The 10 North American Ski Resorts That Offer the Best Bang for Your Buck

Missed out on the season's best passes? We got you.

By Wesley Grover

The 10 North American Ski Resorts That Offer the Best Bang for Your Buck
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27 December 2018

The Epic Pass is sold out. The IKON Pass? Gone. If you’re one of those ski bums who’s not so great at planning ahead and missed out on the season’s best multi-resort passes, don’t worry: we’ve got you covered.

For the right person, the Powder Alliance and Mountain Collective can both be good options that are still on the table, but if you’re more of a daytripper looking for a hot deal, these are the top resorts across North America where the terrain is steep and the prices cheap.

Sugarloaf Best North American Ski Resorts
Image via Sugarloaf Mountain / Twitter

10. Sugarloaf, Maine

Single-day ticket: $99
Skiable terrain: 1,240 acres
Average snowfall: 200’’
Airbnb average rate: $239

Let’s preface this by saying that East Coast skiing is a racket. While no one ever said $99 for a day pass was a steal, at least it grants access to 1,240 acres of skiable terrain at Sugarloaf. Compared to other nearby mountains — where you’ll pay more for less — here you’ll find the only chairlift on the east of the Mississippi that’ll take you above tree line, which gives way to their signature Snowfields. Lift lines stay surprisingly short and the sidecountry area holds a stash of some of the best glades in the east.

Après: Things can get rowdy at The Rack. Just consider their slogan, “serving questionable locals … and those soon to be.”

Grand Targhee Best North American Ski Resorts
Image via Grand Targhee

9. Grand Targhee, Wyoming

Single-day ticket: $90
Skiable terrain: 2,000 acres
Average snowfall: 500’’
Airbnb average rate: $314

At first glance, Grand Targhee does not look cheap, but keep in mind that $90 gets you access to more powder than Tony Montana saw in his lifetime and the average Airbnb rate is heavily skewed due to a large amount of high-end properties (there are plenty of affordable options). With an outrageous 500’’ of snowfall annually, you’ll understand why we say it’s worth it when you’re ripping down wide-open trails with snow plastered all over your sh*t-eating grin.

Après: The Trap Bar and Grille is the place for local brews and live music while stuffing your face with their famous “Wydaho” nachos.

Jay Peak Best North American Ski Resorts
Image via Jay Peak Resort / Instagram

8. Jay Peak, Vermont

Single-day ticket: $89
Skiable terrain: 385 acres
Average snowfall: 350’’
Airbnb average rate: $163

Again … East Coast prices. But with more snow than any other resort in eastern North America and a very liberal in/out-of-bounds policy, Jay Peak delivers strong value to those who are stuck on the ice coast. They’ve got more than 100 acres of woods to rip around in, but also cater to all skill levels.

Après: The Bullwheel Bar is the spot to thaw out and swill some suds.

Silverton Mountain Best North American Ski Resorts

7. Silverton Mountain, Colorado

Single-day ticket: $79
Skiable terrain: 26,800 acres
Average snowfall: 400’’
Airbnb average rate: $216

For $79, Silverton delivers a high rate of return on ass-puckering terrain. We use the term “resort” lightly here, because this expert-only mountain is serviced by a single chairlift (as well as a helicopter) and is about as raw and rugged as skiing gets in the lower 48. Avalanche gear is required at all times and guides are available for hire. If you’re not into dropping cliffs and big mountain chutes, run the other way, little doggy.

Après: Head to Avalanche Brewing Company to throw a few back while waiting for adrenaline levels to drop.

Hoodoo Ski Area Best North American Resorts

6. Hoodoo Ski Area, Oregon

Single-day ticket: $54
Skiable terrain: 806 acres
Average snowfall: 350’’
Airbnb average rate: $139

Hoodoo isn’t the biggest mountain in the Cascades, but you really can’t beat $54 for a day of carving up untouched snow on the resort’s backside. What it lacks in size, Hoodoo more than makes up for in charm, with a laid-back vibe and much-welcomed change of pace from over-skied and overpriced resorts. Oh yeah, and they’ve got night skiing, so don’t go too hard at après because, contrary to popular belief, normal rules do apply on the mountain.

