The big resorts may have a corner on the skiing industry, but they’re by no means the only – or best – option. There are small and independently owned mountains all over the country that offer something a little different from those famous mega-resorts. And, they could be exactly what you’re looking for in a ski experience.
Check out some of the unique amenities offered by smaller ski areas:
1. Free skis at Sunlight Mountain Resort
Sunlight Mountain is celebrating its 50th anniversary and is giving away a free pair of skis made out of Colorado wood with the purchase of a lift ticket. Small catch – the tickets cost $700 – but, this is one of the mountain’s unique amenities to draw skiers and snowboarders. It also offers 67 trails, no lines, and free parking that’s within walking distance to the slopes.
2. Expert-only conditions at Silverton
If you prefer the thrill of double blacks, backcountry terrain, and you think blue runs are a waste of time, then you’ll wish you had discovered Silverton sooner. This Colorado mountain does not cater to the beginner or intermediate crowd at all. It limits the number of daily visitors and has only a single chairlift that goes to the top of the ungroomed mountain. Guests are required to go out with a guide for most of the season and rent avalanche equipment before heading out.
3. The most snow in Colorado at Wolf Creek
Wolf Creek may not get the same recognition as Vail or Aspen, but this is what makes it such a gem for powder lovers. Not only does Wolf Creek spare you the crowds and long lift lines, but it also gets the most snow in Colorado – 430 inches on average per year. And the resort makes up for its out-of-the-way location in Pagosa Springs by providing access to some of the state’s most famous hot springs, where you can soak after your day on the mountain.
4. Free ski lessons for kids at Lookout Pass
Lookout Pass in Idaho offers free ski or snowboard lessons to first-timers. The “free famous ski school” program is a very popular amenity for the mountain and has provided instruction to 60,000 students over the years. It’s a great opportunity for families to hit the slopes for less.
5. Cookies at Keystone
What better way to warm up than with a freshly baked cookie? Keystone in Colorado offers this homey touch every day at 4 p.m. near the Dercum Square ice rink. Although it’s part of the Kidtopia area of the mountain, there is no age restriction on the free cookie offer.
6. No snowboarders at Mad River Glen in Vermont
If you’re a skiing purist, then you might want to check out Mad River Glen in Vermont. It’s one of the last three hold-outs in the United States to not allow snowboarders on the mountain. Another boast-worthy fact? It’s the only skier-owned mountain in the U.S. What does that mean for you? Low skier density, friendly community, a variety of skier-oriented trails, and natural terrain.
7. Free skiing on your birthday at Sunrise Park Resort
Here’s a special treat you won’t find at most resorts – free skiing on your birthday. Sunrise Park in Southeastern Arizona will give you a free lift ticket for the day when you show a valid ID with your birth date. The only downside is that you need to have a winter birthday to take advantage of this offer.
8. Breweries near Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort
Mt. Bachelor in Oregon is the place to go if you like treating yourself to a craft beer after a day of shredding. The mountain gets an average of 463 inches of snow a year, but if that wasn’t enough, it’s also just 20 miles from the town of Bend, Oregon. Known for having the highest brewery per capita ratio in the U.S., this town is home to 22 microbreweries, including the award-winning Deschutes.
We hope this inspires you to broaden your skiing horizons and check out some new areas. But wherever you go, be sure to browse our site, full of Ski Coupons, first, to find the best deals on all your lift tickets and ski passes.