5 EXCELLENT SKI RESORTS IN THE US (OUTSIDE OF COLORADO)
So. For the past few years, your ski trips have all looked sort of the same. You and your buddies strap all your boards on top of a jeep. You buy enough beef jerky and Dr. Pepper for the long road trip. You throw a nice playlist together that you all can agree on, and you begin the drive out to Summit County. And, it’s always been pretty sweet.
There, you’ve always found enough to keep everyone satisfied. Those who want mainstream and those who want the well-kept secrets. Those who like wide open terrain and those who like backcountry trails. Colorado offers everything from Vale to Aspen to Telluride to Steamboat. And maybe that’s why you’ve never even considered looking elsewhere.
In this article, we will talk about five excellent ski resorts in the US but outside of Colorado. These resorts are still out west, so they may not shorten your drive (or flight) if you are coming from the east. They just add to your options of potential future trips. Hopefully, they’ll give you an open mind and a few great ideas.
For starters, let’s talk about:
1. Grand Targhee Resort, WYOMING
Known as the “Equality state,” Wyoming has a lot of great skiing and snowboarding to offer. Some of the more well-known resorts include Jackson Hole and Teton Village. There are also Alta, Centennial, and Snow King, among others. One great hill that you may hear mentioned with those names is a place called Grand Targhee Resort.
Grand Targhee is situated just west of the heart of Wyoming’s Teton range, offering spectacular views of the world-renowned Teton Mountains. It is known for having quality snow, no lift lines, and being the home of Wyoming’s only cat skiing. You won’t find any other place in the country with such a low skier to off-trail-powder ratio either. This truly is the place for those who hate crowds and love untracked powder.
Grand Targhee offers 2600 skiable acres, has 96 runs, and 5 lifts. There are 2270 feet of vertical drop on slopes that receive an annual snowfall of 500 inches -- a lot of which is advanced terrain. But, Targhee is not a place for experts only. There are a variety of trails for all levels and a large area designated to kids and beginners.
We should also mention that Grand Targhee’s prices are fairly reasonable in comparison to a lot of Colorado’s top destinations. For an adult to ski for a full day, a lift ticket is just $85. To ski a half day, that price drops down to $68. Or, if you were to buy a season pass, your total would be $1219.
As you can tell, we highly recommend Grand Targhee Ski Resort. But not just for its light, deep, and consistent powder (or the fact that it isn’t too crowded). Nor, because of its advanced terrain or its excellent variety of backcountry trails. Nor, for its gorgeous scenery, its low prices, or its universal appeal to skiers of all levels. We recommend it for all of these reasons.
2. Bridger Bowl Ski Area, MONTANA
Directly north of Grand Targhee, there is a good deal more mountainous terrain in the state of Montana. Also known as the “Treasure State” (Or Big Sky Country), Montana hosts many resorts that are definitely worthy of mention. Perhaps the most well known is “Big Sky” ski resort. You also have Whitefish, Red Lodge, and Bozeman. And, let’s not forget Bridger Bowl.
Bridger Bowl is a resort that many reviewers have described as “beautiful and breathtaking.” Many others have called it a “great, affordable family experience.” People have also commented on its staff being friendly, super polite, and gracious hosts. Combine all that with a chill, uncrowded environment, and you have all the ingredients needed for a fantastic experience!
Bridger Bowl has something for everyone. It has beginner runs and expert runs. There is a lot of steep, challenging terrain to provide you with hours of exploring and adventure. There usually aren’t long lift lines. And, the lifts carry you slowly over magnificent scenery, giving you time to catch your breath, reflect, and ponder life.
Here is what you can expect at Bridger Bowl: You’ll find about 2000 acres of terrain and 2700 feet of vertical drop. You’ll find a total of 11 lifts (including 1 quad and 6 triples). Two miles of ridgeline terrain syphon down to a single base area. There is a lot of expert terrain that attracts connoisseurs from around the globe, as well as a great beginner area for those who are still learning the sport. And, you’ll find everything inbetween.
Nearby, you have Yellowstone National Park. And, Big Sky Ski Resort (if you’d like some skiing diversity). The town of Bozeman is just 16 miles away, providing air travel accessibility, restaurants, and some great accommodations.
One other thing you’ll love about Bridger Bowl is its pricing. Everything we’ve mentioned comes in a pretty affordable package. A full day lift ticket for an adult is just $60. A half day adult lift ticket is $51. And, if you want season passes, that will only cost you $825. Are you ready to give Bridger Bowl a try? We think you won’t regret it!
