North America's Top 10 Snow-Reliable Resorts

People skiing at Teton Village Ski Resort.
Getty Images/Richard Cummins

Spending a chunk of savings on airfare, lift tickets, lodging and gear only to wind up at a resort without snow might just be a skiers' worst nightmare. Ultimately, weather conditions are up to Mother Nature. However, some ski resorts are more likely than others to have good snow throughout ski reason.

Using data on weather, average annual snowfall, and regional climate patterns, it's possible to rank resorts on their "snow-reliability." Here's are ten of the top "snow-reliable" resorts.

1. Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain is one of the top ski resorts most likely to get snow. The season runs from the last part of October and the start of November, through the end of May and the early days of June. The Sierra region encounters numerous snow storms, which carry many inches of snow (an impressive 400 inches, to be exact) and provides more than 200 ski days a year. When needed, snow cannons are used to augment the level of snow. 

2. Jackson Hole Resort

With a hefty annual haul of snow and the highest lift in the 2,500-acre ski area is at 10, 449 feet, Jackson Hole is a highly snow-reliable for both casual skiers, and powder hounds who require good snow cover to ski the mountain's steep couloirs reliable snow cover for its steep couloirs and massive bowls. Jackson Hole gets an average of 475 inches of snow per year.

3. Whistler Blackcomb

With a season that extends mid-November through May, Whistler Blackcomb has the longest winter season all through Canada. Whistler is blessed with 458 inches of snow per year. Whistler Blackcomb's natural glaciers add to its enduring skiability, and Whistler has been amping up its snowmaking capabilities to preserve its glaciers. Whistler Blackcomb already has one of the most impressive snowmaking systems in North America, with 270 snow guns and three snowmaking reservoirs with a total holding capacity of 55 million gallons.

4. Winter Park Resort

Another ski resort most likely to get snow in the Winter Park Resort. Due to the elevation of this ski resort, it has a high level of snow capabilities. It also has snowmaking abilities. 

5. Telluride Ski Area

Due to the high elevation of Telluride, with its base elevation at 8,725 feet and its summit at 13, 150 ft., Telluride is a very snow-reliable resort. In addition, 20% of Telluride's runs are equipped with snowmaking capabilities.

6. Vail Resort

Vail is another resort benefitted by its high altitude. Although the major slopes located on the front side of the mountain enjoy artificial snowmaking (about 25%), some of Vail's crown jewels, including the  Blue Sky Basin and Back Bowls, are dependent upon natural snow. Fortunately, Vail receives an average of 348 inches of snow per year.

7. Sun Valley 

Sun Valley's snowmaking system is extremely high-tech. Sun Valley spent $15 million installing its computerized snowmaking system, and Sun Valley doesn't just make any old snow: they're famous for bi-layer snow cover that's groomed into gorgeous corduroy every morning. In addition to their army of artificial snow guns, Sun Valley enjoys 160 inches of natural snow and is open for an average of 143 days per season.

8. Heavenly Ski Resort

With a season that runs from mid-November until late April, Heavenly receives an average annual snowfall of 360 inches per year. If the natural white stuff falls short, the resort's widespread artificial snowmaking system, which covers up to 73% off resort terrain, offers very impressive back-up.

9. Mt. Baker Ski Resort

If you haven't heard of Mt. Baker Ski Resort in Washington, it's time to find out. Mt. Baker is home to the world's greatest recorded snowfall in one season, a whopping 1,140 inches in the 1998–99 season. Mt. Baker also has one of the highest average annual snowfall of any resort in the world, at 641 inches.

10. Snowbird Resort

With an average annual snowfall of 500 inches, Snowbird is a very likely recipient of nice, natural snow. However, with a reputation of offering Utah's longest ski season, Snowbird can't rely on Mother Nature. Accordingly, Snowbird has amped up its artificial snowmaking in recent years, with increased snowmaking in Peruvian Gulch, Gad Valley, and Mineral Basin.

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