Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. Ski resort operations may vary. Check before heading out.
When most people think of skiing or snowboarding in the United States, large resorts with mountainous terrain probably come to mind. Popular places like Aspen, Park City, and Jackson Hole often have breathtaking views of peaks, massive amounts of varied runs, picturesque gondolas or trams, and multiple options for on-mountain dining. However, there are numerous less obvious spots to ski that offer less crowded slopes, better bang for your buck and, in some cases, pure novelty. Some don’t even require cold weather! Here are a few worth checking out.
Badger Pass Ski Area: Yosemite National Park, CA
Did you know you can actually ski inside a National Park? Yosemite offers a family-friendly ski resort with beginner-friendly terrain. There are only 10 runs and five chairlifts, but that’s enough to have some fun on the slopes. The Badger Pass Ski Area opened in 1928, making it the oldest ski area in California. Beginners pay $5 per lift ride on the lower lifts, which is a great option for younger kids.
Where to stay: Cozy and rustic Yosemite Valley Lodge is located in Yosemite National Park and close to the ski resort.
Lee Canyon Ski and Snowboard Resort: Las Vegas
Ski during the day and play slots at night! Lee Canyon Ski and Snowboard Resort offers downhill fun just an hour from the Las Vegas Strip, which means you can travel from desert floor to snow-capped mountains at 8,600 feet in no time. Live in the area? Locals get a discount on lift tickets.
Where to stay: The Retreat on Charleston Peak is a luxury boutique hotel with 63 rooms approximately 20 minutes from the resort.
Big SNOW American Dream: East Rutherford, NJ
Hitting the slopes just 20 minutes from the Empire State Building?! At indoor ski hill Big Snow American Dream, everyday is a ski day. If you’re looking for a fun activity regardless of season or to work on improving your ski or snowboard skills before hitting the great outdoors, Big Snow offers a nice alternative to the real thing. For a change of pace, try renting a Sno-Go bike and biking down the slopes instead. Big Snow is scheduled to re-open early 2022.
Where to stay: Hilton Meadowlands is within walking distance to Big SNOW and has laundry facilities, on-site dining, a fitness center, and an executive lounge.
Buck Hill: Burnsville, MN
In Minnesota, one of the coldest states, you don’t even actually need real snow to ski. At Buck Hill (25 minutes south of Minneapolis), mother nature provides snow during the colder months, but the resort blows man-made snow to fill in the runs lacking coverage. In the spring and summer, fun on the slopes continues with dry runs made from Neveplast artificial snow turf.
Where to stay: Located close to the resort and the Mall of America, Best Western Premiere Nicollet Inn offers amenities such as an indoor pool, Jacuzzi tubs, game room, and farm-to-table dining.
Arizona Snowbowl: Flagstaff, AZ
Yes, Arizona has snow! With 55 runs, three terrain parks and eight chairlifts, Arizona Snowbowl offers plenty of terrain for all ability levels. Just 35 minutes north of Flagstaff, it’s a great spot to take the family, especially since kids 12 and under ski free and the resort offers free “snow experience” lessons to ages 13 and up.
Where to stay: Basecamp at Snowbowl offers charming accommodation in cabins with gas stoves, just minutes from the resort.
Maunakea: Big Island, HI
In the Aloha State, you can be both a ski and beach bum in the same day. Although there are no ski lifts on Mauna Kea volcano, there can be snow. There is no resort, transportation, amenities, or emergency services and, at higher than 13,000 feet, the weather can be unpredictable. However, if you are on the Big Island, have ski or snowboard gear, and a 4-wheel drive truck, you can give it a try and be one of the few that can say they skied in Hawaii.
Where to stay: Beachfront Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa offers luxury accommodations with upscale amenities.
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