Every resort throughout the world holds a special place for someone. And in North America, there are those that stand out among the crowd. Not just because of their snowpack, but because they offer a little something different than most. Making the choice to visit one of the many unique resorts out there can seem like a never-ending search. Luckily for you, we’ve got our top 10 suggestions for some of the most unique ski resort vacations around.
Each one offers something different that you can’t find at other resorts, like when you find that pack of cookies you love so much but can only get in one place. Or like how you can only find that beloved San Francisco bread bowl at Boudin’s in, well, San Francisco. Sure, other restaurants sell them but they will never compare to the original……You get it. But, we’re starting to get a little off topic here. These resorts hold something special about them, which is why they all made the list. From incredible vertical drops, to Read on to discover some of the most amazing ski resort destinations you’ll want to visit right now!
Close your eyes for a second. Now breathe in and out. Can you hear that? The great sound of nothing is all around you because you’re more than likely one of the only people riding down the mountain. Silverton is a magnificent resort that’s not for the weary. Featuring 69 runs, base elevation of 10,400 ft, and a lift-serviced vertical drop of 1,900 feet there’s a lot of room to roam.
The resort, which only has one chairlift, is unlike any typical experience skiers will experience. The only chairlift on the resort takes guests into a high alpine environment and is specifically geared towards advanced and expert skiers. On average, Silverton caps the number of unguided skiers to 475 a day, and usually sees less than 80 on the mountain!
Opened in 2002, this extreme and adventurous ski resort is hyperaware of how careful people need to be while navigating such steep and wild terrain. Each skier is required to carry an avalanche beacon, probe pole, and shovel. Rentals for this equipment are available on the mountain and guided tours, as well as heli-skiing, are available. The soul of skiing at Silverton is alive and well, making it the perfect getaway for those who are looking for an extreme challenge. It’s also the best place for individuals who would rather set up a tent and enjoying the crisp chill of the air over staying in a lodge. This resort is truly unique in the demands it has for skiers, but people are ready to meet them head on every time.
Anyone looking for deep snowpacks and steep terrain (though maybe not as steep as Silverton) are in luck at Alyeska. Skiing in Alaska is an incredible experience, thanks to the expansive terrain in and outside of every ski resort. And there are a few differences you’ll notice right away when you’re there, including how late in the day lifts begin to operate. You won’t see them start running until 11 am and they typically stop around 6 pm. Since there’s plenty of light during the winter there, it’s no surprise that the times are just a little different than most.
In the spring, snow might be starting to peter out across the U.S. but the same can’t be said for Alyeska. Snow is still freezing cold and will continue to pile up, so you’ll still get the benefit of deep snow well outside of the “traditional” ski season.
Alyeska holds a lot of frontier-esque qualities about it, drawing people in year after year. Guests can see the ocean from the peaks of the resort and also sleep at sea level, which isn’t something you can normally do. Before you even get to Alyeska, everyone has the opportunity to view iceberg floes and whale sightings, because the highway runs parallel to an incredible sea inlet. Even if you’re only visiting for a few days you’re getting more than you bargained for. No two resorts are alike, and Alyeska is definitely a wild, beautiful, and impressive one that you’ll fall in love with.
Mad River Glen, Vermont
There’s nothing mad about Mad River Glen, except for maybe those who didn’t pack enough clothes for their stay! Similar to Alta and Deer Valley resorts in Utah, Mad River doesn’t allow snowboarders on the slopes. And while that is quite the tragedy, there’s so much more to this amazing ski resort vacation that meets the eye. Known for being a “place where skiing is still a sport, not an industry” Mad River Glen keeps the spirit of skiing alive through unconventional means. Instead of being owned by a larger corporation, it’s owned by a co-op. People can still buy in for $2,000 a share and owners receive 15% off of lift tickets and season passes! Talk about a way to keep entrepreneurial endeavors thriving.
Through decisions made by the co-op, the resort has been steadily updated over the last 10 years but again they maintain a level of “old school” traditions other resorts tend to stray from. They have kept the charm and feel of everything on the mountain as it was way back when even down to an old single chair that used to run on diesel fuel. Instead of replacing it, they decided to convert it into electricity so that guests could experience something new! Guests can feel the vibrant passion of staying true to the nature of the mountain, through quirky (and perhaps defiant?) moves like this one. If you want to take a true stroll down memory lane, ski great powder and take a break from “traditional” ski resorts then you’ll want to book a trip to Mad River Glen when you can!
Snow King, WY
When someone thinks of resorts in Wyoming the first name that might come to mind is Jackson Hole. While it’s true that Jackson Hole is one of the most popular places in the area, people tend to overlook Snow King where guests can go to avoid some of the larger crowds.
