Did You Know?
After the helicopter was perfected and came to be employed in large numbers in the 1940s, heli-skiing arose in the late 1950s. However, it was ahead of time then, and didn't catch on until the late 1960s.
Heli-skiing is an adventure sport that is in vogue with those who can afford it. Considering that a week-long adventure can cost you upwards of USD 50,000, it is quite an expensive sport, and it is surely one of the most exciting ones too.
Helicopter rides are exciting enough for most people, but when you tack on the small matter of a fantastic skiing slope at the end of it, it becomes truly spectacular. This is a list of the best heli-skiing destinations in the world. Cat skis are not included on this list, but they also offer similar opportunities to explore and employ virgin stretches of snow, and are worth a look.
Best Heli-skiing Destinations
The American and Canadian Rockies are the most prolific in terms of heli-skiing. The European Alps, particularly Switzerland, are also rich in heli-skiing facilities.
Skiing at these resorts costs USD 700-1200 per person per day. This may sound a bit steep, but you get to explore virgin regions not spoiled by the hustle and bustle of regular skiing fans, and, in all fairness, running a helicopter is a pricey business.
Already rightly considered among the most incredible ski resorts in the world, Whistler is not far behind the top spot when it comes to heli-skiing as well. Situated in the British Columbia region of Canada, it is one of the most visited ski resorts in the world. It can easily be reached from Vancouver. Here is more information about heli-skiing at Whistler.
Like Whistler, Jackson Hole is considered among the best ski resorts in North America, and is widely considered the best in America. It is situated in Wyoming, and can be reached with ease from Jackson Hole Airport, 7 miles away. It has one of the most suitable snowfall patterns in the U.S., and has now got more than its fair share of infrastructure to exploit it. Here is some more helpful and detailed information about skiing and heli-skiing facilities at Jackson Hole.
Situated in Colorado, Telluride is considered one of the best skiing destinations in the US, and like Jackson Hole, is just as famous during summer as it is in winter, thanks to its mountain biking, mountaineering, and whitewater rafting facilities. Helicopter services can drop skiers to heights of up to 13,500 feet. Telluride offers all kinds of accommodation, ranging from RVs and campgrounds to full-fledged resorts. Here's more information on the facilities in Telluride.
Another gem in the snow-rich region of British Columbia, Golden is perfect for short excursions of a day or two, although it can accommodate skiers for longer. It works great as the working man's retreat in this rather showoff-y rich man's game. It is situated about 160 miles west of Calgary. It offers a wide range of accommodation options, as well as a range of activities and tourist destinations not related to snow. Here is some more information about tourism in Golden.
Situated at Revelstoke, BC, this Canadian ski resort is one of the most advanced and sophisticated in the world. It is situated about 256 miles from Calgary, which means that it is a bit more difficult to reach than many other resorts, but this facility is completely worth it. It is one of the rare facilities in the world to offer heli skiing, cat skiing, and backcountry skiing from the same hub. It is also famous for its Swiss chalets (needless to say, they are the recommended accommodation). When its planned construction is completed, it is expected to be the largest ski facility in North America. Here is more information about heli-skiing in British Columbia.
While the Alps are a prime destination for some of the best ski resorts in the world, the environmental awareness in Europe has resulted in a massive reduction of heli-skiing operations. Some countries have banned it altogether (though loopholes exist), but Switzerland has yet to take that step, which makes it the perfect heli-skiing destination in Europe. Heli-skiing in Europe is a bit different than its American counterpart. European heli-skiing allows you to combine resort skiing with heli-skiing due to its norm of only allowing a few (2-3 is usually too many) helicopter lifts per day. Thus, European heli-skiing is about much more than just skiing, and includes indulging in the local culture and cuisine. Places like Zermatt and Verbier are prime spots. Heli-skiing trips in Europe can be costly, but if you have large groups, you can get group discounts.
This resort in the Northern Cascades, accessible via the SR-20, is a 300,000-acre ski resort. It consists of runs starting from 7000-9000 feet, and drops starting from 1,500 feet. It also includes varied terrain, such as tree skiing, open ground, and exciting glades.
These are the 7 best destinations to satiate your thirst for adventure. These offer the best combinations of natural weather patterns and infrastructure, and are definitely worth spending some extra dough!
Note: The destinations haven't been 'ranked' in any way. All the resorts have local lodges, which are the ideal places to stay if you intend to make full use of the skiing facilities, and don't have much interest in other tourist destinations in the region.