Sunday Source: Tip Sheet Travel
The Mountains You've Been Missing

To find recommendations for overlooked ski areas with a laid-back atmosphere, staff writer Cindy Loose turned to three experts: Brooke Ferencsik of TripAdvisor.com, a leading online travel site that includes consumer reviews; Leslie Shor of Ski.com, which bills itself as the largest independent seller of ski trips in North America; and Chris Fellows of the North America Ski Training Center, which conducts ski clinics around the world. Their picks:

RESORT EXPERTS SAY THE SLOPES CLOSEST AIRPORTS
IN THE WEST
Whitefish Mountain Resort
Whitefish, Mont.
406-862-2900
Still mainly untouched by overdevelopment, the mountain offers great skiing near Glacier National Park, with views of the Canadian Rockies, the park and Great Bear Wilderness. There is a lot of skiing above the tree line and wide-open bowls for cruiser skiing. The little town of Whitefish is cool, with good bars. Season is slated to start Dec. 8. Number of Trails: 93

Vertical Drop: 2,100 feet

Adult Day Pass: $56

Average Snowfall: 300 inches
Glacier Park International, 30 minutes from resort. Missoula, Mont., is two hours away by car; Spokane, Wash., five hours.
Durango Mountain
Durango, Colo.
800-982-6103
Great skiing for every ability level, but families in particular love it because it has a good ski school and it's so self-contained that parents can check in easily with the kids. It's at the top of a mountain pass, and once you get there you may not want to go anywhere else, but lots of guests take a day off skiing to go into Durango, an appealing pioneer town. Some trails opened yesterday. Number of Trails: 85

Vertical Drop: 2,029 feet

Adult Day Pass: $60

Average Snowfall: 260 inches
Durango-La Plata Airport is about a 50-minute drive. Albuquerque is just over four hours away.
Solitude Mountain Resort
Solitude, Utah
801-534-1400
"Unbelievable" terrain, with champagne powder in a gorgeous canyon. It has particularly good tree skiing, plenty of cruiser skiing and trails that are wellgroomed. It's much easier to get accommodations at peak times, such as Christmas and New Year's, than at other resorts. A trail called SolBright connects the slopes of Solitude with that of Brighton Ski Resort. Three trails already open. Number of Trails: 64

Vertical Drop: 2,047 feet

Adult Day Pass: $55

Average Snowfall: More than 500 inches
Salt Lake City is about a 25-minute drive; shuttle service available.
Taos Ski Valley
Taos, N.M.
866-968-7386
It's challenging, with more than half of all runs for advanced skiers, including a number of double black diamond runs. However, there are also plenty of trails for the less-experienced members of the group, even beginners. The resort village was built to have a European feel. No snowboarding allowed. Ski season is expected to begin Dec. 14. Number of Trails: 110

Vertical Drop: 2,612 feet

Adult Day Pass: $63

Average Snowfall: 305 inches
Albuquerque is about a three-hour drive. Or connect there for commuter flights to Taos Municipal Airport, about a 40-minute drive to the mountain.
Tamarack Resort
Donnelly, Idaho
877-826-7376
By next year, this resort, backed by tennis greats Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, will explode on the ski scene. Everything about it is well-planned and executed. It has varied terrain, including runs through glades of aspen and fir trees, and thousands of acres of back-country skiing. Talcum-dry snow is the rule. This is the year to go, while it's still little-known. Some trails were to open yesterday. Number of Trails: 41

Vertical Drop: 2,800 feet

Adult Day Pass: $59 weekends, $46 midweek

Average Snowfall: 300 inches
Boise, two hours on a resort shuttle.
IN THE EAST
Mad River Glen
Waitsfield, Vt.
802-496-3551
Slopes tend to be uncrowded, and it's one of the rare resorts that doesn't allow snowboarding. Rarer still: It's owned by a cooperative of skiers. Some of the slopes are narrow and twisting, and some of the equipment is more traditional than slick — both features that might either appeal or be a turn-off, depending on your preferences. Mountain features some steep drops; about half of the trails are for experts. Season will start "as soon as Mother Nature allows." Number of Trails: 45

Vertical Drop: 2,037 feet

Adult Day Pass: $54, $35 midweek

Average Snowfall: 250 inches
Burlington International, less than a one-hour drive.
Saddleback Mountain
Rangeley, Maine
866-918-2225
Offering the second-highest terrain in New England, the recently renovated resort is family-focused yet offers great skiing for experts as well. Relatively undiscovered, and the prices reflect that. Friendly staff is a plus. Slated to open Dec. 15. Number of Trails: 60

Vertical Drop: 2,000 feet

Adult Day Pass: $40

Average Snowfall: 200 inches
Portland International and Bangor International each are a little more than two hours away by car.
Jay Peak Vermont Ski Resort
Westfield, Vt.
800-451-4449
Last ski stop before the Quebec border, Jay Peak offers perhaps the best skiing in New England. The snow, both in quality and quantity, is often similar to what you'd find in the Western U.S. Less crowded than many trendier Vermont resorts. Number of Trails: 76

Vertical Drop: 2,153 feet

Adult Day Pass: $62

Average Snowfall: 350 inches
Burlington, a 1.5-hour drive.

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