Top 10 Ski Resorts In North America For 2019 | According To Forbes Magazine

December 11th, 2018

Mountainwatch | Matt Wiseman

For the last several years, Forbes magazine, known for its business-heavy reportage on topics such as finance, investing, technology, entrepreneurship and marketing, have somewhat oddly concerned themselves with ranking ski resorts.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when considering their other topics generally contribute to fairly affluent lifestyles. The website itself has its own drop down menu page titled ‘billionaires’ – skiing can be pretty expensive after all.

Price aside (which is how we recently ranked international resorts according to), Forbes have looked at all the other facets underpinning a good ski resort, as well as arguably the most obvious… snow.

“Our decisions are driven by a multitude of things, including snowfall, terrain, crowds and town ambience. These factors are baked into a master algorithm that yields, for 220 ski resorts on the continent, a Pure Awesomeness Factor, or PAF.” – Forbes


The so-called ‘Pure awesome factor’ is surely off the Richter for skier John Collinson pictured here in Alta, Utah. Photo: Adam Clark

As for the measuring of snow quality – the golden standard for resort assessment – Forbes said, “we account for the average quality of snow, which gives more value to the Rockies, Utah and inner western Canada, compared with the California Sierra, the Pacific Northwest and the East. We also examine locations’ seasonal snowfall standard deviations.”

“We not only take into account a ski resort’s average annual snowfall (we use true snowfall averages, not ones from marketing brochures), but we also factor the quality of snow that usually falls, and how often it might fall (not just how much).”

Without further ado, here’s how the resorts ranked… and dare we say there are no real surprises!


1. Jackson Hole – PAF 99.0


Jackson Hole’s impressive assortment of terrain certainly had something to do with getting it into the top spot. Photo:: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

No surprises here, Jackson Hole has time and time again taken out the top spot in such lists as these and it’s the reason we introduced our Mountainwatch tours there this season!


Source:: ZRankings


2. Telluride – PAF 95.57


Taking out the second spot is none other than Colorado’s, Telluride. Photo: Casey Day/Telluride


Source:: ZRankings


3. Snowbird – PAF: 94.25


Forrest Shearer airing into Daltons, Snowbird Utah. Photo:: Andrew Miller


Source:: ZRankings


4. Alta – PAF: 93.50

Source:: ZRankings


5. Vail – PAF: 90.76


Bluebird powder day at Vail. Photo:: Vail Resort


Source:: ZRankings


6. Aspen Snowmass – PAF: 88.86


Source:: ZRankings


7. Whistler Blackcomb – PAF: 88.51


North America’s largest ski resort on full display. Photo:: Whistler Blackcomb

Sidenote: our models are predicting up to 185cm to fall at Whistler Blackcomb over the next 7 days (Dec 9-Dec 16, 2018). Check out the Whistler Forecast.


Source:: ZRankings


8. Steamboat – PAF: 88.32


Source:: ZRankings


9. Whitewater – PAF: 87.63


Source:: ZRankings


10. Big Sky – PAG 86.91


The aptly named Big Sky took out 10th place. Photo:: Big Sky/Creative Commons


Source:: ZRankings

One of the most interesting takeaways is seeing which top 10 resorts are covered by which ski-multipass superpower (read: Epic or Ikon).

“The season pass game, which had been fairly static during the last several years, with Vail Resorts’ lineup squaring off against a group of smaller resorts and independents belonging to the Mountain Collective, has seen its largest shakeup since the 1990s. Skiers must be more strategic than ever when picking what season pass to buy, and what ski resorts to travel to and when to do it.” – Forbes

You can read the full report by Forbes here!

And check out how the resorts fare when ranked on snow alone by ZRankings.