Mountain Activities

Everything You Need to Know About Girdwood, Alaska and Skiing

a skier skiing down a slope terrain on a sunny day

Skiing is a sport or a recreational activity that involves gliding through snow on a pair of long, flat, narrow pieces of wood or plastic called skis. It is a competitive sport that mainly falls into two categories: Nordic that uses a free-heel binding system or Alpine that requires using flat-foot bindings.

Skiing is one of the most popular winter activities that people enjoy doing, especially when there are mountain snow and slopes. Tourists often travel to other places during their vacation to do the activity. There are many breathtaking places where you could try skiing, and one of those is in Alaska. This state has many ski resorts to offer, and one of them is in Girdwood, a small town located south of Alaska’s largest metropolis.

Girdwood, Alaska

Girdwood, Alaska, is a mountain town located about 36 miles south of Anchorage (Alaska’s largest city) that is settled in the middle of a lush forest. The peaks of Chugach Mountain Range also border this small town. To get there, you’ll have to take a 45-minute drive or longer when it’s winter season following Seward Highway down to Turnagain Arm. Unfortunately, there are no taxi services in Girdwood, so tourists are highly recommended to rent cars from the available rental services in Anchorage.

The small town offers different outdoor activities during the summer and winter seasons. The activities range from a couple of fairs and festivals you could visit to dog-sledding across a glacier and more winter activities. Tourists flock to Girdwood for several reasons, but what rakes in most tourists are their winter activities, and one of those is skiing.

skiers doing exhibitions in the air under a sunny weather

Skiing in Girdwood

Girdwood draws plenty of visitors every year, and most of them are there to try their skiing and snowboarding activities. Originally called the “Glacier City,” this town attracts many skiers during the Winter season. These skiing enthusiasts delight in the icy behemoths from the trails and the slopes to the steep mountain views that the town has to offer.

Hotel Alyeska

There is one resort that skiers frequent in Girdwood, and that is Hotel Alyeska. This luxury resort is located at the base of Mount Alyeska, which is one of the things that Girdwood is famous for. This resort is a contemporary Alpine-style hotel, and visiting it gives tourists a view of the glaciers and bald eagles flying through the mountainside. The hotel’s front-desk could point you in the direction of the mountain where you could try your adventurous bucket-list like downhill skiing.

Alyeska Resort Downhill Skiing

The resort was rated as one of the top 10 ski destinations by Skiing and by Conde Nast Traveler as one with the “Best view of any U.S. ski resort” because of its breathtaking ocean, glacier, and mountain views. Alyeska experiences an average of 650 inches and 208 inches, at the top and at the base, respectively, of annual snowfall. At present, there are about 1.610 skiable acres and 76 recognized runs and trails that you could try at Alyeska. They have the Fun Field and Magic Carpet ski lift that beginners can use while the experts go for the North Face, also dubbed as the longest continuous double black diamond run in North America. The mountain’s vertical rise is about 3,200 feet from its headwall to its base. It’s open for night skiing from mid-December to mid-March until 9 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday. The current price of ski lift tickets for an adult during the weekend is $89 for a day pass and $79 for half-day, while the weekday tickets cost $62 for a day pass and $55 for half day.

Ski Learning Centers

If you’re new to skiing or if you’re not yet confident in your abilities, there is a Mountain Learning Center that offers private and group ski lessons available for people of all ages, no matter your abilities. They also offer guides to show you around the most challenging areas. The town also offers ski lessons through Challenge Alaska Adaptive Ski and Snowboard School on site. It’s a non-profit organization that seeks to improve the community’s life, especially those with disabilities, by offering programs and services like adaptive sports and therapeutic recreation.

Experience Alyeska’s Backcountry

Go and explore the resort’s backcountry on your own or with a tour guide. You could rent snowshoes or cross-country skis and go cross-country skiing, cat-skiing or heli-skiing, or snowshoeing. There are many trails in the area, and a series of them is accessible right from the hotel. The system also has a new 5-K Nordic Ski Loop that is available for skiers only.

After an exciting day of exploring and skiing in Girdwood, you could end the day with a relaxing session. You could either ride a tram and ride up to Seven Glaciers Restaurant that presents a gorgeous view of the Turnagain Arm and the Chugach Mountains, or view it from the base while dining in Jack Sprat.

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