Forbes Magazine recently ranked the top 20 ski resorts in the USA for 2014. They use an “algorithm” they call the Pure Awesomeness Factor (PAF). Here’s how they break it down:
“This year’s rankings: We spent a good deal of the summer greatly widening the data set we use to inform the PAF calculations. Our improved database includes more than 30 categories of data for 182 U.S. resorts. It was a long summer of toil, but we’re now prepared to release this emission of awesomeness to the world. Even better, in addition to the top 10 listed here, the entire rankings set—182 resorts worth of data, and rankings for regions, snow, expert mountains, family mountains and travel ease—now resides at ZRankings.com, the most comprehensive ski rankings site on the web.
We’re more confident than ever that the Forbes Top 10 U.S. Ski Resort List is the best one in the industry.” – Forbes
TOP 20 SKI RESORTS in the USA for 2014:
|Resort||Snowfall||Acreage||Vertical Drop||Summit Elevation||Lifts||PAF Score|
|475 in||2500 acres||4139 ft||10450 ft||12||94.6||more|
|2||Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort|
|500 in||2500 acres||3240 ft||11000 ft||11||92.8||more|
|3||Alta Ski Area|
|500 in||2200 acres||2020 ft||10550 ft||11||88.6||more|
|650 in||1500 acres||3689 ft||3939 ft||9||86.4||more|
|450 in||3600 acres||2850 ft||9050 ft||30||86.2||more|
|6||Vail Ski Resort|
|348 in||5289 acres||3450 ft||11570 ft||31||86.1||more|
|400 in||3500 acres||3100 ft||11053 ft||14||84.5||more|
|500 in||3000 acres||2592 ft||10000 ft||5||83.8||more|
|9||Telluride Ski Resort|
|300 in||2000 acres||3845 ft||13150 ft||18||82.1||more|
|10||Solitude Mountain Resort|
|500 in||1200 acres||2047 ft||10035 ft||8||81.7||more|
|11||Beaver Creek Resort|
|310 in||1815 acres||3340 ft||11440 ft||25||81.6||more|
|12||Big Sky Resort|
|400 in||3832 acres||4350 ft||11166 ft||21||80.0||more|
|13||Brighton Ski Resort|
|500 in||1050 acres||1750 ft||10500 ft||6||79.8||more|
|14||Aspen Mountain – Ajax|
|300 in||675 acres||3267 ft||11212 ft||8||79.7||more|
|15||Snowmass Ski Resort|
|300 in||3132 acres||4406 ft||12510 ft||20||79.4||more|
|16||Arapahoe Basin Ski Area|
|350 in||900 acres||2270 ft||13050 ft||7||79.2||more|
|17||Breckenridge Ski Resort|
|366 in||2358 acres||3398 ft||12998 ft||31||79.2||more|
|355 in||4000 acres||3190 ft||9990 ft||19||79.1||more|
|600 in||2300 acres||2000 ft||9800 ft||14||79.1||more|
|20||Park City Mountain Resort|
|370 in||3300 acres||3100 ft||10000 ft||16||78.9||more|
As a bonus, we thought we’d include Forbes’ description of Squaw Valley who ended up in the #5 spot in the rankings.
“Squaw Valley is the best resort in the Lake Tahoe area. In fact, it’s the best resort in any of the three contiguous West Coast states—and that’s a big deal, as there are a lot of great ski hills between Los Angeles and the Canadian border.
Squaw has an vast diversity of terrain—and vast diversity within its skier base—that could be the greatest of any resort anywhere. On a weekend day, you can watch some of the greatest skiers in the world shoot big lines down the Palisades and, a mere 20 minutes later, you can be skiing amongst giant throngs of San Francisco weekenders who ski like people from Texas. But remember, this is the place that gave us Shane McConkey and Jonny Moseley. Squaw’s elite skiers can challenge those of any area—including Jackson Hole.
With that diversity of skier and terrain also comes diversity of ski lifts. Squaw has it all, from classic fixed grips, cranking detachables, Alp-like trams and the only funitel—like a gondola, but on two ropes, for faster and safer rides in high winds—in the United States. Squaw’s KT-22 is one of the more iconic ski lifts in the world, whisking skiers over cliff bands, steeps and gullies to a set of crags that offer cold snow when the bottom of the resort is skiing like crème brulee.
So, yes, Squaw can get crowded. It’s a great mountain, it’s not a secret, and it’s just inside an acceptable weekend-trip driving radius from the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States. A metro area that happens to be known for its teeming young people with good jobs, lots of money and lots of free time. Many of these said young people may have contracted the scenester virus, a well-known affliction in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. And Squaw, for all its awesomeness, draws scenesters like quad-roasted coffee poured over organic donuts served with a side of smuggypants. That’s just the way it is. But you can deal with this and still ski Squaw. And you should.
Squaw gets tons of snow, nearly 500-inches a year. That annual dumping comes with a couple of caveats, however, one of them being the standard Sierra exception: the snow often carries a moisture content of more than 13%. That kind of heavy snow makes powder skiing harder and more laborious than the lighter stuff of Utah/Wyoming/Montana and Colorado. This high-moisture snow can also coagulate into a giant coal lump when just a breath of hot sun hits it. But there are cold dumps, too, in the Sierras and those can come in quantities—4 feet or more at once—that Rocky Mountain resorts just don’t see.
The other reason that Squaw’s giant snow totals don’t land it even higher in our rankings is the capricious nature of its snowfall. Squaw, like all of the Tahoe area, while it can get eight feet of snow in three days, can also go an entire winter month with nothing but a passing rain storm. A full quarter of Squaw’s winter months tally less than 30-inches of snow, drought material at a Western ski resort.” – Forbes