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(MoneyCrashers.com) Heli-skiing sure ain’t cheap, but it’s a heck of a rush. To get the best powder, the most pristine runs, and the possibility of the first descent down a drop, you can’t beat heli-skiing. Heli-skiing involves taking a helicopter that drops you on a mountaintop in open country over acreage often measuring in the millions. A private guide accompanies you, and the chopper picks you back up at the bottom of the mountain.

It’s the ultimate in luxury adventure travel.

The open expanses of British Columbia and the U.S. boast the largest heli-skiing areas in the world. Just don’t expect much wiggle room for saving money on this vacation. If you’re looking for affordable travel, look elsewhere. If, however, you’re willing to spring for a unique experience you’ll always remember, here are the best heli-skiing destinations in North America.

8 – Valdez Heli-Ski Guides, Alaska

Why: The authentic Alaska experience, and the setting for so many extreme ski movies. Big mountains, big lines, steep and deep. The Chugach Mountains surrounding Valdez receive an annual average of nearly 700 inches (17.7 meters) of snow. Being near the coast means the snow is moist and therefore provides more stability for skiers on steep slopes.

Valdez Heli-Ski Guides specialize in big mountains and small groups, with four guests per ship accessing Alaska’s famed spines and iconic terrain. Its benchmark Eurocopter A-Star B2 helicopter delivers passengers atop leg-jellying runs averaging 3,000 to 5,000 vertical feet (914 to 1,524 meters).

Afterward, the Tsaina Lodge offers gourmet dining with views over Washington Glacier. Three-day packages start at $4,744; seven days at $11,076.


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