This article originally appeared on Ski Mag
Considering that there are over 6,000 ski areas around the globe, narrowing down the best couple resorts on each continent is no easy feat. After all, there are many factors to consider, as well as the fact that some continents are more geographically and meteorologically blessed than others. To determine the best ski resorts on each continent, first, we considered the characteristics that make a ski area the greatest of all time: quality of terrain, reliability of snow, and accessibility.
So that means setting out to find ski areas with a wide variety of stellar ski terrain, from world-class steeps, and legendary back bowls to slopes geared toward those just learning to ski. For snow conditions, we looked at resorts that consistently have good snow coverage (or, in some cases, the best snowmaking capabilities). And lastly, we looked at accessibility: Is this a place everyone can get to and enjoy equally? That's just as important as the number of powder days to us.
So, without further delay, here are the best ski resorts, according to our well-traveled editors and contributors, on every continent.
Winner: Jackson Hole, Wyo.
You simply cannot beat Jackson Hole's legendary terrain, from the steeps off Sublette and Thunder chairs to the tree skiing off the Teton Chair. Go stand atop Alta Chute or the Hobacks or Cheyenne Bowl on a powder day and tell us this isn't the most impressively sustained ski terrain you've ever dropped into. With a massive 2,500 acres of skiable terrain and over 4,000 feet of vertical drop from the top of the tram to the base area, this is a mountain where expert skiers come to get their butts kicked. And that's just the inbounds skiing--you can hire a guide to take you into some of the expansive surrounding backcountry bowls with views of the Teton Range.
Snow quality is Rocky Mountain cold smoke, with an average of 458 inches of snow a year. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has done a stellar job in recent years of expanding access to intermediate slopes, with the addition of the Sweetwater Gondola, and though flights in and out of Jackson's remote airport aren't exactly cheap, you will find 12 direct flights from major hubs around the U.S.
No. 8 in the West: Read Our 2024 Jackson Hole Resort Review and Get Travel Tips
We'd love it if the base area had more of a day-use lodge and if there were more affordable lodging options at the village. But there are plenty of places to stay on every budget in the town of Jackson, 12 miles away from the resort, and a bus that'll take you to the ski hill. Select Ikon passes come with five or seven days of skiing at Jackson Hole (reservations required), otherwise, get lift tickets ahead of time for the best deal.
Runner Up: Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.
At Whistler Blackcomb, you get two neighboring resorts with a total of 8,171 acres. You'll ski Blackcomb for fall line steeps and backcountry access and you'll head to Whistler for endless groomers and above-treeline bowls. Connect the two via the Peak 2 Peak Gondola.
For a classic, expert-only line on Blackcomb, hike to Spanky's Ladder, a couloir that requires a short bootpack to reach. For a gentler option, carve Cloud Nine under the Seventh Heaven chair. At Whistler, don't miss the Dave Murray Downhill, the site of the 2010 Olympic downhill, a speedy, twisty descent that drops 3,300 vertical feet.
Though Whistler Blackcomb is lower in elevation than some North American resorts--the mountain's highest lift accessed point is 7,494 feet--the resort boasts an annual average of 448 inches of snow. Sure, you might get some rain, but cold powder days are the norm. Getting to Whistler is a breeze: Fly into Vancouver, then take a shuttle up the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway. If you're staying in the village, you don't need a car, and lodging ranges from high-end to pod hotels. Epic Pass users can also enjoy unlimited access to both resorts.
Winner: Las Lenas, Mendoza, Argentina
Skiers come from all over the world for the high-altitude steeps and powder at Las Lenas, and for good reason: When the snow is deep, this resort is among the biggest in the southern hemisphere, with a whopping 40,000 acres of skiable terrain. The resort's highest point is 11,250 feet, and from this sky-scraping, treeless vantage point, you'll have stellar views of the Andes. The ski season here lasts from June through September and though winters can be hit or miss, if you're planning a ski trip to South America, Las Lenas is a reliably good bet for snow conditions, thanks to its high elevation base. The Marte double chairlift is famous for its steep chutes and wide-open bowls--expert skiers could just ride this single lift and be content.
Though Las Lenas is known for its more advanced terrain and backcountry access, intermediates will find plenty to explore off lifts like Minerva and Caris. If you didn't get enough ski time during the day, Las Lenas is one of few South American resorts to offer under-the-lights night skiing. Getting here is admittedly a challenge, but we promise it'll be worth the effort. Fly into Malargue or Mendoza, then take ground transportation (about a four-hour drive, give or take road conditions) to Las Lenas. You can stay on-site in the village at a range of accommodations.
Runner Up: Portillo, Chile
Portillo has terrain for every type of skier. Experts will lap El Estadio--a wide-open bowl that holds powder long after a storm. Intermediates and experts can enjoy the lines off the Plateau lift that serve up stunning views of Laguna del Inca, the shimmering alpine lake nestled within the ski resort. When conditions allow, experienced backcountry skiers can bootpack the legendary Super C Couloir for a nearly 5,000-vertical-foot descent down a narrow, 50-degree chute. Plus, there's beginner-friendly terrain as well as high-speed cruisers down to the Juncalillo triple chair.
