Recently, I was talking about my Colorado ski trip with a non-skier friend. I was struggling to explain the difference between a “big resort” and a “small resort” when it occurred to me that there are no clearly defined divisions or groupings of resort by size and the amenities provided. So at the risk of incurring some ridicule, I suggest the following definitions:
Tier 1 Resort: Thousands of acres of skiable terrain. Lots of lifts, including many high-speed lifts. Plentiful on-mountain food options. Many lodging options at or near the base. Typically the most expensive lift tickets. Examples: Killington, Deer Valley
Tier 2 Resort: Not as much terrain as Tier 1. Significant lift infrastructure, but perhaps only one or two high-speeds. Some on-mountain food options. Typically less expensive that Tier 1. Examples: A-Basin, Mad River Glen(?)
Tier 3 Resort: The smallest in terms of skiable acreage. Fewer lifts, mostly (or entirely) fixed-grip. Generally just a single base lodge. Usually the least expensive lift tickets. Examples: Eldora, Jack Frost(?), Sundance
Important note: The intention is to group resorts based on what they provide, not to imply that one Tier is better than another. For example: I would probably label Northstar as Tier 1 and Kirkwood as Tier 2, but that does not imply that Northstar is better than Kirkwood. Indeed, many skiers would probably tell you they prefer Kirkwood over Northstar.
If we could agree on such a system, we could debate such questions as:
- What is the best Tier 2 resort in Colorado? (My answer: Wolf Creek)
- Can you recommend a Tier 1 resort in Utah? (My answer: Snowbasin)
- Which area in the US has most Tier 2 resorts? (No idea, but I’m guessing it would be New Hampshire)
- Which area in the US has best Tier 1 resorts? (I’m not going to touch that one)
Where would you put your local / favorite resorts? Is three categories enough? Where does Alta fit in? Crested Butte? Your thoughts are appreciated. Just go easy on me, it's my first post here.
Mod note: thread title changed with OP's permission