The 13 Best Low Elevation Ski Resorts (No Altitude Sickness!)

Skiing in mile-high Colorado sounds cool and all… until you can’t breathe.

High-elevation environments affect everyone differently, but symptoms can range from mild shortness of breath to serious altitude sickness. And if you aren’t able to acclimate over the course of a few days (not easy when that might be the entire length of your ski trip) then the only solution is to get lower.

You need a low-elevation ski resort.

Except, finding one isn’t easy. Most of North America’s most popular mountains are, not surprisingly, located in some serious alpine environments:

  • Denver’s fabled ski resorts all have base elevations 8,000+ feet above sea level.
  • California’s ski resorts range from 6,000 feet above sea level to nearly 8,000.
  • Most Salt Lake City mountains start around 7,000 feet above sea level.

But if you’re looking for big-mountain skiing without the big-mountain elevations, here are my picks for the best lower elevation ski resorts.

Quick Look at Lower Elevation Ski Towns in North America

Ski Town Town Elevation (ft.) Nearby Mountain Skiing Altitude (ft.)
Banff (Alberta, Canada) 4,537 SkiBig3 5,350 – 8,954
Sandy, UT 4,449 Altabird / Solbright 8,550 – 11,000
Enumclaw, WA 4,400 Crystal Mountain 4,000 – 7,100
Ogden, UT 4,300 Snowbasin 6,291 – 9,250
Rossland (B.C. Canada) 3,356 Red Mountain 3,800 – 6,700
Fernie (B.C. Canada) 3,314 Fernie 3,450 – 7,000
Whitefish, MT 3,028 Whitefish 4,600 – 7,000
Sandpoint, ID 2,096 Schweitzer 3,994 – 6,400
Whistler (B.C. Canada) 2,140 Whistler Blackcomb 2,140 – 7,160
Nelson (B.C. Canada) 1,755 Whitewater 4,666 – 6,710
Revelstoke (B.C.) 1,575 Revelstoke 1,680 – 7,300
Glacier, WA 906 Mt. Baker 3,550 – 5,089
Girdwood, AK 250 Alyeska 250 – 2,750

SlopeLab Picks for the Best Low Elevation Ski Resorts

low elevation ski resorts
Alyeska, Alaska – skiing at sea level! 

1. Whistler (British Columbia, Canada)

  • Best for: Those looking for the biggest skiing mountain around, while still sleeping at a lower elevation.
  • Town Elevation: 2,140 feet
  • Mountain Altitude Range: 2,140 – 7,160 feet

For people who need to lay their head on a pillow a little closer to sea level, Whistler is my top pick.

Whistler is… Whistler. It’s a world-class skiing destination, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a mountain that skis and feels bigger than this two-peak monstrosity. But despite the mountain’s huge size, the base village sits barely above sea level, at just 2,140 feet of elevation. That means you can charge up on thick, soupy air at night before descending into the clouds each morning. (Whistler’s peak is nearly a full mile above its base, which can be tough to acclimate to if you’re particularly sensitive to elevation, so keep this in mind.)

2. Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, and Mt. Norquay (Banff, Canada)

  • Best for: Jaw dropping scenery in a world-class mountain destination
  • Town Elevation: 4,537 feet
  • Mountain Altitude Range: 5,350 – 8,954 feet

The “Ski Big 3” area of Banff is a classic ski destination, regardless of altitude, but its relatively low elevation is a breath of fresh air (literally) for skiers who might be sensitive to elevation.

Banff, Alberta, sits at an elevation of just 4,537 feet. While that’s the highest elevation on this list, for reference, it’s still roughly half the elevation of places like Summit County, Colorado (elevation 9,000 feet) which many vacationers use as base-camp for Colorado ski resorts like Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain, Vail, etc.

And don’t think for a second that you’re sacrificing any mountain scenery for that lower elevation. For my money, Banff’s mountain views are some of the best on the entire continent, even putting places like Utah and Colorado to shame. After all, this might be the only ski resort in the U.S. or Canada that’s literally inside of a National Park.

3. Alyeska (Alaska)

  • Best for: The lowest elevation “big mountain” ski resort you’ll ever find.
  • Town Elevation: 250 feet
  • Mountain Altitude Range: 250 – 2,750 feet

Imagine a place with an elevation lower than St. Louis, Missouri that also happens to have one of the biggest, snowiest ski resorts in all of North America?

Welcome to Alaska.

Alyeska, located less than an hour from Anchorage, is an odd-ball in the world of ski resorts. It’s located right at sea level (literally, you can see the ocean while you ski) and yet still has the steeps, cliffs, and powder of a world-class ski destination.

If you’re looking for the absolute lowest elevation ski resort on the continent, you’ve found it.

4. Revelstoke (British Columbia, Canada)

  • Best for: Folks wanting to check out an awesome mountain off the beaten path.
  • Town Elevation: 1,575 feet
  • Mountain Altitude Range: 1,680 – 7,300 feet

Revelstoke is located a little over 4 hours from Calgary on Canada’s “Powder Highway” and this resort has been described as “Canada’s answer to Telluride.” One look at its charming town snuggled among some of the most towering mountains you’ve ever seen, and you can see why.

