The invigoration of crisp cold air beats against my face and whips through my clothes. My skis slice through fresh powder leaving my temporary imprint in the mountainside. I pick up speed and carve my way down the face of the mountain as I remember my passion for these off-beaten trails, these diamonds in the rough that escape the public eye. While of course we all know about Breckenridge, about Vail, about Aspen, there are so many hidden gems that reside just under our nose, submerged in pristine powder and boasting of spectacular views. I often dream of these places, of these snowcapped paradises that lie in wait:

Girdwood, Alaska

This marvelous and quintessential ski town is a former gold-mine village fashioned from the edge of a dense forest. Retaining a palpable atmosphere of frontier mentality, the luxury hotel at the base of the mountain notwithstanding, the town and its inhabitants embrace beginners and experts alike with open arms to facilitate escape from daily life. Take the path less traveled and find your own way to discover some of the most beautiful sights you can imagine.

Take a break to fill your stomach with a hearty meal at The Double Musky Inn. Cajun cuisine never tasted so good as delicious smells fill your nose and spices broaden your taste buds’ horizon. Slice into a piece of heaven with a piece of premium meat cooked to perfection.

Fernie, British Columbia, Canada

Powerful peaks penetrate expansive skies while lush snow blankets the ground. Few moments match when you part the snow with your skies as golden sunlight bathes your face in fleeting warmth. Climb to the top of the terrain to transcend the top of the world. Historic, this intimate town of only 4,217 people provides a close-knit community experienced skiers will find more refreshing than the clean air that fills the area.

After a tiring day on the slopes, pay a visit to the Griz Bar. Sip on a cool beer while acoustic bands fill the air with warm sounds. Order the nachos for a cheesy delight that perfectly complements the evening. Oh yeah, don’t forget to ask about the naked table sliding…

Zermatt, Switzerland

A taste of the past’s presence today, Zermatt has retained its old world charm throughout history and continues to exemplify its unique tradition in everything from its architecture to its residents. Just as Switzerland is known to the skier world as a winter paradise, so is Zermatt known to the Swiss as skiing nirvana. Encapsulated by jagged peaks and radical runs, Zermatt beckons the young and the restless for an adrenaline-filled trip of beautiful, beautiful speed. Glide down the face of the mountain and maneuver back-breaking turns and radical drops. Face the unknown with two poles, two skis, and one unbreakable spirit of euphoria.

For when night falls over Zermatt’s abundant awe-inducing spectacles, I recommend heading to Hotel Post Zermatt. With five bars, delectable cocktails, and exquisite cuisine, few things will cap a day better than Hotel Post Zermatt. Mingle with residents and tourists alike, and be glad you did.

Now at the end of my run at the bottom of the mountain, enjoying a nice local brew and watching the sun go down, I realize one simple thing: life is good.