The ski season is in full swing, so go on and get your skis and snowboards ready. But you don't need to take them to the big resorts -- there are plenty of small ones that are just as formidable, and less crowded, too.
Forget Vail and Aspen: Tucked in Pagosa Springs in the San Juan mountains is Wolf Creek, a smaller ski resort that packs a big punch. According to the Colorado tourism board, it receives more snow than any other resort in the state, at 465 inches per year.
Winter brings a white wonderland to the Salt Lake region. Thirty miles from Salt Lake City is Solitude, which may not exactly be all alone as its name implies, since you can get a combined pass along with three nearby resorts. While it may not be nearly as big and flashy as the Park City resorts, Solitude offers a relaxed, European-style charm.
Moonlight Basin may only have half the skiable terrain as the nearby Big Sky resort, but it also has a way smaller crowd. It still boasts "1,900 acres of pristine groomers, tree glades, and challenging steeps" in addition to a huge terrain park -- plus access to Big Sky itself with a combined ticket if you want more.
Northeasterners know Killington, the region's biggest ski resort, as the "Beast of the East," but dozens of smaller spots are all over Vermont. Jay Peak, near the Canadian border, is one of them. While it has about half the skiable terrain of Killington, and not even half the amount of ski lifts (9 versus 22), it has a reputation for having some of the best trails and vertical you can get in the east.
Not all northeast ski resorts are in the Green Mountain State. In nearby New Hampshire lie some great resorts, including Attitash, which has been ranked in SKI magazine as one of the east's top ten.
Near Bend, Oregon lies Mount Bachelor, the ski resort and mountain with the highest skiable elevation in all of Oregon and Washington -- the summit is at 9,065 feet! Below that is 3,700 acres of skiable terrain, accessible by 14 ski lifts catering to all experience levels.
Living in New York City, there are several options for decent skiing -- although nothing compared to anything up north and definitely nothing compared to what's out west. However, in nearby New Jersey lies the little resort of Mountain Creek, with three mountains and a terrific terrain park. Granted, with NYC so close the crowds can get big during the weekends; try going during the week if you can -- they even have night skiing.