5 Off-the-Beaten-Path Ski Resorts
Avoid steep crowds and costs at these underrated U.S. resorts this winter.
Venture farther afield to lesser-known snowy areas in Utah, Colorado, California and Vermont for dramatic backdrops, better prices and fewer skiers.(Getty Images)
Autumn is the ideal time to book your winter ski trip. After all, resorts offer enticing incentives and deals on lodging and lift tickets in the fall. However, even with prior planning, ski costs can add up. Instead of heading to headliner ski resorts this winter, consider the following off-the-beaten-track ski resorts across the country to trim costs and share the slopes with fewer fellow skiers and snowboarders.
Brian Head Resort
Brian Head, Utah
Brian Head offers an ideal location within driving distance of Salt Lake City. With 650 skiable acres spread out over two base areas, skiers and snowboarders have ample lodging choices, which translates to affordable accommodation options. The dining scene is lively at Brian Head Resort, with authentic Kansas City-style barbecue offered weekly at Last Chair Saloon thanks to the resort owner's Midwestern roots. What's more, live music is offered in multiple venues each weekend, and elevated cuisine is served at Grand Lodge. Plus, Cedar Breaks National Monument sits adjacent to Brian Head, affording visitors the chance to book snowmobiling tours through the protected park, and snowshoe and ski in the backcountry.
Want to go even more remote? Consider booking a stay at Eagle Point Resort, located at the top of a steep, winding road from tiny Beaver, Utah. Eagle Point boasts affordable condo-style lodging, communal hot tubs and a casual and inviting main lodge.
Mad River Valley
This small ski resort is located in Waitsfield, Vermont, tucked between better-known neighbors such as Smugglers' Notch and Stowe. Mad River Valley is locally driven and much-loved by powder hounds. Skiers will find a fierce loyalty present here, and some of the most challenging terrain in New England. Frugally minded visitors can also trim costs by retreating to one of the quaint bed-and-breakfasts, inns, hotels, motels and condos. Many lodging options are rustic and inviting, allowing skiers to focus their energy on the outdoors. Even better, lift ticket deals abound, and families can join naturalist-led tours when they're not hitting the slopes.
Mount Rose Ski Tahoe
If you haven't heard of this Tahoe-area resort, you're not alone. Thanks to its low profile, you'll only share the lift lines with locals from Reno most days of the ski season. Mount Rose sits right at the base of Reno, which means visitors have their pick of cheap lodging options. This city's casino hotels offer competitive prices all winter long. Plus, Mount Rose affords skiers and riders with epic views of the city, and for those who want a sampler of resorts in the area, Reno makes for a good base area to explore North Tahoe ski resorts. What's more, with a base elevation of over 8,000 feet, Mount Rose often boasts high snowpack before some of its more popular neighboring Tahoe resorts.
Homewood Mountain Resort
You can ski at Tahoe without paying a sky-high price, as long as you know where to go. At Homewood Mountain, skiers and snowboarders are rewarded with dramatic lake views at a discounted rate. While Homewood is tinier than most of its neighboring resorts, it makes up its smaller setting with extensive backcountry programs, which include cat-serviced skiing when conditions allow. Off-piste skiing and riding is also easy to find off the groomed runs. Because Homewood does not offer on-site lodging, visitors save even more cash by renting vacation homes in the nearby West Tahoe region. Tahoe City is a good bet for lodging as well, thanks to its convenient location, which puts skiers within a 10-minute drive from the slopes.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
Summit County, Colorado
Summit County, Colorado, offers world-class skiing. The only problem is every avid skier is well aware of this fact. Interstate 70 frequently turns into a parking lot as skiers and snowboarders make the commute from Denver, but for families headed to Arapahoe Basin, the drive is short: Simply get off the interstate early at the Loveland exit. Best of all, skiers won't sacrifice quality at this lesser-known resort area. Arapahoe Basin has the highest in-bound terrain in North America, and is on the Epic Pass, which means skiers loyal to Vail resorts can ski for free. Even better, it's entirely possible to lodge in Denver when skiing in Arapahoe if you're looking for a cost-effective accommodation option in the area. The basin also offers an ideal snowy pit stop while en route to Keystone or Breckenridge.
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About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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