Downhill Skiing

Click into your skis and discover the open bowls, tree-lined trails, and top-to-bottom runs at Alaska’s top ski resort.
More on Alyeska Skiing
Get Inspired: Alaska for Greenhorns
Get Going: Visit's guide to Alyeska for stats, trail maps, snow reports, and more.

Why travel all the way to Alaska to ski when those more accessible big guns in Colorado, Utah, or Wyoming beckon? It's a different experience, that's why. Skiing Alaska-style combines the positives of skiing all over North America—room to roam, great snow, stellar facilities—then magnifies it on an Alaskan scale. Alyeska is the state's premier destination resort, located an easy hour's drive from Anchorage. Two adjectives apply here: big (1,000 acres, 68 runs, and 2,500 feet of vertical rise) and snowy (as much as 1,000 inches of annual snowfall).

While skiers from the East Coast might be overwhelmed by the size, they'll find some similarities. Within sight of saltwater, the ski area's base elevation is near sea level, which means that skiers don't have to worry about the effects of altitude. The coastal location moderates the temperatures, as well, keeping them typically between zero and 30 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the month and where on the mountain you're skiing.

You've also got variety. One entire side of the mountain is devoted to black-diamond and double-black skiing, while the front section is largely geared for intermediates. There's plenty of beginner and family-friendly terrain on the lower slopes, too, not to mention several miles of cross-country trails, glacier tubing, dogsled tours, ice-skating, and flightseeing for non-skiers.

For intermediate through expert skiers, Alyeska boasts both snow-cat skiing and heli-skiing—meaning that extreme backcountry skiers can get a fix, even when the weather grounds the choppers. Note that to qualify as an intermediate, you've got to do more than survive your first blue run: You don't have to be a daredevil on the steep-and-narrows, but you should be able to confidently ski through deep, ungroomed snow.

Published: 3 Nov 2006 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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