Major ski destinations can have all the charm of a factory assembly line—lifts dump snowsuit-clad locals and tourists into chaotic, crowded clusters. It's like the difference between booking a stay at a private resort vs. cramming onto a mass-market cruise liner. It pays to venture on the path less traveled.

"Resorts that take a little longer to get to often reward skiers and riders riders with fewer crowds, untracked powder, and down-to-earth mountain towns that make you feel at home,” says Dan Sherman, chief marketing officer at ski.com, North America’s largest provider of mountain vacations.

With more than 46 years of ski-vacation planning experience, the experts at ski.com recommend here seven hidden gems in the U.S. and abroad.