Alaska Heliskiing Travel Guide

Newsroom Travel Alaska Heliskiing Travel Guide

Sponsored by Heli Adventures

As longtime Alaska heliskiing adventurers and experts, we at Heli have heard it all about heliskiing in Alaska—it’s expensive, it’s inaccessible, it’s for experts only, and much more. The fact is that what a lot of people have heard about skiing in Alaska simply isn’t true. What’s more, you don’t have to deal with lift lines, traffic, and many of the other challenges of a ski resort vacation.  

So we’re here to set the record straight. These are some things you should know if you want to go heliskiing in Alaska. 

Alaska is not for experts only

There is a common misconception within the ski community that Alaska is extreme, steep and technical. Can you ski most blue runs at a Western ski resort in the US or Canada? Do you get excited when that resort is covered in a fresh coating of powder? Do you feel comfortable skiing open bowls of untracked snow? Then Alaska is a great ski destination for you.  

skier skiing down the slopes in Alaska on a bluebird day
©Alaska Backcountry Guides in Valdez, Alaska

Now of course Alaska has plenty of ski terrain that is steep and technical. However, years of ski movies featuring lines that only big mountain pros feel comfortable on have led us to believe that Alaska is reserved for the top skiers in the world. 

The fact is that Alaska is home to wide-open powder runs, ranging from easy-going glaciers to steeper terrain, that is perfect for an intermediate to advanced skier. You won’t find tight tree runs and moguls here. Just wide-open turns galore. If you’ve ever wanted to skip the lift lines, avoid the crowds, and have your own personal powder day, heliskiing in Alaska is the fastest way to make it happen. Here’s what one operator shares about the experience: 

“Alaska offers a heliski experience like no other, with its vast glaciers that are truly unparalleled. It’s not just the incredible powder that sets Alaska apart, but also the breathtaking scenery, abundant wildlife, and cozy atmosphere that make it the ultimate heliski destination in the world.” – Joey Wolf, Alaska Backcountry Guides  

Alaska is more accessible than ever 

While the wildlife, stunning natural beauty, and remote nature is part of what makes Alaska so magical, that doesn’t mean it’s a herculean task to get there. Airlines like Alaska fly nonstop to Anchorage from numerous West Coast destinations, with flight prices less than $500 in some cases. It’s then a simple charter flight to Valdez. Operators, like Alaska Backcountry Guides, can also coordinate helicopter pickup from Anchorage for an additional cost.

Alaska’s ski season is later than you may think

Often, ski travelers tend to target January and February dates for their annual ski trip. However, heliskiing in Alaska is more aligned with spring break, with the season starting later, largely due to the amount of daylight. Longer days mean more turns. 

The typical Alaska heliskiing season starts in February and ends in late April. December only affords you four hours of daylight, so operators don’t run during this time of year. Since the heliskiing season starts in late February into March, you can expect a deep snowpack that has already formed due to storms that regularly start in December and roll through January. 

snowboarder riding through untracked powder in Alaska
©Alaska Backcountry Guides in Valdez, Alaska

Large storms are consistently rolling in early in the season, making for new snow almost daily and near-perfect powder. The colder temps mean that the snow will stay light and powdery for multiple days, but the tradeoff is you won’t have as much daylight to ski it. 

During the middle of the season, things are a bit more predictable. The days are a bit longer, and you’ll still see consistent snowfall in the mountains. They are also a bit warmer. Here, you are striking the perfect balance between daylight, conditions, and stability to maximize your ski days. As the later season arrives in April, the length of day is now the biggest benefit. Longer days mean more vertical. You just won’t get as much fresh, light, and dry powder. However, you’ll have terrific ski weather with less extremes.   

Heli can help talk you through your goals and ability to make sure you are getting the most out of your purchase. For more planning information, check out Heli’s destination page on Heliskiing in Alaska. 

A long weekend just isn’t enough time 

Seven days may seem too long for first-timers and those used to weekend ski getaways. However, considering the nature of heliskiing in Alaska, and the changing weather and conditions, it’s good to plan for a week. Alaska storms often bring some incredible fresh snow dumps, but that can mean low visibility and high winds in which helicopters can’t fly. Expect to have four, maybe five, good ski days during the windows of when the weather clears. Your total ski time is measured in flight hours, so not to worry if you miss a day; you will often ski longer days later in the week.  

What’s more, lodging and food is covered with that 7-day package. Food and lodging can quickly add up on a ski resort vacation. However, when you book a 7-day heliskiing package with Heli, there are no markups and all your lodging and meals are covered. Bonus: You can personalize your trip with the help of our team. Cut through all the noise and get right down to brass tax when planning with Heli. 

Start planning your Alaska heliskiing trip 

Ready to claim your spot and start working with Heli’s team on your Alaska heliskiing adventure? Our team can help you start planning your trip, free of charge for groups and individuals. Or, if you’re just ready to dip your toes in, then start exploring trips here.

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