One of my favorite places in Alaska is, and probably always will be, Arctic Valley Ski Area. If I could go back in time, I would probably have our wedding up there on top of the mountain. Recently, I became a lifetime member (thanks to my friend John Hickerson) of the Anchorage Ski Club, a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1937. The Anchorage Ski Club operated rope tows up the mountain in Arctic Valley until 1961 when the T-bar was installed. The lifts were built in 1968 (Chair 1), and 1979 (Chair 2). The existing lodge was built in 1972. Arctic Valley is not only one of the most historic ski areas in Alaska, but also in the country, and the world. The lifts service about 1,350 vertical feet, and the outer areas wrap all the way around Rendezvous Peak!
Fast forward to today… Arctic Valley has been operating as a non-profit uninterrupted since 2003. The place seems to be operating more and more professionally every day. The management is doing a very good job with the facilities — refurbishing the T-bar, and keeping the lifts all running. There is currently a ski race team, a terrain park, a tube park, three operating lifts, and a rope-tow for beginners. The lodge has teamed up with 49th State Brewing Company to offer amazing food options, and the bar upstairs currently has 14 taps pouring local craft brews perfect for a mid-ski break. COVID tried to stop operations up there, and was successful last spring during the maximum shutdown order. This season the ski area has been successful at keeping the virus at bay with social distancing, limiting the number of lift tickets sold to 200 per day, and enforcing mask mandates. The latest improvement is several family pods inside the lodge that people can rent for the day if they want to have a semi-private, separate space indoors.
Last weekend, I hung seven paintings on those pods to spruce up the white walls. If you want to have a family outing I suggest buying lift tickets online, and renting a pod at the lodge. If you don’t like skiing, consider hitting the Tube Park, which is great for kids’ birthday parties. If that doesn’t appeal to you, you could just drive up and see Mt. Redoubt, Mt. Foraker, or even Denali on a clear day. I recommend checking out the rotating taps from around the state at the bar, and enjoying your brew with a view either inside the lodge, or out on the deck around a fire pit. I don’t think there is a beer available from out of state, except for the obligatory PBR in a can. I can guarantee the drive up the hill is always worth it! In March Arctic Valley will be open not only Saturdays and Sundays, but part of Thursdays and Fridays as well! I hope to see you up there. I normally wear a red jacket just like ski patrol, but sometimes I rock my silver uni-piece suit, or my fuzzy moose costume!
Cheers to the Anchorage Ski Club, Arctic Valley, and great AK beers after a day in the mountains!