Alyeska

Alaska, USA

Providing the perfect place to warm up your ski legs before heading over to the Chugach Mountains, Alyeska Resort in Alaska is steep, deep and scenic.  

Scout Loves

  • On a bluebird day you’ll see some spectacular scenery.
  • The only ski resort in the world where sleeping in is OK. Lifts open at 10.30am or 11am during spring.
  • Each year Alyeska gets an average of 650in/16m of snowfall.
  • The luxurious Hotel Alyeska is located right at the base.
  • The bar at Seven Glaciers Restaurant is a great place for a cocktail.
  • Sitzmark bar has a great après ski scene, as well as live music. 

Scout Tips

  • There is some beginner terrain but not a lot of it.
  • Chugach Powder Guides offer heli and cat skiing.
  • Weather can be variable and the resort is often socked in.
  • The North Face is often shut due to avalanche danger or poor conditions.
  • Note: Due to the small number of facilities and activities on offer, Scout does not offer a Field Guide to Alyeska.

Scout Review

Anyone that travels to Alyeska Ski Resort is probably doing so as a side activity to a more major ski event – namely heli skiing, cat skiing or backcountry touring in the Chugach Mountains. It’s a long way for someone from the ‘lower 48’ to come just to ski this resort, but as Scout found out, Alyeska not only makes the perfect complement to those other activities – it can also hold its own as a pretty awesome ski resort.

Alyeska is situated in the Chugach Mountain Range at the town of Girdwood. It is about an hour’s drive from Anchorage along a particularly scenic coastal road.

The resort itself has some challenging terrain, spectacular scenery and (usually) plenty of powder. In fact with an average of 650in/16m per year (at the top) it has the second highest average in North America, after Mt Baker, WA (701in/17.8m). Due to its proximity to the coast, the powder tends to be of the heavier type, and sometimes the base areas can be pretty bare (where there is an average of only 208in/5m).

The 1610 skiable acres of terrain at Alyeska are varied, and advanced and expert skiers will definitely be able to find enough steep and challenging runs to get their hearts pumping. When conditions are right there are some great ‘hike to’ runs, while the North Face runs are long and steep. There are also plenty of perfect runs for intermediates, many of which are quite long – since they extend all the way to the base of the mountain.

Added to all of this are the great chairlifts, especially the Aerial Tram and the new Glacier Bowl Express. Meanwhile, the restaurants and bars are top notch, the Hotel Alyeska offers luxurious accommodation, and the whole place has a cool, relaxed vibe. You will probably end up wanting to stay longer than the few days on the side of a heli week.

Alyeska Accommodation

There are some good lodge and motel options in Girdwood, however the best place to stay is undoubtedly the Hotel Alyeska, with convenient access to the Aerial Tram and great facilities. Read our Hotel Alyeska review.

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Resort Activities

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Scout Field Guide >

One of the main reasons people visit Alyeska is to get some extreme heli or cat skiing action. Chugach Powder Guides operate right from the resort base and ski terrain in the nearby ranges.

Alternatively you can do something else Alaska is famous for and go dog sledding with an authentic Iditarod team. There’s also snowmobiling, snowshoeing and Nordic skiing on offer. And to unwind, the Hotel Alyeska has a great day spa and nice facilities.

Alyeska has several great restaurants, but the hero of the après scene is undoubtedly The Sitzmark which is often ranked in top lists of American après ski bars. It has live music and is a great place to spend a couple of hours, particularly late in the season when the sun is shining on the deck.

 

Note: Due to the small number of facilities and activities on offer, Scout does not offer a Field Guide to Alyeska.

Getting There and Around

Alyeska is situated in the town of Girdwood, an hour from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. It’s an easy drive along the scenic Seward Highway. There are plenty of rental car companies at Anchorage, and it’s definitely the easiest way to get to and around Alyeska. There is a public shuttle bus that connects the various base areas of the resort.

When To Go

Alyeska opens at the end of November and operates until around the end of April. Temperatures can be pretty cold in January and February, when the daylight hours also limit the amount of fun you can have (January has only 5:39 hrs of average daylight). At the tail end of the season however the days stretch on forever and the temperatures are warm (April’s average is 13:22 hrs of daylight and 43F/6c).

Facts & Figures

Mountain Information   Lifts   Terrain    
Base Elevation 250ft / 76m Tram 1 Beginner 11%  
Summit Elevation 3939ft / 1200m Express Quads 2 Intermediates 52%  
Vertical Drop (hike to top) 3200ft / 975m Quad Chair 2 Advanced 37%  
Skiable Area 1610ac / 651ha Double Chairs 2      
Annual Snowfall (top) 650in / 16.5m Surface Lifts 2      
Operating Hours 10.30am –5.30pm Uphill Lift Capacity 12,196      
Night skiing (Thurs-Sat Jan 8 - Mar 28) 4.00pm-9.00pm          
MAGAZINE
Photo: Corbet\'s Couloir at Jackson Hole.

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