While heavy-hitters like Aspen, Jackson Hole, and Vail might immediately come to mind when thinking up winter travel destinations, there’s a lot to be said for the more underrated mountain vacation spots. For one, the mainstays tend to get very crowded, especially around the holidays (if you’ve ever been to Aspen during New Year’s, then you know what I mean). Secondly, there’s something so special about experiencing a place off the beaten path, not to mention the warm, fuzzy feelings that typically come with discovering a best kept secret. If you’re looking to pound some serious powder, you might think that the more well-known destinations offer better skiing and snowboarding, too. Not the case. All of the lodges Sunil Metcalfe, sales director at luxury travel agency, Black Tomato, recommended have access to premier slopes (with a few even offering heli-skiing!)
Some of the spots on this list have managed to stay under the radar because they require a bit more effort to get to, yet Metcalfe stresses that, despite this, they’re “well worth the journey.” Their remote surroundings only add to their charm. Dunton Hot Springs in Dunton, CO, for example, is “one of the most spectacular hidden mountain gems around,” most likely because it takes about two hours to get there from the Durango, Montrose, or Teluride airport. Adding to their quaint quality, several of the aforementioned escapes are built within old mining towns, offering tiny glimpses into what it might have been like in the historic Wild West. Keep scrolling for a complete list of the eight best underrated winter mountain escapes you need to book, now.
Twin Farms: Barnard, VT
“In the sleepy, but charming town of Barnard Vermont, there is the inimitable Twin Farms. Void of crowds, a stay there includes access to six reserved, private ski slopes,” notes Metcalfe. Comprised of an all-inclusive luxury resort as well as free-standing ski in/ski out private Chalets, Twin Farms provides everything you’d ever need to create the ultimate winter vacation. The property even has a high-powered snowmobile to bring guests back to the top of the ski hill after each run, with the option to stop at “one of the luxe-picnic sites with Adirondack chairs and a firepit” to grab a snack on the way.
The Ranch At Rock Creek: Phillipsburg, MT
Montana is well known for its beautiful landscapes and close proximity to wildlife, and The Ranch at Rock Creek, near the charming historic mining town of Philipsburg (pop. 900) promises nothing less. “Here, it’s all about feeling far removed from civilization, with no shortage of top notch wildlife viewing, including deer, elk, moose, wolves, coyotes, beavers, and more,” says Metcalfe. Spanning 6,600 acres of wilderness, The Ranch at Rock Creek boasts a myriad of accommodations, from luxury suites and authentic log cabins to full-fledged glamping experiences. On-property winter offerings include snowshoeing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice skating, and sledding. The lodge also provides transportation to Discovery Basin, a quaint, alpine ski destination, located just 25 minutes away featuring both expert and beginner runs. Be sure to check out the ranch’s 2,000 square-foot spa after a long day at the slopes.
Taylor River Lodge: Almont, CO
If your goal is to recharge and relax this winter, look no further than Taylor River Lodge in Almont, CO, “a place where time seems to standstill, and move at a slower, more relaxing cadence,” Metcalfe emphasizes. Formerly a rustic general store, the property was transformed by the experts at Eleven into a “hygge hideout typified by novel wellness programs and true adventure.” Now an exclusive, eight-cabin retreat, its “off-the-grid locale makes it perfect for friends, families, and groups to unplug and reconnect.” Buying out the entire property gives guests access to snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, and curated spa treatments. Evenings are best spent taking a steam or soak in The Bathhouse, after which you can stargaze across a brilliant night sky.
Primland: Meadows of Dan, VA
Hidden away in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland “is a perfect destination for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path escape where they can be fully immersed in the resort’s unspoiled wilderness.” While its locale might seem like an unlikely ski destination, the Blue Ridge Mountains actually offer a wide variety of ski slopes from double black diamonds to backcountry. Guests of Primland have the option to stay in a standalone cottage or “a sumptuous suite in the rustic Lodge with a warm drink and a crackling fire.” Set on 12,000 acres, the resort offers several upscale dining options as well as a spa and a dizzying array of year-round outdoor activities including horseback riding and RTV tours.
Scarp Ridge Lodge: Crested Butte, CO
Dubbed, “Colorado’s Last Great Ski Town,” Crested Butte offers “some of the best skiing in Colorado, including arguably the best backcountry skiing around (and challenging double blacks)” Metcalfe enthuses. Receiving an average of 450 inches of snow per year, the former silver mining town is definitely the place to go if a ski trip for the ages is what you’re after. Not to mention it’s one of the most beautiful mountain towns around. Located in the heart of Crested Butte, Scarp Ridge Lodge, is the ideal place to lay your head after a long day on the slopes. While the former Croatian saloon, “still has its Wild West facade, the interiors have been transformed with reclaimed iron from the old mills in town and generous amenities, like an indoor saltwater pool and oxygen-enriched air systems.” Plus, you’ll wake up every morning to a custom-designed snowcat ready to whisk you away to 1,000+ acres of unmatchable powder.
Hotel Alyeska: Girdwood, AL
For a true taste of the Alaskan wilderness, head to Hotel Alyeska in Girdwood. Originally called Glacier City (you’ll soon see why), “Girdwood is nestled in a valley of the Chugach Mountains, a year-round destination surrounded by hanging glaciers and ocean views in Anchorage,” according to the resort’s site. Boasting miles of cross country ski trails, numerous downhill slopes and incredible wildlife viewing, the town is a must-visit for those desiring an authentic winter escape. Plus, Hotel Alyeska’s chateau-style offerings are the ultimate in luxury, “with rooms adorned with plush interiors and Native Alaskan artwork.” Book a summit room on the top floor for unmatched valley views.
Dunton Hot Springs: Dunton, CO
Tucked away in the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado, Dunton was a former mining town with a population of just 200 at its peak in the 1800s. As arguably the most remote destination on this list, it should come as no surprise that the awe-inspiring Dunton Hot Springs truly feels like a world away. The “luxuriously re-imagined property has just 12 log cabins, an insulated tent, a Saloon, library, floating sauna and a myriad of natural hot springs throughout the property,” Metcalfe says. It also has a new Winter Activities Program featuring “cross-country skiing on trails laid out by former Olympic Nordic skier Wendy Wegner.” What’s more, thrill seekers can partake in a day of heli skiing at “10,000 to 14,000, feet which means you’ll be flying among some of the highest elevations in North America.”
Bishop’s Lodge: Santa Fe, NM
“The Southwest is a rising destination for those seeking powder, with Santa Fe surprisingly at the helm of its growing popularity,” Metcalfe notes. But, with a base elevation of 10,350 ft, it’s not hard to see why. Offering custom ski packages ranging from the local slopes to heli-trips, Bishop’s Lodge is a premier choice for your Santa Fe stay (it also happened to be named the #1 Resort in the West by Travel + Leisure this year). Go for one of the lodge’s signature chocolate tastings, then indulge in a sound bath or one of the many grounding treatments at its Stream Dance Spa. End the day by gathering “over rituals, warm-spirited beverages, and artistic experiences and adventures.”