I love lists that are unexpected, tread new ground and offer up totally original results.

If you’ve grown accustomed to seeing a rotation of the same handful of ski resorts on annual “best of” lists, you’re in for a treat today.

For while you may have heard of, and skied or snowboarded, at some of these resorts, we guarantee you’ll also find some surprises.

The Top Ten Family Resorts (and How They Got There)

Here are the overall winners.

  1. Titus Mountain, NY
  2. Bald Mountain, ID
  3. Magic Mountain, VT
  4. Bretton Woods, NH
  5. Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area, CA
  6. Bolton Valley, VT
  7. Ragged Mountain, NH
  8. Smuggler’s Notch, VT
  9. Cascade Mountain, WI
  10. Black Mountain Ski Area, NH

To create this list, Liftopia surveyed skiers and snowboarders, asking them to nominate their favorite ski areas, according to what each ski area does best.

The survey results were combined with data – total skiable acres and the cost of skiing at each resort. A proprietary algorithm was then applied to level the field between large and small resorts.

The result? An emphasis on value and a plethora of smaller, less expensive resorts on the list.

Among the top 10 Family Friendly resorts, the average lift ticket price (for those currently available on is just $29.00.

What Makes the Winners Special

While lists are fun, personal experience is better.

Since I haven’t skied very many of the national or regional winners with my family, I turned to some real experts – local ski moms.

Here’s what some of them had to say recently or in past interviews.


Regarding Bretton Woods, #4 on the overall Family Friendly list, Martha Wilson shares that, “The corduroy cruisers instill confidence in everyone, but be sure to duck into the woods for some fun glades that are a perfect introduction to side country exploring.”

Wilson also suggests roasting marshmallows atop Stickney Mountain and après at the Omni Mount Washington Resort.

Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont, #8 on the overall list, is a well-known family resort. Valerie, a Massachusetts ski mom, has skied “Smuggs” with her family for years. She awards props for varied terrain, excellent children’s programs and a free shuttle that makes it easy for teens to get around sans parents.

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In the Southeast, Snowshoe Mountain, WV and Cataloochee, NC made the list.

Snowshoe (#4) is the big dog, a full-service resort with 100% snowmaking. “Snowshoe reminds me of Colorado or Germany,” shares ski mom Robin Adams. “Although the mountains are smaller, you are up high and can see mountain after mountain. There is nothing prettier.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Cataloochee Ski Area

Cataloochee comes in at #6 on the Southeast list. Located in the Smoky Mountains about an hour from Asheville, NC, Robin Oswald gives Cataloochee props for convenience, upgraded snowmaking, grooming and a” real community feeling.”

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Michigan claims to be the cradle of North American skiing, with a long tradition brought to the region by Nordic immigrants. Appropriately, five of the top 10 Midwest Family Friendly resorts are in Michigan, with the others located in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario.

One of these, #5 Buck Hill, Minnesota, offers year-round skiing and race training on snow during the cold months and on Neveplast during warm weather.

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High West

In the High West, Bald Mountain, Idaho sits atop the list and is ranked #2 overall.

On this list, you’ll also find well-known resorts including #5 Arapahoe Basin, Colorado.

PHOTO CREDIT: Arapahoe Basin Ski & Snowboard Area

Known for it’s steep terrain and long season that stretches into summer, A Basin is perfectly set up for tag-team families.

The Palavicini Lift (serving A Basin’s hardest terrain) is adjacent to the parking lot, the beginner slopes and the magic carpet. Here, you’ll find parents skiing moguls and glades then trading off to help their little ones master the wedge. On cold days, the lodge is a cozy place for families to hang out, play and relax.

Utah ski mom and writer Alyssa Erickson, has this to say about Solitude Mountain Resort, #4 on the High Mountain list. .

“True to its name, Solitude is known for few crowds, beautiful scenery and a good mix of terrain. It’s perfect for the intermediate skier who loves a mixed bag of moguls, trees, and steeps.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Author at Solitude Mountain Resort

Another writer and ski mom, Susan Strayer, lives at Sundance Resort (#7).

Her insider tips include skiing Outlaw’s with your kids (“they’ll love skiing through Annie’s cabin or alongside the Wild West passenger train”) and she suggests Roundup for solitary tree skiing.

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West Coast

On the West Coast, I am happy to see some familiar names including Homewood, located literally on the shores of Lake Tahoe; Boreal Mountain, with it’s free ride culture and outstanding Woodward facilities; Snow Valley, a Los Angeles family favorite; and Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area, one of the few remaining ski areas within a national park.

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To see the complete list of winners by region and overall, visit Liftopia’s Best In Snow website.

In addition to Family Friendly resorts, winners were named in the categories of Beginner Friendly, Least Crowded, Best Snow Quality, Most Challenging and Best Value.

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