3 Unique & Lesser-Known American Ski Destinations - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


3 Unique & Lesser-Known American Ski Destinations

Three destinations that offer skiers and boarders some seriously unique activities on the side.


For Those Looking For a Throwback Ranch Town

Red River, New Mexico, has flown under the radar for several years, but it has a devoted and growing fan base that appreciates Red River’s rustic, ranch-style charm. Originally the stomping ground for Apaches, Red River (then known as River City), drew prospectors and fur traders to its mountainous steps. Shortly after, several German families moved in.

3 Unique & Lesser-Known American Ski Destinations

Have a unique experience (and hit the slopes) in Red River, New Mexico

The town ended up with an interesting mix of German mountain chalet and old-western mining-style buildings. When the mines dried up, the prospectors left but the settlers stayed, favoring the town’s 8,750 feet altitude and its average 188 inches of snowfall.

3 Unique & Lesser-Known American Ski Destinations

Red River, New Mexico

Red River’s Mardi Gras celebration is for you if you have an adventurous heart and a love for all things Mardi Gras, minus the New Orleans humidity.

3 Unique & Lesser-Known American Ski Destinations

A mix of German and Western, this town is nothing if not unique

Each year, this sleepy little old western mining town is awakened by their own 20s-style version of Mardi Gras, called Mardi Gras in the Mountains. For 5 days and nights each winter, both locals and tourists party the nights away to live music in 20s flapper costumes or purple, gold, and green masquerade-style masks. Day and night, while on the ski hill or out to dinner, the thing to do is to drape as many metallic plastic beads around your neck as you can manage.

I made a cute little video of Mardi Gras in the mountains, from day to night:

The festival offers Cajun Creole cuisine specials, costume parties and a short, but amusing parade (with a mix of Mardi Gras and 1920’s prohibition-themed floats), complete with bead and candy tossing. Be sure to pack your best masquerade ball gown for your chance to be crowned queen at the gala costume ball.

3 Unique & Lesser-Known American Ski Destinations

The Red River Mardi Gras parade is short but amusing

On the first night of the festival, we watched as the locals gather outside Motherload Saloon and put scraps of paper with their worries written on them into the mouth of a huge paper mache “Loup-Garou” wolf. Vaguely reminiscent of Burning Man, the ‘wolf’ is then set on fire and everybody cheers as they watch it — and their worries — burn to dust. They then go inside and dance (and drink) the night away.

3 Unique & Lesser-Known American Ski Destinations

The burning of the Loup-Garou wolf

If you’re looking for real animals, you’ll be happy in Red River, as there are plenty of very friendly deer, elk, and wild horses roaming around (but please don’t feed them, as it makes them stop foraging the woods for real food and become malnourished).

3 Unique & Lesser-Known American Ski Destinations

My hubby petting the deer in the town square

Red River is a great place to get ski lessons, as there are about 40% green slopes on the mountain, lessons and lift tickets are inexpensive, and the instructors are top-notch. I got lessons with Adam, and in three days graduated from 100% beginner to being able to handle myself on a snowboard. Next stop: black diamonds!!

3 Unique & Lesser-Known American Ski Destinations

The view from a bunny hill, where I spent most of my time

Tips: To get around town during your stay, be sure to get a rental car because there aren’t any taxis, and Red River is hours from the airport. We stayed at the Auslander because it’s the closest accommodations to the mountain (it’s right at the base), although we soon realized that the whole town it only about a five-minute walk from the ski lift!

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time traveling around Europe, with pied-a-terre's in Zurich, London, Milan and Lyon, France. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 232 Comments

  1. All of them are just fantastic ! Thanks for sharing .. have a nice day ,..

  2. Karen Perry

    Is skiing that fun? Im afraid I will slip. Never tried that in my entire life.

    • Bonnie Wood

      Yes its undeniably fun! Try taking lesson to lessen your fear! Conquer that girl!

  3. Michelle Edwards

    Can’t think of a place for our family get away. Thank god I found Urbanette. I think we can enjoy skiing at Mt. Shasta its nearer to our place us also.

  4. Jessica Garcia

    Never been to these three Destinations that you featured. I miss skiing and snowboarding but can’t do that as of now because I’m pregnant I’ll try to go to one of these place next year together with my family…

  5. Norma Ward

    Winter or Summer Red River is still the best hang out plce for me and my cousins. Many activities to choose from.

    • Paula Smith

      Yah been last week miss RED RIVER already…☹️

  6. Lori Long

    GIVE ME A BREAK! It’s freaking cold! I don’t enjoy skiing that much. Maybe it’s better to just enjoy the view have a spa and eat good food. Thanks anyway.

    • Marilyn Taylor

      It’s totally fun! You are missing a one of a kind experience.

  7. Amy Simmons

    You gave me an option for our wedding anniversary. We both love skiing and I think our kids will enjoy ice skating. It’s gonna be exciting!

  8. Ruby Collins

    Snow boarding in RED RIVER are the best for me. Gonna visit this weekend again.

  9. Mildred Davis

    It’s hard to choose! I want to visit all of them!?

    • Deborah Hughes

      Choose Heber Valley you will enjoy there! I promise! Been there last month. I just can’t believe how accommodating the people are and such a perfect place for relaxation.

  10. Sara Sanders


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