Many people treat ski vacations like every other vacation, there’s a degree of luxury and ease that many appreciate and it has made the Aspens of the world what they are. Then again, there are people like myself that want diverse terrain, good snow, and no lift lines. We seek out the lesser traveled resorts; we’ll give up the luxuries and ski in ski out accommodations.
There are a few resorts around the country that have a sort of notoriety, an almost cult like following amongst skiers. For every major resort, there’s a neighboring mountain serving up similar skiing but half the traffic. Here are a few places to consider…
- Heading to Colorado? Ditch the big names of Vail, Breckenridge and Aspen and head south to the lesser traveled gems of Durango, Crested Butte and Silverton. Just be wary, these resorts favor those of better skiing ability: Silverton and Crested Butte are known for their steep, expert only terrain.
- Looking to Utah for convenience? Skip the Park City trifecta of Park City Resort, Deer Valley and The Canyons; if you are thinking of the glamorous steeps of Little Cottonwood’s Alta/Snowbird steer one canyon over and avoid the crowds. Big Cottonwood canyon serves up the same snow and varied terrain as their next door neighbor with two killer resorts: Solitude and Brighton. Both are home to family friendly terrain and if you are looking for difficulty, it can be found with ease.
- Dreaming of blue skies and good snow that are the norms of Tahoe? Skip the crowds at Squaw and make some turns at neighbors Northstar and Kirkwood. While they might not hold the same acreage, both serve up the same killer snow and terrain with a little less notoriety.
- If flying out west isn’t in the cards, New England still holds some attractive options. Scratch Killington and Sugarbush off your prospective list and turn your sights to Smuggler’s Notch, Mad River Glen, and Vermont’s answer to the West: Jay Peak. While Mad River might not be the best place for the family vacation (especially since they don’t blow snow), Jay and Smuggler’s certainly have the terrain and facilities to make everyone happy. Jay’s 350+ inches of annual snowfall rivals anything Colorado sees and combines with arguably the best tree skiing in the country to make even the best skier happy. Additionally, with a newly added movie theatre, water park, and ice rink there are plenty of options to keep you amused after the lifts stop running.
Every destination has options; Whistler has Red Resort, Fernie, and even Revelstoke nearby. Jackson Hole has Grand Targee around the corner; Big Sky has Bridger Bowl right next door. When you sit down and plan your trip this year, take a second look at the lesser known destination and see what options it presents to you, it might end up offering you the best ski trip you have ever had.