10 Local Ski Resorts That Aren’t On Epic Or Ikon That You Should Know

skier enjoying deep powder at Brundage Mountain Resort Image appears courtesy: Brundage Mountain Resort

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For those that want flexibility, ski only a handful of days, or their local ski resort on the Epic or Ikon Pass, we get it. To start things off right, we’ll be completely honest with you. We have a Tahoe Local (Epic) Pass. Heavenly is only a few minutes from our house, so we use it to get in a few laps when we don’t have a ton of time. Do we go to ski resorts on the Epic or Ikon Pass for a ski holiday? Rarely. We’re suckers for ski areas that feel less corporate and have big (small) mountain town personalities. If you’re like us, here’s 10 local ski resorts from our bucket list that aren’t on the Epic or Ikon Pass.


Powder Mountain

Powder Mountain Skier Jump
Image appears courtesy: Powder Mountain Resort

This resort that has been on our radar for a LOOONNNGG time. Everything about this place is heaven. First, it’s one of the three resorts we talked about that has a LIMIT on their season passes. Second, the resort is HUGE! Over 8,000 acres of inbound AND lift accessed side country. Third, they receive on average over 500” of snow. Although limiting season passes may not make business sense, on a powder day, who cares!

Grand Targhee

Ski Resorts That Aren’t On Epic Or Ikon Grand Targhee Tetons
Image appears courtesy: Grand Targhee Resort

Although Jackson might get all the attention, this little resort west of the Grand Tetons is about one thing… skiing! Literally, it’s one of the ONLY local ski resorts in the US or Canada that rivals the consistent high quality fluff you’d find at the Utah powder mecca of Alta. If consistent powder days wasn’t enough, they don’t come with the crowds found at many of the other destinations either. If you’re a powder hound that hates being stuck in line or seeing tracks then make this YOUR destination.



Best backcountry festival is Coldsmoke Powder Festival at Whitewater Ski Resort near Nelson British Columbia Canada
Image appears courtesy: Whitewater Resort

Located along the famous “Powder Highway” next to the funky town of Nelson, this place screams “independence!” Named after the frothy part of a river due to its location on the atmospheric river, every winter this place gets blasted with over 40 FEET of snow. Although it may only have three lifts, the 2,350 acres they access makes it feel MUCH bigger. From nice steep shots to an open boundary policy, you’ll definitely be entertained for days! Combine that with one of the coolest mountain towns we’ve ever been to… they had us as soon as we stepped on their slopes. Read about our personal experience and tips on how to ski it in our Local’s Guide To Whitewater Resort. In simplest terms: this is our happy place.


White Pass

Ski Resorts That Aren’t On Epic Or Ikon White Pass
Photo by: Justin Bikes N Boards – Appears courtesy: White Pass Ski area

As the crowds swell at Stevens Pass and Crystal Mountain from the day skiers shuttling up from Seattle, a bit further down the road is a cozy ski area tucked away from the madness. Situated on the aptly named “White Pass”, it has the look and feel of a hardcore Mom & Pop resort. When we hit this area back in 2010, it was the FIRST day they opened up the Paradise Basin ever! Even though its been a decade, I’ve vowed myself to come back and hit this mountain again. Now that it’s on the Indy Pass, I have no excuse NOT to!

Turner Mountain

Snowboarder dropping into a ski trail at Turner Mountain Ski Area
Image taken by: Jordan LeCount Big Sky Media

I still remember vividly reading about this ski area in a SKI magazine article years ago. As the old adage goes, “big things come in small packages”, and Turner is the epitome of this statement. It operates as a non-profit with only THREE employees during ski season. Only has one lift. Miles from any large metropolitan area. Most people would brush it off, but as you look closer, you’ll notice something special about this place. The lift is over 2,110 vertical feet of steep FALL-LINE skiing. In fact, over 60 percent of its terrain is considered ‘expert.’ As resorts get bigger and more crowded, this Mom & Pop focuses on what’s important… the skiing.


