Underrated Ski Resorts in North America, Part II


The peo­ple have spo­ken: our first list of under­rat­ed North Amer­i­can ski resorts was insuf­fi­cient. Here is anoth­er list of five low-key estab­lish­ments where skiers and snow­board­ers can enjoy pre­mi­um, pow­der-laden runs with­out the crowds and long lift lines one usu­al­ly encoun­ters at more promi­nent resorts.

Chic-Chocs Moun­tain Lodge, Que­bec
What the experts say: “For a total break from the hec­tic pace of dai­ly life, Chic-Chocs Moun­tain Lodge offers a snow-ski­ing adven­ture in the heart of an untouched wilder­ness that will have snow sport adven­tur­ers com­ing back for more” — The Snowski­ing Channel

Despite (or per­haps due to) its remote loca­tion, Chic-Chocs Moun­tain Lodge has earned a stel­lar rep­u­ta­tion among back­coun­try afi­ciona­dos. There are sev­en peaks sit­u­at­ed with­in the 37-square-mile area, and each one boasts gen­er­ous ver­ti­cal drops and pris­tine ter­rain. The ‘resort’ dou­bles as a wildlife reserve; for this rea­son, there are no lifts and trails have been designed to accom­mo­date moose, cari­bou and oth­er local denizens. The lodge itself is also a first-rate estab­lish­ment with plen­ty of ameni­ties, while the low occu­pan­cy rate (no more than 38 guests at one time) and com­mu­nal lounge and din­ing areas ensure a com­fort­able, con­vivial atmos­phere for all visitors.

Crest­ed Butte Moun­tain Resort, Colo.
What the experts say: “An after­noon jump-turn­ing the ‘holy extreme ter­rain, Bat­man!’ on the back side and the steep­er-than-steep gul­lies stream­ing from the peak—without the mer­cy of a sin­gle lift­line to rest your legs—reminds you you’re alive. And mor­tal. But quite blessed” — SKI Mag­a­zine

Crest­ed Butte sits with­in a few hours of Aspen, Vail and Tel­luride, yet the resort man­ages to keep the large crowds at bay. Known for its wicked back­coun­try runs and idyl­lic weath­er con­di­tions, Crest­ed Butte also boasts an excel­lent ski school (led by sea­soned alpine pro, Nick Her­rin), three ter­rain parks and win­ter zipline tours. The sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ty fea­tures plen­ty of accom­mo­da­tions, shops, eater­ies, and water­ing holes; the town also hosts numer­ous fes­ti­vals and snow-themed events through­out the win­ter sea­son. And while the lift tick­et prices are a lit­tle steep ($92 for adults), vis­i­tors can off­set some of the costs thanks to cheap rental pack­ages and com­pli­men­ta­ry overnight stor­age for all lodge/hotel guests.

Grand Targhee Resort, Wyo.
What the experts say: “Grand Targhee has amaz­ing snow – deep, light, con­sis­tent pow­der. The resort also has gor­geous scenery, fun ter­rain, great back­coun­try access, cat ski­ing and very few peo­ple. As an added bonus, it’s also an inex­pen­sive place to vis­it” — Pow­der Hounds

There are a lot of rea­sons to love Grand Targhee, a seclud­ed resort in the West­ern Tetons that is with­in an hour’s dri­ve of Jack­son Hole. The resort receives more than 500 inch­es of annu­al snow­fall, and vis­i­tors can enjoy a pletho­ra of qui­et down­hill runs (95 per­cent of which are rat­ed as “more dif­fi­cult” or “most dif­fi­cult”), as well as an exten­sive ter­rain park and areas reserved for both Nordic ski­ing and Snow­cat excur­sions. What’s more, CNN Trav­el reports that the resort is offer­ing a pre­mi­um deal this year: free ski­ing or snow­board­ing to any lodge guest with a 2012 sea­son’s pass to any oth­er resort in the country.

Kirk­wood Moun­tain Resort, Calif.
What the experts say: “This Tahoe-area resort is more afford­able than most and gets an amaz­ing amount of snow—600 annu­al inches—making for a sol­id 11 per­cent of pow­der days per sea­son” — Out­side Magazine

Just across the state line from Tahoe is Kirk­wood Moun­tain, a small resort (2,300 ski­able acres) that makes up for its size with more than 70 down­hill runs (pri­mar­i­ly inter­me­di­ate or advanced), a quar­tet of ter­rain parks and trails des­ig­nat­ed for snow­shoe­ing and cross-coun­try ski­ing. Kirk­wood Moun­tain is also eco-friend­ly, thanks to a num­ber of recent green efforts to con­serve ener­gy and water — and by pur­chas­ing a ‘green tag’ ($2 or $10), lift rid­ers can con­tribute to future projects. And while the sur­round­ing area is much more low-key than Tahoe’s, vis­i­tors will find plen­ty to do (and eat, and drink) once the sun goes down.

Schweitzer Moun­tain Resort, Ida­ho
What the experts say: “Thanks to two new chair­lifts and 300 inch­es of annu­al snow­fall, you now have a rea­son to vis­it north Ida­ho. Go before every­one else dis­cov­ers Schweitzer’s 6,400-foot-high Selkirk spine and 1,200 acres of tama­rack glades and curvy bowls” — Ski­ing Magazine

Just 11 miles from the siz­able town of Sand­point and less than 50 miles from the Cana­di­an bor­der, Schweitzer Moun­tain offers a wide range of runs — from begin­ner bun­ny slopes to insane dou­ble black-dia­mond steeps. Vis­i­tors can enjoy cat-ski­ing, two parks and night ski­ing on the week­ends. Oth­er, less tra­di­tion­al offer­ings include hol­low tub­ing, zipline tours and a ‘ter­rain gar­den’ for young­sters to per­fect their freestyle maneu­vers. The rus­tic, Euro­pean-style vil­lage sur­round­ing the resort offers sev­er­al lodg­ing and din­ing options, as well.