It’s officially the holiday season, meaning for the next few weeks it’s now socially acceptable to mix rum with whipped eggs and bulldoze complete strangers to save $30 on a blender from Walmart (sometimes in that order).
It also means that every skier or snowboarder who has ever gone downhill on frozen water will be looking to flock to the mountains to clog up lift lines and just generally cause mayhem.
But luckily, there are resorts throughout the country the masses tend to overlook.
So if you’re looking to get some turns in this holiday season without losing your sanity, give these spots a look instead of their more popular neighbors that tend to attract an endless amount of gapers:
June Mountain: June Lake, California
Frequently overlooked for nearby Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain is a favorite of people living in California’s Eastern Sierra looking to avoid the crowds that Mammoth attracts.
While it doesn’t boast as steep or as technical terrain as Mammoth, June is nothing to be sneezed at with over 2,600 feet of vertical drop and over 1,500 skiable acres. And though it doesn’t get as much snow as Mammoth annually, when it does get powder, June’s unique relaxed vibe and uncrowded slopes makes it a must-visit.
Wolf Creek Ski Area: Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Trying to find an uncrowded resort in the Centennial State around the holidays is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
Conventional wisdom says that the best way to beat the masses is to venture away from I-70 to places like Crested Butte, Monarch or Sunlight.
While those are all great locales and will undoubtedly have less people in their lift lines around the holidays then, say, Aspen, if you really want to get away look way south to Colorado’s snowiest mountain, Wolf Creek.
Wolf Creek boasts terrain that’s every bit as spectacular as some of the more well-known Colorado resorts, with world-class bowls and chutes scattered throughout its 1,600 skiable acres.
Plus, single day lift tickets are only $66 there, which is way more affordable than other resorts in the state.
Magic Mountain: Londonerry, Vermont
Magic Mountain in Vermont is the very definition of a hidden gem and any chance to visit it is an opportunity to connect with skiing’s simple roots.
Located in southern Vermont, Magic Mountain is home to a much different vibe then at other southern Vermont resorts like Okemo or Mount Snow. While the car commuters from New York City tend to flock to those latter two resorts, Magic remains largely untouched and unknown by outsiders.
But those who do know Magic knows it offers some of the most challenging terrain in all of Vermont. And its no-frills, laid back attitude and $67 single day lift tickets make it a very appealing location for a day of riding.
Powder Mountain: Eden, Utah
Powder Mountain — or “Pow Mow” — has long been a favorite for Utahans looking to avoid the lift lines and snobbery associated with some of the other resorts in the state.
The mountain has been fairly successful at maintaining a low profile to date, though it’s currently undergoing the largest ski expansion in North American history, so who knows how much longer it will retain its “hidden gem” status.
With 7,000 acres of skiable terrain and 500 inches of yearly snowfall, the mountain has more than enough snow to go around, but it’s the mountain’s policy of limiting the amount of lift tickets sold every day to 2,000 that truly helps keep the crowds from congregating at Powder Mountain.
And the best single piece of advice for avoiding lift lines at any of these mountains over the holidays? Go skiing on Christmas and/or New Year’s Day: Everyone will be too busy opening gifts with their family/recovering from their hangovers to get onto the slopes.
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