Known as one of many “town hills,” Snow King truly takes the cake when it comes to its slopes. They not only skirt the town of Jackson, but they drop right into the heart of Jackson. If it were a fresh powder day and no one shoveled their driveways, technically you could just ski right up to your favorite dining spot. How incredible would that be?
The resort doesn’t have any beginner slopes and sixty percent of the mountain is rated expert so newbies need not apply! Not to say there aren’t other areas for those who aren’t as adventurous to take advantage of. While not the most family-friendly ski resort Snow King still proves itself to be a worthy destination for snow-lovers ready for a unique vacation. And you’re not going to want to miss exciting features about the resort, like a 1,571-foot vertical drop, night skiing 6 days a week and an ice climbing park.
For those new to Snow King, locals and true fans of the resort feel that “skinning the King” is the best way to experience the mountain. Going uphill rather than down is its own experience, but one that has certain rules. Their resort holds a very strict uphill policy, requiring that all travelers must display their pass or ticket on their person. During operating hours, everyone is required to stay on the approved uphill routes, allowing more people to enjoy their “skinning” rather than take a chairlift. This respect for the ultimate skiing experience is greatly appreciated and why Snow King might be the place you set your sights on for a different, but just as enjoyable time while in Wyoming.
Revelstoke, BC Canada
Though it’s been open since 2007, Revelstoke is still just a tiny baby ski area next to the rest of the major resorts in North America. But that’s where the little comparisons end because it features the greatest vertical drop (5,620 ft), an average snowfall of 34 ft., and 3,121 acres of gladded terrain. It’s enough to make your eyes tear up just a bit, isn’t it?
Revelstoke offers up many of the same things you’ll find at larger ski resorts: great dining, mountain tours, and a Ski School to help you own your skiing abilities. But they differ in the fact that they plan on being even larger than life. They want to continue growing the size of their skiable acreage (to an incredible 10,000 acres), while also maintaining a boutique type feel similar to that of Telluride. It’s a big feat, to say the least, but Revelstoke is all about going for the gold. You can sit in the lap of luxury at this resort and make bold ski moves on the snow at this ski vacation spot that’s pulling out all the stops.
Copper Mountain, Colorado
Resorts far and wide are always looking for better ways to accommodate their guests. That’s why they spend a lot of time remodeling or adding new buildings and activities to the list of enjoyable “amenities” to take advantage of. One of the best things about Copper Mountain is that it has a year-round snowboarding camp known as Woodward Copper. And while some might scratch their heads as to why it stays open all year, die-hard snow fans know how this benefits everyone.
The Woodward Copper Barn, a 19,400-square-foot indoor training facility, caters to all those who want to keep their skills sharp for the ski and snowboard season. There are skate parks, Olympic-grade trampolines, foam pit jumps, indoor ski/snowboard training and more! Imagine a giant playground for kids and adults alike, and you’ve essentially envisioned what the inside of the building looks like.
Whether you’re interested in perfecting on or off-hill training, you’ll have plenty of room and opportunity to do so through day or weeklong camps. Their state-of-the-art training tools can help you achieve your goals. No matter what your age is, guests at Copper Mountain can achieve their dreams, find personal growth and realize their full potential. So while you’re there this season you can take advantage of Woodward Copper and help yourself (or the younger skiers in your life) by booking a session or two. The experience will be one you won’t be able to find anywhere else and why we had to choose this location as one of the most unique among North American Resorts.
Banff, Alberta, Canada
Ok. So the town of Banff isn’t technically a ski resort in its own right, but it made the list because of what’s around it. Banff is an intriguing destination to choose and sits within the massive Banff National Park. Visitors will find curving roads that display breathtaking mountain views from every angle. But the best part about Banff is its proximity to not just one, but three epic ski resorts that are extremely close to one another. Not to mention the 15+ peaks and mountain areas in the same location.
To truly wrap your head around Banff skiing, it’s best to break down the three locations that they are known for: Norquay, Banff Sunshine, and the Lake Louise Ski Area. What a mouthful, huh? You won’t have a lot of time to totally digest this, however, because of the number of amazing experiences that are waiting for you are plentiful and need your attention.
At Mt. Norquay, guests are treated to a small, family-friendly resort with the only night skiing in the Banff-Lake Louise area. Its relaxed vibe is a perfect fit for every type of skier and is easily accessible; just a mere 5 minutes away from Banff! Banff Sunshine typically receives the biggest powder dump every year and boasts the longest snow season in the Rocky Mountains. Every gondola ride holds majestic views and best skiing conditions around. Lake Louise is every pow-lover’s dream! The runs are exceptional and the resort is just the spot for intermediate and advanced skiers and riders to explore. After all, you’ve got 4,200 acres of skiable terrain to see so you’ll be busy for quite some time.
