Another ski season is here, and with it comes all the highs and lows of winter, from that crisp mountain air and fresh powder, to traffic jams and lift lines. However, the quest for uncrowded ski resorts has become increasingly appealing, especially on those coveted powder weekends. No one likes wasting precious time on snow after all. Away from the hustle and bustle of the more popular ski destinations, there are uncrowded ski resorts that beckon skiers of all abilities. Bonus: Many of them are located in or near ski towns with their own airports.
So if you’re seeking solitude and untouched snow, here’s a list of some of the best uncrowded ski resorts in the U.S. that promise tons of snow, fun powder days, and little to no lift lines. After your trip, rate and review the ski areas you visited here.
The Best Uncrowded Ski Resorts in America
Sun Valley, Idaho
Google “uncrowded ski resorts,” and you’ll surely come across Sun Valley, a beautiful resort located just minutes outside of Ketchum, Idaho, and 14 miles north of Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey. Sun Valley is known as “America’s First Skiing Destination,” in part because it’s home to the world’s first chairlift, which was installed in 1936.
Sun Valley’s skiable area spans 2,054 acres across two mountains, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. Both mountains have their own terrain parks, each with a variety of features, for those who like to freestyle. The uphill capacity on Bald Mountain alone is 21,580 skiers per hour, despite only seeing about 3,500 skiers daily. That means it’s rare to experience a lift line at Sun Valley, no matter what day of the week you come to ski. Plus, there’s plenty to do on your off days with Ketchum and the incredible Sawtooth Mountains so close by. There’s a reason why more than 30 winter Olympians call Sun Valley home.
Powder Mountain, Utah
True to its name, Powder Mountain, in Eden, Utah, is a haven for powder enthusiasts looking to escape the masses. Boasting one of the largest skiable areas in North America, Powder Mountain provides an authentic and unspoiled skiing experience. Despite not being as convenient to Salt Lake City International Airport as some of Utah’s more well-known resorts, like Snowbird and Alta, Powder is only an hour north. That puts it about the same distance from Salt Lake City as Park City Mountain and Deer Valley, albeit further away from Utah’s bustling ski scene.
With a focus on preserving the natural beauty of the surroundings, Powder Mountain limits daily lift tickets to ensure a more intimate and enjoyable ski atmosphere. It’s also committed to making a minimal environmental impact on the surrounding mountains. As Powder Mountain develops, 80% of the overall property acreage will remain open for residents and visitors to enjoy. Minimal snowmaking machinery is used to compensate for what Mother Nature provides, making it one of the most authentic riding experiences in the U.S. Not to mention, guided cat skiing passes can be purchased for skiers and riders who want to rip turns off the beaten path. Note: There’s a shuttle system that will meet you at the bottom of your run to bring you back to the main lifts.
Grand Targhee, Wyoming
Nestled on the western slope of the Tetons, Grand Targhee Resort offers a peaceful retreat for skiers and snowboarders seeking untouched powder and a laid-back atmosphere. Known for its abundant snowfall (averaging more than 500 inches a year), Grand Targhee Resort boasts open bowls and glades, providing an ideal playground for powder hounds just 45 miles from Jackson Hole. Airport shuttle services are offered to Grand Targhee from Jackson Hole Airport. Or, visitors can opt to fly into Idaho Falls Airport and travel a similar distance to the resort from the Idaho side of the Tetons.
Since its inception in 1966, Grand Targhee has made good on its reputation as a top-notch ski resort with a genuine Western feel. Over 2,000 acres of the resort are accessible by lifts, while the other 602 acres are available for cat skiing. All told, 70% of its terrain is for intermediate and advanced riders. With fewer crowds, you’ll have more space to carve your way through the stunning landscape of the Tetons and still be able to experience all that Wyoming skiing has to offer.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Home to 448 acres of double-black diamond runs, Crested Butte is truly one of the original homes of extreme skiing. The trek from Denver International Airport to Crested Butte is similar to that of driving to Aspen from Denver. Still, it forgoes the mess that is I-70 in the winter. Instead, head south through Gunnison. Alternatively, you can fly into Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport, which is just 40 minutes from Crested Butte Mountain Resort.
Crested Butte is surrounded by more than two million acres of national forest, adding to its remote, small-town feel. Everything you need can be found at the base of the mountain, but if you’re looking for off-day activities, the town of Crested Butte is the perfect place to venture for local dining and drinking. Of the many Colorado ski resorts, Crested Butte is truly one that has stuck to its roots, making for an incredible mountain town ski experience for those looking to indulge in endless open terrain, short lift lines, and small-town vibes on their ski getaway. It lives up to its name as Colorado’s “Last Great Ski Town.”
Mt. Baker, Washington
North of Seattle, and just south of the Canadian border, sits Mt. Baker, a true Pacific Northwest ski resort in Washington’s Northern Cascades. Locally owned and operated since 1953, Mt. Baker Ski Area is another great location for skiers and snowboarders looking to ride epic terrain and catch endless views without the lift lines. Like many other mountains in the Cascade Range, Mt. Baker is still an active volcano, though it may not be what you typically think of as a volcano, since the snow, ice, and glacier coverage on Mt. Baker is second only to Washington’s Mt. Rainer.
The 15-year average annual snowfall at Mt. Baker Ski Area is 666 inches, with 8 chairs and 2 handle tows for skiers and riders ready to take on its 1,000 skiable acres. The closest “major” town is Bellingham, just 30 miles west, where travelers will find Bellingham International Airport. Or, it’s a two and a half to three-hour drive from Seattle. Mt. Baker’s secluded nature, coupled with its extraordinary Pacific Northwest views, make it the perfect venue for a real, local ski experience.
