Alyeska Resort tram
Visitors take the 60-person tram down the mountain at Alyeska Resort.

National Geographic says our own Girdwood is the best ski town in the world.

Beating out British Columbia, Switzerland, Montana, France, Utah, Colorado, as well as all of the other great ski destinations in the world, National Geographic says Girdwood is best for “off-the-beaten-path powder hounds with an aversion to glamor.”

They say the combination of Alyeska’s diverse runs, the views, lack of crowds, hotel and relaxed atmosphere is what brings Girdwood to the top.

You can read the full article here.

Just what makes a classic ski town? National Geographic says it starts, naturally, “with skiing and snowboarding so good they attract people like youth-bestowing fountains. Then add an inviting mountain burg steeped in ski heritage, amenities and culture.”

For insider tips, National Geographic asked the locals where to stay, play and party. Here’s what they found:

“Best For: Off-the-beaten-path powder hounds with an aversion to glamour

“A former gold-mining town carved out of the forest at the foot of the famed Chugach Mountains, Girdwood has refashioned itself into Alaska’s premier ski town. Hippies and ski bums flocked here in the 1970s and, a luxury hotel at the ski area’s base notwithstanding, its laid-back, frontier-style ambience remains intact. Many roads are unpaved and Carhartt clothing is a popular fashion choice. Situated about 40 miles south of Anchorage (and its international airport), life in this humble hamlet of 2,000 revolves around skiing and snowboarding.

“Rising up from the edge of town, Alyeska Resort is the largest ski area in Alaska. It has six lifts, two magic carpets, and a 60-person tram that climbs the mountain’s steep north face with views to the ocean. Tree line is low this far north, so the upper half of the mountain is wide-open alpine, more like the open terrain of the Alps than a typical American resort. There are ample blue runs and a smattering of beginner runs near the base, but experts will get the most out of the mountain. If you’re not afraid of a little in-bounds hiking, the ridges near Alyeska peak harbor an array of vertiginous chutes.

“As you would expect in Alaska, crowds are nonexistent. There is also real-deal Chugach heli- and cat-skiing available right from Alyeska’s base area. Best to visit in March, when there is an average of 12 hours of daylight, though lifts keep running through April and on weekends in May.

 “Ask a Local

“Girdwood native Elyse Saugstad is a professional skier and the 2008 freeride world champion. Here are her recommendations.

 “Best Digs

“Budget: The Alyeska Hostel is close to the resort. What it lacks in frills, it makes up for in flavor. It’s been around since 1980 and has a lot of history.

“Swank: The Hotel Alyeska is the resort-owned hotel. It’s really nice, has great dining and they’ll even do a wake-up call for the northern lights. Step right out your door and onto the tram.

 “Best Eats

“Cheap: Coast Pizza, at the entrance of Girdwood, has quick slices of pie and one of the best grilled sandwiches around.

“Gourmet: The Double Musky Inn is a Cajun-cuisine restaurant for people who like to eat meat. Not only are the fillets the size of your head, they are cooked perfectly. And the gumbo is to die for. Really.

 “Best After-Ski Party Spot

“The Sitzmark, at the bottom of the mountain, is the classic ski bar that’s survived all the changes of the resort through the years. It has the perfect mix of food, booze, live music, a constant rotation of ski movies playing on TV screens, and a killer sundeck for the springtime when it warms up.

 “Best Rest-Day Activity

“Head into Anchorage — the “city” in Alaska — that has a plethora of options and is only 45 minutes away.

 “Girdwood’s Classic Ski Run

“Try the north face from Christmas Chute to the bottom. It’s the leg burner of the century when it’s a deep powder day, which is quite often with the amount of snowfall Alyeska receives.”



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