Best Secret Ski Towns for a Winter Getaway4 min read
Finding the perfect ski resort that offers everything you need from fresh powder to tasty hot cocoa is pretty easy when there are so many well-known, famous resorts throughout the world. But if you are looking for a great resort minus the huge masses of tourists, finding the best spot for a winter getaway might be a little harder.
These hidden gems feature all the resort benefits without the throngs of tourists.
Smithers, British Columbia
The new Hankin-Evelyn Backcountry Ski Area found in Smithers, BC has the potential to upend the ski industry. The new ski area features no lifts, cut backcountry runs, and a warming hut. The area is great for diehard skiing fans, with narrow, twisting lower runs in the forest that are perfect for backcountry beginners. You’ll also find fast access to alpine areas for experts, a unique experience from what you typically see at popular resorts. Smithers also has a friendly downtown area that has tons of ski shops and local merchants to explore in your downtime. There are cabins for a more remote, backcountry experience; but if you are looking for regular lodging, locals suggest the Stork’s Nest Inn.
Skiing in Africa? Yes, it’s possible and Oukaimeden is the perfect way to cross an African skiing adventure off your bucket list. After exploring the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh, which is about 50 miles north of Oukaimeden, head up the High Atlas mountains to one of several hotels around the resort. Oukaimeden has the distinction of being the highest ski resort in Africa, with several runs starting above 10,000 feet. Ski rentals and lift tickets are very affordable, but don’t expect the same quality you’ll find in Europe or the United States if you decide to rent. Consider skiing down the mountain on the same type of skis your parents used back in the 1980s all part of the adventure. You’ll also find sledding runs for the whole family to enjoy.
If you’re the type of freerider who loves off-piste, ungroomed powder, Krippenstein is what you’re looking for. You’ll find miles of slopes and ski routes served by 7 lifts — and the best part is the minimal crowds. And the fun doesn’t stop at skiing and snowboarding: There are plenty of opportunities to indulge all of your winter sports desires, from snow shoe hikes and snow camping to ice climbs and paragliding. Since many of the trails are off the beaten path, your best bet is to hire one of the many reputable guides in the area to help you find your way and avoid avalanches.
Philipsburg, an old Montana mining town with a population of 820, is a great ski town waiting to happen. The only thing missing from this little village are the crowds. Discovery, Philipsburg’s own ski area, is noted as one of the best under-the-radar ski areas in the Northern Rockies. What it lacks in big resort amenities, it makes up for with its incredible runs. The backside of the mountain is columned with black and double-black plunges for the most advanced of skiers, while the frontside has a dozen runs that are more than suitable for both beginners and families. When it comes to off-the-mountain activities, take a trip to the Philipsburg Brewing Company for some delicious brews or stop by a pond hockey game under the lights of the Winninghoff Park ice rink. And when you are all tired out from a day of fun, retire for the evening at the historical Philipsburg Broadway Hotel.
Saas Fee, Switzerland
The ski area in Saas Fee, Switzerland can be found among the highest mountains in the Swiss Alps. Reaching the highest-altitude in the Alps, Saas Fee has one of the region’s longest ski seasons, with some of the most reliable snow conditions too. With such a great snow season, it is rare to ever have to wait in a lift line. Most of the terrain is primarily beginner friendly and gentle, attracting a more laid-back crowd of skiers. There are plenty of activities other than skiing offered in the area, giving you plenty of off-the-slope options. While there are several beautiful hotels in Saas Fee to choose from, the Hotel Allalin is one of the top-rated hotels in the region.
It is no secret that Colorado is the spot for winter sports lovers. There are countless resorts throughout the northern half of the state and they are all incredibly popular. But sandwiched between the resorts at Vail and Boulder, you can find the hidden gem that is Fraser, Colorado. Known as being a humble, affordable ski town existing in the shadows of a premier ski area, Fraser is less than 5 miles away from the Winter Park Resort which offers two mountains for your skiing pleasure. Winter Park is the mountain meant for beginners, while Mary Jane is reserved for more advanced skiers. When visiting Fraser, locals suggest the Devil’s Thumb Ranch as the perfect winter getaway spot, only 12 minutes from Fraser.