3. Sun Valley Ski Resort, IDAHO
A little further west, we find Sun Valley Ski Resort. Located in the great state of Idaho, otherwise known as “The Gem State,” it is home to some world class skiing that often gets overlooked. You have Tamarack, Bogus Basin, and Schweitzer Mountain. You also have Lookout Pass and Brundage Mountain. Each of these have unique qualities that make them distinct in their own ways. But, perhaps the greatest is Sun Valley Resort.
Sun Valley is located in Ketchum, Idaho. To give you an idea of where that is, it would take you almost twelve hours driving northwest if you were to leave from Summit County, Colorado. If you were coming from some place out east, such as New York, it adds roughly 2 hours to your flight. Is it worth it? Yes.
Not only will a trip to Sun Valley expand your horizons, it will offer you an experience that is both up-market and low-key. Maybe, the perfect balance! And, it has the vibes of both a cowboy wild-west town and a European destination. Is it hard to picture the two combined? That’s why it’s worth experiencing.
Sun Valley also has a rich history that is worth mentioning. The first chairlift was invented there. And, it was actually the first ski-resort destination in the United States. Also, film producer Warren Miller played a role in giving the destination fame.
As for what the hill is like, Sun Valley has 2154 acres of skiable terrain to explore. Its vertical drop is roughly 2400 feet too, giving you a fair amount of distance to descend. The resort’s main mountain, Bald Mountain, has 12 modern lifts, including a gondola and some high speed quads. There are plenty of double black diamond runs, blacks, greens, and blues. However, it has been said that the way these trails are labeled is a bit confusing. So, you might want to talk to a staff member to find out more about the routes you plan on taking.
All in all, it is a great place for intermediate skiers. It is known for being well-groomed and having plenty of long runs with a consistent pitch/grade. The lifts are good as well, which is a thing people commonly complain about at other resorts. You’ll find a charming, gentle atmosphere that is full of great amenities and facilities, including some nice lodges and restaurants. Add it to your list of places to visit. You won’t be disappointed.
4. Solitude Mountain, UTAH
Utah is another state that has some great (but overlooked) skiing. You have Snowbird, Park City, and Shadow Ridge. You also have Deer Valley, Alta, and Snow Basin. But, let’s not forget about Solitude -- a beautiful slice of heaven in the north central portion of the state.
Like all the other resorts we’ve mentioned so far, this destination too will add a few hours to your drive (or flight) if you are coming from the east. But, there are some reasons why Solitude Mountain is worth visiting. For one, the place is called solitude. And, there is a reason why.
Solitude mountain does not have the crowds that many other resorts see. It is considered a small, local hill. It has excellent views and all different types of terrain, offering a great experience for skiers of all levels.
There is no need to load everybody into the car each morning with their gear either. You have quite a few ski-in ski-out cabins and accommodations on the hill, making it extremely convenient to get on and off the mountain.
The village below is “pedestrian only.” In other words, no cars buzzing by and limiting the space you can walk and congregate in. This alone creates a very nice “European” sort of feel that is bound to add just a touch of charm to your experience.
As for the hill itself, Solitude offers 2030 feet of vertical drop. It has roughly 1200 acres of skiable terrain, 77 different runs (of all different skill levels), and 8 different lifts. Solitude receives an average of 500 inches of snowfall each year as well. For a full day lift pass, you’ll pay $88. For a half day, you’ll pay $71. And, for a season pass, you’ll pay $1199.
5. Heavenly Ski resort CA
If you’re looking for a place that is big, unique, having spectacular views and vibrant night life, then look no further than Heavenly Ski Resort. Situated on the border between California and Nevada, Heavenly overlooks Lake Tahoe. Its giant, ancient pines and its scenic outlook over the lake create a view that is, well… heavenly.
You’ll find 4800 acres of skiable terrain at Heavenly. This large land mass is divided into over 97 trails. There are 3500 ft of vertical drop. Plus, a lot of fast lifts (28 total), including a gondola, some six seaters, and numerous quad chairs.
As for the terrain, you’ll find a lot of tree skiing for intermediate and advanced level skiers to cruise through. The powder on those trails can vary, depending on conditions. But, Heavenly receives an average of 360 inches of snowfall annually. Due to its high elevation, it usually retains a fair amount of that snow. To be on the safe side, however, 60 percent of its trails are equipped with snowmakers.
Many people who visit Heavenly are interested in all that the package offers. Not just the skiing and snowboarding, but the night life and amenities as well. If this includes you, you will not be disappointed. Nearby food, lodging, and entertainment sources are plentiful. You’ll find casinos, bars, clubs, restaurants, and hotels by the handful.
Lift tickets are priced at $80-$115 for an adult day pass. Of course, you’ll pay less than that if you want to ski for just half the day. And, if you happen to have a Vail pass, you can use it at Heavenly for your admission.