The promise of fresh powder. The thrill of swooping down snow-covered slopes. The refreshing taste of a well-deserved apres-ski beer. What’s not to love about ski season?
That’s why we’ve rounded up the best alternatives to some of the most well-known ski resorts in North America, so you know exactly where to go to make the most of the snow. These winter wonderlands boast affordable lift tickets, fewer crowds and a seemingly endless array of trails to choose from, without compromising on quality.
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Love Jackson Hole? Try Grand Targhee Ski Resort.
Tucked into the Teton Range, Grand Targhee is renowned for its deep powder and frequent snowfall. Unlike the ritzy vibe of Jackson Hole Mountain, this ski resort is ideal for those looking for a low-key ski trip. After a day on the slopes, retreat to a rental in Alta and rest up for another day of world-class skiing.
What travelers are saying: “A hidden gem in the Tetons. Great off trail skiing as well as groomers for all levels of skiing. This is one of my new favorite places to ski.”
Love Sugarloaf Mountain? Try Sunday River.
Sunday River boasts more than 125 open trails spanning nearly 800 acres of skiable terrain. Although it’s a bit smaller than Sugarloaf Mountain, it’s more manageable for amateur skiers and ideal for a leisurely day on the slopes. Once your skis are off, indulge in an apres-ski drink at Sunday River or continue the fun in the nearby mountain town of Bethel.
What travelers are saying: “This is a winter wonderland. Skiing is fabulous with many peaks and all levels of skiing. Lots of snowmobile trails and winter adventures.”
Love Stowe Mountain? Try Killington Ski Resort.
Killington Ski Resort is the largest ski area in the eastern United States extending across seven mountains. Skiers of all abilities flock to this New England spot for its wide-open slopes, steep moguls and tree-lined trails. Whether you’re admiring the view from the summit or you’re gliding past snow-covered branches, the area’s natural beauty will steal your breath away. Lift tickets are typically more affordable than Stowe’s when you buy online, so there’s no excuse not to spend a day at Killington.
What travelers are saying: “The mountain remains the beast of the east. Huge variety of terrain for all abilities. The experience and smiles from the family were priceless.”
Love Gore Mountain? Try Peek’n Peak Resort.
Pack up the car and head to Peek’n Peak Resort for winter fun in the foothills of Clymer. Situated in the southwestern corner of New York, this resort is an easy drive from major cities like Cleveland, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, and a more convenient choice than Gore Mountain for many travelers. Enjoy a bit of everything here: Alpine and Nordic skiing, terrain parks, snow tubing and more. It’s the perfect place for a worry-free weekend with your family.
What travelers are saying: “Our family was able to rent equipment and get on the slopes and in for a lesson right away. The kids, ages 9 and 12, went from apprehensive to confident within the 1-hour timeframe – our instructor was wonderful! I have recommended Peek’n Peak to others already.”
Love Mammoth Mountain? Try Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.
Over 6,000 skiable acres make up the snowy wonderland of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadow in North Lake Tahoe. With an average of 300 sunny days per year and no shortage of snowfall, this destination offers a longer ski season than most, typically lasting well into the spring months. Although it has fewer trails than Mammoth Mountain, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows shouldn’t be underestimated because it has countless hidden ski areas to discover and spectacular head-turning views of Lake Tahoe.
What travelers are saying: “The best ski resort out in Tahoe as far as I know. Love the trail runs and I love that there’s plenty of Ski Patrol scattered around! Very decent place and the village is pretty nice!”
Love Waterville Valley Resort? Try Loon Mountain Resort.
Often overlooked because of its proximity to Waterville Valley Resort, Loon Mountain Resort is an ideal alternative for travelers planning a New Hampshire ski vacation. It features over 300 skiable acres within the White Mountain National Forest, so there’s always a new run to conquer. Save money by purchasing a lift ticket in advance and you’ll save money that you can put toward an extra apres-ski beer at the lodge.
What travelers are saying: “The trails were well-groomed and the staff were very friendly and helpful. The indoor areas were clean and they have free wifi. Helpful tip: plan to ski early if you want to avoid the rush of kids.”