Most visitors stay for a full week at the all-inclusive Hotel Portillo, the iconic yellow lodge at the base of the ski resort, where four meals a day (including afternoon tea) come included in your stay and revelers disco party until the wee hours. Getting to Portillo is half the fun: You'll drive up 29 hairpin turns on the Trans-Andean Highway to reach the resort. Arrange for an airport shuttle from Santiago and you'll be greeted by the hotel's official welcome wagon--a giant Saint Bernard--within a few hours.
Winner: Verbier, Switzerland
The only problem with Verbier? It's so massive, that there's no way you could ski it all in a single visit. Made up of four interconnected valleys, Verbier is Switzerland's largest ski resort, with over 90 lifts ranging from trams to pomas. From the main village base area, it'll take you four lifts to reach the top of the Mont Fort tram at 10,925 feet, but it's worth it for the panoramic view of the Alps and the extensive ski terrain down, ranging from high-speed groomers to backcountry steeps. Verbier has a distinctly luxurious feel to it--with high-end slopeside hotels and celebrity sightings--but the terrain here is ski-bum-approved. There's a reason the Freeride World Tour has its finale here every year: The steeps and cliffs at Verbier are a freeride skier's dream. But if groomers and mid-mountain chalets are more your style, this resort has that aplenty, too.
Don't be fooled by Verbier's average of 215 inches of snow a year--even if a storm hasn't blown through in a while, most of the skiers here stick to the piste, which means if you're looking for powder, it's usually not that hard to find just a quick sidestep or detour off the groomers.
Head into the valley of La Tzoumaz for protected north-facing lines or to Nendaz for more intermediate and family-friendly terrain. There are two lift ticket options: A less expensive one to lower-mountain zones or an all-access pass that gets you up the Mont Fort tram. Those with an Epic Pass get five days at Verbier.
To get to Verbier, fly into Geneva and book an airport transfer for the two-and-a-half-hour drive, or take the train to the nearby village of Le Chable for more affordable lodging options and a gondola that takes you to the base of the ski area). For closer access to skiing, stay in the upscale village of Verbier, which has everything from luxury hotels and charming bed-and-breakfasts to DJ-fueled apres-ski parties.
Runner Up: Chamonix-Mont Blanc, France
Skiing in Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc, one of the highest peaks in the Alps, is a rite of passage for hardy skiers and ski mountaineers. Though much of this iconic region's extreme backcountry terrain is accessible only to the very experienced, there's plenty of approachable and fun inbounds terrain at the valley's two best resorts, the north-facing steeps of Les Grand Montet and the famous piste of Le Brevent. For the epitome of a Chamonix experience, hire a mountain guide and ride the Aiguille du Midi cable car to 12,605 feet to ski one of the most classic lines in the world: the 14-mile-long Vallee Blanche, a glaciated run that is doable for most advanced skiers and ends with a train ride back into the quaint village. Getting here couldn't be easier: Fly to Geneva, then hop an hour-and-a-half shuttle or take the rail line directly to Chamonix train station. A free local bus system gets you everywhere you need to go around town.
Winner: Niseko, Japan
There's no such thing as guaranteed powder day when you plan a ski trip in advance, but if you're headed to Niseko during the months of January or February, the chances are high that you'll score deep snow. Between the on-slope ramen, the after-ski soaks in public hot spring baths (called onsens), and the magical over-the-head powder days, this resort on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido has ski culture figured out. The ski resort of Niseko United is made up of four interconnected zones along the flanks of 4,291-foot Annupuri, and the terrain between the collective resorts varies from powder-stuffed glades to low-angle cruisers.
Don't miss the short bootpack to the top of Annupuri itself, where you can ski off the peak in any direction and the open bowls that lead down to the Hirafu base area. For lunch, stop into the mid-mountain Lookout Cafe for a steaming bowl of noodles or grab steamed buns from a vending machine in the base lodge at Niseko Village. Lodging varies from high-end slopeside hotels to more rustic and authentic Japanese lodges easily accessible via bus lines from town. With snowbanks that tower above the roads, Niseko has been known to receive a whopping 600 inches of snow in a normal year. Fly into the Sapporo airport, then take a transfer two hours to Niseko, or you can hop on the three-hour bullet train from Tokyo. The Ikon Pass and the Mountain Collective both work here for a set number of days.
Skiing at Gulmarg is like nowhere else on the planet. This is adventure skiing at its finest, a cultural experience with steep, intimidating terrain from high-alpine bowls to chutes as far as the eye can see. Groomers are limited here. Instead, you'll ride two successive gondolas, known as one of the highest ski lifts in the world, toward the top of Mt. Apharwat, where you'll step out at over 13,000 feet in the western Himalayas. If you plan to head into the surrounding backcountry, be sure to hire a mountain guide. The mountain does have beginner terrain toward the bottom of the hill, but it's minimal, making this far-flung spot best suited for more advanced skiers.
