Alyeska Resort | The Radical Hidden Gem of Alaska

Paulie | BackcountryBackcountry | Featured ArticleFeatured Article

[Sponsored by: Alyeska Resort, AK]

Ski days are great days at Alyeska, AK. Courtesy Photo

Lingering rays of daylight are dipping over Mount Alyeska and Turnagain Arm. The snow-fat slopes are shimmering blood red to royal purple. Inversion layer is advancing across the water.

The shifting clouds, slowly covering the sea arm like a blanket, seem to be tucking to bed the radical hidden gem that is Alyeska Resort at Girdwood, Alaska.

Alone in space; a skier mid-descent of pristine Mount Alyeska slope. Image: Ralph Kristopher

A global hot spot among mountain recreation destinations, Alyeska and Girdwood have somehow maintained their quiet blip at the edge of the ski-world radar. A small town vibe, rustic feel flourish under that cozy cloak. Terrain is thrillingly raw. And the proud, caterwauling roots of early valley living remain as true today as a century before.

Alyeska Resort, in its Girdwood Valley home preserves of all that’s awesome about Alaska skiing.

Experiences of a lifetime, served-up every day, at Alyeska AK. Image: Ralph Kristopher

Setting pace straightaway is impressive orientation of Girdwood itself. While it is true that scene’s from the state’s ripper winters are enjoyed digitally around the world, nothing on a screen can top the first look from the turn onto the Alyeska Highway. Warm lights of classic homesteads wink through lush rainforest. Handsome peaks rise close beside the road. Glaciated fingers hang as earthly ornaments above the lights of town.

The welcome of the locals shines equally beside the visual splendor at Alyeska and Girdwood. The resort is a principle stop for Glacier Valley Transit, the local transport option. And arriving first-timers often rave about the friendly, fast, and free-of-charge access to such a stunning valley. The same proves true about the town. Conversation begins, and carries, with tranquil ease. Ski day ‘best buddies’ are commonly made while sharing the chair. Plus there’s no shortage of friendly smiles and waving ‘hello’s’ while crossing the neighborhood’s charming dirt streets.

The sprawl of Girdwood Valley well represents the imagery evoked by the Great Land, yet its distances and amenities maintain close convenience. A fat-tire bike is ideal for transportation and recreation here. But a simple stroll suffices just as well. The Hotel Alyeska, mountain base area, and main ski lodge are grouped at practically footstep proximity.

Rider Gabe Gibbs enjoying classic North Face conditions. Image: Carson Baldiviez

As for Mount Alyeska, the crown jewel at the head of Girdwood Valley and home to North Face, the nation’s longest double black diamond run amidst the state’s largest commercial ski operation, it is a collection of ‘hidden gems’ blanketed by the snow of legend. Secret caches and unexpected rushes wait past most bends in the slopes. And no two laps at Alyeska Resort are ever truly alike.

Families benefit by all-ages access to lower mountain aspects. These are serviced conveniently by chairlifts or magic carpets that are a mere stroll from the heated shelter of lodges and restaurants. And the freestyle-minded enjoy separate but equally fluid access to lower mountain terrain parks, again with chairlifts close at hand for smooth, fast lap times.

Mount Alyeska’s higher reaches are home to still more snow gems—and practically limitless opportunities. Cleverly arrayed chairlifts and an Aerial Tram ferry skiers rapidly to zones featuring lofty bowls or charging mountain faces, and from there the POW only gets better. Various boot-packed ascents open when weather or stability cooperates. And subsequent traverse routes scoot Alyeska Resort’s line chasers to gnarly terrain already famous for beautiful snow depth.

Alyeska Resort offers unrivaled refreshment, on piste or off. Courtesy Photo

Typical side-effect to a day spent slashing Mount Alyeska’s ski-panoply is healthy appetite. That’s where Bore Tide Deli & Bar come in. It doesn’t get any more convenient (or panoramic) than hot food made to order, served beside a Brew-Ski crafted by Girdwood Brewing Company, while perched atop a powder-fat Alaska mountainside.

And later, while temperatures are cooling, Alyeska Resort is just heating up.

Visiting act, Lucero heats up the Sitzmark stage. Image: Ralph Kristopher

Iconic names of the traveling music scene frequently call-in at Sitzmark Bar & Grill, a slope-side locality known for daytime grooves turned rockin vibes by night. The nearby Daylodge is the perfect family picnic site. And additional artisan-based local shops fill conveniently the short spaces in-between.

The Hotel Alyeska, AK. Welcome to wonderland. Courtesy Photo

The Hotel Alyeska, only a few turns down a picturesque road raises the standard in accommodation and amenity luxury while maintaining a down-to-earth atmosphere. Opulent rooms are warm and waiting. Dining options range from cooked breakfasts on the Pond or bar meals at Aurora, to fresh Sakura sushi and fine dining with altitude at famous Seven Glaciers Restaurant.

Alaska’s pinnacle snow resort destination and it’s stunningly glaciated  Girdwood Valley nest are only minutes from main vein roadways and easily accessed from air and rail hub, Anchorage. Yet the magic of Alyeska and the surrounding valley impart, somehow, the sense of being very far away indeed from the everyday.

Powder-y goods hide in plain sight at Alyeska Resort. Image: Ralph Kristopher

It’s the hidden gems that make each season so special to the ski faithful. And a radical example waits quietly in Alyeska Resort at Girdwood Alaska.

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