Nobody likes their world turned upside down, do they? Well, the answer is yes for the thousands of skiers and snowboarders who drive into the parking lot, grab a cup of Joe in the base lodge, walk out the door, click into their skis and boards and take the plunge into their first great run of the day.
What’s missing from that early morning picture? No waiting in a liftline and riding uphill to the top of the mountain. You start out there.
To be sure, you can’t do that at more than a handful or so ski areas across the country. But, when you can, it’s a different kind of experience you’ll want to try for yourself.
The two biggest resorts to go upside down are in West Virginia and Utah.
Snowshoe is the iconic ‘upside down’ resort
Snowshoe is probably the most iconic of all of them with its parking lots and huge base lodge on top of all the skiing and riding terrain. Just drop off 4,848-foot-high Cheat Mountain. Once you pop off the top, you have three distinct areas to explore. Half of those are intermediate or more difficult. You ride back up 700 feet of vertical for lunch or apres-ski fun.
Then there’s Powder Mountain, an hour or so east of Ogden in Utah. It is perhaps less known, but you will drop down from the summit and base on the largest ski area in the United States. If the amount of terrain – 8,646 skiable acres — is your measurement for glory, you’ve found heaven. How’s that for a top-down experience?
You’ll need to head north of the New England border for the other large ski resort that’s upside down. It’s Le Massif, an hour east of Quebec City, Canada. Drop off the top into terrain that’s 75 percent perfect for intermediates. Then, there’s always La Charlevoix, a double-black diamond run that will be a wake-up call. It can feel like you are about to pay a straight-down drop-in call into the St. Lawrence River.
Try some of these, too
The inverted feeling is just the same on a smaller scale at several other resorts across the country. Midwest skiers and riders can get the upside-down thrills at Chestnut Mountain in Galena, Ill. (closest to Chicago). You can ski right out the door of the 120-room Galena Lodge at the summit (try the Sunset Room for dinner). The vertical is only 475 feet but like the Mississippi River below, it’s pretty mighty. There’s still plenty of challenge for all ability levels. Or, try Indianhead/Blackjack Big Snow resorts in Michigan, where a mountain top village awaits you.
And in case we haven’t gotten your attention yet that upside skiing and riding is an experience to treasure, here are a few other choices: Blue Knob, Pa., the highest skiable mountain in the state at Claysburg; Spirit Mountain, high above Lake Superior and operated by the City of Duluth and Echo Mountain, the closest lift-served skiing to Denver.
Don’t wait to board the first lift of the morning. Just point ‘em downhill.