Ski Resort Town of Crested Butte, Colorado.

7 Most Underrated Ski Towns in the US

Winter is not complete without hitting the slopes at least once. These underrated ski towns in the US will not disappoint when it comes to spectacular terrain without the busy crowds. There are tons of places nationwide to enjoy the snowy mountain tops for an adrenaline fix without waiting in long lines. Some of these lesser-known gems will show you American ski culture at its finest while experiencing where the locals go. There are many magnificent American small towns with mind-bending slopes that you may not have heard of before. You do not want to miss out on visiting these seven destinations.

Crested Butte, Colorado

Aerial View of the Ski Resort Town of Crested Butte, Colorado blanketed in snow
Ski Resort Town of Crested Butte, Colorado.

The magical town of Crested Butte sits in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Locals call it the "Last Great Ski Town" in the state, full of charming preserved historic buildings, a stunning backdrop of mountain views, and an old-school vibe (no traffic lights or chain stores in town). You can ski and snowboard down all 165 trails during the winter high season when the mountain is fully open. The region has some of the best extreme terrains in the country. There are 15 chairlifts and over 1000 acres of trails that range from beginner to advanced levels, with something for everyone. The resort also offers lessons for beginners for those who are curious. Surrounded by 1.7 million acres of National Forest, you can cross-country ski or snowshoe if the slopes are not for you.

Kirkwood, California

A skier works his way down the slope on a bright, sunny day with blue skies.
Kirkwood, California.

The Kirkwood Mountain Resort is a great alternative to the crowds of Lake Tahoe, and it is just south of it. This underrated ski town, perfect for skipping the lines, has 2,300 acres of terrain to cover, with a range of difficulty levels. There are beginner runs for those starting out as well as cliffs and snow cornices for experts. You can glide down 86 diverse trails, and about 12% of them are beginner-friendly. The rest are intermediate (30%), advanced (38%) and expert (20%), so bring along a crew whatever their level. The peaks also reach gargantuan heights, some several measuring over 9,000 feet, and the tallest, Thimble Peak, soaring up to 9,805 feet high. There are 15 lifts that will take you all over the mountain, and the longest trail covers 2.5 miles.

Huntsville, Utah

Skiers and snowboarders enjoy the sun during opening day at Snowbasin Ski Resort.
Snowbasin Ski Resort, Huntsville, Utah. Image credit Brent Olson via Shutterstock

A visit to the ski town of Huntsville, Utah grants the opportunity to stay at the Snowbasin Ski Resort. It is the perfect alternative to busy Salt Lake City, and it is a short drive away from Mount Ogden. There are 3,000 acres to ski, 12 lifts, and 118 trails, which have varied availability throughout the season. Snowbasin is also one of North America’s oldest ski resorts, operating since 1940, and it was the host of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Because of the past investment in the Olympics, there are many luxurious lodges to stay in, as well as gondolas, a tram, and a high-speed quad. Alternatives to the slopes include the snowshoe adventure zone, as well as a walkable daytime uphill travel route. In the summer, gondola rides, hiking, and yoga, as well as mountain biking are popular activities.

Wausau, Wisconsin

Wausau, Wisconsin, from the summit of Granite Peak Ski Hill in Rib Mountain State Park
Wausau, Wisconsin, from the summit of Granite Peak Ski Hill in Rib Mountain State Park. Image credit Michael Tatman via Shutterstock

The Wisconsin hidden gem near the town of Wausau is Granite Peak Resort. It is one of the most spectacular and under-the-radar ski destinations in America. It is also among the oldest resorts in the country, and skiing began on Rib Mountain in 1937, with about 160 skiable acres. In 2000, the owner renamed it Granite Peak. Currently, there are a total of 74 runs and over 200 acres for skiing, making it the largest ski area in Wisconsin, and multiple terrains for different experience levels, with about 45% of the terrain for intermediate skiers, and 20% of it reserved for beginners. The longest run spans just under a mile, with 700 vertical feet, with seven chair lifts in total. The town itself also has great shopping, dining, and charming locations to make your trip memorable.

Bozeman, Montana

Skiing down the mountain in Bozeman, Montana
The setting of the last best place on earth in Bozeman Montana.

The Bridger Bowl Ski Area near Bozeman, Montana, is a massive ski resort that eludes the tourist crowds because of its difficulty level. The unruly terrain is one of the more complicated to navigate, with about 70% of the grounds reserved for expert skiers. It is massive, with over 2,000 acres of skiable trails, and 75+ unmarked runs. The top elevation sits at about 8,800 feet and has an average annual snowfall of 300 inches. There are plenty of areas that are without hazard markings, making this ski resort for braver ski enthusiasts, as there is often a risk of avalanche. However, the rugged landscape is part of what makes the Bridger Bowl such a magnificent experience. For those willing to brave the wild winds and cliffs, it is definitely the experience of a lifetime.

Incline Village, Nevada

Peak Ski/Snowboarding season at Diamond Peak Ski resort in Lake Tahoe after a winter storm brought several inches of fresh snow.
Diamond Peak Resort, Nevada.

The community of Diamond Peak Resort in Nevada is the perfect hidden gem if you are looking to escape the Lake Tahoe crowds but keep the view. There are 28 trails for all levels, about 655 acres of grounds with 1,840 vertical feet to cover, and 13 tree-skiing and riding areas. You can see Lake Tahoe at practically every turn, and there are three terrain parks to explore on the grounds. The elevation reaches about 8,540 feet, and there are six chair lifts to bring you to different trails, with the longest run spanning just over two miles. There are trails for all levels, so you can bring friends of all different experiences and have a great time in this quaint, lesser-known gem near Lake Tahoe.

Greer, Arizona

Roads covered in snow near Greer, Arizona in the winter
Greer, Arizona is a winter wonderland for skiers.

The town of Greer, Arizona is a fantastic hidden gem for ski lovers thanks to the Sunrise Park Resort. There are three mountains, 67 trails, five-day lodges, and 1,200 acres of grounds. It is the perfect low-key visit in the winter months, and they even offer night skiing. You can also go tubing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and more thanks to the multiple winter activities the resort has to offer on its groomed, family-friendly slopes. You can also take ski lessons if you are new to the sport or just want to brush up on your skills. Ski bikes are also available for rent, and they are great for those who are new to the sport.

These underrated American ski towns will have you glad you skipped the popular tourist attractions. You can enjoy a quaint, wintery vacation at any of these hidden gems across the country while soaking in the authenticity of the ski cultures of the region. There are terrain types for the whole family, including lessons and fantastic ski lodges. Book your trip in advance for the best deals and enjoy winter on the mountain.


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