Kirkwood, California
Credit: Corey Rich / Getty Images

Don't let the fact that Kirkwood Ski Resort is run by Vail mislead you. The Lake Tahoe stalwart is rough around the edges in all the ways that its Coloradan cousins aren't. Run entirely on generators, Kirkwood eschews glamour in favor of charm and way more than a reasonable amount of powder.

Spread out over 72 groomed trails, three parks, and 2,000 skiable acres, Kirkwood is California's capital of steep and a bastion of Sierra Nevada playfulness. It has the best terrain in Tahoe, with enough glades and ledges and sweepers that you'll never long for an amenity, much less a warming hut. And with an average annual snowfall of over 600 inches – one of the best stat lines in North America – you won't have time for the spa anyway.