Part of what I love most about skiing is breathing in the crisp winter air, taking in the scenery and enjoying a day outside in the mountains. But, in locations where the climate is uncooperative (e.g. the desert), or the topography leaves something to be desired (i.e. it’s flat as all get out), or if you simply don’t like being exposed to the elements – there are still ways you can get your skiing fix, indoors! Introducing (in no particular order) the top five indoor skiing “resorts”:
Largest indoor “resort:” SnowWorld, Holland
With nine lifts and 35K square-meters of terrain, SnowWorld in Landgraaf, Holland is the indoor facility to best approximate an outdoor resort. SnowWorld has a terrain park, a ski school, fine dining and even a lively après ski scene. What more can you ask for in a ski experience? For additional cred, Langraaf houses an official FIS slope and is the only indoor area able to host FIS World Cup races.
Most exotic: Ski Dubai
With average winter temperatures hovering in the mid-70s in arid Dubai, it’s hard to imagine you’d be able to do any skiing there. But of course in the city characterized by man-made miracles, you can find a winter wonderland year-round at Ski Dubai. This 22.5k square-meter structure (the size of three football fields) boasts 5 runs from bunny slopes to a black diamond, as well as a high-speed quad and a rope tow. In addition to skiing, guests can enjoy playing in the snow, sledding or hanging out with penguins in the alpine-themed park.
Best “dry” resort for learning: Mini Mountain, Washington
So far all the “resorts” I’ve mentioned are found abroad. You might be wondering where you can do some indoor skiing stateside. Well look no further, since 1983 people have been learning to ski and snowboard indoors at Mini Mountain in Bellevue, Washington. At Mini Mountain students can get a taste for skiing without ever getting on the snow. A system of conveyer belts simulates sliding down actual slopes.
Best indoor half-pipe: Snow Funpark, Germany
Spanning 30K square meters, Snow Funpark in Wittenburg, Germany sports a luxury hotel, a huge sports shop and a competition-grade half pipe! The facility is equipped with the finest in artificial snowmaking technology so the conditions are always top-notch – leave it to German engineering!
Best outdoor-snowless resort: Liberty Mountain, Virginia
Ok, this “resort” is not actually indoors, but skiing at Liberty does not require snow! Instead skiers and riders cruise down these slopes on a material called “Snowflex,” which is best described as padded, suped-up AstroTurf that is then made wet by an irrigation system. This material, invented in Great Britain, is a close proxy for the slipperiness but also the stickiness of real snow. Guests can even practice bumps and jumps on Liberty’s SnowFlex slopes!
Jonesing to try out indoor skiing but can’t afford a plane ticket to another continent? Well a few big indoor ski park projects are possibly in the works in the continental United States. Las Vegas “Wet” theme park was slated to have a snow component. Other billion dollar indoor ski resort projects were proposed pre-recession in New Jersey, Georgia and North Carolina. None of these projects have come to fruition…so I guess for now us Americans are stuck with skiing in the great outdoors.