USA or Canada for Skiing: Which is the Best?

The USA and Canada are two of the most popular places to ski in the world, but which offers the best experience. In this article, I’ll compare the snow quality, terrain, prices, how easy the resorts are to travel to and more so you can decide which to visit.

USA vs Canada for Skiing

Canada has better snow and the resorts are cheaper on average compared to America. However, the USA has more resorts which are larger on average, but also tend to be busier.

Category Best Country
Largest Ski ResortsUSA 
Least Crowded ResortsCanada 
Best Snow QualityCanada
Cheapest Ski Resorts Canada
Park City, Utah, USA

Snow Quality

The snow quality is better in Canada compared to the USA in the vast majority of resorts. Canada receives more snow on average, and it is colder meaning the snow stays drier and doesn’t get wet and slushy as quickly.

In the USA, Mt. Baker (Washington) gets the most snow. Utah is also an excellent place to go if you want great snow. The best snow in Utah can be found in Alta, Brighton and Snowbird. In Canada, Whistler Blackcomb receives an average of 340″ of snowfall per year which is some of the highest in North America.


The altitude is higher in most Canadian ski resorts compared to most American resorts, hence it tends to be colder in Canada.

In Banff for example, the average temperature in January is -14°C (7°F), whereas in Utah and Colorado it is closer to -9°C (16°F). There are some places where the temperature is a bit lower in Canada, such as Whistler Blackcomb, however if you don’t like it to be super cold, then you’ll probably prefer skiing in the US.

Sun Peaks, Canada

Ski Season Length

The ski season in the USA and Canada typically lasts for 5 months and spans from mid-November to mid-April. The average ski season length does vary within each country, with some resorts having ski seasons which last 6 months and others which last only 3-4 months.

In Canada, Whistler, in general has the longest ski season in Canada which usually lasts 6 months and spans from November to May. In the USA, Timberline Lodge in Oregon offers skiing nearly all year-round.

Here’s a summary table of the average ski season lengths by area.

Location in the United StatesAverage Ski Season LengthAverage Ski Season Dates
Alberta, CA25 weeks (6 months)Early Nov – Early May
Vermont, USA25 weeks (6 months)Early Nov – Early May
Colorado, USA21 weeks (5 months)Late Nov – Mid April
Utah, USA20 weeks (5 months)Mid Nov – Mid April
British Columbia, CA20 weeks (5 months)Late Nov – Mid April
California, USA20 weeks (5 months)Mid Nov – Late April
Idaho, USA20 weeks (5 months)Late Nov – Mid April
Montana, USA20 weeks (5 months)Late Nov – Mid April
Wyoming, USA20 weeks (5 months)Late Nov – Mid April
Quebec, CA17 weeks (4 months)Mid Dec – Mid April
New Mexico, USA13 weeks (4 months)Mid Dec – Mid March

Lift Ticket Prices

On average, lift tickets are double the price in the top USA ski resorts compared to the top Canadian resorts. The average peak adult lift ticket in the USA is $220, whereas in Canada it is only $100 (USD converted from CAD using conversion rates at time of writing).

In both countries, cheaper ski resorts are available. The table below compares the prices at the top rated and largest resorts.

Ski ResortAdult Lift Ticket (USD)Adult Lift Ticket (CAD)
Big White, CA$81*$111
Sun Peaks, CA$85*$115
Lake Louise, CA$95*$129
Sunshine Village, CA$100*$136
Revelstoke, CA$117*$159
Whistler Blackcomb, CA$123*$167
Alta, USA$151$205*
Sun Valley, USA$214$291*
Big Sky, USA$222$302*
Park City, USA$223$303*
Vail, USA$247$336*
Deer Valley, USA$259$352*
*Prices calculated using conversion rate at the time of writing ($1.36 CAD = $1.00 USD)

Costs quoted above are based on the most recent ski season at the time of writing and are subject to change. Based on peak weekend rates when buying in-advance online (better value offers are available when booking for multiple days). Please check the resort websites for up to date prices.

Aspen, Colorado, USA

Comparing Top Ski Resorts

The USA has over 450 ski resorts whilst Canada only has just less than 300. However, both countries have some world-class resorts. Here are some of the most popular.

