Ski season came early this year. Several areas around the country have already had their first snowfall, making it impossible for skiers and snowboarders to not have snow-capped mountains on their minds. Starting in October and until April, vacationers will make their annual trips to top ski destinations from coast to coast.
Breckenridge Ski Resort, Keystone Resort and the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area all opened early for the first time in over a decade. Plus, sources like the Farmers’ Almanac and AccuWeather forecast strong precipitation (snow) and colder temperatures across much of the U.S.
As the prime season for skiing and snowboarding approaches, travelers can choose between hundreds of resorts across the U.S. for their annual snowy vacation. On average, ski resort visitors look to book their vacation accommodations 55 days in advance (which means if you’re planning to go during the peak of the season, now’s the time to start looking for a vacation rental!).
The most popular ski market booking dates for TurnKey customers are January, December, and October.
Factors such as number of trails (and their levels of difficulty), lift ticket prices, and the amount of snowfall all play a role for travelers deciding where to visit. More experienced skiiers may look for resorts that offer the highest peak and most challenging hills, whereas families and groups of friends might be concerned about price of lift tickets.
TurnKey Vacation Rentals pulled together information from Google Search data on 260 ski resorts in the U.S., focusing specifically on resorts with over 15 trails. In our data (see below), you will find the top ranking resorts based on average ticket price, total number of trails and lifts, vertical drop, length of season, average snowfall, and overall search volume (an indicator of popularity) for each specific resort.
Check below to see if your favorite resort made the top 25, or find the full data sheet here.
In comparison to TurnKey’s 2017 Ski Report study, we found that most trends stayed the same. The top three ski and snowboard states are still Colorado, California, and Utah, for example. These three states alone own nearly 50% of the top 100 ski resorts in the U.S., according to the study. You’ll find that 77% of Colorado resorts are in the top 100 U.S. resorts, with 61% of California resorts making the cut, and 83% of Utah resorts also included. Because of higher demand, visitors should still expect steeper prices at these top destinations. Colorado ($111.86), California ($84.18), and Utah ($89.71) each offer higher average prices. In the past year, however, Colorado saw a price drop of $4 and California saw a price drop of $3. Utah’s average price increased by $1. The results of our study show an average overall lift ticket price of $68.11 for U.S. resorts, which is about the same as last year’s $68.33.
For families or large groups looking for mountain resorts with plenty of trails and affordable lift ticket prices, consider visiting resorts in states like Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York and Idaho. Each of these states has over 10 resorts with an average daily lift ticket price falling below $56.
In addition to analyzing the best ski resorts in U.S. based on their offerings, we found the top ski resort destinations for each state, based on the top 50 ski resorts in our study. To collect this data, we compared Google Search Data from August 2017 to March 2018 for each ski resort per state.
Overall, more than half of the states included Breckenridge Ski Resort and Vail Ski Resort in their top destinations. Park City Mountain Resort was in the top three for 15 states, Snowbird was in the top three for 13 states, and Deer Valley was in the top three for 10 states.
Luckily, TurnKey has 175 homes to rent in Park City and 90 homes to rent in Vail Valley. Because of high demand, these two markets also have some of the highest nightly rates; the average nightly rate for Park City is $536 and $526 for Vail Valley. Skiers planning to visit either market should book early. The best resort in the U.S. according to our own study, Squaw Valley Ski Resort, landed in the top three for just five states.
Aspen, a historically classic winter destination for skiers, has seen a decline in popularity. While it ranked at no. 11 for best ski markets in our study, it didn’t rank in the top 3 resorts for any states. Our data shows the rental market has seen a decrease in both its year-over-year booking count and its year-over-year unit growth. Cost might be a hindrance for visitors; it has the highest average nightly rate ($578) of all TurnKey ski markets.
Folks looking for the next hot ski destination should set their sights on Winter Park. While it didn’t make it into the top three resorts for any state, it did rank no. 13 on our list of best resorts and our data shows that it’s an exploding rental market—it has four times as many homes listed than last year and has been booked 18 times more than in 2017. While average lift ticket prices are significantly more expensive than the U.S. average ($159), it offers visitors over 3,000 skiable acres, 25 lifts, a vertical drop of over 3,000 feet, and a long season of 151 days.
Ski season is upon us. Keep an eye on the trends and snowfall, and you’ll have the dream ski vacation this year.