35 Richardson Hwy, Valdez, AK 99686, USA
Photo courtesy of Tsaina Lodge
Tsaina LodgeDreaming of chasing fresh, untrammeled powder? Then Tsaina Lodge, widely regarded as the birthplace of the Alaskan freeskiing scene, is for you. Its location on Thompson Pass, a gap in the Chugach Mountains known for its record-setting snowfalls (averaging over 700 inches a year), and dramatic slopes combine for epic heli-ski exploits on runs that average a steep 3,500 feet. Come summer, the repertoire of helicopter-assisted adventure excursions widens: Fly out to fish, hike, or glacier trek the seemingly limitless surroundings. Après-activity luxuries await back at the lodge, which is situated on the grounds of what had once been an avalanche-safe roadhouse, built in 1949. The dilapidated building was bulldozed and rebuilt in 2012, and the result is a boutique hotel that stands out for its modern, contemporary design. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto either glacier or forest from each of the 24 rooms, and there’s a gym, yoga space, and spa—along with a fine-dining restaurant with a focus on local seafood, meat, and game, and the reopened Tsaina Bar, legendary among early freeskiiers.