Après: Three Creeks Brewing is the local watering hole for some Hoodoo Voodoo IPA, or make the 20-mile drive into Bend and check out Deschutes Brewery’s Public House.

Mt. Baldy Best North American Ski Resorts
Image via Mt. Baldy Resort

5. Mount Baldy, British Columbia

Single-day ticket: $42
Skiable terrain: 600 acres
Average snowfall: 250’’
Airbnb average rate: $180

You might think $42 (forty-two dollars!) means underwhelming conditions, but if you skip out on Mount Baldy, you’ll be sorry aboot it. The mountain boasts a ton of heart and a respectable amount of fresh powder — just ask this guy. With 360 acres of trails and another 240 acres in the woods, a full day here is money well spent (après might actually be the most expensive part of your day).

Après: Post up around the fireplace at the Baldy Bar and soak in the mountain’s relaxed ambience.

Wolf Creek Best North American Ski Resorts
Image via Wolf Creek

4. Wolf Creek Ski Area, Colorado

Single-day ticket: $72
Skiable terrain: 1,600 acres
Average snowfall: 430’’
Airbnb average rate: $167

Wolf Creek’s claim to fame is that they get the most snow in Colorado, and with 430’’ annually blanketing 1,600 acres, they aren’t lying — this mountain is the antidote for anyone suffering from a powder addiction. Expect a healthy mix of terrain for all abilities, with the backcountry bowls enjoyable for intermediates and above. Hike on up Prospector Ridge and you’ll be rewarded with a pleasant surprise at the Glory Hole.

Après: Really not too many options, but at 10,300 feet, it’ll only take a few beers before staggering home in your ski boots anyway.

Schweitzer Mountain Best North American Ski Resorts
Image via Schweitzer

3. Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho

Single-day ticket: $81
Skiable terrain: 2,900 acres
Average snowfall: 300’’
Airbnb average rate: $219

Located in the far northwest corner of Idaho, Schweitzer’s terrain is about as close to limitless as it gets. In-bounds, the mountain comprises 2,900 acres that accommodate all skill levels across two bowls, with thousands of additional acres out of bounds that can be skied at your own risk. The big mountain features combine with small-town charm to make Schweitzer a little slice of powder paradise that too often gets overlooked.

Après: Eichardt’s Pub is the go-to for craft beers in an authentic setting with pool, ping-pong and shuffleboard.

Whitewater BC Best North American Ski Resorts
Image via Ski Whitewater

2. Whitewater, British Columbia

Single-day ticket: $65
Skiable terrain: 1,184 acres
Average snowfall: 480’’
Airbnb average rate: $102

Located along British Columbia’s Powder Highway, Whitewater is the epitome of a “locals hill.” Extremely affordable prices for epic terrain can be explained by the overall lack of amenities — e.g., don’t expect heated gondolas. But for purists, it’s a dream come true that delivers some of the best bowls, glades and powder in Canada, while forgoing the crowds that get funneled to more commercial resorts.

Après: Grab a round at Coal Oil Johnny’s before heading in to Nelson for more options, like Mike’s Place and Finley’s Bar.

Best North American Ski Resorts Bridger Bowl
Image via Bridger Bowl / Facebook

1. Bridger Bowl, Montana

Single-day ticket: $63
Skiable terrain: 2,000 acres
Average snowfall: 350’’
Airbnb average rate: $137

A longtime favorite of ski bums in the know, Bridger Bowl remains one of Montana’s best kept secrets. Low ticket prices certainly correlate with the less-than-cutting-edge lift system, but if you can look past the slow double chairs, you’ll be rewarded big time. Known for the fluffy “cold smoke” snow, a short hike up the Ridge gives access to an endless supply of expert terrain littered with chutes and drops.

Après: Grab a beer on the mountain at Grizzly Ridge, then dive in to Bozeman’s legendary après scene, starting at the Filling Station.


Main image via Jay Peak Resort

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