Alaska boasts the most mountainous terrain in the country, as well as long winters, serious snowfall — which totals dozens of feet annually — and intense skiing opportunities. If snow sports are your passion, there are plenty of ski areas and vacation rentals in Alaska for you to easily indulge in winter recreation. While many ski resorts are situated along the Gulf of Alaska, great options are also tucked away in central Alaska. Here are the top destinations for skiing in the state.
1. Alyeska Resort
Alyeska Resort is expansive, a fitting ski area for a big state. It covers over 1,400 acres in the Chugach Mountains and National Forest and lies 40 miles south of Anchorage. This distance (and the size of the resort) ensures that it isn’t overcrowded. You can opt for a vacation rental at the resort, or you can find something a little closer to Anchorage so that during your downtime you can do some serious shopping. With its location up north, the winter is long and the powder deep, with an average of 631 to 742 inches of snow a year. Because the nights are long as well in the depths of winter, the resort is all about the night skiing with well-lit runs. The resort has six chairlifts to service 2,500 vertical feet of ski runs, and a 60-passenger aerial tram to get you from one hot spot to the next. The resort amenities also covers a massive area, and you’ll find all the things you might need, from restaurants and grocery stories to ski equipment rental services and spas to soothe your well-used muscles.
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2. Hilltop Ski Area
Hilltop Ski Area is much more modest in size than Alyeska and closer to Anchorage. Covering 30 acres and 294 vertical feet with one chairlift and about 12 runs, it’s the perfect place for a quiet ski vacation. The resort offers skiing lessons to adults and children, making it the ideal place when introducing the kids to skiing for the first time. Hilltop Ski Area lies right on the outskirts of Anchorage, giving you a diverse choice when it comes to vacation rentals. Plus, there are other great winter activities nearby from dog sledding (try Seavey’s IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours or Dream A Dream Sled Dog Tours) to wildlife tours via Salmon Berry Tours and the Alaska Zoo.
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3. Mount Eyak Ski Area
If you want to go rustic — just you, a few friends or family, and minimalist skiing — then Mount Eyak Ski Area is the place for you. This non-profit resort is part wilderness adventure and part history lesson. The single chairlift — which takes you to the 30 ski runs – is a 1939 American Steel and Wire lift, a historic (but well-maintained), item. Although Mount Eyak ski area is small and doesn’t offer lessons, it does have rental shops and food service so that you can travel light and ski all day. Another unique skiing adventure, brought to you by Points North Heli-Adventures, Inc., is heli-skiing along the Chugach Mountain Range. Mount Eyak is more than about skiing. It lies across the Prince William Sound from Alyeska with the small town of Cordova nestled at the base. When you’re not skiing, you can visit the Ilanka Cultural Center and Cordova Historical Museum to learn about the local history, or go on a tour of the five major glaciers in the area.
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4. Eaglecrest Ski Area
Eaglecrest Ski Area lies just 12 miles west of Juneau on Douglas Island in Alaska’s panhandle. This unique location combines skiing with a scenic view of the bay and towering mountains. The ski area boasts four chairlifts, 31 trails, a mixture of terrain, and 640 skiable acres with varying difficulty ratings for all experience levels, making it a great place to take the entire family. In fact, there are youth multi-day programs so you can drop off the kids to learn about skiing while you tackle harder slopes. Plus, there’s a cafe and grill where you can keep yourself fueled between runs. With a snow bus available for commuting, getting there from your vacation rental is a breeze. Within a few miles of Eaglecrest and Juneau lies Mendenhall Glacier, one of the most popular vacation destinations in the state. If you want to take a break from skiing, tour the 13-mile long glacier where you can snowshoe, view the wildlife, and even do some ice climbing.
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5. Moose Mountain Ski Resort
Moose Mountain lies just outside of Fairbanks in central Alaska. It’s a good size with about 750 acres with runs for all skill levels. It’s known for two things: its south-facing runs, allowing for sunnier skiing and low winds, and lack of chairlifts. Instead of chairlifts, the resort has 14 turbo trams, shuttling people up the mountain regularly. After a day on the slopes, soak away your aches and warm up in the natural Tolovana Hot Springs or Wilbur Hot Springs.
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6. Mount Aurora Skiland
Even further north than Moose Mountain is Mount Aurora Skiland, the northernmost ski area in North America. This resort is known for its forested ski runs, of which there are 24, and its views of the Aurora Borealis. When not enjoying the great outdoors, head down to Fairbanks, 10 miles to the south, for some good food. The Cookie Jar Restaurant offers breakfast comfort foods such as biscuits and gravy and corned beef and hash. There’s also a lunch and dinner menu, covering all your food needs.
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