Photos Matt Hage Girdwood MH2010AKSKI20110207003.jpg

Woman prepares to go downhill skiing at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska February 2011.

Girdwood is a small Alaskan mountain town about 36 miles south of Anchorage. Unlike Anchorage, however, Girdwood strives to provide a small town vibe and takes pride in allowing guests to escape all the city hustle and bustle of the larger Anchorage. Girdwood is known as the new "recreation capital" of Alaska, home to the only year-round resort in Alaska, Alyeska Resort. Within this resort, you will be able to do almost any winter sport you desire plus have the opportunity for several unique outdoor activities such as canyoning or snowy disc-golfing. You will also have ample chances to sample local fine dining and fine drinking (if you are an appropriate age, that is).

The city is situated between peaks of the Chugach Mountain Range and is nestled in a lush temperate rainforest, giving the area a completely unique geographical setting. Home to seven awe-inspiring permanent glaciers, the city was originally called Glacier City and was first visited by gold miners in need of a permanent and easy-to-find supply camp. After the railroad came through in 1915, industry boomed and the landscape once again changed, bringing about a golden era in tourism.

The Alyeska Resort combined with the local Chugach Powder Guides provide the absolute best opportunities for Nordic skiing, snowmobiling, and dog mushing. With regular precipitation and snowfall, the winters here are ideal for snow sports, as mentioned before, and the summers are full of long days (reaching 20 hours of sunlight and, conversely, 20 hours of darkness during the winter) perfect for fishing, hiking, biking, rafting, or scenic flying. This resort destination is a perfect spot for a class trip, graduation celebration, or just a well-needed fun-filled vacation!