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The skiing season is in full swing, and with the Winter Olympics still on everybody’s minds, it may be time to make one last trip to the slopes. Even non-skiers are familiar with some of the most famous ski resorts in the U.S. Who hasn’t heard of Aspen, Vail, or Jackson Hole? Yet, the greater the name recognition, the more crowded the slopes.
Not to fret. Just because you don’t love crowds doesn’t mean that you can’t find great skiing elsewhere. In fact, some of the best skiing in the U.S. can be found in some of the least discovered locations. Here is our list of 5 of the best ski resorts that you may not have heard about.
Beaver Creek, Colorado
OK, OK. Beaver Creek isn’t exactly the most anonymous of ski resorts. Those in the skiing community certainly know how much this place kicks a$$. However, the fact remains that it is still somewhat of a hidden gem to the rest of the world.
Nestled in the Vail Valley a little over two hours west of Denver, Beaver Creek truly is one of the best ski resorts in the world. With over a 3,300 foot vertical rise, 25 chair lifts, 150 different trails, and 1,800 acres of skiable terrain, every skier can find some powder to carve. In addition, the best skiers in the world descend on Beaver Creek each year for the “Birds of Prey” Men’s World Cup event.
However, Beaver Creek isn’t just about skiing. Beaver Creek Village is full of nightlife, shopping, and entertainment. The quaint village has an “Old World” charm that is unmistakable. Beaver Creek also features a number of excellent lodging options and 4 gourmet restaurants on-mountain. If you’re looking for some adult spirits or souvenirs, be sure to check out Beaver Liquors right off the resort in Avon.
Grand Targhee, Wyoming
When you think of great skiing, Wyoming should come to the top of your list. While Jackson Hole may be the most famous of Wyoming’s ski resorts, it isn’t all that the Cowboy State has to offer.
Located just over 40 miles west of Jackson on the western slope of the Teton Range, Grand Targhee Resort is home to some of the best skiing in the U.S. The resort’s 2,500 acres of skiable terrain receives over 500 inches of snowfall each year. To reach the 9,920 foot summit of “Mary’s Nipple,” skiers must first conquer an all in-bounds hike up the peak. From there, skiers will be treated to fantastic panoramic views of the Tetons before shredding the 2,270 foot vertical drop. Grand Targhee also treats Nordic skiers to over 15 km of groomed trails, making it one of the best ski resorts in the U.S.
Taos, New Mexico
Most people envision New Mexico as a land of desert landscapes and Walter White. But, the White Sands National Monument isn’t the only white powder in the Land of Enchantment. Northern New Mexico is home to one of skiing’s best kept secrets. (Yes, I said skiing and New Mexico in the same sentence.) Welcome to Taos!
Taos Ski Valley is open daily from the middle of December through the first week of April. You may not believe it, but the resort receives over 300 inches of snow annually. The mountain hosts an astonishing 113 trails and a vertical drop of over 2,600 feet. According to the SkiTaos.org, the mountain is a “rugged, authentic mountain” that is not manufactured for the masses but treats skiers and boarders to “bone dry powder shots, steep chutes, big bumps, cornices, and glades.” In addition, the mountain’s chair lifts can handle over 15,000 skiers per hour, so there is no need to worry about feeling crowded. The almost 1,300 acres and 300 days of sunshine makes Taos not only the best ski resort in New Mexico but one of the best places to ski in the United States.
Whitefish Mountain, Montana
In the arena of ski reputations, the state of Montana kind of gets the shaft. While states like Colorado and Wyoming get all the skiing glory, Montana can seem like the forgotten step-child. Yet, the fact is that Montana is home to the largest mountains in the contiguous 48 states. And those mountains are home to some of the best skiing in the U.S., including the country’s largest resort Big Sky.
Although not quite large as its in-state cousin, Whitefish Mountain is no slouch itself. With over 3,000 acres of skiable area, Whitefish Mountain is (unbelievably) one of Montana’s hidden gems. With 102 trails and its longest run measuring at 3.3 miles, this resort is a skiers paradise. The mountain has 14 chair lifts and a vertical drop of over 2,300 feet. The resort also allows night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays from January through March.
Lutsen Mountains, Minnesota
Are you looking to book a ski trip closer to home? Don’t have time to make a trip to the Rockies before the season ends? If you are looking for great skiing in the Midwest, look no further than Lutsen Mountains located about 90 minutes north of Duluth, Minnesota.
Overlooking the coast of Lake Superior on Minnesota’s “North Shore,” Lutsen Mountains offer some of the best skiing in the Midwest. With over 1,000 skiable acres on 4 mountains, Lutsen is the largest ski resort in the region. The 95 different runs face in all directions, exposing skiers to breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the surrounding area. With a vertical rise of almost 1,100 feet, these aren’t just bunny hills we are talking about. And, with 10 chair lifts and “Mid-America’s only gondola”, Lutsen can handle over 10,000 riders per hour. When you add it all up, Lutsen goes under the radar as one of the best ski resorts in America.