The 5 Most Unique Ski and Snowboard Towns on The Planet

Quintin Mills | | BrainsBrains
snow covered Truckee, CA
Truckee, CA–Courtesy of Visit Reno Tahoe

When talking about the best places to ski and snowboard in, there’s a long list of factors to consider. It’s not always the ones with the most access, the most famous, or the highest elevation. To me, the best ski towns offer a plethora of things that skiers and snowboarders universally love. 

To start, it’s always helpful when they’re semi-affordable because we all know how insanely expensive ski towns can be. The next thing I like to look at is the overall vibe of the town. Taking resorts at face value, a resort-like Aspen feels much different than somewhere like Alta. So let’s explore some of the best unique ski and snowboard towns in no particular order. 

5. Red Mountain/Rossland, British Columbia

Red Mountain and the Rossland area may be a little less known to the rest of the ski world compared to Whistler and Revelstoke, but it is gaining popularity since it got on the Ikon Pass list. The ski hill is situated just a few minutes from Rossland, but Red does have its own neighborhoods and a few local bars and restaurants. 

Rossland, British Columbia, Canada--lesser known ski town
Rossland, British Columbia–Courtesy of Powder Canada

It’s an old-school resort with a mix of terrain, but its known for its steep trees, multiple peaks, and 360-degree access on its peaks where you can get some insane views of the ol’ Kootenay Sea. Rossland is a ski town with working-class roots that is not pretentious, and you’ll find a bustling bar and restaurant scene with people from all around the world mixing it up with the locals. Another bonus is that JP Auclair’s legendary segment from All.I.Can was filmed in Rossland.

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4. Taos, New Mexico

Taos is another town that’s booming in popularity because of the Ikon Pass, but it still plays close to its roots. It’s considered one of the oldest continuously occupied areas in the United States with rich history and deep cultural roots. It’s a charming town lined with adobe buildings, and it’s home to many art studios and a haven for artists. 

ski town of Taos, New Mexico
Taos, New Mexico–Courtesy of Kent Canouse

Taos Ski Valley is up the mountain about 20 minutes from town, but it’s also lined with some homes and a quaint ski village. The mountain is home to some gnarly terrain and a huge vertical drop. Skiers and riders will revel in the open valleys and off-piste terrain options. 

3. Reno, Nevada

The Biggest Little City in the World. The more time you spend in this city, the more their paradoxical slogan makes sense. Reno is famous for many reasons, and you can ask people who live there what their favorite thing is about the place, and you will get answers all over the board. It’s home to ramblers, gamblers, cowboys, hipsters, granola hikers, van lifers, city slickers, drifters, and college students all in one. 

unique ski and snowboard town of Reno, NV
Reno, Nevada with a blanket of snow–Courtesy of Andy Barron RGJ

Reno, backed up right against the Sierra Nevadas, offers a lot besides snow sports and stands as one of the most unique ski and snowboard towns. You’re about two hours (weather and traffic permitting) to Tahoe’s 15+ resorts, but you have the amenities of a good-sized city. In terms of living, Reno’s international airport is super easy to use, there’s food from all over the world, and the vibe of the town differs depending on which events are happening, what season it is, and the air quality.

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2. Bormio, Italy

Bormio is located in Northern Italy near the Swiss border. It’s a historic farming town in the high alpine, and the narrow, medieval streets will make you feel like you time traveled to a different age with ancient cathedrals and gargoyles. The town’s known for its unique Italian cuisine and collection of natural hot springs and spas. 

unique ski and snowboard town of Bormio, Italy
Bormio, Italy–Courtesy of Italy Magazine

The Alta Valtellina comprises four resorts near the town: Santa Caterina, Bormio, Cima Piazzi-San Colombano and Stelvio Glacier. One of the steepest and longest downhill courses in the world is located in Bormio, and it has gained renown for its selection of off-piste ski areas. If you’re looking for laid-back European village-style skiing with lots of terrain and a big vertical drop, you’ll find it in Bormio without the insanity of the bigger areas.

1. Gudauri, Georgia

Georgia is another area gaining acclaim for its skiing, and Gudauri is one of the best in the country. Georgia is located on the Black Sea with the towering Caucasus Mountain Range rising into the sky. You’ll fall in love with the Georgian hospitality, food, wine, and prices, which are some of the most affordable in the world. 

unique ski and snowboard town of Gudauri, Georgia
Ski village in Gudauri, Georgia–Courtesy of Georgian Journal

The skiing infrastructure was a bit outdated for a while, but recently Gudauri has added new lifts and gondolas that make this place run smoothly. Not only do they have great lift access here in Georgia, but the off-piste backcountry skiing is world-class. 

Skiing and snowboarding have blown up since the pandemic. The general public discovered some hidden gems while making even the most popular resorts in the world a little busier.

These aren’t the most secret ski towns in the world, but I think they offer a little extra than a typical ski town. So, the next time you’re planning a ski trip and want to check out some unique ski and snowboard towns, maybe head east of the Alps to the always hospitable Georgia or pull off Highway 80 in Reno for a few nights to see how weird it really is. 

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One thought on “The 5 Most Unique Ski and Snowboard Towns on The Planet

  1. In your June 21, 2023 article, “The 5 Most Unique Ski and Snowboard Towns on The Planet,” it was cool to see Taos included on this list. It’s too bad that the included photo of Santa Fe, New Mexico, not Taos.

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