Skiing and snowboarding in Alaska conjures up images of epic backcountry mountaintops and never ending powder lines assisted by helicopter. This is all true stuff. But there’s also ten ski areas serving all ranges of skiers and riders, ranging from first time through legend status.
Local AK Ski Resorts
Most of the resorts can be accessed from Alaska’s most popular cities, including Fairbanks, Juneau and Anchorage. You can also find plenty of heli-skiing options throughout the state. If you plan an AK ski trip near anyone of these major destinations, you’ll be happy you did.
Guide to Alaskan Ski Resorts
The slope scene in Alaska is unique, to say the least. Those who venture to this great Northern oasis will find themselves surrounded by a diverse combination of high quality ski resorts, smaller ski areas and world class heli skiing.
Alaska truly is one of the world’s last frontiers. It’s a place where massive swaths of land are untouched and still belong solely to the wildlife that live there. Much of that wilderness is surrounding the incredible mountain ranges spanning through the state. And, putting two and two together, those mountains provide Alaskans (and visitors of course) with incredible skiing and snowboarding.
Skiing and Snowboarding in The Last Frontier
In Alaska skiing and snowboarding isn’t dominated by huge full service resorts like some of the states in the contiguous United States. Think Colorado, California and the Pacific Northwest where ski resorts are often built up to be far more than just runs and chairlifts. But up North, Alaska offers a much different experience.
Sure, there are a few sort of “mainstream” feeling resorts, and one (Alyeska – Girdwood) which often lands on the top-25 North American ski destinations. But for the most part, Alaska is exciting because of its community ran ski areas and more extreme options.
There’s essentially two options to get on the mountain in Alaska. If you’re looking for the normal ski experience, there are ski resorts peppered around the population centers of Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau (as well as a few stragglers in more remote regions).
But if you want something more extreme, the full Alaska experience if-you-will, heli skiing trips are offered from outlets centered in those cities but with destinations all over the state.
One thing is for certain about skiing or snowboarding in Alaska, you’ll definitely want to hit the hot springs after a weekend of dropping out of helicopters on backcountry peaks.
And the great thing about hitting the slopes in Alaska is that it’s not as popular of a destination for mountain adventurers. So if you head up north for a restorative shredding weekend, you’ll probably breathe a sigh of relief at the crowds.
Resorts & Community Ski Areas
Arctic Valley – Arctic Valley offers skiers and snowboarders the highest elevation point of any resort in the state. A decent sized resort with some basic dining and resting options (none overnight). A fantastic alternative to Alyeska – Girdwood if you want to beat the “crowds” at the main resort.
Alyeska – Girdwood – Alaska’s ski resort claim to fame, Alyeska – Girdwood is a regular on articles under the title of “top-[number] ski resorts in North America”. It’s a full blown experience: fine cuisine, overnight lodging, mountain side resting points with food and drink, extensive terrain and top notch skiing.
Eaglecrest – Eaglecrest is Juneau’s only legitimate ski resort and one of the best in Alaska. It’s known for it’s community run structure and incredible location. It sits perfectly on Douglas Island just on the other side of the Gastineau Channel along Southeast Alaska’s islands around Juneau.
Eaglecrest probably isn’t competing with places like Heavenly in Tahoe in terms of it’s skiing but, there’s nothing like it in the world – skiing on an Alaskan archipelago.
Fort Wainwright – Birch Hill – A small community run ski area designed for one thing: a quick taste of the mountain side with no expectation of challenge. Birch Hill is meant as a cheap, accessible and fun way to get a few runs in. Nothing else. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time!
Hillberg Ski Area – Akin to the Fort Wainwright – Birch Hill ski area, Hillberg is another very small ski area designed for family outings. It’s a very small operation with nothing fancy to call home about, but, it’s nice and approachable for beginners.
Hilltop Ski Area – Hilltop is in this funky little space between ski resort and ski hill. It’s run with high quality and has a triple chairlift that services 10 runs. This is a great option if you want a decent day of skiing with little to no challenge or hassle.
Moose Mountain – In Fairbanks, Moose Mountain is a resort designed for intermediate and advanced riders. It’s close proximity to downtown Fairbanks gives it an extra layer of appeal. One can easily get to Moose Mountain in under 25 minutes and enjoy Interior Alaskan skiing/snowboarding at its finest.
Mt. Eyak – One of Alaska’s remote ski areas is Mt. Eyak. Nestled on the southeastern edges of the Chugach Mountains near Cordova, Mt. Eyak is a true Alaskan experience. A quick 55 minute flight from Anchorage and you’ll be on the slopes at this small but unmatched ski area.
Salmonberry Ski Hill – In Valdez, a more remote region of Alaska, one can find some very basic skiing and snowboarding at Salmonberry Ski Hill, a ski area designed for beginners.
Skeetawk – Hatcher Pass – Brand new on the Anchorage ski scene, Skeetawk is quite small. But, it has plans to expand over the coming years and will be a staple in no time.
Ski Land – Mt. Aurora – Just outside of Fairbanks, smack dab in interior Alaska, Ski Land is North America’s most northern chairlift. That’s worth the ticket price in and of itself. But it’s more than just a tourist attraction, it’s got great skiing at a relatively low cost.
Those that venture to Alaska for skiing are often searching for an extreme option. There is, perhaps, no better place in North America to find heli skiing packages. There are services and outlets that originate from Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau as well as more remote regions like Cordova and Valdez in the Chugach Mountains.
Heli skiing in Alaska is no joke and it requires an understanding of the physical and mental stamina necessary to safely participate in it. But, if you’re prepared for a tough experience, it’s magic. Companies like Majestic Heli Ski, Seaba and Alaska Heliskiing (among many others) offer comprehensive multi-day packages that include lodging, meals and of course, fantastic backcountry skiing.
Finding Magic in Alaska
The land of midnight sun has no shortage of skiing and snowboarding. But, the state has so much more to offer. And that’s why it’s fantastic destination for a ski/snowboard trip.
You can head north and experience a diverse array of outdoor adventures. Hot springs, extensive hiking and backpacking, hunting & fishing and if you’re feeling especially inspired there are a handful of sled dog racing experiences visitors can try out.