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7 Under-the-Radar Ski Destinations to Visit in 2017
Go off the grid at one of these underrated snowy escapes.
From France to Colorado, there are plenty of secret ski towns worth traveling to this year.(Getty Images)
Maybe you've already tackled the slopes in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Aspen, Colorado. Or perhaps you're itching to discover a lesser-visited ski scene with fewer crowds, reasonable prices, emerging aprés-ski scenes and plenty of pristine powder. Well, if you're ready to plan a snowy getaway in an up-and-coming and off-the-beaten-track location, start planning your vacation to these enticing alternative ski towns.
Located near Boise, Idaho, amid the region's prized Salmon River Mountains, McCall is a well-preserved ski town. With its annual snowfall reaching approximately 300 inches, the McCall area is home to some of the top alpine skiing and snowboarding in the northwest. The area's ski resorts boast a combined 2,600 skiable acres, featuring vertical drops ranging from 1,800 to 2,800 feet. Spend a day snowcat skiing or boarding. Brundage Mountain is one of several ski resorts in the area as is Shore Lodge, a quaint, off-the-grid lakeside resort in a beautiful setting for powder hounds who want to combine pristine trails with a laid-back après spot. Even better, Shore Lodge is just 10 minutes from the powdery slopes and has been heralded as a top hidden ski town by National Geographic.
Valle d'Aosta, Italy
With Matterhorn in sight, and this year ushering in two Telemark World Cup races, Valle d'Aosta (or "Acosta Valley") might just be Europe's best-kept secret ski destination. Surrounded by Europe's high peaks, Valle d'Aosta is made up of a central valley that covers 23 ski resorts, 800 kilometers of runs and 10 snowparks, as well as exhilarating off-piste itineraries that can be reached with ski lifts or by helicopter from heli-skiing bases. What's more, on the runs at the foot of the Matterhorn, you can even ski in the summer. Don't miss visiting the village's most famous monument, the spectacular Roman bridge, which was built in the first century B.C.
When U.S. travelers set their sights on an adventurous international getaway, New Zealand is often the bull's-eye, but there is a closer, cheaper and equally action-packed trip to had in Alberta, which is forecasted to have 120 percent more snowfall than average this year. Alberta also hosts plenty of skiable acres at the so-called "SkiBig3," including Mt. Norquay, the Lake Louise Ski Resort and Sunshine Village. New this year, SkiBig3 lift ticket holders have free access to the Banff Hot Springs, where the legendary Fairmont Banff Springs offers scenic surroundings inside Banff National Park.
Japan's northernmost island, Hokkaido, receives an average of 25 to 63 feet of powder every year. In Hokkaido, you'll find Kiroro Ski Resort, which boasts modern facilities and few crowds with 21 runs suited to all standards including beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers with light powder runs throughout the trees. Stay at The Kiroro, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel and newly renovated property. After a long day of skiing, guests can venture into The Kiroro's rustic new lobby and warm up next to the fireplace while taking in the beauty of the mountainous landscape through floor-to-ceiling windows. Guests can also enjoy the on-site traditional Japanese onsen (hot spring), which includes a soothing stone sauna. Even better, you'll be able to savor memorable and locally inspired Japanese meals after hitting the slopes.
New York State
With over 50 downhill ski centers, New York State offers versatile ski areas and experiences that are easily accessible from many destinations along the East Coast and the Midwest. Hunter Mountain and Belleayre Mountain in the Catskills make for a quick and easy weekend trip from New York City. Plus, skiers can head north for an Adirondacks getaway at Gore Mountain. For a world-class skiing experience, head to Lake Placid's Whiteface Mountain, which was home to the Winter Olympic Games in 1980. In Lake Placid, you'll also find the charming Whiteface Lodge, a great retreat for delicious meals and cocktails after a day on the slopes.
Les Deux Alpes, France
Located near Lyon and Geneva in Rhone-Alpes, France, Les Deus Alpes is known for its lively party scene. And with over 1,000 acres of skiing and fresh snow daily, Les Deus Alpes also has wonderful outdoor runs that are well-suited for avid skiers. Twelve black runs provide challenging terrain, while beginners and ski-averse guests can tackle easier slopes and catch up on rest and relaxation at "day club" Pano Bar. Another bonus: Aside from plenty of chairlifts, the resort also has two gondolas, three cable cars, one aerial tramway and even a funicular railway.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte, an isolated former mining town offers a slow pace, family-friendly and expert-approved slopes and striking surroundings. An enduring passion among powder hounds has lured experienced skiers to this tiny, off-the-beaten-path snowy retreat. Aside from excellent terrain along Teocalli Bowl and the North Face, you can also enjoy a snowcat driving experience, the Coal Breaker Coffee Co. and the Umbrella Bar at Ten Peaks, not to mention more than 120 trails.
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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