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Exploring Hidden Gems

Exploring Hidden Gems

Exploring Hidden Gems: Off-the-Beaten-Path Ski Resorts Around North America

Enthusiasts on a ski lift
Photograph by : Jason Blackeye on Unsplash


North America has a plethora of powdery ski resorts to visit. Some, such as Vail and Whistler, are known simply because they have such amazing reputations. But what about the resorts that don’t get as much attention and still have superb slopes to ski on? What about those off-the-beaten-path resorts that don’t get as much attention?

Today, we are focusing on the ski resorts that don’t get the plaudits they deserve. The ski resorts below offer some of the best snow and skiing experiences in the entire world. These are the hidden gems of North America. Of course, while the resorts below offer exceptional powder, they also offer unique experiences that cannot be found anywhere else. We did our best to put together a comprehensive list of the best lesser-known resorts around North America. Considering there are roughly 480 resorts in the US alone, it was a little difficult to choose which ones were the most underrated. That said, there are six resorts that deserve to be mentioned.


Who Are These Resorts For?

That’s not a hard question. The resorts below are for the people who would rather find the hidden gems than visit the mountains they already know are popular. The resorts below are for those who love adventure and have a strong sense of pioneering. The resorts below are for those who want to skip the long lines and crowded slopes. The resorts below are for thoe who want to hit the best terrain parks. They want the mountain to themselves. The resorts below are for those who can recognize that there is beauty all over the world. It just needs to be discovered. Here are the most underrated ski resorts in North America.


Telluride, CO

Colorado is America’s most popular ski destination, so it wouldn’t be a proper list unless there were a couple of destinations included from the “colorful state.” Colorado has everything there is to offer. From small resorts to massive ones, there is a mountain for everyone here. The best ski resorts in Colorado are Vail, Breckinridge, Beaver Creek, Steamboat Springs, Keystone, and Aspen Snowmass. But which ones are the most underrated and why?

Telluride Ski Resort is a well-known ski resort, but it deserves more praise than it currently has. Contrary to other ski resorts in Colorado, Telluride is one of the most difficult resorts to get to due to its location. This resort is located in the Southern half of Colorado and nestled on the Western edges of the San Juan Mountains. The Denver airport is over 6 hours away from Telluride, which makes flying and driving a tiresome experience. However, it’s worth it.

Telluride has world-class skiing with miles and miles of skiable mountain. Those hoping to skip the lines should consider visiting Telluride simply because others won’t think of going there because it’s difficult to get to. Telluride is home to one of Colorado’s most rugged mountain terrains, making skiing an exciting experience. While it’s not the cheapest resort to visit, it is most certainly one of the most underrated ski resorts in North America. With multiple terrain parks, hike-to-ski locations, and an awesome mountain atmosphere, there will never be a dull moment on this mountain.

  • Top elevation: 13,150 ft (4,010 m)
  • Terrain parks: 3
  • Longest run: "Galloping Goose" - 4.6 miles (7.4 km)
  • Fun fact: Telluride lays claim to be the second-highest airport in all of North America (9,078 feet).


Crested Butte, CO

Photo by Tyler Domingue on Unsplash


Crested Butte Mountain Resort is another resort that is not as accessible as others. While it’s not as far away as Telluride, it’s still far enough to deter all but the hardcore skiers from visiting. Located in the Elk Mountain Range, which is an extension of the Rocky Mountains, this ski resort is highly underrated. Crested Butte makes this list because it offers some of the most extreme terrain you can find in the country. In fact, Crested Butte is said to be in the top 10% of most difficult resorts to ski/snowboard. This resort gets plenty of snow, so skiers and snowboarders should make sure to bring all the necessary equipment.

Crested Butte is home to the steepest run in America. Seriously, only expert skiers and snowboarders should do this run. At a pitch of 55 degrees, Crested Butte’s Rambo is the steepest human-made ski run in the United States. To make things even more extreme, there are moguls and trees the entire way down. Falling on Rambo is like nothing anyone has experienced before. Because when you fall on Rambo, there is no getting up. Check out this massive crash from 9 years ago. You can watch it here. When (if) you get to the bottom you’ll feel relieved you actually made it there.

Other than extreme terrain, Crested Butte has much to offer. This resort is located near one of the largest ski towns in all of North America. This makes for amazing nightlife, great food, and a welcoming atmosphere. This would be a great place for friends, families, and adrenaline junkies. You might leave with a cast on your leg after Rambo, but you’ll have tons of fun.

  • Top elevation: 12,168 ft (3,709 m)
  • Terrain parks: 2
  • Longest run: “Silver Queen” -  2.6 miles (4.1 km)

Fun fact: Free rum tasting at Montanya Distillers


Schweitzer Mountain, ID

Photo by Go Montgenevre on Unsplash


Schweitzer Mountain is the perfect destination for those who are looking for an all-inclusive resort experience. While Schweitzer may not be as exciting as Crested Butte in terms of skiable terrain, it is one of North America’s premium resorts, and it doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

With 2900 acres of terrain, those with families won’t even be able to ski the entire mountain. What makes Schweitzer so special is its accommodations, including many ski-in/ski-out hotels, on-site restaurants, and a host of fun activities. Considered one of the best ski destinations in the state of Idaho, Schweitzer is actually one of the best ski destinations in America. Don’t go to Vail when Schweitzer has all the high-end accommodations a person could dream of.

