Doesn’t matter what your criteria is, but it’s straight forward. Let’s hear the ski spots that don’t get a lot of praise, and some big spots that aren’t worthy of the hype…
The Canyons. Setup is terrible. Just as the name implies, there’s a bunch of valleys and canyons between each mountain, so get across the place is terrible. Huge acreage, be prepared for a lot of traversing to marginal terrain. You have to ride three lifts to get any decent vertical. Very pricy.
Snowbird. NOT the terrain (world class). Not the snow (world class). It’s the rat race for fresh powder. Never seen a mountain get tracked out this fast. It’s almost too close to SLC. The whole front side seems to funnel onto itself and the mountain rides/skis much narrower than the acreage would suggest. I’d rather have a little elbow room at PCMR with 14” then being packed like a sardine on the Snowbird tram, tracked out by 11am with 21”.
Whiteface Mountain. Best “point it and go” skiing and riding in the East. Huge vertical (3200’). No crowds. Laps off the gondola can chew up some serious vertical fast, The Slides are the best in-bounds option in the East. Lake Placid après is always a good time.
Winter Park. Of all the mountains within 2 hours of Denver, this one is the most balanced. Want a resort? Head to the Winter Park side. Want a spot where you can park 75 yards from the lift and a small time feel? Head to the Mary Jane side. Bumps are legendary. Great steeps on the Mary Jane side (check out Aw Chute). Very long tree runs. High snowfall (350” +), very rarely gets skunked (Tony Crocker said it’s the most reliable area for snowfall near Denver).