Girdwood Alaska- Great for people who don’t mind an adventure that will take them into un-paved trails.
This small-town success lays behind the earlier success as a gold-mining town. Surrounded by forests and the Chugach Mountains, Girdwood has become a favorite place for ski enthusiasts.
Hippies and ski enthusiasts were abundant in the 70s which led to the creation of a luxurious hotel located close to the ski resort. Despite the sensual touches of this particular hotel, the laid back and frontier style ambience of this town has stayed intact.
Several of the roads are difficult to navigate due to the lack of pavement, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more popular clothing brand other than Carhartt.
This little town is located about forty miles from the busy city of Anchorage. Life is incredibly quiet and humble for this minuscule town with a population of about 2,000.
Just on the edge of town is the Alyeska Resort, which is the largest renowned ski resort located in Alaska.
This particular resort features such amenities like six ski lifts, and a tram that is capable of holding up to 60 people. During the steep climb up the mountains, the tram features views to the ocean.
The tree line in this specific location is particularly low, the top half of the mountain is covered in alpine trees that are carefully scattered throughout. This resort is reminiscent of the Alps rather than an American ski resort.
There’re plenty of options that are perfectly suited to the expert and beginner skiing enthusiasts.
However, expert skiing individuals will be best suited to this particular resort. If you’re not afraid of including some hiking in your adventures, there’re several ridges near the peak of the mountain that contain a variety of chutes that you can hike through.
Whether it’s the freezing temperatures, or the distance from the rest of North America, Alaska isn’t notorious for huge crowds.
Which is a shame considering the beauty would give some other resorts a run for their money. The best times to visit are during March when 12 hours of daylight shine through the angry clouds. The lifts run through April and some weekends in May.
Elyse Saugstad is native to Girdwood and knows the mountains like the back of her hands.
She’s a professional skier and claimed the champion status in the 2008 free ride championships. When inquired about her specific advice for this particular resort, she had the following to offer:
Best budget hotel is the Alyeska Hostel which is conveniently close by to the resort. It may not have all the bells and whistles, but guests are usually thrilled with the accommodations. This hotel was first established in 1980 and is rich with history.
The Alyeska Hotel. This hotel is owned and operated by the ski resort. This five-star hotel has amazing dining options, and they even offer the option do reminder wake-up calls so their guests may sample the delights of the northern lights. Once you step out of the entrance, you can board the tram.
If you’re on a budget, Coast Pizza offers slices of pie, grilled cheese sandwiches, and the finest pizza around town.
The Double Musky Inn offers some of the optimal Cajun inspired cuisine for guests. It’s important to note that this option may not be best for vegetarians as the menu seems to be mostly comprised of meat options only.
The fillets are perfectly sized. You definitely leave this restaurant feeling like you got enough food for your buck. If you’re a gumbo connoisseur, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the Gumbo.
Down Time from Skiing.
At the bottom of the mountain sits a ski bar that has managed to stay intact despite the frequent changes the resort has endured through the years.
You can find amazing food, hard drinks, and some live music all in this action-packed bar.
When you want to take a break from skiing.
Take a drive into the nearest city; Anchorage Alaska. Being just 45 minutes away, you’ll find great shopping and other entertainment outlets.
Classical Ski Options.
Try the north side of the mountains down Christmas Chute.
Who this destination is ideal for: Families and groups
Whitefish Montana’s has a rich history as a logging and rail road town. While this particular destination for skiing may not be the first suggested resort for skiing, it has a lot to offer to families or groups who have various experience levels of skiing.
White the natives of this town are renowned for being drama and glitz free, there has been a steady influx of luxury cars and fur coats rolling in.
Despite this, the town has maintained its rough hard-working character its well known for. The newly renovated Whitefish Mountain Resort which was formerly known as the Big Mountain resort, towers over most of the bars and restaurants in this western downtown.
Roughly 15 percent of the winter tourists will arrive in this town via a train service, which intertwines with the free shuttle service. Getting around town without a vehicle is very easy to do in this western town.
Whitefish is family friendly and offers mild trails for people just starting out with skiing. If you’re more advanced, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the more advanced trails. If you’re looking for a ski resort that won’t be engulfed by crowds of people, give this place a chance. Rarely are there any crowds on any side of the mountain.
If you happen to visit the mountains during a nice day where clouds don’t block your view, you’ll find yourself gasping for air due to the stunning views.
Advice from locals.
Ryan Friel has called Whitefish his home for over 17 years. He’s an established ski patroller and a fly fishing guide for the tourists of this area.
When he’s not fishing or helping tourists, he’s a chief editor for the local journal. When inquired about any advice he has to give to potential tourists, he had the following to offer:
A place known as Hibernation House is located just on the mountain. This budget-friendly accommodation offers a warm breakfast to wake up to as well.
More Expensive accommodations:
The Lodge located near Whitefish Lake features an ice-skating attraction on the frozen lake, and a hot-tub close by to the shore. Once you’re in the hot tub, you can enjoy exquisite views of the mountains.
Places to eat:
If you’re on the search for a budget eatery, check out the Buffalo Cafe. Buffalo pies are accompanied by hasbrowns, ham, cheese, and eggs. No don’t worry; the pies are not made with Buffalo meat.
If you’re up for a high-end restaurant, give the Tupelo Grille a chance. The dinner menu includes chicken and dumplings, an amazing wine selection, and a bread pudding that is to die for.
Tired of skiing?
Check out the Bierstube. Here you’ll find good food, drinks, and a welcoming vibe.
Some views up high: