Photo: Big Sky Resort/Casey Parks/

The Best Ski Resorts in the US With New Expansions in Winter 2024

Ski and Snow
by Brent Rose Jan 19, 2024

While the winter 2023-2024 ski season may have started with less of a “bang!” and more of a “pop” from a single Rice Krispie, the powder is at last starting to grace ski resorts across North America. And with more snow comes the opening of more high-alpine lifts, and ropes dropping on new terrain, creating more and more chances for first tracks.

And this year, skiers and snowboarders will find that some of their favorite resorts have new goodies on offer, including new terrain, brand new lifts, and services that help hedge against increasingly unpredictable weather and snowfall. As an advanced snowboarder who has been lucky enough to ride at most of the top resorts in North America, here’s a rundown of the best ski resorts in the US with new expansions I’m most excited about (plus one in Canada).

And don’t forget: winter in ski resort towns doesn’t end in March. Most of the resorts below are open through at least into April — and even July, in the case of Palisades Tahoe.

New beginner and intermediate terrain at Keystone, CO

ski resort new terrain -keystone winter 2024

Photo: Keystone Resort/Katie Young

Kicking off the expanded territory in Colorado is Keystone Resort, which just opened a massive area called Bergman Bowl, adding 550 skiable acres. This one isn’t exclusively for experts, though. This expansion adds 16 new trails that are predominantly blues (intermediate), with a good handful of greens and single blacks, too, all serviced by the high-speed, six-seat Bergman Express lift. The lift will also allow more advanced skiers to access terrain in the Erikson Bowl and ride the lift back up, though the resort still has more than 1,300 acres of hike-to terrain.

  • Terrain breakdown: 12% beginner, 39% intermediate, 49% advanced
  • Peak season lift ticket, single day: $219+
  • Scheduled closing date: Mid-April
  • Where to stay: At the resort or nearby in Summit County

Expanded in-bounds terrain at Steamboat Springs, CO

 

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The biggest upgrade of the season has to be Steamboat’s addition of the Mahogany Ridge and Fish Creek areas to its resort. These zones have been a part of the resort’s sidecountry for years, but now they’re officially within the ski area boundary and are serviced by the all-new Mahogany Ridge Express high-speed quad (four-person) lift (though the Fish Creek terrain will require a long hike out).

It adds a whopping 650 acres to Steamboat’s already sizable footprint, suddenly making Steamboat the second-largest ski resort in Colorado. The new terrain looks like an advanced skier’s paradise, adding dozens of chutes, bowls, and glades for those who love the trees. I can’t wait to get my board into this new area.

  • Terrain breakdown: 14% easier (green), 42% more difficult (blue), 44% most difficult (black and above)
  • Peak season lift ticket, single day: $217+
  • Scheduled closing date: April 14
  • Where to stay: At the resort or in Steamboat Springs, CO

More than 150 new skiable acres at Aspen Mountain

 

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Not to be outdone, Aspen Mountain (one of four resorts called “Aspen”) also added a whole new area called Hero’s, formerly known as Pandora’s (when it was out of bounds). It’s a 153-acre addition off the far side of Gentleman’s Ridge and it’s almost entirely double-black diamonds, so expert riders are frothing for this.

It’s serviced by a new high-speed, four-person chair called Hero’s, and because both high elevation and north-facing, it should hold snow even in leaner, warmer years – a useful hedge against the unpredictable snow patterns caused by climate change. Hero’s is adjacent to some of my favorite tree runs in Aspen, and the new lift will mean a lot less hiking out.

  • Terrain breakdown: 0% easier , 48% more difficult, 52% most difficult
  • Peak season lift ticket, single day: $224+
  • Scheduled closing date: April 21
  • Where to stay: In Aspen, CO (at a hotel or Airbnb rental)

The steepest terrain in Big Sky is now open

best ski resorts in US - big sky new lift

Photo: Big Sky Resort/Casey Parks

Years in the making, Big Sky Resort in Montana finally completed construction on the new Lone Peak Tram that will serve the steepest terrain in the area. We’re talking beacon and avalanche gear required, and bans on solo skiing for much of the new area, including Big Couloir.

Interestingly, access to the tram isn’t included with a standard Big Sky lift ticket, or for Ikon season pass holders. Instead, Big Sky is rolling out a novel (and somewhat controversial) per-ride system. The Lone Peak Tram will allow more people up at a time, which has traditionally been a chokepoint and a source of frustration. If you’re considering exploring the new terrain, make sure you know your limits, and if you don’t like what you see once you get to the top, there’s no shame in downloading from this one. It is rowdy up there, and you should take backcountry safety precautions.

  • Terrain breakdown: 21% beginner, 29% intermediate, 50% advanced
  • Peak season lift ticket, single day: $208+
  • Scheduled closing date: Mid-April
  • Where to stay: At the resort, in Big Sky, or in Bozeman, MT

A great back-up option for heli-skiers at Whistler Blackcomb

whistler blackcomb dawn patrol

Photo: Destination Canada/Grant Gunderson

Granted, it’s not in the US. But at only two hours from Vancouver, one of the easier cities to reach in Canada from the US, Whistler is just as viable an option for US skiers as anything in the states.