Revelstoke rocks the largest vertical of any ski resort in North America. So although its 7,000+ ft. peak can be a bit of a struggle for those of us who are oxygen challenged, the actual elevation in town is nearest to… any guesses? Try Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

5. Schweitzer (Sandpoint, Idaho)

  • Best for: Low-elevation fans who don’t want to cross the Canadian border.
  • Town Elevation: 2,096 feet
  • Mountain Altitude Range: 3,994 – 6,400 feet

When it comes to destination skiing, Idaho gets overlooked among its higher-elevation peers. But for some of the best low-elevation skiing in the United States, it’s hard to beat Schweitzer.

Located about 2 hours from the Spokane airport, most Schweitzer visitors stay in the nearby town of Sandpoint. (Elevation 2,096) This charming old railroad town might be best known as a lake destination in the summer, which is a testament Schweitzer’s unique mountain setup.

6. Whitefish (Montana)

  • Best for: High quality, overlooked skiing (just watch out for the fog!)
  • Town Elevation: 3,028 feet
  • Mountain Altitude Range: 4,600 – 7,000 feet

Schweitzer vs. Whitefish is an extremely close comparison, but elevation is one category with a clearly defined difference (although it’s still close!) Whitefish is about 1,000 feet higher than Schweitzer, which means it’s still quite friendly to those who need to avoid the thin air.

7. Fernie (British Columbia)

  • Best for: Overlooked bowl skiing
  • Town Elevation: 3,028 feet
  • Mountain Altitude Range: 4,600 – 7,000 feet

Fernie is another spot quite similar to Whitefish and Schweitzer, with a similar elevation as well. Here you can expect frequent powder dumps in a small, laid-back Canadian town.

Fernie is located about 2 hours north of Whitefish, or a little over 3 hours south of Calgary.

8. Red Mountain & Whitewater (Rossland & Nelson, British Columbia)

  • Best for: Underrated ski towns off the beaten path
  • Town Elevation: 1,755 to 3,356 feet
  • Mountain Altitude Range: 3,800 to 6,710 feet

You won’t find any fancy, high-speed chairlifts at these under-the-radar Canadian ski resorts, but you will find some big mountain skiing at relatively lower elevations.

I’ve grouped these two together, since their overall elevations are similar, and you could easily hit both in one trip. (The two spots are about 1 hour from each other, and about 3 hours from the nearest major airport – Spokane, Washington)

Honorable Mentions:

Sandy & Cottonwood Heights, Utah (Gateway to Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude)

Beware: Salt Lake City’s fabled Big & Little Cottonwood Canyon resorts rock some serious elevation. Exhibit A through D:

  • Alta’s summit: 10,550 ft.
  • Snowbird’s summit: 11,000 ft.
  • Solitude’s summit: 10,500 ft.
  • Brighton’s summit: 10,500 ft.

But sometimes, spending the night somewhere a little lower makes all the difference. If that’s all you’re after, then checking out lodging in the nearby towns of Sandy, UT (elevation 4,449 ft.) or Cottonwood Heights (Elevation 4,823 feet) is worth a shot.

Odgen, Utah (Snowbasin and Powder Mountain)

Similar story as above. Ogden, Utah sits at an elevation of 4,300 feet, which is notably lower than its popular nearby ski resorts, Snowbasin (9,250 ft. summit) or Powder Mountain (9,422 ft. summit) but still on the higher end of this list.

Washington State

Washington has a few spots that might not hit the “resort” vibe like the other spots on this list, but if you’re just looking for some no-frills, big mountain terrain a little closer to sea level, these spots are worth checking out:

Mt. Baker (Washington)

Some will argue that Mt. Baker is the snowiest ski resort in America. Others will say it’s not a resort, since there’s no actual lodging at the base. For that, you’ll need to head 30 minutes down the road to the little town of Glacier, Washington. (Elevation 906 ft)

Crystal Mountain (Enumclaw, Washington)

Unlike many ski resorts in the Pacific Northwest, Crystal Mountain does have some lodging at the base. Emphasis on some – there’s currently less than three small hotels on the entire site. Those hotels sit at the base of the mountain, which is right around 4,000 feet of elevation. Which may not be ideal for the truly altitude-sensitive, but it’s certainly easier on the lungs than many other spots.

East Coast, U.S.A

Admittedly, East Coast ski resorts are not my specialty. (If I’m going to travel to go skiing, I’m following the snow!) That said, most ski resorts on the east coast are very low elevation. Here are some of the more notable ones:

Ski Resort Base (ft.) Summit (ft.)
Smuggler’s Notch 1,030 3,640
Killington 1,160 4,200
Whiteface 1,200 4,416
Sugarbush 1,535 4,135
Stowe 1,559 3,719
Jay Peak 1,850 4,000
Stratton 1,933 3,936