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 spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.


  1. I’m not a big skier, but these places look really fun. Which is the best destination for snow shoeing?

  2. I’m in for a perfect and daring winter vacation 😉 Thanks for this!

  3. Thanks for the suggestions. Will definitely keep this in mind for my family’s future winter travel!

  4. It looks like this is a beautiful place to explore and discover!

  5. This article reminded me of a fantastic and most memorable “ski” experience I had two years ago. How I missed Heber Valley…

  6. I appreciate that the restaurant offers dishes with organic ingredients

  7. Thank you for sharing these amazing destinations. You just made me fall in love with winter.

  8. Sarah Uibel

    Such a great piece. I have such a hard time finding these types of gems. Very helpful!!

  9. Heather Strobel

    I can’t wait to visit Red River! I’m going to squeeze a trip in before the end of the year. I can’t wait to have a brilliant weekend of skiing and live entertainment. 🙂

  10. The Tamarack Resort looks like the best place for a crowded family like us to go. So if we take our nanny with us, while my husband and I are having romantic dates, the kids can have a lot of fun doing all these entertaining activities! 🙂

    • Yeah, there are definitely tons of fun activities in and near that town.

  11. Hazel Collins

    With thousands of stunning ski places to visit all over the world, it’s easy for many of them to get overlooked or simply be unheard of. Your list has a lot to offer and it looks like I’ll be able to easily find vast swathes of fresh untracked areas at these destinations. These are absolutely amazing and unique places to ski …I love the easy access, beautiful works of art and other activities they offer.

  12. Monica CONOVER

    Live music while skiing?! Is this real life? Sounds fantastic! I want to experience this!

  13. Marina Henderson

    Seeing that video of Mount Shasta made me want to go snowboarding! Strange part is I’ve never done that, never even thought of it before. 🙂 Great work, amazing article. Thanks!

    • It’s a lot of fun, and a great activity to do with friends — definitely worth picking it up. Ask your friends, I bet a lot of them either ski or board. 🙂

  14. Fun times! You sound like you enjoyed each place so much. Red River in New Mexico seems like the most fun to me. ps. you look beautiful in that faux fur hat!

  15. Colleen Frasier

    Just wondering, which one did you go to first? And did you go to all three of them within the same year? Asking only because I want to go on a snowboard / skii vacation but I’m clueless about where to start.

    • I’d start with Red River, as it’s a great place to get lessons and learn. There’s a big area with green (beginner) slopes at the top of the mountain, too, so you can get the great views while learning.

  16. ????

    I need this in my life right about NOW! I’ll speak to my family and see if they want to accompany me to a trip to New Mexico for a snow vacay! We have a lot of relatives there so, it’ll be a good excuse to stop by and see them too. 🙂

  17. Danielle Wilson

    How fun! I want to go to all three of them. Already planned it in my mind. I’ll visit one of them each year. So now I have my 3 years winter vacation all planned! 😀 Can’t wait! Winter has always been my favorite season. I think growing up in New York has a lot to do with it.

  18. Stunning places! How does one decide to which one to visit? Need some time away from the big city, but we’re not sure whether to make it a snow or a sun vacation. After this article, snow vacation seems more fancy to me though.

  19. Skiing and hotsprings in one package? Wow! The Tamarack Resort sounds and looks amazing. I’m totally loving the Burgdorf Hot Springs. I should go before the end of the winter.

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