Statistics indicate that there are 5,616 ski resorts located around the world, which have a total of 34,801 miles of slopes. For the safety of resort guests, approximately 50 years ago, the National Ski Areas Association created various symbols and names that resorts post to identify trails. The symbols used in the United States differ slightly from the identifying signs used throughout Europe and Japan.

Green circle

Basically the sign indicates an easy slope that is wider and has a gradient of under 25 percent. The symbol might also be a green square. In Europe, the beginner slope is identified by a blue circle.

 Blue square

The sign indicates an intermediate slope having a gradient of 25 to 40 percent. These are typically the most frequently used slopes and may become quite crowded. The slopes are usually flat but may feature slight bumps. Skiers and snowboarders alike share blue square slopes. Intermediate slopes might also be identified using a yellow triangle. In Europe and Japan, the slopes are depicted as having a red circle.

Black diamond

Slopes marked with this symbol are typically considered more advanced and have a gradient that exceeds 40 percent. Along with being steep, the snow often contains bumps. In some American, European and Japanese location, the expert slopes have a black circle.

Double black diamond

These slopes are recommended for the advanced skier only. If you are a just starting to learn to ski or snowboard, this will be the last slope you will want to go on.

Orange oval

The symbol indicates the terrain or freestyle park. The park is designed for trick riders and often includes a combination of fun boxes, jumps, quarter, half and super pipes along with jibs, rails and natural terrain features.

Individual facilities in the U.S. or other world locations might also add symbols to depict slopes in that particular area.

Yellow Rectangle and Diagonal Hash Marks with Two Black Diamonds

A yellow rectangle and diagonal hash marks with two black diamonds denotes a high alpine terrain trail that is rarely maintained. The location also often has unmarked obstacles. The trail is for experts only.

Yellow Rectangle 

A yellow rectangle might display diagonal hash marks, two black diamonds. The diamonds contain the white letters “E” and “X” to depict extreme terrain. The trail has a gradient of 50 percent or more. Skiers and snowboarders might encounter cliffs, rocks or other hazards. Thus, the slope is for the most advanced athletes.