How does Niseko compare to your favourite USA Resorts?

With the 19/20 Season almost on our doorstep and the first snow just starting to fall on Mt Yotei, we here in the land of the rising sun are getting excited for another powder-filled Winter. 


You may have heard the rumours about Niseko being the final frontier of powder snowsports and a pilgrimage-worthy location to put on your bucket list - and you’d be pleased to hear those rumours aren’t far from the truth! The Niseko United Resort, including Hanazono's cult-worthy backcountry is truly a sight to be seen (and ridden), with annual snowfall beating most other Japanese resorts out of the park and an exponentially growing local community that makes the food, nightlife and adventure scene in Niseko almost second-to-none in Asia.

 

A snowboarder deep in powder in Niseko, Japan.
Bring your own snorkel - the powder is truly out-of-this-world in Niseko!

 

But why should you travel across the pond to experience great snow? There are plenty of awesome resorts in the land of the free, right? Well don’t take our word for it: we’ve compiled a list of USA resorts with high annual snowfall and/or avid fan bases to see how Niseko competes with some of the USA’s favourite resorts.

 

Niseko United, Hokkaido, Japan

Aerial shot of Hanazono Resort covered in snow.
Niseko is often touted as one of the best places for snowsports in Asia.


Average Yearly Snowfall (past 3 seasons): 1,018cm
Distance from closest International Airport: 2 hours by car - New Chitose Airport
What it’s known for: Famous “Japow” courtesy of winds from Siberia meeting warm air from the sea of Japan makes for incredible backcountry riding in areas like Hanazono's Strawberry Fields and Annupuri's back bowl.
Longest Run: 5.6km
Lifts: 31
Terrain Parks: 4
Difficulty Breakdown: 38% Beginner | 39% Intermediate | 23% Advanced | 0% Expert
Top Rated Restaurant: Bombay Sizzlers
Top Rated Bar: Bar Gyu

 

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, California

Woman skiing at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, California.
Located in the Lake Tahoe area, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Resort is one of the most picturesque in the USA and received the most snowfall in the 18/19 season.


Average Yearly Snowfall (past 3 seasons): 1463cm
Distance from closest International Airport: 54 min by car - Reno Tahoe Airport
What it’s known for: Hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics and being home to the USA’s only funitel (two-cable Gondola).
Longest Run: 5.1km (Alpine Meadows)
Lifts: 42
Terrain Parks: 5
Difficulty Breakdown: 8% Beginner | 33% Intermediate | 59% Advanced | 0% Expert
Top Rated Restaurant: Fireside Pizza Company
Top Rated Bar: Auld Dubliner


Snowbird, Utah

A skier jumping off a cliff in Snowbird Resort, Utah.
Snowbird Resort in Utah received the third largest amount of snowfall in the USA 18/19 season. Photo: Visit Utah


Average Yearly Snowfall (past 3 seasons): 1412cm
Distance from closest International Airport: 39 min by car - Salt Lake City Airport
What it’s known for: Their top-class ski school, high snowfall and 125-passenger aerial tram.
Longest Run: 4km
Lifts: 11
Terrain Parks: 1
Difficulty Breakdown: 8% Beginner | 22% Intermediate | 41% Advanced | 29% Expert
Top Rated Restaurant: The Summit at Snowbird

 

Mt Baker, Washington

Two snowboarders in deep powder at Mount Baker, Washington.
Mount Baker is an adventurers mountain and regularly receives the top spot for most snowfall in the USA. Photo: JONES Snowboards


Average Yearly Snowfall (past 3 seasons): 1526cm
Distance from closest International Airport: 1 hr 22min by car - Bellingham Airport
What it’s known for: Repeatedly awarded with the world’s highest snowfall in a ski resort.
Longest Run: 1.1km
Lifts: 10
Terrain Parks: 0
Difficulty Breakdown: 24% Beginner | 45% Intermediate | 0% Advanced | 31% Expert

 

Aspen Snowmass, Colorado

Aspen Snowmass ski area and village in Colorado, USA
Aspen is what comes to mind when you imagine a traditional American ski resort - great snow, cozy buildings and fun nightlife. Photo: Travel and Co. NZ


Average Yearly Snowfall (past 3 seasons): 802cm
Distance from closest International Airport: 3hr 49min by car - Denver Airport
What it’s known for: One of the USA’s most famous resorts, welcoming celebrities from far and wide every Winter.
Longest Run: 8.5km
Lifts: 40
Terrain Parks: 10
Difficulty Breakdown: 6% Beginner | 43% Intermediate | 17% Advanced | 34% Expert
Top Rated Restaurant: The White House Tavern
Top Rated Bar: Zane’s Tavern

 

Sugarloaf, Maine

Telemark skier in Sugarloaf Resort, Maine.
According to aggregated online reviews, Sugarloaf Resort in Maine was riders' 5th favourite resort in the USA. Photo: Jamie Walter via Alister & Paine


Average Yearly Snowfall (past 3 seasons): 508cm
Distance from closest International Airport: 2hr 8 min - Bangor Airport
What it’s known for: The only lift-serviced above-treeline skiing in the Northeast USA at the peak and the second largest ski resort east of the Mississippi.
Longest Run: 5.6km
Lifts: 13
Terrain Parks: 4
Difficulty Breakdown: 22% Beginner | 32% Intermediate | 26% Advanced | 20% Expert
Top Rated Restaurant: The Bag and Kettle

 

Grand Targhee Resort, Wyoming

Skier high up in the mountains at Grand Targhee Resort, Wyoming.
Grand Targhee is surrounded by incredible scenery of rocky peaks and boasts insane powder each season. Photo: Travel Wyoming


Average Yearly Snowfall (past 3 seasons): 1036cm
Distance from closest International Airport: 3hr 42 min - Bozeman Yellowstone Airport
What it’s known for: Abundant advanced skiing runs and being one of the top powder destinations in the country.
Longest Run: 4.3km
Lifts: 5
Terrain Parks: 1
Difficulty Breakdown: 33% Beginner | 37% Intermediate | 25% Advanced | 5% Expert

 

USA Snowfall/Resort Stats pulled from OntheSnow.com
Japan Snowfall Stats pulled from 360Niseko.com
Top Restaurants/Bars judged by TripAdvisor and Google Ratings

 

So, how does Niseko compare to your favourite resort? 


If you’ve decided on Niseko for your next Winter holiday or are thinking of taking a trip, here are some of the best ways to get from the USA to Niseko. Keep in mind that Hawaiian Airlines is the only carrier that offers direct-to-Sapporo (Niseko’s closest International Airport) flights from Honolulu. This means that generally, the most efficient trip is to fly to Tokyo from the US and take a domestic flight up to Sapporo New Chitose Airport.

Cities that offer non-stop flights to Tokyo

  • Chicago
  • Dallas Fort Worth
  • Los Angeles
  • New York JFK
  • New York Newark
  • San Francisco
  • Washington DC Dulles
  • Houston
  • Atlanta
  • Detroit
  • Honolulu (Winter flight direct to Sapporo available)
  • Minneapolis
  • Portland, OR
  • Seattle

From New Chitose Airport, there are a few options to get yourself to Asia's powder capital, check them out here.

Are you an IKON or Mountain Collective Pass holder? You already have days waiting to be ridden in our famous Japow!

 learn more


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  • 328-36 Aza-Iwaobetsu, Kutchan-cho
    Abuta-Gun, Hokkaido 044-0082 Japan

  • Activity Bookings - +81 (0)136 21 66 88
    Resort Information - +81 (0)136 23 01 03

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