Whitefish Mountain Resort, Montana
Whitefish Mountain Resort lives up to Montana’s reputation of wide open spaces and rich skiing history. Since opening day in 1947, the “Big Mountain” has grown to offer more than 3,000 acres of skiing on 113 marked trails. Skiers and riders can enjoy bowl skiing, tree skiing, night skiing, and so much more. The summit of Whitefish sits at 6,817 feet, and the resort’s longest run, Hell Fire, stretches more than two and a half miles, making it a great way to end your day before après-ski.
Glacier International Airport in Kalispell is just 20 minutes from Whitefish, and is accessible by direct flight from Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York City, and more. While you’re visiting Whitefish, stop by Glacier National Park, just 30 minutes to the east. Or, if views of the iconic national park from the top of the mountain are satisfying enough, spend the day in the town of Whitefish and experience a mountain town that has so much more to offer than just skiing.
Mount Bohemia, Michigan
Mount Bohemia, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is a hidden gem of the Midwest. Located 39 miles from Houghton County Memorial Airport, this mountain will challenge what you think about Midwest ski resorts. In fact, a majority of its terrain is off piste, for advanced or expert skiers only, as Mount Bohemia does not groom. Mount Bohemia is known for its steep slopes, cliff bands, tree-covered glades, and exposed rocky terrain; yes, we’re still talking about a ski area in the Midwest. The small but mighty Mount Bohemia only runs 2 chairlifts, yet provides access to 585 skiable acres at a 900-foot vertical drop. Note: Shuttle buses run along these backcountry routes to pick up riders and bring them back to the lift line.
For intermediate skiers looking for a relaxed uncrowded ski resort experience, Mount Bohemia has recently opened Voodoo Mountain, accessible by cat skiing only, and featuring more intermediate terrain. Each ski cat sits 18 people in a cab, transporting skiers and riders for off-piste laps, with incredible views of Lake Superior, from the top of the mountain to the bottom. As it expands, Voodoo hopes to offer more than 2,000 acres of skiable terrain, making Mount Bohemia and Voodoo the second-largest ski area east of the Rocky Mountains.
Whiteface Mountain, New York
Situated in the Adirondacks, five hours from Boston and New York City, Whiteface Mountain in New York offers a mix of challenging trails and stunning views of Lake Placid. It’s a classic East Coast ski resort, as in it can be chilly and icy, but it is home to the East’s highest vertical at 3,430 feet. Plus, as we shared in our article of the best ski resorts for spring skiing, Whiteface Mountain is one of the top ski areas on the East Coast for spring skiing, thanks in part to its 5,000-foot elevation.
Known for hosting the 1980 Winter Olympics, Whiteface Mountain provides a quieter alternative to some of the more popular East Coast ski destinations, allowing for a more relaxed skiing experience. Not to mention its proximity to Lake Placid, which has a rich history, and is dotted with great restaurants and bars. Off the slopes, visit The Olympic Center, or take a spin on the Olympic bobsled track before hitting the Lake Placid après-ski scene. Nearby regional airports include Lake Placid Airport (just a few minutes outside of town), Adirondack Regional Airport (16 miles from Lake Placid), or Plattsburgh International Airport (40 miles from Lake Placid, with bus and car services to the mountain).
Mad River Glen, Vermont
Escape the crowded slopes of mainstream resorts and head to Mad River Glen in Vermont for an authentic skiing experience. Known for its challenging terrain and unique cooperative ownership, Mad River Glen limits the number of skiers, ensuring a more intimate and relaxed atmosphere. Operated ‘by skiers, for skiers,’ no snowboarding is allowed here; however, that’s particularly why many East Coasters like it. It helps keep the crowds down and the lift lines short.
Mad River Glen is another small but mighty ski area offering up cliff drops, tree runs, and a community feel that you won’t find like this on any multi-resort pass. The single chair is one of its main attractions, leading to terrain with vertical that is not to be messed with, even by Western standards. In fact, we recently named it one of the best East Coast ski resorts for powder skiing. After skiing, hit the pub for a beer tasting or sign up for a late-night snowshoe. Discover why Mad River Glen is a favorite among New England ski enthusiasts.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Vermont
Smugglers’ Notch, aka Smuggs, is another independently-owned Vermont gem, featuring 1,000 acres of skiable terrain, 8 chairlifts, 78 trails, and plenty of room to take the traditional Vermont ski experience. Smuggs, as it’s called by many, is known as one of the most family-friendly ski resorts in the East. There are plenty of activities for non-ski days, including ice skating, swimming, snow tubing, and more. Even some for adults, like the nearby Smugglers’ Notch Distillery and Boyden Valley Winery, and many quaint boutique shops and fun dining experiences. The family resort is 35 miles from the Burlington International Airport, making it close enough to Vermont’s capital to feel a little metropolitan while still holding on to its family atmosphere.
As winter beckons, these uncrowded ski resorts across the U.S. invite winter enthusiasts to trade the hustle and bustle for authentic mountain experiences. No long lift lines here. Whether in the heart of New England, the Midwest, or the stunning landscapes of the West, these uncrowded ski areas promise solitude, untracked powder, and a chance to escape the crowds while embracing the beauty of winter on the slopes.
Header image: © Sun Valley Resort