Neat, lesser known US ski areas
Here are a few comments on some lesser known ski areas that I found surprisingly enjoyable. I'd like to hear from others on this topic. I mentioned in another discussion that I thought Wildcat ski area in NH was one of the more interesting ski area "discoveries" I had come across...long, winding trails, gnarly bumps, glades, superb (for the east) scenery of Mt. Washington, interesting nearby town of North Conway, lots of diversions, etc. This area is so old it is new again. To be honest, area is also known for lousy lifts and frigid conditions. I also had a great ski week at Smugglers Notch, Vt about 10 years ago. Didn't expect much, but got a lot more mountain than I bargained for, was not bored even after 5 straight days, my attention span tends to be short. Area appeared very kid-friendly although I didn't have any with me at the time. Small crowds, good snow, possible to bushwack over to nearby Stowe ski area. I had an opportunity to try Ski Sante Fe in NM one day in March about 5 years ago at a time when it had super amount of natural snow. It had a real nice high alpine feel to it, with both wide open terrain and trails among thick evergreens. Very near to culturally intersting city of Sante Fe, also only about an hour or two from formidable Taos ski area.
It's not exactly an unknown, but for easy cruising I found Stratton Mtn, Vt to be very pleasant, but it's expensive. Wildcat, Smugglers and Stratton have about 2000' verticals, Ski Sante Fe has around 1600-1700' vert. Tell me about some of your ski area discoveries so I can start fantasizing about possible trips for next season.
Laurel Mountain Ski Area in PA is a local one that comes to mind. It just opened up after being closed for 10 years. There I found long trails, 900 foot vertical, good steeps, and a relatively good amount of natural snow(about 100 inches per year.) When I was there, there were many woods skiing opportunites, however these are not shown on the map. The terrain is a bit limited however.
In Vermont I went to Killington but actually enjoyed more its lesser known sister Pico. The trails at Pico are much longer than Killingtons, haver good character, no lift lines, and many glades. I went to Wildcat about a month ago and agree with everything you said.