Heli-skiing or boarding is a dream for just about everybody who plays in the snow, but dreams don’t always come true. Snow, wind, and bad visibility can ground the helicopters, and your schedule (or lots of visitors in town) may mean you can’t just rebook for the next day. Fortunately, Whistler Heli-Skiing (owned by Whistler Blackcomb) has a new and clever way to ease that sting a little: a new program called Dawn Patrol.

If your heli-ski trip gets canceled, you can instead get early-ups at Blackcomb, joining your heli-guide on lifts an hour before the mountain opens. That gives you an hour to rip untouched lines with a guide before the general public heads up for the day. And if your helicopter got canceled due to weather the day before, there’s a good chance the mountain will have fresh pow.

This has never been offered at Blackcomb before, and I got to try it on a recent trip on a powder day. It was almost as good as the day I was able to fly in the helicopter. Almost. Whistler’s terrain options for heli skiing is roughly 50 times larger than the in-bounds terrain, and Whistler Blackcomb is the largest resort in North America at 8,100 acres. Heading up an hour before the public means you’re practically guaranteed to score untouched powder on every lap.

Whistler also has a new program called Ski with an Olympian. As the name suggests, you get to spend a day being guided by an actual local Olympian. For me, that was Mercedes Nicoll, a four-time Olympian in snowboard halfpipe. She took me to zones I didn’t know existed, gave me some pointers along the way, and instilled in me the confidence to jump off things I never thought I could (and even ride out cleanly).

  • Terrain breakdown: Whistler is 20% beginner, 55% intermediate, 25% advanced; Blackcomb is 20% beginner, 50% intermediate, 30% advanced
  • Peak season lift ticket, single day: $220+ CAD (about $171)
  • Scheduled closing date: April 28
  • Where to stay: Whistler, BC (at a hotel or Airbnb)

Access to new sidecountry terrain at Palisades Tahoe

Already home to some of the most legendary terrain in California, if not the world, Palisades Tahoe recently expanded backcountry access, increasing the odds of scoring fresh tracks at the often-busy resort. You need to hire a guide through the resort via Alpenglow Expeditions. Guides can take you to lift-accessed terrain that was previously out of bounds, including the prized National Geographic Bowl near the resort’s backside Granite Chief lift.

The service just started last season, but it’s already incredibly popular. Also new (as of last year mid-season) is the base-to-base gondola connecting Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Meadows, making it easy to go back and forth between the now-connected resorts.

  • Terrain breakdown: 25% beginner, 45% intermediate, 30% advanced
  • Peak season lift ticket, single day: $194+
  • Scheduled closing date: July 4
  • Where to stay: At the resort, at a north Lake Tahoe hotel, or at an Airbnb rental on Tahoe’s north shore

New beginner tree skiing in Jackson Hole

ski news 2024 updates - jackson hole

Photo: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort/Stephen Shelesky

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming recently opened a big expansion to its glade skiing within Teton Village and Casper Bowl boundaries. That has opened up some incredible tree areas I’m dying to experience for myself. Much of it is beginner-friendly, but as skiers know, it’s easy to make glades more challenging if you look for opportunities to play around on natural jumps or pick tighter lines.

Jackson Hole also expanded beginner access in Bridger Bowl, which is no small thing in itself, considering JH is known to be one of the steepest mountains in the country. You can also now après-ski in true Jackson style, as the Jackson Hole Lager from Melvin Brewing is available on-mountain as of late 2023.

  • Terrain breakdown: 10% beginner, 40% intermediate, 50% advanced
  • Peak season lift ticket, single day: $203+
  • Scheduled closing date: April 14
  • Where to stay: Teton Village (at the resort) or Jackson, WY (in a hotel or Airbnb rental)

Sierra-at-Tahoe reopens with newly shaped terrain

best ski resorts in the US - sierra at Tahoe new terrain

Photo: Sierra-at-Tahoe/Brian Walker

This one is not so much new, but newly resurrected. Sierra-at-Tahoe is now completely open following the devastating 2021 Caldor Fire, which burned through the resort. That fire was devastating to the point that the whole resort was closed the following season. It reopened the next season (2022-2023), but huge areas remained roped off because of large fields of downed trees.

Now, after massive clearing efforts, the resort is fully reopened, and the fires reshaped its trail map. The once densely forested West Bowl, Avalanche Bowl, and Huckleberry Canyon areas are practically treeless, now allowing for big, open turns on long pitches – creating arguably some of the best bowl runs in Lake Tahoe.

  • Terrain breakdown: 25% beginner, 50% intermediate, 25% advanced
  • Peak season lift ticket, single day: $95+
  • Scheduled closing date: Usually end of April
  • Where to stay: South Lake Tahoe, CA

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