10 Best Ski Resorts in North America for Seniors

There’s a pretty good chance you’ll be riding with a senior skier or two the next time you board a chairlift at your favorite mountain. After all, the number of seniors on the slopes has reached epic proportions. In 2020-21 seniors accounted for 16.1% of skier visits, totaling 59 million, while a record 10.5 million seniors participated in the sport, according to the National Ski Areas Association

Contrary to popular belief, not all seniors are snowbirds who fly south at the first sign of winter. Instead, many, like Deb and Bernie Labuskes of Pennsylvania, head straight to their favorite ski resorts. The Labuskes began skiing together in 1984, and it has been a love affair with the sport ever since. “I feel that skiing makes us look forward to winter,” Deb shared with Travel + Leisure. “There is nothing better than being outside, usually with family and friends, having fun, and making shared memories. I hope to be able to ski for many more years.”

Ski resorts vary greatly not only by terrain but also by how they accommodate senior skiers. Some do it far better than others, especially when it comes to lift ticket prices. Even though many skiers from the baby boom generation are financially independent, there remains a large number who are surviving on a fixed income. And with the price of lift tickets now rising faster than yeast in a New York City bagel shop, often approaching $200 per day at major resorts, these seniors appreciate any available discounts.  

The type of terrain is also of utmost importance for seniors. Although some intrepid senior skiers continue to seek out precipitous headwalls and bumps the size of small Volkswagens, most seniors now prefer leisurely, groomed runs with plenty of elbow room. Other preferences are short or no lift lines along with enough beginning terrain where they can teach younger generations the basic fundamentals of the sport. Finally, seniors still enjoy a festive après ski scene where they can discuss, and often exaggerate, their runs of the day. Need to find that perfect place? These 10 North American ski resorts roll out the red carpet for their senior skiers. 

Waterville Valley Resort, New Hampshire

Courtesy of Waterville Valley Resort

Home to Silver Streaks, the longest-running senior skiing program in the country, Waterville Valley Resort offers a thriving social scene for seniors alongside an authentic skiing experience. For skiers ages 50 plus, Silver Streaks is a ski program with certified instructors, a staffed organization, and socials. They offer both Nordic and Alpine groups, meeting mid-week throughout the winter. The resort offers $20 off lift ticket window prices to seniors ages 65-79. For those ages 80 plus, lift tickets are free. Skilled groomers cover 100% of the terrain daily, providing soft, fresh corduroy for senior skiers. The longest trail, Oblivion, boasts 3,210 feet and covers 6.8 acres.

Powder Mountain, Utah  

Per Breiehagen/Getty Images

Blessed with over 500 inches of natural snow annually, often referred to as “The Greatest Snow on Earth,” Powder Mountain is aptly named. Little known fact: Home to 8,464 skiable acres, Powder Mountain is the largest ski resort in North America. Widely known as a senior-friendly resort, guests 75 and older ski for free, while those 65-74 years old receive lift tickets at a discounted price of $87 (as opposed to the full price of $115). With 40% of its 154 runs labeled “blue,” seniors can cruise on some of the country’s best intermediate terrain. Powder Mountain official Ian Matteson shared, “We offer slopes and terrain perfect for all riders of any age. We welcome seniors to come and enjoy the vastness of the Wasatch Mountains without feeling the pressure to hurry around the mountain.” 

Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Vermont

Courtesy of Smuggs 55+ Club

Known as one of the top resorts for families in the country, Smugglers’ Notch is also ideal for seniors. The Smuggs 55+ Club is fondly referred to as a “senior center on the slopes.” The resort makes it easy for all generations to stay together by offering spacious condos (up to six bedrooms) with full kitchens, dining rooms, hot tubs, and an on-demand shuttle that takes guests of all ages where they want to go around the resort. Smugglers’ Notch is made up of 69% beginner and intermediate terrain featuring wide-open, gradual trails. A day pass for 65 plus skiers is $65 (regularly $85), while a season’s pass for 70 plus is $199 (regularly $699). 

Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada

Courtesy of Kimberley Alpine Resort

Seniors are connected and involved at Kimberley, many through the mountain’s host program, which provides complimentary guided tours for guests each day. This group not only offers this service but actively skis together and shares après social time regularly each week. More than likely, you’ll find that the average age of Mountain Hosts is close to 70, and they are actively engaged in sharing local knowledge and meeting people from all over the world. What’s more, the season pass rate for seniors 65 plus is $1009 (regular adult rate is $1259), while those 75 or older ski all season for $99. Better yet, HomeToGo recently ranked Kimberley as the second most affordable ski resort in North America.  

