There are plenty of amazing places to ski and snowboard in North America, but some are much more popular than others, not necessarily because they're better, but because they are better known. If you're looking for smaller crowds and shorter lift lines on your next ski trip, Cheapflights.ca is here to help (we've got a complete guide for how to fly with skis and snowboards, too). We've rounded up our picks for top alternative ski resorts in North America, where the cost and the crowds are in check and where both vibe and the weather are chill.
Boyne Highlands, Harbor Springs, Michigan, U.S.
Image: Boyne Highlands. Image courtesy Boyne Highlands
This ski resort near Harbor Springs, Michigan, offers more than just the chance to swish down the slopes. There are 55 runs and four terrain parks here, spread out over 435 skiable acres, with the longest run (North Peak Pass) just over two kilometres long. When you're not skiing or snowboarding, there are plenty of other ways to keep busy at Boyne Highlands. The resort also offers snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, fat tire biking, tubing and even winter zip-lining.
Don't miss: Head over to the Ski Valet between 6 and 9 p.m. daily for some s'mores by the bonfire.
Closest major airport: Traverse City, 2 hours away by car.
Mont Blanc, St-Faustin-Lac-Carré, Quebec
Image courtesy Ski Mont Blanc
You've likely heard of Mont Tremblant, Mont-Sainte-Anne or Le Massif. But if you're looking for something smaller or a little more laid-back, think about booking your ski holiday at Mont Blanc. Located in Quebec's Mont Tremblant ski region, Mont Blanc is no slouch when it comes to what it offers skiers and snowboarders. The resort has 42 trails and one of the highest verticals in eastern Canada. All skill levels are accommodated here, and Mont Blanc has one of Quebec's largest ski schools with over 125 certified ski and snowboard instructors. There's also plenty of opportunity for snowshoeing and kids will love the large indoor playground Jungle Magique.
Don't miss: Relaxing with a local craft beer by the fire after a day of skiing at Igloo Bar.
Closest major airport: Montreal, 75 minutes away by car.
Calabogie Peaks, Calabogie, Ontario
Combine a trip to Canada's capital with a few days of skiing at Calabogie Peaks. This ski resort has 80 acres of skiable terrain consisting of 24 trails and three terrain parks. If you need a break from skiing or snowboarding, you can do some cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing or ice skating. And if you'll be staying on-site at Calabogie Peaks Resort, you can enjoy the indoor pool and outdoor hot tub.
Don't miss: Love live music? From December to March, Calabogie hosts a series of après-ski live shows.
Closest major airport: Ottawa, one hour away by car.
Mount Snow, West Dover, Vermont, U.S.
Vermont's Mount Snow is a multifaceted, all-season resort that offers plenty of winter activities in addition to some seriously great skiing. At Mount Snow you've got your choice of 87 trails spread over 589 skiable acres, as well as eight terrain parks including one with (snowboarders, take note) a superpipe with 18' walls. When you want to take a break from the slopes, you can turn your attention to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snow tubing or take a snowmobile tour of Green Mountain National Forest, where Mount Snow is located.
Don't miss: The spa at Mount Snow offers guided woodland hikes led by a naturalist. Make a day of it and get the package that includes lunch and a scenic chairlift ride. Or really treat yourself and spring for a post-hike massage.
Closest major airport: Albany, New York, 90 minutes away by car.
Castle Mountain Resort, Pincher Creek, Alberta
Image courtesy Mountain Drift Photography
Alberta's Rocky Mountain resorts are legendary, and you probably already know the big names, like Lake Louise Ski Resort and Sunshine Village, but you might want to think about giving Castle Mountain in Pincher Creek a try. There are over 79 runs here on two mountains, with an impressive 3,592 acres to test your downhill muscle. If fancy ski or snowboard work is what you're after, you have your pick of three terrain parks. Castle Mountain also offers guided snowshoeing tours. Tours are two hours in length and the cost includes a $10 voucher for the on-site pub.
Don't miss: If you're looking to challenge yourself, or just try a different type of skiing, Castle Mountain is one of the only places in western Canada to offer cat skiing. Skiers get transported via snowcat to more open terrain where they have a chance to ski in the backcountry.
Closest major airport: Calgary, just over 2 and a half hours away by car.
Fernie Alpine Resort, Fernie, British Columbia
Image courtesy Fernie Alpine Resort
Skip over Whistler and make Fernie, BC, the base for your next ski holiday. The former mining town is filled with opportunities to get out and explore nature, including, of course, skiing and snowboarding. Fernie Alpine Resort has 142 trails spread out over 2,500 acres of varying terrain. Other fun ways to enjoy the snow and scenic surroundings include full and half-day snowshoe tours, winter fat biking (take a tour or go out on your own), cross country skiing and cat skiing.
Don't miss: Stop in at Fernie Brewing Co. in the town of Fernie for a tasting. Your $5 gets you a flight of four beers with all the money going to a local charity. They've raised over $50,000 since December, 2013.
Closest major airport: Canadian Rockies International Airport, 1 hour away by car.
To learn about some more alternative ski resorts in North America go here.
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