The Best Independent Resorts
For the skier who likes to shop locally
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Not every great small resort gets eaten up by corporations. Montana’s Bridger Bowl has been a nonprofit since it opened in 1955. This winter it will complete a $4.1 million lift upgrade, but you should still aim for the Ridge. Vermont’s Mad River Glen (cooperatively owned since 1995) offers the East Coast’s most challenging terrain on its 115 acres of trails and 800 acres of tree skiing—although it doesn’t allow snowboarders.
Mountain Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization that helps ski areas become more sustainable through green initiatives, recently took over management of Maine’s Mount Abram, a locals’ spot near small-town Bethel. MRA plans to turn the mountain into a co-op by selling shares to community members; solar panels will power the five lifts, which access 1,150 vertical feet and 44 trails full of natural jumps and steep tree shots off the summit. Family-owned Berkshire East, in Massachusetts, offers surprisingly good tree skiing, and the place is powered entirely by an on-site wind turbine.