chutes, amazing tree lines – this lift brings you to a perfect sampling of the best Telluride has to offer.

#10. Collins Quad – Alta, UT

Installed in 2004, the Collins Quad at Alta is the first bottom-to-top lift in the resort’s history. Prior to its installation, skiers had to take two lifts to reach the summit.

The Collins quad offers mid-station loading during parts of the day, so skiers are able to lap the top section of the mountain without returning to the base.

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2 thoughts on “Top 10 Ski Lifts in the Rocky Mountains, USA:

  1. Sacajawea is a favorite! Over the holidays Targhee had a 27″ powder day. We had a fabulous time playing in the more than knee deep powder off of Sac! Visibility was low as the snow was coming down so fast. Sacajawea is a fast lift and is large part protected by trees, so we were never cold. The runs off of Sac are tree lined and offer great visual contrast on low visibility days. Our favorite runs were Dream Weaver and Shadow Woman. There are also some great in the trees runs that my husband loves. The following day the bowl off of Sac was really amazing too. Good times–great snow and no lines– at the ‘Ghee!!

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