Five Old-School Ski Resorts You'll Fall in Love With

Want to steer clear of the glitz and glam of some of the most popular ski resorts? Here are some old-school classic ski resorts that keep the pretentiousness out and the powder deep.
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Monarch Mountain, Colorado
Monarch Mountain, Colorado  (Eli Reichman)

At some resorts, the skiing and snowboarding take a backseat to tangential matters, like real-estate schemes, misbehaving celebrities, and more symptoms of over-the-top glitz. At other resorts, the skiing and riding is front and center—where it belongs—and cloying luxury is nowhere to be found. (That's a good thing.) For a ski vacation that's blissfully free of the pricey side trappings, check out a place that's knee-deep in powder but only toe-deep in pretentiousness, like any one of the following five standout old-school ski resorts.

Castle Mountain (near Pincher Creek, Alberta, Canada)
With a locals vibe and world-class skiing, Castle Mountain has something for everyone. The resort lays claim to the longest continuous fall line in Canada (1,700 feet at a tantalizing 37-degree pitch) and plenty of runs for every skill level on its uncrowded 3,500 acres just north of Waterton Lakes National Park in southwestern Alberta. The vast and steep terrain is nicely matched with a softer side, personified by “Marie the Hug Lady,” the liftie who hugs every skier as she scans their lift ticket. For an end-of-the-day tipple, stop into the picture-perfect après-ski joint the T-Bar Pub and Grill. Lodging includes a handful of ski-in, ski-out condos, a ski lodge and hostel, and motels in Pincher Creek, about 30 miles away.

Monarch Mountain (near Salida, Colorado)
Located south of the state's heaviest concentration of ski resorts along I-70, Monarch is a family favorite with plenty of snow and a nice variety of runs, plus the best season pass in the industry. All trails start and end at the same base area, and the ski school is one of the best in the Rockies. Built in 2011, a 450-foot conveyor lift dubbed the Caterpillar takes beginners to the top of one of the best learning areas in the industry. But the resort has plenty of double-black-diamond runs as well. Experts hike to the extreme terrain in Mirkwood Basin and take snowcats to access the adjacent backcountry. Gunbarrel is the mountain's original run, skied since 1914 and lift-served as of 1939, and it still offers experts plenty of thrills as an in-bound black diamond. When the lifts stop turning for the day, head down the hill to nearby Salida, an artsy mountain town with plenty of options for grub and sleep.

Published: 7 Dec 2012 | Last Updated: 27 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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