Alaska: America’s Last Frontier, A Land Of Superlatives -
Alaska has the country’s highest point (Denali at 20,320 feet) and coldest recorded temperature (-80 F in Prospect Creek in 1971).
It is the largest state in the Union -- at 663,298 square miles, it can fit the next three largest states (Texas, California and Montana) inside its borders with room to spare – and the least densely populated at 1.03 people per square mile.
It has more coast line that the rest of the United States, and the fewest miles of road. It has some pretty decent skiing and snowboarding, too, being the most mountainous state in the country.
Alyeska Resort, which lies 40 miles south of Anchorage, is the biggest winter mountain ski area in the state, encompassing 1,400 acres of prime Chugach Mountains real estate. It has six chair lifts and a 60-passenger aerial tram providing access to 2,500 vertical feet of open bowls, chutes, glades and tree-lined trails for your riding pleasure.
It also gets plenty of snow – an average of 631 inches per year at mid-mountain and 742 inches at the summit. The Hotel Alyeska, located at the base of the ski hill, is a resort unto itself, with world-class amenities, including a renowned spa, and extensive diversions.
A couple of small resorts that serve a big purpose are closer to Anchorage. Hilltop Ski Area, which lies within the Anchorage city limits, has one chairlift and a couple of surface tows providing access to a dozen runs spread over 30 acres and 294 vertical feet. More important, the ski hill is dedicated to providing recreational programs for Anchorage youth. There is also a traditional ski-jump hill on the property.
A littler farther away – 10 miles from downtown Anchorage -- is Alpenglow at Arctic Valley, a weekends-only hill. Its two chair lifts and one T-bar provide access to 320 acres and 1,200 vertical feet of mostly open-bowl riding.
Moose Mountain and Mt. Aurora Skiland are up north in the Fairbanks area are, that fall into the most unusual category.
Moose Mountain, 10 miles west of town, has a couple dozen runs spread out over 1,250 feet of vertical drop and 200 acres. What makes skiing the Moose, as the locals like to say, different is that there are no chair lifts – uphill access is provided by 14 turbo trams (i.e., busses) that run on a regular schedule.
Over at Skiland, which is a little more than 10 miles north of Fairbanks, they have a 24 runs spread over 100 forested acres. Skiland’s 1,050 vertical feet of slope is accessed by a double chair that is the northernmost lift in North America.
Another quirky ski hill is situated in the town of Cordova. Mt Eyak is bare-bones, with a single-chairlift providing access to 30 runs and 400 feet of vertical. There are no terrain parks, no skiing or boarding lessons provided, and no children’s programs at Mt. Eyak.
In the Panhandle part of Alaska lies Eaglecrest Ski Area, which is 12 miles from Juneau on Douglas Island and is community owned and operated. It’s the second largest winter mountain resort in the state, with 640 rideable acres and 1,400 feet of vertical. Three lifts – two double chairs and a surface tow, provide access to 31 named trails that traverse groomers, glades, open bowls, and steep faces.