Do you suffer from shortness of breath, dizzy spells and nausea on the ski slopes? Nothing brings on a good bout of vertigo like standing on the precipice of a 5,000-foot vertical drop and realizing the only way down is via the two sticks on your feet.
But, long verticals don’t always have to be steep and deep. They can still be pretty friendly groomed slopes. Consider Beaver Creek in the Vail Valley where families are king. Those slopes are long and fun, too. No dizzy spells.
North America is no stranger to monster descents thanks to the endless rugged peaks found throughout the Northern Rockies. While larger ski areas like Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia and Jackson Hole rank high among the biggest verticals.
Vertical is measured from the highest to the lowest points on the mountain.
Here’s a group of resorts where long means really long and vertical means really vertical. Enjoy.
Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada
OK, this is the tallest ski mountain in North American and you’ll find it in the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia. It’s a bit of a trek from the closest airport in Kelowna, but with a 5,620 foot vertical you’ll never get bored. Revelstoke Mountain is the only resort in the world offering lift, cat, heli and backcountry skiing from one village. The town of Revelstoke is nearby.
Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains make up the largest ski resort in North America and, if you’re counting, it is also the most visited. The vertical is 5,234 feet and the ski terrain is more than 8,000 acres. Whistler is a favorite of US skiers and riders as well as those crossing the pond for their winter holidays. Besides, there’s a glacier, too.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
When you head south of the Canadian border and into the Rockies, you’ll find the largest vertical in the United States at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort where the drop is 4,105 feet and you can ski and ride on n early 2,500 acres. Jackson is a fun town (grab a beer at the Mangy Moose) and everything you’ll want is at the base.
You’ll find two of the longest verticals in the Rockies (for that matter in the USA) in the Aspen-Snowmass resort complex. Snowmass is a favorites of families (with plenty of groomers and other stuff) and is a separate mountain a short ride from the iconic ski town. The vertical is 4,050 and the terrain involves almost 3,500 acres.
But, don’t overlook Aspen Highlands 3,522 acres with 1,500 acres of skiing and jaw-dropping views from some chairlifts. Aspen Mountain itself (still called Ajax by many) is 3,267 feet covering 750 acres. Both Highlands and Aspen Mt. are close to town, with Ajax at the foot of it all.
Kicking Horse, British Columbia, Canada
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers a diverse mix of challenging terrain and excellent snow conditions, located near Golden, British Columbia. Kicking Horse features a long vertical drop at 3,790 feet. The ski area is home to large alpine bowls, long steep chutes and short lift lines covering 3,000 acres.
Beaver Creek and Vail, Colorado
Just about 20 minutes apart by shuttle or car, Beaver Creek and Vail offer plenty of long vertical. Surprisingly, family-friendly posh Beaver Creek tops the list at 3,340 feet with 2,000 acres to ski and ride. Lots of groomers, but tough stuff, too. Meanwhile world-famous Vail is hardly a vertical slouch at 3,041 feet with 5,500 acres of terrain, including those incredible back bowls.
Just a short jaunt from Salt Lake City airport up Little Cottonwood Canyon is Snowbird, a unique resort with vertical at 3,243 feet and skiing over 2,500 feet. The cable car rakes you to the top and the fun is just beginning. Besides, Snowbird is virtually next door to Alta, the more rustic, laid back “resort” so enjoy them both.
Those are some of the longest verticals in North America. If your legs are still working here are a few others to put on your bucket list:
Sun Valley, Idaho, 3,241 feet; Snowbasin, Utah, 2,960 feet; Mammoth, California, 2,885; Breckenridge, 2,880 feet and Mt. Hood Meadows, Oregon, 2822 feet.