Wolf Creek

Ski Resorts That Aren’t On Epic Or Ikon
Happy Halloween!!! A DEEP powder day on October 31 2018 – Image appears courtesy: Wolf Creek Ski Area

At a base of over 10,000 feet, this powder hound paradise in Colorado is the stuff of dreams for those looking to ride REAL snow in the early season (sometimes as early as Halloween). Although most of the terrain is pretty mellow, who cares when it receives the MOST snow in Colorado. And only thirty minutes down the road you can stay in Pagosa Springs, home to one of our FAVORITE hot springs on the continent.

Castle Mountain

Castle Mountain Resort Alberta
Image appears courtesy: Castle Mountain Resort

Steeps? Check. Glades? Check. No attitude and all fun? Check. Anyone that has stepped into the Canadian Rockies knows the beauty & wildness of this part of the world is unrivaled. Just as pure as its surroundings, you won’t find any sleigh rides, fur jackets, or day spas at this ski area. The focus is about skiing its massive 3,500+ acres. Alongside consistently cold winter temps which helps preserve the snow making, their weather also ensures the snow stays powdery days after a storm. AND, it’s another ski area on the Indy Pass which you can pick up for $399!


Ski Santa Fe

Ski Resorts That Aren’t On Epic Or Ikon High Dessert Skiing
Image appears courtesy: Ski Santa Fe

For those foodies that want to make a trip not just to ski but also to eat & explore, Ski Santa Fe is a must. It may not be the biggest or snowiest, but it sure packs a unique, one-of-a-kind experience. From five-star quality food to culture over 400 years old & some of the driest snow you’ve ever seen, it’s unlike anywhere else you’ve been before.


Brundage Mountain

lib tech snowboard snowboarding powder at Brundage Mountain Resort in Northern Idaho near McCall
Testing the quality of product at Brundage Mountain Resort – Photo by: Local Freshies®

Ah Brundage Mountain. This is yet another example of a ski resort that its numbers don’t tell you about the experience. For example, its 320 inches of annual snowfall regularly falls throughout the season. On our visit here, we were pleasantly impressed on how consistently good the snow is and yet you’ll still find plenty of elbow room on its slopes, especially compared to the big boys like Breckenridge or Whistler. Then you have the town of McCall just down the road. It’s filled with amazing cuisine, a host of hotsprings to take a dip in, and plenty of one-of-a kind experiences like snowshoeing to a Yurt for a four-star gourmet dinner. The secret seems to be out though… for 3 out of the last 4 years Brundage has been nominated as one of USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award. Hurry and start planning your trip — Read our in-depth McCall Idaho Travel Guide to help you plan your trip or better yet inspire you to get going!


skier jumping into powder at Sierra-at-Tahoe
Skier: Darin Haworth enjoying the “new” Sierra-at-Tahoe – Photo by Local Freshies®

Finally, let’s express our love for our beloved home mountain. The Caldor fire has undoubtedly altered the landscape, diminishing the iconic tree skiing beneath the towering red firs to a mere fraction of its former glory. Nonetheless, this mountain remains our cherished gem in Tahoe. When I revisited it last winter, I learned that I had to take a new perspective as the Sierra-at-Tahoe I once knew was gone. It had become a whole new world, ripe for exploration and discovery. For more details on our experience, don’t miss our article: “Exploring the New Face of Sierra at Tahoe After the Caldor Fire.” While it’s true that like any Tahoe resort it can get crowded during the holiday season, in comparison to the bustling scenes at Heavenly or Kirkwood, it’s downright peaceful.

If you do have an Epic or Ikon Pass, enjoy it and head to one of those local ski resorts this winter. They’re all amazing, have tons of amenities, and are a “Disney World” for skiers and snowboarders. But if you’re looking for an authentic experience that’s a bit different, these 10 local ski resorts that aren’t on the Epic or Ikon Pass are well worth a gander. Heck, you might even see our trusty ’95 4Runner nicknamed “Pepper” parked in one of these ski lots this season.

