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Thriving Mom & Pop ski areas

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I guess this is a variation on little known gems theme, but...

After reading the thread for the Lost Ski Areas NY Times article I've got as much nostalgia as the next guy for an uncrowded, homey ski hill with some secret gnar, but at the same time I don't want to "waste" a precious ski day at a rinky dink, run down dump with lame terrain and a meager trail count. Who's got suggestions for some good Mom & Pop areas around the US that might be worth a visit from an out-of-towner, even if it means giving up a day of skiing at a major nearby resort?

I'm interested in why the areas would be fun for a serious skiing individual/family and I guess I'd break this question into two parts:

1. Small Mom & Pop ski areas currently offering a well run and enjoyable operation? Good for families and better yet, offering a few steep, if short, runs of interest to advanced skiers/riders.

2. Larger ski areas with ~1000 or more vertical feet that have a low key vibe and offer an entertaining alternative experience to the mega resorts. Good for keeping an advanced skier interested for a day or more.

I recognize the terms "Mom & Pop" or "low key vibe" are ambiguous, but roughly I'm thinking smaller ski areas, non corporate owned, with low glitz/cost/technology/crowd factors, but potentially offering a quality ski experience for one reason or another.
post #2 of 14
You need to correct your definition of small Mom & Pop ski areas. In Montana all the small mom & pop ski areas have more than 1000 vertical feet.
post #3 of 14
Four years ago we skied Big Mountain (now Whitefish) for most of a week. On a whim, the last day we went to Blacktail, located in the Flathead Nation Forest . . . that's in the NW Corner of Montana, south of Glacier National Park, maybe 50+ miles south of Whitefish. Absolutely loved the place. No crowds (not that Whitefish had any) . . . their lifts can only put 3900 people per hour on the hill, which is much less than most of the small (500') hillls here in Michigan. Definately worth a day trip from Whitefish, maybe not to plan a trip around it.

So . . . if you go to Whitefish, and want to visit a great small resort, with 1440 ft. of vertical, great snow, small hill feel head to Blacktail:

post #4 of 14
Elk Mountain, PA www.elkskier.com
post #5 of 14
Local Oregon Ski Town.
post #6 of 14
Caberfae Peaks in Cadillac Michigan has an old time atmosphere that is very refreshing. The brown bag it section of the lodge is twice the size of the cafeteria and usually full. Most of the people are down to earth and just out for a good time. It helps that the skiing and value are some of the best in MI.
post #7 of 14
My wife and I skied at Ski Cooper, Leadville, Colorado last winter. Saturday, beautiful day, the I-70 places were a madhouse, and we never had more than a dozen in front of us in the lift line. A double, a triple, and the best snow we skied all week in Summit County.
post #8 of 14
Mt. Baker fits your description. Locally owned and with an aggressively non-corporate vibe.
post #9 of 14
The east west divide is significant here--Big mountain places like Bridger Bowl, Bogus basin, A-Basin, Homewood, Mt Rose, Red Mountain, could all fit your bill and provide ample skiing and throw back vibe pleasin'--yet all those places dwarf even killington..

But, I suspect you mean the smaller less known, or at least less frequented east coast joints.

The best mom and pop (actually Pop and Son) place in the northeast IMHO is Berkshire East-when the snow is in, it'll serve up plenty of terrain for all involved, it's great for families because 1. not crowded and 2. Hard to get lost-decent base lodge, pretty area-right around 1000 feet of vertical 3. Good ski school 4. The kids build jumps and kickers all over the hill 5. It's mostly north facing so it holds snow well and the surface conditions are usually better than many other southern new england (and southern Vermont) Places 6.Has tubing, 7.It's Black Diamonds, while not panic button worthy are certainly legit, 8. Good, if short,glades, and it's in Massachusetts. I'm a fan, and there are others. Do a search and you'll see.

post #10 of 14
He said "around the US," not "east coast joints." I suspect he's looking for places like Montana Snowbowl and Baker as well.
post #11 of 14
Monarch Mountain outside Salida Colorado. It is just under 1,200 feet vertical, tons of natural Powder and almost half of its trails are black or double black diamonds. All of the trails lead to the same place, so you can ride the lift up with the kids, ski what you want, and meet up again at the bottom for another run. Plus it has great BC skiing in Mirkwood that is lift served.
post #12 of 14
How about Whitewater?
post #13 of 14
Welch Village in Minnesota.

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
A few that I'm aware of:
-thriving small mom and pop: Bryce-VA
-interesting midsize (stretching the term a bit), low key vibe: Blue Knob-PA, Wildcat-NH, MRG-VT, Jay Pk-VT, Magic-VT, Loveland-CO

Thankfully there are many more candidates, pretty good list here too:
http://away.com/skiing/ski_best_for.tcl?Top_Ski_Resorts_for_Mom_n_Pop_Res orts&id=396122
Anybody remember/have link to that ski magazine article a few years ago by the guy roadtripping to a bunch of western (MT, WY) ski areas that only had surface lifts, no chairs?
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