Gearing up for a new season of fresh powder and steep slopes? We've gathered the best resorts to ski and snowboard in the U.S. in our Ultimate U.S. Ski Guide. Here, we list our top picks for Most Underrated Resort, Best Resort for Beginners, and Best Winter Weekend Getaway.

Also check out iExplore for more of our favorite ski vacations, resources, and other winter adventures for even more cold weather travel ideas.

"J2048x1536-11412" by via Flickr Creative Commons

Most Underrated - Big Sky Resort, Montana

Big Sky Resort is the Basecamp to Yellowstone National Park and the perfect headquarters for mountain adventures. Opening in late November, be one of the first to access the 5,750 skiable acres and endless ways to navigate 4,350 feet of vertical drop.

Take the Lone Peak tram up to 11,166 feet to witness 360 degree views of three states, two national parks and dozens of peaks. Technical riders will be treated to the incredible- and very difficult- terrain that puts Big Sky in the top three ski resorts in North America.

Along with crazy good skiing and snowboarding, Big Sky offers an array of other wintry activities for everyone, like snowmobile tours, sleigh rides, and a park for tube sledding. After an intense day of fun in the snow, find ultimate relaxation and rejuvenation at Solace Spa, a range of delectable dining options, and plenty of shopping selections at Mountain Village.

"Ten Mile Range outside Breckenridge" by Steven Martin via Flickr Creative Commons

Best Resort for Beginners - Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado

While Breckenridge may intimidate newbies, the resort is actually an excellent choice for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. Boasting multi-difficulty slopes across 4 mountain peaks on the Ten Mile Range of the Rocky Mountains and over 600 professional ski and snowboard instructors offering private and group lessons, you'll have no problem finding the right slope for you.

They recently added over 540 acres to its already epic landscape with the new Peak 6 expansion. The most notable ski area upgrade in the past decade anywhere in the world, Peak 6 added an additional 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain, increasing the resort's skiable acreage by 23%.

Breckenridge also offers the exclusive "First Tracks Fridays" program, which allows guests staying at Breckenridge Ski Resort to access the mountain one hour before it opens to the general public on Friday mornings. Come January, check out the International Snow Sculpture Championships, where sculptors from around the world compete to create works of art from twenty-ton blocks of snow.

Photo Credit: Ridge Tahoe Resort Hotel

Best Weekend Getaway - Lake Tahoe, California

Known for being both a popular summer and winter escape, Lake Tahoe boasts an extraordinarily beautiful landscape and thriving local culture perfect for a weekend retreat. Home to 7 world-class ski resorts, winter adventurers will find no shortage of activities, lodging, dining, and nightlife.

With a panoramic view of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains, Heavenly's South Lake Tahoe Ski Resort is a favorite for winter scenery. Upon opening day on November 22, take advantage of 4,800 acres of skiable area, 31 lifts, and a total of 91 trails to explore. Among the area's robust entertainment and event calendar is Heavenly Holidays, a two-week festival in the Heavenly Village from December 21-31 featuring professional ice skating shows, ice sculptors, carolers, local artists, and a 16-foot interactive snow globe where kids can get their photos taken with Santa.

For expert skiers and snowboarders, Squaw Valley is a real treat. Known for being host to the 1960 Olympics, the area boasts 6 mountain peaks ranging in elevation from 7,550 to 9,050 feet. The highest of over 30 lifts goes to about 8,700 feet, offering some of the most challenging skiing in the U.S. During peak season, Squaw Valley runs Tahoe's most extensive night skiing area, ensuring you get the most time on the slopes.