There are hundreds of fantastic ski destinations across the U.S. to entertain snow sports lovers of every skill level, from California to New England. Some of these destinations are better known than others, but it’s the hidden gems that offer a truly unique experience. In addition to creating a more personalized visit, under-the-radar ski resorts also offer travelers the opportunity to shop small and support locally owned businesses. Here are 10 lesser-known ski resorts across the U.S. that deserve greater recognition.
Wyoming: Instead of Jackson Hole, Try White Pine Ski Area
Wyoming is known for the world-class ski resorts of Jackson Hole—including beloved Jackson Hole Mountain Resort—but it’s also home to some impressive destinations that are off the beaten path. Nestled among the Wind River Mountains near Pinedale, just 1.5 hours away from Jackson Hole is locally owned and operated White Pine Ski Area. There are 25 runs that cater to all skill levels, as well as 20 miles of cross-country ski trails for those who prefer to skip downhill runs for flatter terrain. Plus, from the top of these peaks, you get the added bonus of soaking in the stunning views of the Continental Divide and the Wind River Mountains in the distance.
Montana: Instead of Big Sky Resort, Try Whitefish Resort
Big Sky Resort offers an exceptional ski experience and more than enough snow to shred. But instead of this highly trafficked, costlier Montana ski destination, try the lesser known (but still stellar ski area), Whitefish Mountain Resort. Just a short 20-minute drive from Glacier Park International Airport, this resort is known for its laid back atmosphere and excellent skiing opportunities. Whitefish Mountain Resort receives on average 300-plus inches of snow each year and boasts more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. From the summit, adventurers will find breathtaking views of Glacier National Park and scenic Flathead Valley. This resort offers a wide range of amenities off the mountain as well including dining, lodging, shopping, entertainment, and other family-friendly winter activities.
Lake Tahoe: Instead of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Try Homewood Mountain Resort
North Lake Tahoe boasts the largest concentration of ski resorts in North America, meaning there are plenty of options that fly under the radar due to the popularity of big-name resorts like Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, which is famed for hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics. The lesser-known Homewood Mountain Resort is an alternative choice to the crowds, offering majestic mountain charm and stunning views of Lake Tahoe. In addition to a number of groomed runs and terrain parks, the resort also offers snowcat adventures, which allow guests to safely access 750 acres of backcountry above the resort's traditional ski area boundary. From beginner-friendly runs to steep powder bowls and intermediate-level glades, Homewood is an incredible destination in a prime location on the west shore, just outside of Tahoe City where the mountain meets the lake.
Arizona: Instead of Arizona Snowbowl, Try Mount Lemmon Ski Valley
Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff is typically what comes to mind for Arizonian skiers when winter rolls around and they’re searching for somewhere to shred some powder in this southwestern state. Its short distance from Phoenix and numerous thrilling mountain runs make it an easy destination for a weekend trip. But for those looking for somewhere to get the mountain all to themselves and have a more laid back snowsport adventure, Ski Valley at Mount Lemmon is just a day trip from Tucson. With three lifts and eight runs, this smaller-scale ski resort is an ideal getaway for those who want to appreciate nature and open space (and fewer crowds!).
New Hampshire: Instead of Loon Mountain Resort, Try Cannon Mountain Ski Area
New England skiers often first think of New Hampshire’s Loon Mountain Resort for a weekend on the slopes as it's well-known for its family-friendly accommodations and easy access from nearby New England cities. But those looking for an under-the-radar family ski trip should check out Cannon Mountain Ski Area in New Hampshire’s Franconia Notch State Park. Boasting itself as “big mountain skiing at a small mountain price,” this lesser known ski resort in Grafton County hosts the highest ski area summit and longest vertical drop in all of New Hampshire. For those still learning the tricks of the ski trade, there’s even a designated section of the mountain called The Tuckerbrook Learning Area, which is still easily connected via access directly from the main mountain base area.
North Carolina: Instead of Sugar Mountain Resort, Try Beech Mountain Resort
Sugar Mountain Resort and Beech Mountain Resort are both anchored via the well-known North Carolina ski resort town, Banner Elk. While Sugar Mountain is the larger and more visited of these two resorts, Beech Mountain, which is described as “quaint and quirky," takes their friendly competition to a higher elevation as a more relaxed and down-to-earth local favorite. It’s technically the highest ski resort in the Eastern U.S., with a summit of 5,506 feet, and visitors can expect on average 84 inches of yearly snowfall. There are 17 trails and eight lifts suitable for beginners and experts alike.
Utah: Instead of Park City Mountain Resort, Try Brian Head Resort
Northern Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort is world famous as the largest ski area in the United States offering more than 7,300 acres, 300 trails, 41 lifts, and seven terrain parks to explore. Those seeking a more “low-key” trip amongst the gorgeous red rocks of Southern Utah should explore Brian Head Resort. This medium-sized Utah ski destination boasts Utah's highest base elevation at 9,600 feet and offers 650 acres of skiable terrain across two connected mountains with eight chairlifts, 71 runs, and an annual snowfall averaging at least 360 inches. Its proximity to Las Vegas makes it a popular choice for road trips, and its mom-and-pop, family-friendly atmosphere make it an especially enjoyable place to spend a weekend.
Alaska: Instead of Alyeska Resort, Try Eaglecrest Ski Area
Alyeska Resort might get most of the attention as Alaska’s only year-round resort, boasting 1,610 skiable acres and 76 runs, but those seeking non-existent lift lines and proximity to Seattle and Anchorage should try Eaglecrest Ski Area. Eaglecrest is located just 12 miles from downtown Juneau and offers 640 skiable acres, four double chairlifts, and 36 runs ranging in skill from beginner to double black diamond. There’s also impressive backcountry skiing access for those who want an especially adventurous time on the mountain.
Colorado: Instead of Aspen Snowmass, Try Telluride Ski Resort
Aspen Snowmass isn’t just any ski resort—this destination offers an entire collection of ski resorts, each with their own distinct personalities. But its internationally famed status as a luxurious celebrity snow sports hangout (even for those who don’t ski) can lead to crowding both on and off the mountain. Travelers who seek somewhere that’s still world-class but more likely with shorter lift line times and less glitz can visit Telluride Ski Resort, which is two hours further of a trek from Denver and therefore is less trafficked by locals looking to get out of the city. This mountain receives on average 300-plus days of sun, and 300 inches of snow annually, and it and offers more than 2,000 skiable acres friendly for visitors of all ability levels.
New Mexico: Instead of Santa Fe Ski Area, Try Sandia Peak Resort
New Mexico is a draw for skiers in the Southwest. Many people plan their winter getaways for the Santa Fe Ski Area outside Santa Fe, which is admittedly a skier's paradise for adventurers of all ages. But those who want to beat the crowds should check out Sandia Peak Resort in the Sandia Mountain Range just outside of Albuquerque. This mountain hosts 33 runs spanning 25 miles of groomed runs, with terrain ranging in difficulty that is ideal for novices and daredevils alike.