Top 12 Most Exotic Ski Resorts In The World
At a whopping 10,738ft., the summit of Oukaimeden sounds like it should belong in Colorado. However, this Moroccan ski area that lies 50 miles outside of Marakesh in the Atlas mountains is more similiar to Arizona Skibowl than it is Vail. Although the resort recieves marginal snowfall, its two lifts serve some of the most beautiful and bizzare ski terrain in the world.
Nozawa Onsen, Japan
Located in the Nagano prefecture of Japan’s southern island, Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort is a powder paradise that stands among a series of volcanic geology. Although the skiing is good and off-piste powder skiing welcomed, relaxation and culture take center stage at this Japanese ski area and village. Throughout the village, steam from the local onsens (hot springs) waft down cobblestone streets and all of a sudden it feels like you’ve taken a time machine back to the shogun era. Also, unlike many of its neighboring ski areas, Nozawa does not contain any towering hotel accomodations but instead contains simple ryokans (traditional Japanese inns), many of which have their own onsens in house. Basically the onsen is the pinnacle of après ski.
Malam Jabba Ski Resort, Pakistan
With a vertical drop of 2,624ft., the Malam Jabba Ski Resort is an anomoly in an otherwise barren ski landscape. Founded in part by the Pakistani government with help from Austrian counterparts, Malam Jabba is the only ski resort in Pakistan. Also interesting, its northern location is home to a majority of Pakistani buddhists who inhabit the hills in several monastaries and stupas. Sounds pretty zen.
Cerro Castor, Patagonia Argentina
The southern most tip of Argentina is referred to as Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire). This is where Cerro Castor ski center is located. With 10 lifts and 28 trails, Cerro Castor is a legit ski resort. Also, Cerro Castor is the southernmost ski resort in the world!
Although Bulgaria has long been considered a red headed step child when compared to its neigborhing resorts in the alps, the resort of Bansko is quickly rising in the ranks of ski destinations to see due to its stunning scenery and quality skiing. The resort itself boasts a vertical drop of over 3,000ft. and with an improved base area and infrastructure, it’s a must see for any one who wants to ski in eastern Europe.
Image by: Alyeska Resort
One of the only sea-level ski resorts in the world, Alyeska boasts a massive 650” of annual snowfall each year. Not only that but being located at the foot of the Chugach mountains, Alyeska has access to some of the world’s best heli-skiing, making it unlike any other ski area in the world.
Somtimes better known for the band Sigur Ros, Iceland actually plays host to some pretty rad ski terrain. Such is true at Hlíðarfjall in northern Iceland. This ski resort, although mostly mellow, is located above Iceland’s second largest urban area in the town of Akureyri. So if you’re looking to après, look no further because the folks in Iceland like to party.
Sky Resort, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
It’s hard to believe there’s a modern ski resort in Mongolia. However, with two lifts, nine runs, 100% snowmaking capability, and night skiing, the Sky Resort is the standard for ski areas in Mongolia and China. Although the vertical drop is less than 1,000ft, its consistent skiing and wild location make it a must see for eccentric skiers.
If you haven’t heard about the the Gulmarg gondola… it’s unique to say the least. Rising to above 13,000 ft., it’s one of the highest cable cars in the entire world and the resort itself accesses the best powder skiing in Asia outside of Japan. Even though the ski area operates in a historically volatile area near the border of India and Pakistan, it remains a must see for anyone who wants to ski quality big mountain terrain in a culturally diverse and underdeveloped locale.
Karakol Ski Resort, Kyrgyzstan
Karakol Ski Resort is the home of winter sports in Kyrgyzstan. It’s slopes are very similar to something you might see in the high rockies of the USA thanks to consistent snow and awesome big mountain opportunities surrounding the resort. Recently, skiers and riders from around the world are starting to scratch the surface of this lesser known mountain range and it won’t be long before it becomes a destination for adventure skiing at its finest.
Thredbo Ski Resort, Australia
Skiing in Australia? Yep! Located in Australia’s Snowy Mountains, Thredbo ski resort boasts 14 lifts, 56 trails and 2,204′ of vert. Their season runs from June through September meaning that you can make turns when most of the word’s population is sweating in out in the summer heat.
Ski Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Ski Dubai, the only ski resort on our list to be located indoors, sits directly within the Arabian Desert. The facility is covered with real snow all year round with 5 different runs of varying difficulty and length. The longest run of 400 meters. Uphill transportation is provided by a quad chairlift, two tow lift and a flying carpet.