A heli-ski helicopter is flying over a snow-covered mountain while skiers are skiing downhill right below.
Telluride Helitrax, Colorado

Sports

Entry-Level Heli-Skiing Excursions at Top Resorts

by Larry Olmsted

Heli-ski trips are expensive, often remote, and for first timers, almost always intimidating. That’s why it can be wise to go heli-skiing for a day or two before committing to a week in an off-the-grid lodge. Several top destination ski resorts have quality, on-site heli-skiing operations offering full-day (and sometimes half-day) trips. One big advantage of this is flexibility with weather. If the flights are grounded, you can just ski at the resort and often push the heli back a day or two. This is also well suited for families or groups where not everyone wants to heli-ski, or for people who just love the amenities of a great ski town.
A helicopter flying over a snow-capped mountain with four skiers skiing below.
Telluride Helitrax, Colorado

A skier wearing a yellow ski jacket skiing down a run with snow-capped trees all around.
Sun Valley Heli Ski, Idaho

A heli-ski helicopter parked on a snow-capped mountain with ski guides and several skiers waiting next to it.
Portillo, Chile

Top Resorts for Day Heli-Skiing

Telluride Helitrax, Colorado

Telluride is one of the best ski resorts in the world, with terrain for every ability, a great town, and a wonderful variety of dining and lodging. Telluride Helitrax, which has been operating for more than 40 years, has access to 200 square miles in the San Juans—more than 60 times the size of the resort. A typical day is six runs totaling up to 14,000 vertical feet. $1,875/person; helitrax.com


Sun Valley Heli Ski, Idaho

Sun Valley was America’s first destination ski resort and has been regularly rated No. 1 by SKI Magazine. Sun Valley Heli Ski accesses 750,000 acres, which is, by far, the largest heli terrain in the Lower 48. The company offers a full-day rate ($1,800/person) and half-day privates for groups of up to four ($6,000/group); sunvalleyheliski.com


High MTN Heli-Skiing, Jackson, Wyoming

The world-famous Jackson Hole Mountain Resort lives up to its nickname, “The Big One.” But the only thing here bigger than the number of skiable acres at the resort is the heli-skiing area. High MTN has been going into the Tetons since 1974, with full days averaging six runs and 15,000 vertical feet. $1,900/person; heliskijackson.com


Whistler Heli-Skiing, British Columbia

If you’re going to be a resort-based heli operator in British Columbia, it might as well be at the largest resort in North America: Whistler/Blackcomb. Whistler Heli-Skiing has been flying since 1981 with access to 432,000 acres and offers a wide variety of packages that include four or six runs and can accommodate blue-run intermediate ability levels. From $1,035/person; whistlerblackcomb.com


Air Zermatt, Switzerland

Heli-skiing in Europe is different, and Air Zermatt offers single descents on long, epic runs from high peaks surrounding the picturesque town of Zermatt, each accompanied by a mountain guide. The most popular run is Monte Rosa, from 12,600 feet with a long descent across a glacier. There are many other custom options, and when they are not heli-skiing, Air Zermatt is the region’s medical rescue specialist and Europe’s top emergency mountain pilot training center. $500/descent; air-zermatt.ch


Portillo, Chile

Portillo is the world’s premier “summer” ski resort, and sits in the heart of the Andes, the planet’s second-highest mountain range. The heli terrain is big, comparable to Alaska, and sold by the single run ($360 first, $230 each additional) right from the resort. skiportillo.com