Shawnee Mountain, Pennsylvania

Courtesy of Shawnee Mountain Ski Area

Located in the Pocono Mountains, where snow accumulates quickly and often, Shawnee’s wide, groomed slopes are just what the doctor ordered for senior skiers. Being that many senior skiers are retired, they can take advantage of first tracks on the pristine surface that Shawnee offers on a daily basis. Skiers 70 and older ski for free ($50 if they want to ski the window). “We want our skiers to be able to enjoy skiing for as long as possible and hopefully bring future generations skiing as well,” Rachel Wyckoff, Shawnee Mountain Ski Area marketing director, explained. “It is our way of thanking them for keeping the sport alive and to offer an affordable way to continue as well. We have quite a few seniors who have been coming in groups together for a long time. They tend to meet by the fireplace early on weekday mornings to get dressed and have coffee before heading out for the day.”

Purgatory, Colorado 

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Carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, Purgatory offers a unique blend of steep tree skiing trails and wide-open cruisers, ideal for seniors who still like adrenaline-pumping challenges or for those who prefer intermediate terrain. In fact, Purgatory is ideal for those seeking a diverse range of intermediate terrain, which accounts for 45% of its 105 trails. Purgatory’s Super Senior season pass offers free unlimited skiing for ages 75 plus at Purgatory and sister resorts: Hesperus, Snowbowl, Brian Head, Sipapu, Pajarito, Nordic Valley, and Willamette Pass. Purgatory has a great apres scene, but it’s mellow since the ski area is a bit off the beaten path. Skiing at Purgatory means no traffic, few crowds, or lift lines.  

Gunstock,  New Hampshire  

Courtesy of Gunstock Mountain Resort 

Gunstock is in its 85th year of operation, so a few senior skiers even remember Gunstock in its infancy and have watched it develop over the years into a four-season resort. Daily lift tickets are free for folks 70 and older, but the $49 Golden Pass allows them to go straight to the lift from their car. “We love offering 70 and older skiers a discounted season pass because they are our most loyal skiers,” says Kristen Lodge, sales and marketing director. “We find that the 70 and older skiers come midweek and love to reminisce about the old days when we were called the Belknap Mountain Recreation Area and had a single chair lift.”

Pomerelle Mountain Resort, Idaho    

Courtesy of Pomerelle Mountain Resort

Pomerelle is home to some of the best beginner and intermediate terrain in Idaho. The main beginner run, Milk Run, is super wide with a gentle pitch that is immaculately groomed, perfect for the senior who’s looking for nice groomers and maybe some refresher lessons. Director of ski instruction Barry Whiting has been skiing on the mountain for nearly 60 years and has been teaching there for nearly 50 of those years. In fact, quite a few instructors have been here for more than three decades. Tickets are $27 for seniors 70 plus.

Swain Resort, New York   

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The oldest independently run ski resort in New York State, Swain provides free lift tickets to seniors 75 and older along with $10 season passes (covers processing) should they want to skip the ticket window. The resort also offers discounted lift tickets at $29 to seniors 65 plus on Thursdays and discounted season passes for seniors 65 and older. Swain ensures that the most popular trails are groomed quickly and early so that terrain is easy to navigate. Also, many seniors enjoy the atmosphere and ambiance of the Shawmut Grille for après ski, especially on weekday afternoons. Suzy Male, marketing director, explained, “Our senior skiers are the heart and soul of this community. Many of them are responsible for multiple generations of skiers and riders. They understood how to keep our industry moving forward. It’s great to be able to give back to them.”

Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, New Mexico  

Courtesy of Pajarito Mountain Ski Area

There’s something very special about skiing throughout New Mexico, where the delectable food rivals the excellent skiing. Pajarito has a number of senior skiers that participate in free Thursday Senior Clinics throughout the winter, where they work on skills and strength building as well as video analysis to keep improving. The Los Alamos senior skiing community is fit and passionate. Seniors 75 plus ski for free at Pajarito and appreciate that 70% of its terrain is for the beginner or intermediate skier.

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