Love Aspen? Try Silverton Mountain.
Known for being a high-end ski resort, there’s no denying Aspen’s prestige. But large crowds and exorbitant prices can mean this popular ski destination is out of reach for many. Enter Silverton Mountain. Just a few hours south, this ski spot offers untouched trails, thrilling ski excursions and a true mountain experience. Explore Silverton Mountain at your own pace or choose a guided adventure around the area.
What travelers are saying: “What a special place. The town is small and charming, and we found both comfy accommodations and food. The one lift takes you up the mountain, and the different groups go different places. We booked a guide in advance, and he took us all over the mountain. Great skiing and terrific scenery!”
Love Crystal Mountain? Try Mission Ridge
For fifty years, Mission Ridge has offered the runs, trails, chutes, screamers and bowls of big mountain terrain while maintaining a small mountain vibe. Light, dry powder carpets the ground here, making it more manageable than the deep powder at Crystal Mountain. Visitors to Mission Ridge can also count on abundant sunshine, amazing views and affordable lift tickets at this jewel in the Cascade Mountains.
What travelers are saying: “Mission Ridge earns praise as an old-fashioned, family-oriented ski area, while also offering some great runs for advanced and expert skiers, modern snow-making and slope grooming, and easy access from Wenatchee.”
Love Alta Ski Area? Try Deer Valley.
Like Alta Ski Area, Deer Valley is one of only a handful of resorts open exclusively to skiers. Nestled within Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, Deer Valley offers “The Greatest Snow on Earth” and thrilling adventures spread out across six mountains. If you’re new to the sport, take a ski lesson at the mountain’s ski school. If you’re an expert, challenge yourself on a black diamond or try one of the very runs skied by Olympians at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Whether your group splits up or sticks together, there’s a trail for all abilities at Deer Valley.
What travelers are saying: “Luxury skiing, great service, great lodges, great foods. Ski rails were groomed to perfection, consistent champagne-snow, very little to no line, and just overall amazing skiing.”
Love Whistler Blackcomb? Try Big White Ski Resort.
Skiers are often quick to look to Whister Blackcomb when planning a winter trip to Canada, but families ought to consider Big White Ski Resort instead. Simply known as Big White to most, this ski resort is situated in British Columbia’s breathtaking Okanagan Valley and is blanketed by snow all winter long. Choose an Alpine or Nordic trail, hop on a lift and explore Big White Mountain. In addition to skiing, Big White offers an array of family-friendly activities such as dog sledding, snow tubing and horse-drawn sleigh rides.
What travelers are saying: “This was our second Christmas ski trip to Big White and we loved it again. The resort is fantastic for families with great runs, amazing snow, really kid-friendly ski school staff and awesome accommodations to choose from.”
Love Wachusett Mountain? Try Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort.
Open year-round, Jiminy Peak is particularly popular among families during the winter months. The resort offers several children’s programs designed to teach children how to ski and feel confident on the slopes. Children ages 5 and under ski for free on Toddler Lower Mountain, and lighted twilight skiing extends the family fun well into the evening. In addition to its scenic Berkshire setting, friendly and helpful staff make Jiminy Peak one of the best mid-sized ski resorts in southern New England.
What travelers are saying: “Great base lodge area. Loved the fast lift ticket scanning system they have in place. In all my runs did not have to wait more than 5 mins to get on the lift. Nice wide trails.”
Love Whitefish Mountain? Try Big Sky Resort.
With 30 lifts and more than 250 runs, Big Sky Resort is a skier’s dream. This ski destination offers access to more skiing than most resorts in the U.S., including a variety of beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain so, everyone in the family can participate. When it’s time to call it quits on the slopes, families can take a free shuttle to the nearby Meadow Village for more dining, shopping and entertainment options.
What travelers are saying: “One of those ‘last, best’ places. Our renewal of familiarity at Big Sky at Christmas was a reminder of how monstrously huge this place is, how singular the downhills, and lack of congestion in the lifts. There are places to ski for all experience levels and if you leave here without a shriek of delight it will be a surprise.”