Laid-Back Ski Towns Having All the Powder + Half the Crowds

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Offers a unique blend of Old West charm and winter sports excitement.

Steamboat Springs offers a unique blend of Old West charm and winter sports excitement. Its lower elevation aspen-covered slopes provide an accessible yet exhilarating ski experience.

The town surprises with a culinary scene offering everything from inventive breakfasts to authentic French cuisine.

The iconic Fish Creek Falls and the indulgent hot springs, like Old Town and Strawberry Park, are perfect for relaxation, making Steamboat a must-visit destination for both adventure and leisure.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Offering a retreat with over 80 trails and abundant snow without the hassle of crowded lift lines.

Santa Fe, America's second-oldest city, is a surprising summer destination that doubles as a hidden gem for winter sports.

Just 16 miles from the heart of the city, Ski Santa Fe offers a retreat with over 80 trails and abundant snow without the hassle of crowded lift lines.

The city itself is a treasure trove of cultural experiences, from the avant-garde Meow Wolf to the educational New Mexico History Museum, not to mention the opportunity to sample unparalleled upscale Mexican cuisine at Sazón.

With the Palace of the Governors as a backdrop for authentic Native American crafts, Santa Fe promises a rich blend of history, art, and outdoor adventure.

Marquette, Michigan

A vibrant community on the edge of Lake Superior, combines frigid charm with a warm social scene, boasting exceptional restaurants and craft breweries.

While Marquette Mountain's ski hill may be modest in size, with a 600-foot vertical rise and three chairlifts, it impresses with steep runs and an annual snowfall exceeding 200 inches.

The area is a haven for cross-country skiing with extensive trails, but the true local passion lies in its 75 miles of groomed trails for fat tire biking—a testament to the hearty spirit of the "Yoopers."

The town's breweries, like Blackrocks Brewery and Ore Dock Brewing Company, offer a haven for beer aficionados. This college town also offers a plethora of snug dive bars, ensuring a warm, welcoming experience after a day in the snow.

Tahoe City, California

This lakeside village, animated in summer with water sports enthusiasts, transforms into a winter wonderland.

Surrounding Lake Tahoe, a quaint hamlet offers a serene retreat from the more bustling towns and ski resorts.

The town, with its pier and Fanny Bridge, offers enchanting nighttime views. Families can enjoy the sledding hill and ice rink at the Winter Sports Park, while Rosie’s Café provides a cozy backdrop for comfort food among antiques.

Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge offers the perfect blend of Irish coffee, fresh fish tacos, and rustic-chic accommodation, complete with romantic views of the lake.

A brief drive away, Homewood Mountain Resort's slopes seem to cascade into the lake, offering thrilling ski runs just 10 minutes from the tranquility of the town.

Sugar Mountain, North Carolina

This pristine destination is optimal for skiing, snowboarding, tubing, ice skating, and snowshoeing from late November to early March.

The Southeastern US might not be famed for its ski slopes, yet North Carolina defies expectations with its winter offerings.

About 90 minutes from Asheville's breweries, Sugar Mountain emerges from the Pisgah National Forest at 4,432 feet.

With a yearly blanket of up to 78 inches of snow, it covers 125 acres of terrain, featuring 21 slopes and boasting the largest vertical drop in the Blue Ridge Mountains at 1,200 feet.

For those seeking a festive atmosphere, the annual SugarFest in December presents a perfect time to experience the mountain's wintry charm.

Cedar City, Utah

Offering a serene skiing experience with fewer crowds and breathtaking views next to the red cliffs and hoodoos of Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Southern Utah may not be a typical destination for ski enthusiasts, but Brian Head Resort stands out as the state's loftiest ski area with a base elevation of 9,600 feet.

Just 30 miles away, Cedar City shines with holiday lights and is a hub for festivals and cultural events, boasting a year-round farmers market and culinary gems like I/G Winery and Centro Woodfired Pizzeria.

Besides alpine skiing, the area invites visitors to enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and ice-skating. The vicinity to Zion National Park offers the bonus of potentially warm weather and quiet trails, even in peak winter months.

Lead-Deadwood, South Dakota

Spanning 450 acres, caters to all levels of skiers with its varied slopes, from beginner-friendly to challenging black diamond runs.

Equipped with five chairlifts, a freestyle terrain park, a half-pipe, and 29 trails, it's a full-featured ski destination that also offers lessons.

Its relative obscurity as a ski location means that visitors can enjoy the slopes without the crowds.

The local town of Lead offers more than just skiing—it's a place of curious contrasts, housing a reportedly haunted opera house, one of the world's only two neutrino reactors, and saloons that serve a unique clientele of locals and scientists alike.

Nearby, the historic town of Deadwood provides a Wild West backdrop with its 120-year-old streets, and Spearfish Canyon offers additional winter activities, further cementing this area as a hidden gem for winter sports and cultural intrigue.

Government Camp, Oregon

A quaint alpine village nestled at about 4,000 feet elevation near Portland, offers an intimate community with a big presence in the ski world.

Just a short distance from Mt. Hood's premier ski resorts—Meadows, Timberline, Skibowl, and Summit—it is the essence of a ski town. Après-ski life includes savoring a fresh Ice Axe IPA at Mt.

Hood Brewing, enjoying a hearty prime rib meal at Charlie's Mountain View, or indulging in a famous Ratskeller pizza.

Accommodations range from snug A-frame cabins to the more luxurious chalets at Collins Lake Resort.

The village's charm is further enhanced by its location amidst the majestic Mt. Hood National Forest, offering a picturesque setting west of Bend that's hard to match.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Offering a striking departure from the state’s desert stereotype, flourishing under the San Francisco Peaks with Snowbowl, the state’s largest ski resort.

This winter haven includes a high-speed gondola and cozy lodges. Beyond the slopes, Flagstaff reveals its charm with establishments like Mother Road Brewing Company and the inviting boutiques of its historic downtown.

Pizzicletta serves up some of Arizona’s finest pizza, while the Arizona Nordic Village presents expansive trails for cross-country skiing.

As the world's first International Dark Sky City, Flagstaff also promises unparalleled stargazing, whether from the peak of a challenging run or the warmth of a yurt, making it a remarkable destination for both terrestrial and celestial enjoyment.

Stowe, Vermont

Embody the Northeastern ski town fantasy, nestled on the slopes of Mount Mansfield.

At Stowe Mountain Resort, skiers of all levels enjoy top-tier trails, from gentle beginner slopes to exhilarating double-diamond runs. However, Stowe transcends skiing, embodying the essence of Vermont with its classic New England charm and an impressive array of local beers.

It's the birthplace of The Alchemist brewery, creators of the famed Heady Topper, and von Trapp Brewing, with a lineage straight from the "Sound of Music" family, complemented by their picturesque alpine lodge.

Just a stone's throw away, you can find a certain beloved ice cream brand, crafted by local hippies. Stowe is a destination where alpine adventure meets artisanal flair, making it a winter wonderland for both skiers and cultural connoisseurs alike.

Watch Next