Close your eyes and picture your favorite ski resort. What do you see?
If you’re like most of us, the image you’ve conjured has you looking up the mountain from the bottom to the top.
Maybe you’re seeing yourself standing outside a base lodge, with one or more lifts traveling up the mountain. Maybe the base is a hive of activity, with ski and ride classes assembling and people happily clicking into their gear to get in line for the first lift ride of the day.
And while this may be the most familiar ski area scenario, it’s not the only one. Because some ski resorts are upside down.
(For links to upside ski areas and ski resorts, go to the bottom of this post!)
The Upside to Being Upside Down
While upside down or inverted mountains are not the norm, there are a surprising number of ski areas where guests park their cars mid-mountain or on top, boot up, stash their gear and begin their day with a run, not a lift ride.
Disorienting? Maybe. Out of the ordinary? Certainly. Fun and unique? Definitely.
One of the biggest and most well-known inverted ski resorts is Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia.
Shawn Cassell, who works at Snowshoe, shares that many guests think the resort’s “upside down factor” is part of its charm.
“There’s something special about walking out of our your condo on a powder day, strapping in, and getting right into your turns before you sit on a chairlift. That first ride up the lift in the morning is always better with a good lap already under your belt,” he shares.
Here are more reasons skiers and snowboarders enjoy inverted resorts.
1. Surprising Views
Looking up a mountain can be beautiful, but often the most inspiring sights are from the top. When you start on top, you begin your day inspired by nature’s beauty.
Some of these views encompass expansive mountain ranges, with waves of peaks rolling into the distance.
Others feature water, like the view from Quebec’s Le Massif de Charlevoix, where guests ski down above the frozen St. Laurence River. Likewise, guests at Chestnut Mountain Resort in Galena, Illinois ski from the top toward the mighty Mississippi.
Scoring a big view from day one is fun for beginners and families. Oftentimes, beginner terrain is on a mountain’s lower reaches. It can take several lessons before new skiers and riders arrive at the top. By starting at the top, the views are theirs from the moment they arrive.
2. Immediate Gratification
Jackie, a ski mom from Ski Big Bear, Pennsylvania, shares that her children “love that the first thing they do is ski, not stand in line.”
In addition to getting energetic kids off to a fast start, skiing and snowboarding at an inverted mountain gives new meaning to a “warm up” run. When skiing to the lift, guests warm up their bodies and their turns before sitting down.
For those needing a jumpstart, Jon, an eastern skier, who enjoys vacationing at Snowshoe Mountain, shares this tip. “Grab your Starbucks and ski down the mountain with it first thing.”
Depending upon how fast you go, it will still be hot when you board the lift.
Utah skier Mike shares this about powder days at Powder Mountain. “Powder days at PowMow aren’t about the line at first chair. Instead it’s a stampede down the hill. It’s great fun and lots of hooting and hollering!”
3. Spread Out
Rather than funneling guests onto the same base area lifts, inverted mountains offer an easy way for people to spread across the mountain. Janet, who skis Blue Knob, Pennsylvania, likes this benefit. “It’s nice to roll out and decide which slope intrigues you while you look down them,” she explains.
4. End on a High Note
Another ski mom, Leslie, likes ending the day on with a lift ride, instead of skiing down when everyone has tired legs.
Catching sunsets and the last rays of light is another benefit of ending the day on top, rather than in shadow at the bottom.
Depending upon what you’re used to, some people have a different opinion, finding the last lift ride “odd” or even “depressing.” Echo Mountain, Colorado has a remedy for this.
This ski area has a base “almost at the top,” according to Fred and Katie Winter who blog at Ullr Provides. “It’s the best of both worlds,” they share. “Great views and a little bit of a run after the last chair.”
Ready to Invert? Where to Ski and Ride These Upside Down Delights
- Belleayre, NY
- Blue Knob, PA
- Blue Mountain, PA
- Jack Frost Ski Resort, PA
- Laurel Mountain, PA
- Ski Big Bear, PA
- Snowshoe Mountain, WV
- Wintergreen, VA
- Chestnut Mountain Resort, IL
- Big Snow Resort at Indianhead Mountain, MI
- Paoli Peaks, IN
- Snowstar Winter Sports Park, IL
- Spirit Mountain, MN
- Summit at Shanty Creek Resort, MI
- Sundown Mountain Resort, IA
What resorts are we missing? Let us know below! And many thanks to the skiers and snowboarders who helped create this list and shared their comments about skiing upside-down.
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