In terms of skiing, Schweitzer is a great place for beginners and intermediates. With expansive tree runs, this resort should be a top winter destination for Americans and Canadians looking to switch things up this year. With over 90 runs to choose from and 10 chair lifts to take you there, Schweitzer is a respected ski resort. Located in the Selkirk Mountains, this resort is a mere 65 miles from the Canadian border. If you love great snow and cold conditions, Schweitzer should be near the top of your list of resorts to visit this winter.

  • Top elevation: 6,400 ft (1950 m)
  • Terrain parks: 3
  • Longest run: “Little Blue Ridge” - 2.1 miles (3.4 km)
  • Fun fact: People have skied at Schweitzer since the early 1930s!


SilverStar Mountain, BC

Photo by David Klein on Unsplash


Canada, eh? It wouldn’t be much of a comprehensive North American list if we didn’t include a resort in The Great White North. Canada is cold. Canada has mountains. Mix the two together and what do you get? It's the perfect combination for skiing and snowboarding!

There are three main ski resorts in Canada: Whistler, Banff, and Lake Louise. All three of these resorts are world-class, but there are others that are almost just as good. SilverStar, for example, is one of Canada’s best resorts, but it gets overshadowed by the more popular ones. Smack-dab in British Columbia, SilverStar Mountain Resort can be found in between Vancouver and Calgary in the Monashee Mountains. Americans looking to travel abroad for skiing excursions should consider SilverStar as the perfect alternative to Canada’s ski resort giants.

SilverStar offers terrain for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. On top of that, the mountain is known to be one of the least crowded in the country.

While SilverStar’s layout can be sort of confusing at times, there is plenty of acreage for all types of skiers and snowboarders to explore. With over 3,200 acres to ski, SilverStar is a wonderful destination for those looking for an alternative to Whistler and Banff this winter season. SilverStar is known for its incredible snow and its dream-like tree skiing. SilverStar receives great powder all season long, so skiers and snowboarders should make sure to have the correct eyewear for the occasion. While SilverStar isn’t one of Canada’s most popular ski resorts, it offers a truly immersive winter experience that can’t be found anywhere else.

  • Top elevation: 6,282 ft (1,915 m)
  • Terrain parks: 3 (including 2 half-pipes!!)
  • Longest run: “Eldorado” - 5 miles (8 km)
  • Fun fact: SilverStar has a ski-in/ski-out 10-pin bowling alley… What?!


Taos, NM

Photo by Isa Macouzet on Unsplash


Located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, precisely where the Rockies begin, Taos Ski Valley is a great destination for those who live in the lower half of the United States. However, Taos has much more to offer than a convenient location.

Similar to Crested Butte, Taos Ski Valley is designed for expert-level skiers and snowboarders. While the resort definitely has slopes for beginners and intermediates, the steeps at Taos are not to be trifled with. Taos is one of the most underrated resorts in North America because it offers an authentic combination of New Mexican culture and world-class skiing/snowboarding. Those looking for a classic ski resort experience will not be disappointed, and those looking for something unique, a true gem, will have their expectations met in miraculous style. With culture, cuisine, and a truly impressive skiing experience, Taos should be considered one of the best resorts in America.

It should be noted, though, that beginner and intermediate skiers should be wary of the slopes at Taos. Only seasoned skiers and snowboarders will feel truly comfortable at Taos. That said, the resort still offers slopes better suited for newbies. Those with a desire to try Taos for the first time should make sure they have the correct head protection.

  • Top elevation: 12,481 ft (3804 m)
  • Terrain parks: 2
  • Longest run: “White Feather” - 2.1 miles (3.3 km)
  • Fun fact: Home to the Taos Pueblo, a historic Native American community.


Brian Head, UT

Photo by Luka Senica on Unsplash


Finally, there is Brian Head Ski Resort. Park City Mountain Resort and Alta Ski Area are great places to visit, but there are other great resorts in Utah. Skiers and snowboarders who love powder should put Brian Head at the TOP of their lists. Why? Well, Brian Head just so happens to get the most snow out of any resort in Utah. With over 360 inches of snow annually, Brian Head has Utah’s highest base elevation.

With so many amazing resorts in Utah and Colorado, it’s difficult to prove which ones are the most underrated, but Brian Head makes that decision a little bit easier. What helps make Brian Head Ski Resort so underrated is the fact that it does not really get that crowded. Even during the busy season, Brian Head stays relatively roam-free for those who want to ski in peace. There is nothing worse than standing in super long lines or having to dodge snowboarders sitting on the slopes. At Brian Head, skiers and snowboarders can really make the most out of the mountain.

Brian Head is located on the Markagunt Plateau and services 8 chair lifts that take skiers and snowboarders to 71 different runs. It’s not the largest resort by any means, but, considering it won’t be very crowded, it will feel a lot bigger than it is. With over 650 acres of skiable terrain, Brian Head is the perfect place for those with big families or large groups.

  • Top elevation: 11,312 ft (3447 m)
  • Terrain parks: 2
  • Longest run: “Giant Steps Express” - *unknown length
  • Fun fact: Much of the mountain will have fresh snow every day!


Final Thoughts

Being prepared for a ski trip is just as important as finding an awesome resort to go to. Don’t forget, it’s not necessarily the resort you go to that makes the occasion so special, it’s the experiences YOU have. Outdoor Master knows that every ski trip is different. We want to make sure you are prepared for your awesome journeys. This winter, we want to equip you with everything you need to keep you safe, warm, and informed.