The Best Affordable Ski Resorts in the US

Beyond the classic, often bank-draining ski haunts, there's a collection of affordable US ski resorts giving them a run for their money. They may not have the booze-fuelled après of Aspen, the Moncler-clad crowds of Deer Valley or the sleigh bells of Whistler, but that's all part of their laid-back allure.

Our favourite budget ski resorts in the US

Grand Targhee

Wyoming, US

If Jackson Hole is all Kardashian-clobber and million-dollar mountainside log cabins, then neighbouring Grand Targhee is more home-cooked meals and small-town vibes. But don't let its unassuming reputation put you off - this is a top-class ski resort that flies largely under-the-radar. In fact, Targhee regularly under-reports its snowfall to protect its freshly powdered peaks. Over 500 inches of snowfall a year, that's one hundred more than its A-list neighbour, thanks to massive eastward storms dumping fresh powder almost daily. Ski south towards Peaked Mountain or hike to the summit of Mary's Nipple for its immaculately groomed slopes - on a clear day you'll have views over the Grand Teton and chances are, you'll lay fresh tracks on your first (and perhaps even last) runs of the day. Sleep slopeside at Targhee Lodge. It's first-rate facilities - hot tubs, heated saltwater pools and in-room boot dryers - make it an absolute steal.

Whitefish Mountain Resort

Montana, US

Serious skiers seeking a slice of Whistler will want to shuffle along to Whitefish Mountain Resort, only 20 miles from Glacier Park Airport and serviced by the Amtrak's Empire Builder train route that runs between Seattle and Chicago. An old-school resort - your parents will know it as the Big Mount Ski Resort and will probably ask you if Hellroaring Saloon is still serving bowls of clams, and it is - where you won't see much Bogner gear, high-quality snowmaking means that it's popular among big-hitters, but otherwise low-key and actually rather lovely. Bed down at Kandahar Lodge to take advantage of the free shuttle that will ferry you from trail to trail.

Schweitzer Mountain

Idaho, US

Tipped to be the next Sun Valley, the Selkirk Mountains 301km of runs criss-cross north Idaho with gorgeous vistas overlooking Lake Pend Oreille. Powder days should be reserved for pummelling down the Lakeside chutes, while early-morning risers should take the Great Escape Quad to the Headwell to cruise tree-lined blues. While you won't have the mountain to yourself, compared to some of the big names the trails remain relatively crowd-free. There are no super steep runs or cliff jumps here, so competent black-run skiers should try their hand at cat skiing. Settle down for nightly fireside s'mores at the ski-in/ski-out Selkirk Lodge, or for morning views over the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, plump for the nearby Lodge at Sandpoint.

Crested Butte

Colorado, US

A world away from Aspen (read: there's no fake tans or furs) Crested Butte bills itself as "Colorado's last great ski town". The Downtown area looks like the front of a Christmas card, lifts remain relatively empty even in peak season and of the 121 trails, at least eighty percent are suited to intermediate skiers. The rest are reserved for hardcore hair-raisers looking to race down 3000ft vertical drops. Après is best enjoyed at Montanya Distillers, where they make their own small-batch rum from Louisiana-grown sugar cane, followed by a burrito at Bonez (ideal post-mountain fodder). Staying in the Lodge at Mountaineer Square means you won't have to lug your kit more than a few metres as its right on the Red Lady lifts doorstep.

Wildcat Mountain

Wyoming, US

One of America's oldest and most iconic spots, Wildcat is a thrilling if a little hair-raising mountain that's all about skiing. There are very few marked out trails - instead, test your skills on the backcountry stashes, lust after the rolls, winds and plunges of Lynx or attempt Al's Folly, a tricky run that careers over frozen ice sheets and narrow tree-filled ungroomed tracks. Scenery surpasses many other resorts and beginners can tackle cruise-y greens in the shadow of Mount Washington. There's no mountainside accomodation but The Glen House is a smart bolthole just a few minutes drive away.

Taos Ski Valley

New Mexico, US

Albuquerque meets the Alps in this sun-soaked ski valley, cocooned by the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. Powder hounds will want to lay fresh tracks at Kachina Peak or chase chutes down Honeysuckle - the valley's longest run. Al's Run is a daunting introduction to Taos skiing for most and those who have only just mastered parallel turns might want to sit this one at out the Bavarian Restaurant. Thankfully, it's just the slopes that are steep here, rather than the Pilsner and bratwurst prices. New lifts, an airline and an 80-room hotel at the base (called The Blake) has elevated the resort's offering in recent years but prices remain competitive and ski lift prices are still low. If The Blake seems a bit bling, check in to The Austing Haus where twee interiors look like they've been stripped straight from the chalets of Courchevel.

Bristol Mountain

New York, US

An upstate resort ideal for New Yorkers looking to let loose on the slopes, Bristol Mountain holds it own with its smooth and well-maintained slopes, helped by the bracing winds that come off the water and state-of-the-art snowmaking. Ideal for weekend breaks from the city, everyone from nursery-slope novices to black-diamond beasts are well catered for thanks to 35 trails, a mix of terrain and night skiing. Swap the happy-hour margaritas for Belgian waffles smothered in local maple syrup at Morning Star Café, then retreat to the 1795 Acorn Inn.

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