Alyeska Resort, the largest ski resort in Alaska, is situated
amidst natural beauty unparalleled anywhere in the lower
48 states. In the popular imagination, Alaska is a state of endless snow, majestic glaciers, and soaring
mountains: a perfect setting for a world-class ski area.
The base at Alyeska Ski Resort is located at just 250 feet above sea level, but despite the relatively low elevation, much of Mt. Alyeska Alaska is above tree-line. A high-speed tram carries riders from the luxury Alyeska Hotel at the base up to over 2,500 feet high in just four minutes. A higher chairlift makes the total lift-served vertical drop 2,500 feet and you can hike higher, to the top of Mt. Alyeska Alaska, at 3,939 feet. Nine lifts at Alyeska Resort serve a total of 1,000 skiable acres.
Once at the top of Alyeska Resort, the entire vertical drop is skiable in a single run, with choice of terrain of varying difficulty. Experts should consider hiking to the peak and tackling the extreme Glacier Bowl and the Headwall. Or just turn skiers’ right off the top of the summit lifts and head down the equally challenging North Face (open when conditions permit), with great ridge drop-off at the top turning into tough double-black runs forested at the bottom: Jim’s Branch and Last Chance. Another option for extreme terrain at Alyeska Resort is to traverse all the way across the main bowl and drop down into some fresh powder or continue to Max’s steeps.
Much of the main face above the Alyeska ski base is rated blue for intermediates. The wide-open areas accessible from the summit lifts have many intermediate routes and gentle, lightly forested trails. Trails under Chair 1 and Chair 4 are nice cruising blues. Tanika Hill, to your right from the Alyeska ski base, is a good warm-up slope serviced by its own lift.
With only 11% of Alyeska Ski Resort rated green, this is not the best resort for beginners. There are, however, some good introductory slopes off two surface lifts and a couple green runs —Christmas, Perseverance, and Stitzmark — off Chair 3. Chair 7, which leaves from the secondary base around Alyeska Hotel, services the mellow Prince run and a good snowboarding terrain park.
Alyeska Ski Resort gets an annual average snowfall of 630 inches, so the ski season is reliably long. Temperatures are cold, but not unbearably so, averaging between 10 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Dusk comes early at during the height of winter, but spring skiing at Alyeska Alaska has more daylight hours than any resort in the United States.
Alyeska Resort is only 45 minutes from Anchorage Alaska, so it is a great place for day skiing for city residents. Visitors from the lower 48 states can choose to stay in Anchorage hotels or find lodging in an Alyeska hotel. It is worth looking into deals that combine airfare, lodging, and lift tickets. If possible, book into the Prince Alyeska Hotel at the bottom of the tram, a model in self-contained luxury ski accommodation.
Alaska is winter country, so there is no shortage of
other activities around Alyeska Resort: snowshoeing, dogsledding,
cross-country skiing, heli-skiing, and sightseeing flights
over the glaciers, to name but a few. You may also be
lucky enough to see the spectacular aurora
borealis of the Northern Lights. A ski vacation to
Alyeska Alaska is a unique experience.