If you’re looking for more trip ideas or inspiration like tips on when to visit certain ski areas, what to pack for a trip, and even how to avoid crowds, check out our in-depth guide:

20 thoughts on “10 Local Ski Resorts That Aren’t On Epic Or Ikon That You Should Know

    1. Sun Peaks Resort in British Columbia Canada. 2nd Largest In Bounds Skiable Acreage in Canada and 7th Largest in North America. Sun Peaks Features Three Mountains, Bowls, Glades, Groomers Along With A True Ski In / Ski Out Alpine Styled Village. Sun Peaks Resort Was Named A Top Ten Winter Destination By National Geographic in 2019. http://www.sunpeaksresort.com

    2. I’ve been to at least three of the ten. Looking to add to that list soon. Grand Targhee like it’s bigger brother never disappoints. They added a new lift that serves a former cat operation.Wolf Creek is a wonder land of snow. If you know the area it’s hidden stashes of snow are crazy. There is if you know where to go terrain that will raise the hair on your neck. They’ve added lifts making the area much larger then it looks. Sierra-at-Tahoe, another gem that is great to hit during off days and early winter.

  1. I ski a little club field in new Zealand called Craigieburn. Best skiing in new Zealand. As well I live in the the rueaphue area. And that’s great skiing. But would love to ski the smaller fields. Is there a pass that does those fields. We have one and it’s called the chill pass.

  2. Sun Peaks Resort in British Columbia Canada. 2nd Largest In Bounds Skiable Acreage in Canada and 7th Largest in North America. Sun Peaks Features Three Mountains, Bowls, Glades, Groomers Along With A True Ski In / Ski Out Alpine Styled Village. Sun Peaks Resort Was Named A Top Ten Winter Destination By National Geographic in 2019. http://www.sunpeaksresort.com

  3. Got to give some love to the mid sized mountains. Head for Lookout Pass Ski Area. 400+ inches of snow a year. never crowded midweek, awesome glade skiing, and the price is more than right. Peak ticket for this year is $52 for an adult full day on a Holiday. $49 for a regular weekend and just $45 for a midweek day. Put this one on your bucket list. It straddles the border of ID & MT so you can ski in two states and in in two time zones. More here http://www.SkiLookout.com

  4. Nothing in the East? Plattekill Mountain in the Catskills of NY, little under 3 hours from NYC, with big mountain skiing, continuous vertical drop of 1100′ fallline skiing, and some of the deepest powder dumps on the western edge of the Catskill Snow Belt, owned by the former ski school director and his ski instructor wife for 26 years, keeping it real, authentic and independent, on the flanks of epic owned hunter, corporate owned windham, and state of NY owned Belleayre. Plattekill rocks! For third party props see NYTIMES Front cover story Jan 6, 2019, Powder Magazine Dec 2018, or just ask Glenn Plake who called it his new east coast home resort.

    1. I was going to say ” I know the best one in the east, but wont say the name “. Then i saw YOUR name and smiled to myself

  5. no one ever talks about Mt. Rose , I grew up skiing at Serria Ski Ranch, and it is really good but when they get the wet heay snow , or 1/2 rain we are getting really good snow , we are of a higher elevation and are snow and are views prove it .

    1. Hey Eddie,

      We’re BIG fans of Mt. Rose. The high base elevation, close proximity to Reno, and personally what I think are some of the best in-bounds steeps in Tahoe in the Chutes and you got yourself an amazing ski area. The reason Sierra-at-Tahoe made the list is because it’s our home mountain on the south shore and so we’re a little partial for it. With that being said, thank you for callin’ out Mt Rose too. 🙂

    1. well Sugar Bowl has done it’s best to shed its Indy rep. They left the Powder Alliance and joined the Mountain Collective. Little Donner Ski Ranch across the street is the best 500 acres of mom & pop skiing in the Sierras though.

  6. Just pulled the trigger on an early season 3 day powder safari to Wolf Creek Dec 16,17,18. If someone reading this wants to make turns, look for a strip of green plaid flying from my helmet.

    East coast gets no love? All 4 of these would be contenders:
    Mad River Glen
    Smugglers Notch
    Bolton Valley
    Magic Mountain

  7. Mount Baldy in SoCal is too good (unfortunately, most of the time it is struggling to get enough snow to safely open) not to mention. They can and will go until the bitter end in years where they get a 5+ foot storm, and the terrain is like if Loveland CO got compressed. Not Indy or Ikon/Epic, you’ve got to check them out/search them up for powder face shots less than 2 hours from the beach.

  8. You Missed Red Mountain in Rossland. Their Acres per skier ad is true. If you think our old slow chairs are not enough for you, come here and talk to me at 1:00 . You legs will be toast by then!!!

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