Ski Resorts in the USA:

  • Park City
  • Vail
  • Palisades Tahoe
  • Big Sky
  • Aspen Snowmass
  • Sun Valley

Ski Resorts in Canada:

  • Whistler Blackcomb
  • Big White
  • Sun Peaks
  • Lake Louise
  • Sunshine Village
  • Revelstoke
Ski ResortSkiable TerrainTrailsDifficultyVertical DropTerrain Parks
Sun Valley, USA2434 ac121Green: 36%
Blue: 42%
Black: 20%
3400 ft2
Big White, CA2765 ac119Green: 18%
Blue: 54%
Black: 28%
2550 ft1
Revelstoke, CA3121 ac40Green: 12%
Blue: 43%
Black: 45%
5260 ft1
Sunshine Village, CA3500 ac120Green: 23%
Blue: 46%
Black: 31%
3361 ft4
Lake Louise, CA4200 ac164Green: 25%
Blue: 45%
Black: 30%
3250 ft4
Sun Peaks, CA4270 ac138Green: 10%
Blue: 58%
Black: 32%
2894 ft1
Vail, US 5317 ac 195Green: 18%
Blue: 29%
Black: 53%
3450 ft
 Aspen, US5517 ac 336Green: 9%
Blue: 45%
Black: 46%
 4406 ft3
Big Sky, US5800 ac317Green: 15%
Blue: 25%
Black: 42%
4350 ft5
Palisades Tahoe, US6000 ac177Green: 25%
Blue: 45%
Black: 30%
2850 ft5
Park City, US 7300 ac 324Green: 7%
Blue: 49%
Black: 44%
3200 ft  7
Whistler Blackcomb, CA8171 ac200Green: 20%
Blue: 55%
Black: 25%
5280 ft5

Largest Resort

By total skiable area, Powder Mountain in Utah, USA is the largest ski resort in North America with 8646 acres of skiable terrain, however only 2800 acres are lift served. Hence, many people refer to Whistler Blackcomb as the largest ski resort with 8171 acres of more accessible terrain. Park City is the second largest resort in the USA with 7300 acres of skiable terrain.

Best for Beginners

There are some excellent resorts for beginners in the USA and in Canada, so there’s not really a winner here. If you’re looking for some top beginner-friendly resorts, here are some to check out:

Best Beginner Ski Resorts in the US:

  • Beaver Creek
  • Sun Valley
  • Stratton

Best Beginner Ski Resorts in Canada:

  • Big White
  • Lake Louise
  • Fernie Alpine

Best for Intermediates

Again, when it comes to intermediate terrain there are plenty of North American resorts where you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Best Intermediate Ski Resorts in the US:

  • Aspen Snowmass
  • Park City
  • Palisades Tahoe

Best Intermediate Ski Resorts in Canada:

  • Whistler Blackcomb
  • Big White
  • Sun Peaks

Best for Experts

If you’re looking for a challenge, Revelstoke is an excellent option in Canada, as well as Val in the USA. Both of these mountains are very steep and have some of the best advanced/ expert level terrain in the world.

Best Expert Ski Resorts in the US:

  • Vail
  • Big Sky
  • Jackson Hole

Best Expert Ski Resorts in Canada:

  • Revelstoke
  • Mont Tremblant
  • Whistler Blackcomb

Which is the Least Crowded?

Ski resorts in Canada tend to be quieter compared to the USA. There are less resorts in Canada, however they typically only receive about 22 million skiers per year, compared to the USA which receives about 80 million skiers per year.

If you’re looking for a quiet resort, avoid the big ones like Whistler in Canada, and Park City/ Vail in the USA. Less crowded but still amazing US resorts include Deer Valley (Utah), and Big Sky (Montana). In Canada, two less busy top resorts are Panorama and SilverStar.

Big White, Canada

Getting to the Resorts

This really depends on which resorts you’re trying to get to. There are resorts in both countries that are easily accessible by car from an international airport less than an hour away. Equally, there are some resorts which are difficult and time consuming to access.

If you want a short transfer time then the best resorts to consider in the USA are in Utah, Montana and California. In Canada, Big White and Mont Tremblant have short transfer times from the closest international airport.

Resort LocationAverage Drive Time to International Airport
Utah, USA0.75 – 1.5 hours
Kelowna, Canada1-1.5 hours
Montana, USA 1-2 hours 
California, USA1-2 hours 
Quebec, Canada1.5 hours
Banff, Canada1.5-2.5 hours
Revelstoke, Canada2.5 hours
Sun Peaks, Canada2.75 hours
Whistler, Canada2.5 hours
Colorado, USA2-4 hours 
Idaho, USA4-5 hours

Comparing Individual Resorts

It’s probably more useful to compare resorts rather than entire countries, as the variability within the USA and Canada is huge. Here are links to my comparisons of top North American ski resorts:

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