The Best Beginner Tours for Backcountry Throughout the United States

Once the winter season is in full swing, it’s normal to get that feeling of stir-craziness that only comes along with being cooped up indoors for days – even weeks – at a time. But thanks to fun winter sports like backcountry skiing, it doesn’t actually have to be this way. 

Exploring untouched snow-covered terrain on a pair of skis is not just an amazing way to get in some wintertime activity that doesn’t involve your couch and long Netflix binges. It’s also a great way to get social (while socially distanced outdoors) and it’s even considered a decent cardio workout, and we all know that cardio is important for staying fit and healthy

Aside from geography, the biggest thing that keeps people from taking up fun outdoor hobbies like backcountry skiing is the fear of the unknown. How can you know that a backcountry tour is safe enough for your newbie skills? 

Well, this list of the best destinations for beginner-friendly backcountry skiing throughout the US can definitely help you to figure it all out. 

Mt. Baker, Washington

Washington state is a no-brainer addition to add to any list of best backcountry skiing destinations in the continental US. And thanks to Mt. Baker, you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy the season’s fresh powder. 

The Mt. Baker ski area is an outdoor playground for anyone who owns a pair of skis, and that includes all skill levels. Complete beginners will want to check out Swift Creek, which features easy laps that are shorter than average, making it perfect for those who want a quick run. 

Johnson Canyon, California

Lake Tahoe may seem like the obvious choice for skiers in California, but there’s actually another location that’s better for novice skiers: Truckee’s Johnson Canyon. Truckee is about a 20-minute drive from Lake Tahoe, so you’ll still get the incredible scenery and breathtaking backdrop, just with a more beginner-friendly experience. 

The Jonhson Canyon Overlook is stunning, and it’s a go-to choice for hikers in the summertime and skiers in the winter months. Even for new skiers, it’s a low-risk tour with high-value views. 

Galena Summit, Idaho

While you may not automatically think of Idaho as a skier’s destination, Galena Summit will quickly change that perception. This summit is located in the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho, and saying that this mountain range is a hidden gem is an understatement. 

While it doesn’t get a lot of attention compared to ranges out West, it should, but the lack of prestige is actually a bonus since you won’t run into big crowds when visiting Galena. 

Tumalo Mountain, Oregon

Tumalo is actually a small volcano that’s located in the Cascade Mountains of Central Oregon. It’s super popular among backcountry skiers of all skill levels since the Ice Age glaciers create a massive cirque, making a bowl shape that’s great for skiing. 

The only real downside of Tumalo is that it’s a heavily-trafficked route, so you won’t get much of an alone-in-the-wilderness vibe here. The good news, though, is that this small volcano offers great views of all the larger ones surrounding it. 

Tony Grove, Utah

Utah is an obvious choice for your next skiing adventure, and among all the great courses and tours here, Tony Grove is the obvious choice for newbies. The route going towards Tony Grove Lake is filled with everything from expansive meadows to cascading cliffs. Beginners usually focus on the Early Bowl since it’s got low angles and no rock hazards.  

Telemark Meadows, Montana

Telemark Meadows is an attraction in the iconic Yellowstone National Park of Montana. The average slope of the terrain is pretty mild – an average of 14% (or 8 degrees) – and the views are anything but mild. This is your chance to take in all the snow-covered meadows of Yellowstone. 

While it’s important to learn avalanche safety anywhere you choose to ski, it’s especially important in Montana. There are literally dozens of avalanche courses offered in Montana with tons more online resources for staying safe and taking the right precautions.

Wright Peak, New York

For the best taste of Northeastern US backcountry, you’ll want to check out Wright Peak. It’s located in New York’s Adirondacks and although it can get some heavy traffic at times, it’s still entirely worth it. This tour is about 6 miles long, and while certain parts of it may pose challenges for beginners, it’s fairly easy and straightforward for the most part.