Top 20 Ski Resorts in the USA for 2014 | by Forbes Magazine

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This photo is actually of Whistler in Canada...  photo:
This photo is actually of Whistler in Canada… photo:

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, 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

Mammoth, CA.
Mammoth, CA.

TOP 20 SKI RESORTS in the USA for 2014:

ResortSnowfallAcreageVertical DropSummit ElevationLiftsPAF Score
1Jackson Hole
475 in2500 acres4139 ft10450 ft1294.6more
2Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort
500 in2500 acres3240 ft11000 ft1192.8more
3Alta Ski Area
500 in2200 acres2020 ft10550 ft1188.6more
4Alyeska Resort
650 in1500 acres3689 ft3939 ft986.4more
5Squaw Valley
450 in3600 acres2850 ft9050 ft3086.2more
6Vail Ski Resort
348 in5289 acres3450 ft11570 ft3186.1more
400 in3500 acres3100 ft11053 ft1484.5more
8Grand Targhee
500 in3000 acres2592 ft10000 ft583.8more
9Telluride Ski Resort
300 in2000 acres3845 ft13150 ft1882.1more
10Solitude Mountain Resort
500 in1200 acres2047 ft10035 ft881.7more
11Beaver Creek Resort
310 in1815 acres3340 ft11440 ft2581.6more
12Big Sky Resort
400 in3832 acres4350 ft11166 ft2180.0more
13Brighton Ski Resort
500 in1050 acres1750 ft10500 ft679.8more
14Aspen Mountain – Ajax
300 in675 acres3267 ft11212 ft879.7more
15Snowmass Ski Resort
300 in3132 acres4406 ft12510 ft2079.4more
16Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
350 in900 acres2270 ft13050 ft779.2more
17Breckenridge Ski Resort
366 in2358 acres3398 ft12998 ft3179.2more
18Canyons Resort
355 in4000 acres3190 ft9990 ft1979.1more
600 in2300 acres2000 ft9800 ft1479.1more
20Park City Mountain Resort
370 in3300 acres3100 ft10000 ft1678.9more

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, CA.  photo:
Squaw Valley, CA. photo:


“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


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8 thoughts on “Top 20 Ski Resorts in the USA for 2014 | by Forbes Magazine

  1. This is actually much much closer to reality than most top 10 ski resort lists that have deer valley in the top 5.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    +1 (1 vote)
    1. Looks like the author commented on this at Seems that Big Sky doesn’t measure up in snow data compared to many.

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      +1 (1 vote)
  2. Finally a list I’d agree with for the top ten (though I’d have them in a
    different order).

    I would bump Vail & Solitude out and bring Kirkwood & Big Sky into the
    top ten. Others OK.
    No data OTOH for Alyeska.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    +1 (1 vote)
  3. psh any top 10 list without Taos is not a top ten list. We New Mexicans really don’t care tho,

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    0 (0 votes)

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