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When most people think of skiing or snowboarding in the United States, large resorts with mountainous terrain likely come to mind. Popular places like Aspen, Park City, and Jackson Hole often have scenic views of the peaks, huge amounts of diverse trails, picturesque gondolas or trams, and multiple mountain dining options. However, there are many less obvious ski spots that offer less crowded slopes, the best bang for your buck and, in some cases, pure novelty. Some don’t even require cold weather! Here are a few worth checking out.
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Badger Pass Ski Area: Yosemite National Park, California
Did you know that you can actually ski inside a national park? Yosemite offers a family-friendly ski resort with beginner-friendly terrain. There are only 10 runs and five moving lifts, but that’s enough to have some fun on the slopes. The Badger Pass ski area opened in 1928, making it the oldest ski area in California. Beginners pay $5 per lift ride in the lower lifts, which is a great option for younger kids.
where to stayComfortable and rustic, Yosemite Valley Lodge is located in Yosemite National Park, near a ski resort.
Lee Canyon Ski & Snowboard Resort: Las Vegas
Skate during the day and play slot machines at night! Lee Canyon Ski and Snowboard Resort offers downhill fun just an hour from the Las Vegas Strip, which means you can travel from desert floor to snow-capped mountains at 8,600 feet in no time. Live in the area? Locals get a discount on lift tickets.
where to stay: Retreat at the top of Charleston It is a luxury boutique hotel with 63 rooms approximately 20 minutes from the resort.
The American Dream of Big Snow: East Rutherford, New Jersey
Hitting the slopes just 20 minutes from the Empire State Building?! At the Big Snow American Dream indoor ski hill, every day is a ski day. If you’re looking for a fun activity no matter the season or to work on your skiing or snowboarding skills before hitting the great outdoors, Big Snow offers a great alternative to the real thing. For a change of pace, try renting a Sno-Go bike and biking down the slopes instead. Big Snow is scheduled to reopen in early 2022.
where to stayThe Hilton Meadowlands is within walking distance of Big SNOW and has on-site laundry and dining facilities, a fitness center and an executive lounge.
Buck Hill: Burnsville, Minnesota
In Minnesota, one of the coldest states, you don’t actually need real snow to ski. In Buck Hill (25 minutes south of Minneapolis), Mother Nature provides snow during the colder months, but the resort blows man-made snow to fill trails that lack coverage. In the spring and summer, the fun continues on the slopes with the dry run made of Neffplast synthetic turf for snow.
where to stayClose to the resort and the Mall of America: Best Western Premiere Nicollet Inn offers amenities like an indoor pool, whirlpool tubs, game room, and farm-to-table dining.
Arizona Sunball: Flagstaff, Arizona
Yes, there is snow in Arizona! With 55 trails, three terrain parks, and eight moving lifts, the Arizona Snowbowl offers plenty of terrain for all levels of ability. Just 35 minutes north of Flagstaff, it’s a great place to take the family, especially since kids 12 and younger ski free, and the resort offers free “snow experience” lessons for ages 13 and up.
where to stayBasecamp at Snowbowl offers charming accommodation in cabins with gas stoves, just minutes from the resort.
Maunaki: Big Island, hi
In Aloha state, you can be surfer and beacher on the same day. Although there are no ski lifts on Mauna Kea volcano, there can be snow. There is no resort, transportation, amenities, or emergency services, and at altitudes over 13,000 feet, the weather can be unpredictable. However, if you are on the Big Island, have ski or snowboard equipment, and a 4WD truck, you can try it out to be one of the few who can say they ski in Hawaii.
Where to stay: Beachfront Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa offers luxurious accommodations with upscale amenities.
Landmark: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Midwest, Minnesota
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