In the winter months, it can seem as though everyone with skis is gracing the slopes of the most popular ski resorts in the country. With great popularity come expensive lift tickets, crowded runs and clogged parking lots. If you picture skiing in the United States, without the hassle and headache, it might be time to rethink those classic ski destinations and turn toward more unusual suspects for skiing. From Vermont to Arizona, these ski resorts and mountains might not have the flashy, recognizable ski destination monikers. However, with acres upon acres of skiing, powdery snow conditions, fewer crowds and cheaper lift ticket prices than the big names, your wallet and skis will thank you for going off the beaten path to these ski destinations across the country.
If you tend to picture cactus, desert, extreme heat and the Grand Canyon when you think of Arizona, the Snowbowl ski resort might surprise you. Settled on the slope of Mount Humphreys, the tallest peak in Arizona and part of the San Francisco Peaks, Snowbowl presents a different side to the state. Proud home to Arizona’s longest ski season, Snowbowl boasts 777 skiable acres, an average snowfall of 260 inches, and 55 runs for beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert skiers. Snowbowl also proves Arizona has some height with a base elevation of 9,200 feet and a lift served elevation of 11,500 feet. Perhaps best of all, adult lift tickets run under $100.
Mt. Rose, Nevada
Just 25 minutes from downtown Reno and 11 minutes from North Lake Tahoe, Mt. Rose is certainly an accessible ski destination in the U.S., and also one that the masses often forget. Founded in 1964, Mt. Rose sprawls with over 1,200 acres of Sierra terrain and an average snowfall of 250 feet. It also claims the highest base elevation in Tahoe, 8,260 feet, lending excellent snow conditions even in the spring. Advanced and expert skiers won’t be disappointed in the Chutes, some of the longest verticals in the country with pitches of 40 to 55 degrees.
Beech Mountain Resort, North Carolina
Skiers might not suspect that nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains are some trails they’ll love. Taking flights to North Carolina isn’t exactly associated with images of snow sprinkled mountains and ski runs. However, in the northwest corner of the state, you’ll find Beech Mountain Resort, the highest ski area in Eastern America. Started in 1967, Beech Mountain Resort includes 8 lifts, 17 trails, 95 skiable acres, and a peak elevation of 5,506 feet. In addition to skiing, you can also ice skate and go tubing. The ski area is perhaps most revered for its bar at the top of the mountain, lending commanding panoramic views.
Jay Peak, Vermont
If all you’re seeking is prime skiing conditions, namely snow, without frequenting a big name ski resort, head for Jay, Vermont to experience the most snow in eastern North America. Jay Peak not only claims that title with its 359 feet of average natural snowfall, but it also lends 385 acres and 50 miles of trails for skiers. Located in northern Vermont, under 2 hours from Burlington, the summit elevation reaches 3,968 feet. In addition to being a skiing resort, Jay Peak operates year round with other activities such as an indoor waterpark, an ice area and a disc golf course.
Bridger Bowl Ski Area, Montana
Fixed on the east slope of the Bridger Mountain Range you’ll spot the Bridger Bowl Ski Area. Under 30 minutes from Bozeman, Montana, this ski area is a local favorite and for good reason. Single day lift tickets are well under $100 and skiers have 2,000 acres at their disposal. With a highest lift-served elevation of 8,700 feet, Bridger Bowl Ski Area regales with its 75 trails ranging from beginner to expert in difficulty. Thrill seekers in particular can find it all at Bridger Bowl Ski Area, from steep chutes to rock cliffs, not to mention optimal conditions with an average seasonal snowfall of 300 inches.
Do you have a favorite off the beaten path ski destination in the U.S.? Share your pick with us in the comments below.