Each of the three resorts gives adventurers the chance to purchase SkiBig3 Lift Tickets. This incredible pass allows you to easily ride all three resorts and give you the best bang for your buck. Benefits of purchasing the ticket extend well beyond the slope, so you can take advantage of incredible deals and discounts on dining, gear rentals, spa treatments and more!
Diamond Peak, Nevada
Diamond Peak is a fantastic stop for families who include the kids on all the winter fun. They have the fourth longest vertical drop at Lake Tahoe, 655 skiable acres, and seven lifts; one being exclusive to the Child Ski School Programs. The School House beginner chair services a run of the same name for those building up their skills. Even the towers have been shortened, so young riders and beginners are never higher than 15 feet off the ground. Unloading and loading ramps are also mellow so that kids can feel confident when they’re on the mountain.
Adults and those who want challenging terrain can find plenty of options for them as well as two terrain parks. Starting this ski season (2018-2019) guests can head over to The Village Terrain Park, which will be accessible from all areas of the mountain. Master your skills and explore more of Diamond Peak while you’re at it! For more nonstop fun off the mountain, guests can visit The Incline Village, which is a 5-minute drive from the entrance of the resort. You can hit up casinos like the historic Crystal Bay Club, eat at an assortment of delicious ethnic and lake-front dining, or peak inside of the specialty boutique stores!
Brundage Mountain, Idaho
For the “Best Snow in Idaho”, you must make a trip to Brundage Mountain. No, really! It’s a part of their slogan and it makes sense that they get to boast this fact. Their powder-packed glades are constantly and neatly groomed and 320 inches of annual snowfall make them the ideal spot to ski at.
The resort also offers guided backcountry trips on 18,000 acres for the thrill-seekers and action junkies to traverse. Guests don’t have to wait long for chairlifts, as their lift capacity moves close to 7,900 per hour. It’s a tall order and one they meet well because the independently owned resort isn’t about taking corners when delivering the best for their guests.
Beginner skiers can rest assured that there will be slopes they can conquer too in either the Easy Street or Beartopia Family Fun Zone. Easy Street, in particular, has incredibly wide groomed runs and is the perfect place for new shredders big and small to try out. The Learn to Ski + Ride experience at Brundage is also elevate-no pun intended- because lift tickets are completely free on the Easy Rider conveyor and Easy Street Triple Chair.
Brundage Mountain is unique for many reasons, but none more than how the true spirit of skiing has been woven into the very fabric of their history. In the early 1900s, the townspeople of McCall were fortunate enough to be the home of a few big dreamers. Businessmen Warren Brown, Jack Simplot and Norwegian ski champion Corey Engen had a mission to create a bigger ski mountain for everyone close to town. Their vision became realized in 1961 after two years of researching, planning and arranging financing to secure a premier spot for the resort. Since then, skiers and snowboarders have found the light, deep powder at Brundage to be some of the best the state of Idaho has to offer. In modern times, descendants of Warren Brown continue the legacy that was left behind, providing a friendly ski atmosphere you’ll truly enjoy.
Squaw Valley, CA
Some would say that it’s not fair how many amazing ski areas exist around Lake Tahoe, while locals think it’s the best thing about the place they call home. It’s not their fault they hit a geographical gold mine (figuratively speaking of course). Squaw Valley or “Squallywood” as some people have dubbed it, has long been a place of wonder and winter delight. It offers abundant snow, sunny, clear days and has some astounding views to see, specifically when traveling on their aerial tram ride. The tram soars 2,000 feet above the ground and gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire mountain.
Few resorts offer the kind of deep pow turns and wide open groomers that Squaw Valley does. It’s just one of the many reasons why they are incredibly proud of the type of experience they’ve maintained over the years. From luxurious spa treatments to magical dining and apres, Squaw is a paradise for skiers everywhere. Freestyle skiers from around the world have made it their home, and who knows? You might too. The atmosphere is that tantalizing! Experience 6 mountain peaks and more than 170 trails while at Squaw Valley and maybe even visit towns like Truckee, which has some pretty great vibes to extend the feeling you get when you’re on the mountain.
Have you made your mind up on where you’ll go this season? The possibilities are endless, as is the deep, beautiful snow at these resorts. There are plenty of options out there, but the resorts on this list offer a top experience that makes your ski vacation that much more enjoyable!