It’s that time of year — time to shoosh and slalom down the slopes and soak up the sun reflecting off the slopes.
But in these days of social and economic uncertainty, it may be a bit easier on the wallet, and your peace of mind, to find an out-of-the-way spot to hit the black diamond trails. Some of the best skiing out there can actually be found on the slopes that don’t attract the most attention — we aren’t talking Aspen or Jackson Hole Vail.
Here’s our list of some of the less crowded places to ski across the U.S.
1. Winter Park, CO
Located just outside of Denver, Winter Park is rated one of the top resorts for mogul skiing in the country. In fact, Olympians train on Mary Jane, one of the terrains in the park. And the weekend Amtrak service from Denver to Winter Park is the only train service of its kind in North America.
Locals often host cookouts and tailgates in the parking lot of Mary Jane Mountain, but for a meal out during your stay try Idlewild’s Spirits Brewpub and Restaurant for craft cocktails and seasonal American fare. From charcuterie to crispy Brussels sprouts in a Thai chili reduction to elk carpaccio, paired with one of their signature cocktails like an Apple Bramble, or a Yellow Munk — you can’t go wrong.
2. Big Sky, Montana
Located on nearly 6,000 acres of land just an hour from Bozeman, Big Sky is part of the Madison Mountain Range and boasts one of the biggest vertical drops in the country (at a mere 4,366 feet). There’s no big city nearby, so the views are great, the lines are short, and the mood is mellow. It’s family-friendly, and, according to its website, averages 400″ of snow per season!
While you’re there, check out the spa and salon to round out your trip on the slopes with a coffee exfoliation or a Gallatin River Hot Stone massage. Skiing, coffee, and a massage? Yes, please!
3. Cranmore, New Hampshire
This 80-year-old ski haven is an east coast gem, located just a few hours from Boston in North Conway, New Hampshire. Located in the White Mountains, Cranmore boasts more than 50 trails, many of which are learner-friendly. Even if skiing and snowboarding aren’t a thing for your family, you can still hit the slopes at their 10-lane snow tube park. Make sure to book your stay at the North Conway Grand Hotel, and partake of their three pools, spa, dining facility, or kids’ activities. After your runs on the trails and dinner, relax on the heated patio and take in the spectacular views of the mountains while breathing in the fresh mountain air.
4. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Most people think of deserts and heat when they think of New Mexico, but just a short trip from the historic Santa Fe, you’ll find Ski Santa Fe, filled with slopes for skiing, snowboarding, and learning the ropes. The resort features Chipmunk Corner daycare, as well as plenty of kids’ lessons, and a host of great options to combine your stay and your skiing passes in the same package. With plenty of shopping, dining, and nightlife just 16 miles away, skiing in Santa Fe is a great option for those looking to learn and live it up at the same time.
5. Boyne Mountain, Michigan
With 55 runs, a 13′ halfpipe, and wintertime zip lines, Boyne Mountain is a snowy wonderland in Michigan’s lower half. Here, you’ll be able to ski, snowboard, tube, snowshoe, ice skate, snow bike, and more. After skiing, make sure to relax in front of a bonfire on the slopes. Later, down the hill, you’ll find the Mountain Grand Lodge and Spa, near the Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark, Michigan’s largest indoor water park. Really, is there a downside here? No. No, there is not.
6. Powder Mountain, Utah
With more than 7,000 acres of terrain, and averaging more than 500 inches of snow each year, Powder Mountain — Pow Mow for those in the know — is the biggest resort in the country and is less than an hour north of Salt Lake City. Hotels in nearby Eden and Ogden will give you a place to land after a day swooshing the slopes. Try the Columbine Inn for rooms, cabins or even ski-in/ski-out condos.
7. Mad River Glen, Vermont
At Mad River Glen, you can ski without worrying about snowboarders, and enjoy the country’s last single chairlift. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy resort to navigate. The resort’s motto is “Ski It If You Can” and features some pretty rough, yet pretty beautiful slopes in New England’s Green Mountains. Down the road, you’ll find Burlington and Montpelier, and some of the most beautiful, New England countryside to drive through that you’ll ever find.
8. Belleayre, New York
Back in 1949, Belleayre installed its first ski lifts after almost a decade of skiers climbing up the 3,000-foot mountain. Now, you can live it up with cardboard sledding, crashing ski dummies, as well as skiing and all the other fun you’d expect from a traditional resort. Just minutes from Hunter Mountain, but well away from the crowds, Belleayre is just minutes away from the Catskills, and the Roxbury.
9. Sandpoint, Idaho
A little over an hour from Spokane and the Canadian border, Sandpoint, Idaho is home to Schweitzer Mountain Resort, the best ski area you’ve never heard of. The year-round resort is family-friendly and offers nearly 3,000 acres of terrain for skiing, snowshoeing, snow biking, and snowboarding. For non-skiing members of the family, there’s an on-site spa, dining, and shopping in the nearby village. Be sure to check out twilight skiing and the resort’s version of Northern Lights — fireworks on the mountain!
10. Chewelah, Washington
Another family-friendly mountain, Chewelah is home to 49 Degrees North with everything from groomed runs to tree-filled powder stashes for skiing and snowboarding for all skill levels. The resort has more than 2,300 acres of terrain with more than 80 marked trails for everything from cross country skiing to snowshoeing. The slopes see about 300 inches of annual snowfall, and the hill features a vertical drop of more than 1,800 feet. Make sure to plan your visit for March and April to take advantage of the season’s snowfall.
11. Diamond Peak, Nevada
A hidden treasure near Incline Village in the Lake Tahoe area, Diamond Peak Ski Resort is a community-owned resort with gorgeous views of the area and miles of uncrowded runs. The resort features a Child Ski Center for little skiers and snowboarders and a great school for older skiers and riders. And from Will Bill’s BBQ at the snowflake lodge to the full-service bar at the Loft Bar, you’re sure to find something to tempt your tastebuds.
Before your trip, make sure you are prepared! Check out our Ultimate Ski Gear Packing List here.