Every skier has their resort ticklist. It’s only natural—you want to ski the greats, the big names, the famous slopes where Olympians and ski warriors once cut their teeth and carved their turns. Snowbird is known for its lively terrain. Aspen is known for its luxury. Revelstoke sounds just downright rad. Mammoth has an infamous terrain park. And Park City comes with a bottomless nightlife.
But check those off your list, and you may still want something more. Maybe a resort that doesn’t have a giant party-town at its base or endless ski-movie-worthy lines above, but something with a tiny bit more breathing room?
You can, in fact, pair big-mountain lines or bottomless powder with good lodging and food. (We’ve tested the theory.) It just often means you have to take half a step off the beaten path and hit up a resort that’s just busy enough to have, say, lifts that aren’t scary-old—but also that’s just secluded enough that it doesn’t draw the hordes that a bigger named resort might attract.
Here are a few tried and true resorts that you’ve probably already heard of but may not have already skied. Trust us, they’re ticklist-worthy.
Come for the powder turns but stay for the food. This resort is a slightly longer drive from Salt Lake than the area’s biggest resorts, so the road is a little less traveled. The base area isn’t overbuilt—you’ll probably have to find a rental house or condo nearby.
But Snowbasin is a diamond in Utah’s already-glittering ski scene. Developed by a billionaire who wanted impeccable dining and décor at the resort’s lodges, the resort blends Utah-quality snow with mouthwatering amenities. If you have appropriate sidecountry gear and avalanche know-how, you can duck outside the resort boundaries to feast on even more untracked snow than you’ll find inbounds. But again, be sure to return to resort grounds for an apres-ski experience worth writing home about.
Grand Targhee, Wyoming
You’ve heard of Jackson Hole and maybe skied there—but have you checked out its neighbor perched on the west side of the Tetons? Grand Targhee is a down-home resort with unfussy amenities and lodging.
Beginner and intermediate skiers will do just fine, but the inbounds terrain and sidecountry are especially impressive: experts can find rowdy Western ski lines that compare with the best of ‘em. The gullies and cliff-studded tree glades off Fred’s Mountain and Mary’s Nipple offer great adventuring.
The town closest to the resort, Driggs, offers an increasingly stout food and bar scene, so after a long day of uncrowded powder-harvesting, you’ll always have a great place to fuel up.
Big Sky, Montana
Montana isn’t exactly on the beaten path for most people. And Big Sky, placed right in the middle of this wide-open state, offers plenty of breathing room. You just have to want to get here. Most people road-trip it or catch a flight into Bozeman and drive from there. But this dramatic mountain is well worth the trek.
There’s plenty of slopeside lodging and dining in the resort village, which feels a world away from the bustle of normal life. (Because it is.) The mountain is crowned by Lone Peak, accessed by an intrepid little tram that moves more advanced skiers to its 11,166-foot high summit. A network of challenging runs descend off the summit of the peak—enough to test the most confident skiers.
Killington offers East Coast skiers lots of delicious space to explore, schuss, and reconnect. It’s a few hours’ drive from some of the bigger cities, but once you’ve settled in, it’s all relaxation and fun.
The resort’s 3,000-foot vertical drop is nothing to sneeze at, and the skiable acres mean that even on a relatively busy day, everyone has plenty of elbow room. Ride the gondola up Killington Peak and enjoy the sweeping vistas of wilderness and forest—a welcome sight for anyone who needs to unplug and feel a little more alive.
Killington’s multiple base areas spread out the hungry masses at lunchtime, so you can always find something satisfying to eat before you dash back out to play.
Originally written by RootsRated for Rock/Creek.
Featured image provided by peanutian