6 of the Best Ski Towns you Probably Didn’t Know About

Most avid skiers and snow­board­ers have been to Vail, dreamed about Whistler, and have spent a long week­end at Jack­son Hole, but what about the secret ski towns? With­out the mon­ey to adver­tise or the prowess of lux­u­ry, some ski towns have remained some of the world’s best-kept secrets. Here is a list of places to make a point of vis­it­ing this sea­son. While most are off the beat­en path, all of them are fan­tas­tic places to catch fresh tracks and beat the lines and prices of the well-known lux­u­ry resorts.

6-best-ski-towns-you-didnt-know-taosTaos Ski Val­ley, New Mex­i­co
Locat­ed 18 miles away from the town of Taos, Taos Ski Val­ley fea­tures steep ter­rain and over 300 days of sun­shine. It is the ski town for the adven­tur­ous spirit—the ver­ti­cal drop is 2,612 feet and with over 110 runs, most of the ter­rain is chal­leng­ing. Orig­i­nal­ly built by a Swiss-Ger­man man named Ernie Blake, Taos Ski Val­ley has Euro­pean archi­tec­ture and style yet also is blend­ed with the local Native Amer­i­can and Span­ish styles. While it is def­i­nite­ly a spot for the sea­soned ski­er, Blake also cre­at­ed fam­i­ly friend­ly runs for begin­ners, so it is a great place for a fam­i­ly vaca­tion or easy-going group trip.

6-best-ski-towns-you-didnt-know-crested-butteCrest­ed Butte, Col­orado
Often out­shined by its big­ger and more glam­orous neighbors—Crested Butte is a ski town that embod­ies a laid-back and funky  vibe. Since it’s about a four-hour dri­ve from Den­ver, and doesn’t have quite the rep­u­ta­tion for lux­u­ry as oth­er towns in its area, Crest­ed Butte is not filled with lift lines, big chain restau­rants and tourists. Instead Crest­ed Butte as a town comes off as homey and casu­al, mak­ing the après ski espe­cial­ly com­fort­able. In addi­tion, the 1,550 acres of ter­rain and extreme­ly high-alti­tude (the base of the moun­tain starts at 9,375 feet), make it a great place for the ski­er who wants free­dom and fresh tracks.

6-best-ski-towns-you-didnt-know-filmsFlims, Switzer­land
When prepar­ing to ski the Swiss Alps, Flims is a des­ti­na­tion that does not read­i­ly come to mind. Yet it gets more snow AND less-tourists per capi­ta than the world-renowned St. Mor­tiz. The steady source of snow is guar­an­teed by the ski town’s loca­tion: right on top of the Vor­ab glac­i­er, 70% above sea lev­el which makes it a mag­net for steady snow. Flims has all the charms of a Swiss Ski town while main­tain­ing a fam­i­ly-ori­ent­ed and down home feel.

6-best-ski-towns-you-didnt-know-formigalFormi­gal, Spain
Spain does not often come up as a place for ter­rif­ic ski­ing, which makes the ski town of Formi­gal, Spain a must see in 2013. Less pricey than its Euro­pean neigh­bors, Formi­gal is a total steal. The ter­rain is dynam­ic, because it is spread out over four val­leys, and thus has four sep­a­rate bases. The ski ter­rain as a result has a lot of vari­ety for every lev­el of ski­er or snow­board­er. In addi­tion, the wide­spread lay­out cre­ates many options for restau­rants and accommodations.

6-best-ski-towns-you-didnt-know-areÅre, Swe­den
Are is known as a ski town with excep­tion­al­ly well-groomed runs and excel­lent local restau­rants. Often over­looked by those on a mis­sion to ski Europe, Are has been a moun­tain town for over 1000 years. In 1957 and then again in 2007 The Alpine World Cham­pi­onships were held in Are, and the ter­rain was con­sid­ered for the 2014 Win­ter Olympics. It is a great choice for the inter­me­di­ate ski­er or snow­board­er, with an inter­est in Swedish culture.

kicking-horseKick­ing Horse, Cana­da
While Kick­ing Horse is start­ing to make a name for itself, it doesn’t get half the cred­it it deserves. Locat­ed right out­side Gold­en, British Colum­bia, Kick­ing Horse has the fourth high­est ver­ti­cal drop in North Amer­i­ca (only six feet short­er than Jack­son Hole). The ter­rain is com­prised of four large bowls that fil­ter down to easy, well-groomed ski areas. The area is espe­cial­ly known for cre­at­ing light, dry snow called “cham­pagne pow­der,” which is rea­son to vis­it this resort alone. Not to men­tion one of their main lifts is called “Stair­way to Heav­en,” which def­i­nite­ly gives them bonus points.