Fly into the Srinagar Airport, and book a private transfer, which will take you a couple of hours before you start switchbacking up the final mountain road into the Gulmarg village.
Winner: Oukaimeden, Morocco
Nobody comes to Morocco just for the skiing, but if you happen to be in the area between the snowy months from June to August, it's worth checking out Oukaimeden, which has one old double chairlift to the upper mountain and six surface lifts on the lower half and about 20 designated runs. (The resort does operate a rental shop stocked with retro skis and boots, in case you haven't traveled to northern Africa with your skis in tow.)
Oukaimeden tops out at over 9,500 feet, making it Africa's highest-elevation ski area and snow quality can be surprisingly good this close to the equator. Keep in mind that grooming and snowmaking are basically nonexistent here.
Besides, where else can you get your ski gear carried up the slope by a donkey and pay just $20 for a full-day lift ticket? The views of the High Atlas Mountains from the top of the chairlift will make up for it if the snow quality isn't great. If you’re in Marrakech, it's about a two-hour drive by car south to Oukaimeden. A few hotels, ranging from dormitories to European-style ski lodges, dot the base area.
Runner Up: Afriski, Lesotho
Located in the Drakensberg-Maluti Mountains of Lesotho, a sovereign enclave surrounded on all sides by South Africa, this quirky, small ski hill reaches impressively high elevations for this part of the world, topping out at nearly 9,000 feet.
A rope tow brings you to what's affectionately called Main Slope or you can ski a more advanced run called Gully Slope. Afriski has enough pitch and vertical drop that these slopes have hosted the only Federation for International Ski race on the African continent. Not only can you rent skis and boots, but you can also rent jackets and ski pants, and at the end of the day grab a drink at the Ice Station 2720 known for being the highest pub in the country.
Easy to get to, this place is not. Half the adventure is the roadway. You'll drive rough dirt roads for several hours to get here. Skiing awaits 13 hours from Cape Town or nine hours from Johannesburg, Make sure you fill up on gas at the last petrol station, and cell coverage is spotty at best. Stay in a chalet or guest house in close proximity to the main lodge.
Winner: Thredbo, New South Wales, Australia
Here's what we love most about Thredbo: It's got long, sustained runs, including some trails that run for over 3 miles., and a wide range of terrain for every ability, including a gentle beginner zone called Friday Flat. On storm days, the resort's Sponars and Anton's T-bars can still operate even in high winds, and at the end of the season, the upper mountain can stay open with colder snow even if the lower half is melting out.
Located within the picturesque Kosciuszko National Park, you'll need to purchase a park pass to enter the area by car. The skiing here is as steep as it gets by Australian standards (6,683 ft summit) and 14 well-developed lifts (including five T-bars) bring you all over the mountain. Ski season usually lasts from June until October, conditions permitting.
From Karels T-Bar at the top of the summit, be sure to ring the community bell, the highest lift-accessed point in Australia, then drop Frank's Face to Cannonball for a fun route down or tackle Funnel Web, through the trees, for one of the mountain's more challenging top-to-bottom routes. Thredbo has several terrain parks, too. The Ikon Pass gets you up to seven days of skiing here. Driving a personal vehicle is the easiest way to get here: It's a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Sydney or Melbourne or two and a half-hours from Canberra. Base area accommodations range from hotels to private chalets and there's a free shuttle to get around the village. Limited bus services run during the season from Sydney and Canberra or from the nearby town of Jindabyne.
Runner Up: Hotham, Victoria, Australia
Hotham, in northeast Victoria, has more expert ski terrain than anywhere else in Australia, and 13 lifts grant you access to 790 acres of skiable terrain. Average snowfall is about 118 inches--which is good for Australia--and even in mild winters, the snow quality here can be reliably better than elsewhere, thanks to lift access reaching up to 6,000 feet in elevation. Head straight to the Heavenly Valley quad on a snowy day. The village area is uniquely situated atop the mountain, making for stellar views--plus, your first run of the day can be downhill, instead of a lift-up. It's about a four-and-a-half hour drive from Melbourne to reach the slopes of Hotham and the village offers an accommodation mix of hotels, apartments, and club lodges, many open to non-members. An Epic Pass gets you access to skiing at Hotham.
Obviously, there are no ski resorts in Antarctica, so this continent gets a pass. But that doesn't mean you can't ski on our planet's southernmost land mass. It just requires a considerable amount of time and effort.
Ice Axe Expeditions guides two-week-long trips to the Antarctic Peninsula that involve an expedition ship departing from Ushuaia, Argentina, and setting across the Drake Passage. You'll see penguin rookeries, spot whales, and visit a scientific research station while tackling guided ski descents on glaciated slopes that end at the sea.
For exclusive access to all of our fitness, gear, adventure, and travel stories, plus discounts on trips, events, and gear, sign up for Outside+ today.