8 Underrated & Off-Grid Ski Resorts Worth Hitting In The USA This Winter

8 Underrated & Off-Grid Ski Resorts Worth Hitting In The USA This Winter

John McMahon
John McMahon


This article is part of a series celebrating Boss Hunting’s favourite corners of the United States. Click here to see more.

Ski crowd monotony is real. Combine big ticket lift passes and key holiday periods with firing conditions – it’s often hard to guarantee a smooth day on the hill.

The likes of Aspen and Jackson Hole are always a good idea; North America (and the USA specifically) sport some of the wildest and most enticing skiing on earth. But if you’re jonesing for a snowy serenity that’s probably overshadowed by its more popular counterparts, you’ve come to the right place. Think unbounded ski areas, next-to-no lift lines and low-key towns with few designer boutiques in sight.

We’ve scouted ski areas that are either full-time VIP sections of the mountain or resorts you’ve likely overlooked when planning a ski trip to the USA. Whether you’re jonesing for the powdery embrace of Red Lodge, Montana, or the classic cool of California’s Sugar Bowl Resort, these off-grid ski areas offer a retreat for those chasing authenticity and a break from the big mountain ski scene. Winter just got a major upgrade.

Lost Trail Powder Mountain, Montana/Idaho Border

Tucked away on the border of Montana and Idaho, Lost Trail Powder Mountain is a true powder paradise. Despite its impressive snowfall, Lost Trail has somehow stayed off the radar for many skiers. If you crave untracked powder and a laid-back atmosphere, Lost Trail is your spot. The resort’s family-friendly environment and affordable prices only add to its magnetism, making it an excellent choice for a secluded winter getaway.

Lost Trail Powder Mountain straddles the Montana-Idaho border and it’s accessible from both states. You’ll find it approximately 10 miles south of the town of Darby, Montana, along U.S. Highway 93. The nearest airport is Missoula International Airport, and a picturesque drive through mountainous landscapes leads to this hidden powder haven.

Whitecap Mountains Ski Resort, Wisconsin

Nestled in the heart of Wisconsin’s Northwoods, Whitecap Mountains Ski Resort is a quietly unspoiled skiing experience in the Midwest United States. It’s touting a seriously diverse terrain area from easy groomers to hair-raising steeps. A lack of crowds, dialed back “scene” and peaceful slopes provide a strong alternative to the booming resorts of the West.

It’s conveniently accessible by car, located near Upson, Wisconsin, off US Highway 2. For those flying in, the closest major airport is Duluth International Airport, approximately a two-hour drive away. The scenic journey through Wisconsin’s Northwoods adds to the allure of this off-grid destination as a serious place to start for our picks of underrated ski resorts in the USA.

Red Lodge Mountain, Montana

There’s nothing mainstream about Red Lodge, Montana, where wild west charm and fantastic skiing collide. It’s virtually in the middle of nowhere, but with 70 runs across almost 2,000 skiable acres and a vertical drop of 2,400 feet, its remoteness might be its best asset – otherwise, everyone would be here. Tree skiers in particular will love the tight foliage around Red Lodge’s Granite Mountain and Powderfields ski areas.

You’ll find Red Lodge about an hour’s drive southwest of Billings and its international airport. From there, a scenic drive through the Beartooth Mountains brings you to Red Lodge. The town’s proximity to the famous Beartooth Pass offers a stunning route for those driving in. The quaint town complements the ski experience with its welcoming locals and vibrant culture – an undoubtedly unique atmosphere that sets it apart from more commercialised resorts.

Sugar Bowl Resort, California

While not entirely unknown, Sugar Bowl Resort often takes a backseat to the more famous Lake Tahoe resorts in the Sierra Nevada range. However, this historic ski hub boasts a rich history of snowsports and a commitment to preserving its classic alpine charm. With fewer crowds and an emphasis on quality over quantity, Sugar Bowl delivers an authentic ski experience that feels like a step back in time with respect to hype, all while enjoying the modern comforts of a top-notch resort.

Conveniently, Sugar Bowl is quite close to Lake Tahoe, approximately 45 minutes from Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Interstate 80 provides easy access for those driving from Sacramento or the San Francisco Bay Area. The resort’s less-known name but proximity to major transportation hubs makes it a super accessible option for powder hounds on the hunt this winter.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colorado

Crested Butte is another ski area that’s not exactly unknown, but is often left out of the conversation dominated by its more glamorous Colorado counterparts. Renowned for its challenging terrain and vibrant community, Crested Butte is where serious skiers can unlock a quintessentially American snow experience on the backside of a household name like Aspen Snowmass. Its colourfully classic ski town architecture and welcoming atmosphere make it a favourite among those in the know.

You’ll find Crested Butte in the Elk Mountains of Colorado. While it may be a bit remote, the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport offers commercial flights. Alternatively, visitors can fly into Gunnison or Montrose and enjoy a scenic drive to Crested Butte through the stunning mountain landscapes, enhancing the overall adventure.

Telluride Ski Resort, Colorado

We’re sure you’ve heard of Telluride. So have we. But it’s probably unlikely you’ve ever considered making the detour from Aspen or Vail, which is why you’re finding it in this article. Loved for its authentic mountain character, unpretentious attitude and unique geography, Telluride is worth a look if you’re trying to zig when everyone else zags.

The trifecta of challenging terrain, effortless charm, and breathtaking scenery makes you wonder how it’s so often overshadowed by its high-profile neighbours in the Colorado Rockies. You’ll find Telluride in a box canyon, so there’s only one way in and out of town: it’s surrounded on three sides by mountains, two of which are 13,000 and 14,000 ft peaks.

The resort is most easily reached by flying into Montrose Regional Airport, followed by a scenic 100km drive to the town. The breathtaking scenery along the route serves as a tantalising teaser to the natural beauty that awaits visitors in this hidden corner of the San Juan Mountains.

Mount Hood Meadows, Oregon

You’d be forgiven for gravitating towards the likes of Utah and Colorado when considering a snow holiday to the USA. While Oregon ticks a lot of boxes when summer comes to mind, it’s worth giving it the time of day for the winter months, too.

Mount Hood Meadows cops an average annual snowfall of 27 feet and offers excellent conditions a stone’s throw from Portland. The mountain is gloriously imposing on the landscape and the views from the chairlift are worth the side mission from the city alone. As for crowds and value – it really just depends on when you visit. Consider its inclusion on this list as a reminder that the Pacific Northwest has a few cracking spots up its sleeve, if you can be tempted away from the usual hotspots.

Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

Australian visitors often forget that southwestern states such as New Mexico have a wildly varied climate, making them worthy of a visit on both ends of the seasonal scale. New Mexico’s Taos Ski Valley in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, at the southern base of the Rockies, offers some seriously high-altitude snow well away from the peak season popularity of Colorado. Kachina Peak, one of the resort’s highlights, offers breathtaking panoramic views and thrilling descents. 

At the core of Taos’ unique character is its intentional limiting of development in the area. The charming village at the base of the mountain provides a more intimate experience and the adobe-style architecture makes it a standout destination not only for skiing but also for its cultural appeal. 

This article is sponsored by VisitTheUSA.com.au and is part of a series celebrating Boss Hunting’s favourite corners of the United States. Click here to see more, and thank you for supporting the brands that support Boss Hunting.

John McMahon
John McMahon is a founding member of the Boss Hunting team who honed his craft by managing content across website and social. Now, he's the publication's General Manager and specialises in bringing brands to life on the platform.



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