Ski Areas with the Best Man-Made Features

by Jack McNary | January 18, 2022

Where to find the best of mankind’s contributions to the skiing experience

As so often happens in January, most resorts in the west are in the middle of a lull as far as the fresh stuff goes. This is the time of year where it really pays off to be creative with how you’re skiing, and one thing that certainly helps is to check out resort features that you may not see every day. Now your author, like most folks, is a staunch believer that the mountains themselves provide enough of a sight that you shouldn’t need anything more to tickle your fancy, but regardless of how pretty the scenery is, the following on-mountain features are worth checking out.


Spooky and awesome! Photo credit: Catherine Armstrong

The Peruvian Tunnel at Snowbird

Leading off our list is the coolest non-skiing thing I have ever experienced while skiing. Not only is it a marvel of modern engineering, but the Peruvian Tunnel also gets you right where you want to be on the backside of Snowbird and into Mineral Basin. I mean, come on, they drilled a tunnel into the middle of the mountain, stuck a conveyor belt in it, and hung a bunch of neat historical artifacts on the tunnel walls that harken to the area’s mining past. If you’re curious, check out this video to see just what it looks like, but trust me, the experience is better in person!


Breathtaker Alpine Coaster at Snowmass


What separates Aspen Mountain and its related resorts from other ski areas is the depth of activities that are offered at the mountains. If you’re not one for hobnobbing with socialites in shiny ski gear, you should still consider the Breathtaker roller coaster, located next to the Elk Camp Restaurant at Snowmass. While tickets are not cheap ($56 for three rides!) you are at an Aspen resort, after all, and it’s a freaking roller coaster at a ski resort! What’s not to love? The coaster is open nights, too, and it almost goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that you’re gonna want something to keep those ears warm! You can follow it up with a nice mug of hot cocoa afterward, and think about how you’re not going to find something like that pretty much anywhere else on earth.


The Bike Park, in its natural habitat

The Trestles at Winter Park

A bit more hidden, and something that rewards those who are willing to seek it out, are the wooden trestles that give Winter Park’s mountain-bike park, Trestle Bike Park, its name. While you might see some folks on ski-bikes throughout the winter, terrain in the bike park is perfectly skiable.  The fact that the bike park is only open when the snow is not there should not stop you from seeking out the fun wooden trestles that make for some interesting riding. The bike park is limited mostly to the Winter Park side, and as a hint, you can check between the trees on Outrigger and Retta’s Run to find some neat-o hits. Be careful though, as you don’t want to fall off and smoke your melon!



Tubing, pretty much anywhere

A classic pastime, and a great way to include folks who are not as keen on the act of skiing, most mountains have great tubing setups, and the hours usually go beyond the typical 8:30/9-4:00 of the resort itself. Palisades Tahoe, Jackson Hole (located across town at Snow King), and Mt. Hood Ski Bowl – featuring Cosmic Tubing – are but a few of the places where everyone can get out and enjoy shredding the circular gnar together.

All of these features are made possible of course by what could be considered mankind’s best contribution to skiing: chairlifts! Whether it’s in the form of your classic fixed-grip two-seaters and triples, express 4-, 6- and 8-packs, trams that encourage you to get cozy with ~100 people you don’t know and last but certainly not least gondolas, they certainly are an engineering marvel and above all make it possible for us to shred that epic gnar in ways that would make our ancestors super jealous. So, regardless of what features draw you to your next winter adventure, remember that resort skiing is such a blessing! And don’t forget to check with us first for the best deals on tickets, rental gear and lodging!

Let’s hope it snows in the meantime!

Featured Resorts

More from the Blog