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Learn How to Ski at These 6 Best Ski Resorts for Beginners

It’s never too late to learn to ski. But, for first-time skiers, the idea of actually hitting the slopes can be a daunting prospect. Fortunately, some of America’s most renowned ski resorts also offer exceptional opportunities for beginners, from groomed slopes and tiered learning areas to private lessons and guided mountain tours.

But before you get going, be sure you have the right gear too, such as the best ski gloves and the best skis. Of course, once you’ve mastered the basics, you can also start seeking tougher terrain at these hidden gems for skiing across North America.

Downhill Skier Practicing Turns.

But for starters, here are a few of the best places in the country for skiers still mastering their snowplow:

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Skiing area at Steamboat Springs in Colorado.

While Steamboat Springs has earned a reputation as a winter sports hub, the northwest Colorado town first enticed visitors with local hot springs, credited for inspiring the hamlet’s name. Today, though, a major draw is the Steamboat Ski Resort. A winter wonderland spread over the Park Range in the Routt National Forest, the resort’s 2,965 skiable acres extend over an isolated mountain chain studded with seven peaks, providing 170 marked trails for skiers. More than half the resort’s runs cater to beginner and intermediate level skiers — and novices can even hit the slopes after sunset on Christie Peak. Designated for night skiing sessions (Thursday through Sunday), the 8,000-foot peak offers five illuminated trails, including two beginner runs. Steamboat is also a superb place to get an introduction to cross-country skiing, with two different touring centers offering lessons and rentals, along with more than 15 miles of groomed trails.

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Big Sky Resort, Montana

Big Sky Resort in Montana.

Nestled into the Northern Rockies, Montana’s aptly named Big Sky Resort treats skiers to 5,850 acres of terrain, meaning there’s plenty of space for newbies to practice snowplowing, turning, and of course, falling gracefully. Situated between Bozeman and Yellowstone National Park, the resort’s runs traverse the flanks of Lone Peak, with more than 5,850 acres of terrain for skiers to tackle and 300 named trails. Nearly half of the resort’s skiable terrain, about 2,300 acres, is rated as beginner or intermediate, so there’s plenty to explore. And, beyond the ample acreage, Big Sky also offers a variety of learning opportunities for less-experienced skiers. For beginners still mastering the basics, there are group and private lessons for adults, along with a full-day Learn to Ski & Ride program that includes a beginner lift ticket. Beyond the basics, Big Sky also has a variety of learning opportunities for more advanced skiers too, including guided tours of expert terrain, clinics designed just for women, multi-week seasonal programs for skills progression, and even a series of clinics taught by the pioneering extreme skier and inductee of the U.S. Skiing and Snowboarding Hall of Fame, Dan Egan.

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Stowe, Vermont

Stowe in Vermont.

Spread over the flanks of Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, Stowe Mountain Resort is a New England classic. The northern Vermont town has been a winter sports hub for more than a century, with 4,395-foot Mount Mansfield serving as an irresistible lure for downhill skiers. The first rope tow on the peak opened in 1937 and marked ski runs, lifts, and lodges have been added ever since. Today, Stowe offers 485 acres of skiable terrain with 116 marked trails, totaling 40 miles. About 70% of the resort’s trails are rated for beginner and intermediate skiers, and to make things easier, the bulk of the resort’s beginner trails are clustered around the Toll House Double and Mountain Triple lifts. For skiers aiming to perfect the art of paralleling, Stowe also offers group and private lessons for adults, including the chance to make fresh tracks first thing in the morning with the resort’s Early Riser Private Lessons, offered on weekends and select holidays.

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June Mountain Ski Area, California

June Mountain Ski Area in California.

Billed as one of California’s most family-friendly ski spots, the photogenic June Mountain Ski Area is nestled into the peaks of the Eastern Sierra within the Inyo National Forest. Overshadowing the town of June Lake, the ski area tops out at 10,090 feet and treats skiers to 1,500 acres of terrain. More than half of the resort’s 41 trails are designated for beginner and intermediate skiers, and the easiest trails are nestled around Bunker Hill. There are also plenty of ways to learn at June Mountain. The ski area offers half-day group lessons for adults, along with half-day, full-day, and hour-long private lessons. After mastering the basics, intermediate skiers have a number of educational offerings to explore. Intermediate-level skiers can head into the backcountry with Sierra Mountain Guides for an off-piste tour tail0rmade to suit the skills of participants. And, for insights into the region’s diversity of natural wonders, the resort also offers ski tours led by volunteer naturalists from the United States Forest Service, open to intermediate-level skiers.

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Copper Mountain, Colorado

Copper Mountain in Colorado.

Tucked into the White River National Forest just west of Denver, Colorado’s Copper Mountain is an idyllic winter getaway for novice skiers. Anchored by 12,441-foot Copper Mountain, the ski area provides 2,507 acres of terrain, threaded with more than 140 named trails. Almost half of the resort’s trails are for beginner and intermediate skiers, with the majority of the green slopes clustered around the West Village Base Area. Copper Mountain also offers an abundance of opportunities for adults to continue their education on the slopes, including private and group lessons, skill-specific clinics, and seasonal programs for skiers of all abilities. For a private tour of the mountain’s offerings, the Copper Guides program treats skiers to a personalized tour of the resort’s terrain, tailored to suit individual experience levels. The resort also offers private uphill tours — a unique way for less-seasoned skiers to get a taste of the backcountry experience. The specialized tours include an introduction to “skinning,” the technique used for uphill travel, and ends with a beginner-friendly descent on a green-blazed slope.

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Crystal Mountain Resort, Washington 

Crystal Mountain Resort in Washington.

Situated in the central Cascades, at the northeastern edge of Mount Rainier National Park, Crystal Mountain Resort has a number of perks for first-time skiers. Spread over a string of closely condensed summits, the ski area is the biggest in the state of Washington, serving up more than 2,600 skiable acres with 80 marked runs. While there’s spectacular expert terrain, including ample backcountry acreage, nearly 65% of the ski area’s runs cater to beginner and intermediate skiers. And, for a little peace of mind, all of the resort’s beginner trails are condensed into the same swath of the mountain, so there’s little chance of accidentally skiing into double black diamond steeps. The ski area also offers both private and group lessons for adults, along with camps and clinics. While learning the ropes, skiers also have a heady view of some of the Pacific Northwest’s most iconic peaks, including 8,363-foot Mount St. Helens to the south, 10,786-foot Mount Baker to the north, and 14,400-foot Mount Rainer, the highest volcanic peak in the Lower 48.

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