Photo: Heli-ski the Ruby Mountains

A dramatic sunset ends a day of heli-skiing in the Ruby Mountains.

Photograph by Joe Royer, Ruby Mountains Heli-Experience

By Doug Schnitzspahn

Located about halfway between Reno and Salt Lake City off a lonely stretch of Interstate 80, Ruby Mountains Heli-Experience offers an Alaska-size day of powder shots in the Lower 48. Only in the isolated Ruby Mountains, you won’t have to share any of it with other backcountry skiers or snowboarders. Plus, this overlooked little range offers the ideal terrain for big mountain powder with ten peaks topping out over at 11,000 feet (3,353 meters) and an average of 300 inches (nearly 8 meters) of dry, desert snow each year—not necessarily Alaska levels, but the snow here is pure western fluff.

The best package consists of three days of flying to untracked skiing in terrain ranging from trees to open glades to steeps (depending upon conditions), with a guarantee of 39,000 vertical feet (11,887 meters) of turns for the trip. If the weather grounds your bird, the guides will still take you out cat-skiing and prorate your bill according to the amount of vertical you missed by not flying.

Best of all, when your legs are shot, you can relax back at the ranch. Reds Ranch (www.redsranchnv.com), that is, a ten-bedroom lodge that features in-room massages and gourmet meals. And save room for dessert: After eating up powder all day and feasting at the lodge, you’ll be served a seven-layer opera cake and a glass of Crown Royal.

Need to Know: Opt for the all-inclusive, three-day trip from Ruby Mountains Heli-Experience, starting at $4,250 (www.helicopterskiing.com).


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