The Only Game in Town

It’s the middle of summer but if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re spending at least a little bit of time every day thinking about skiing. Maybe not every day but often enough. It seems the hotter it gets, the more I miss the feeling of sliding on snow.

When I was younger, I thought that by this point in my life, I’d be spending at least two or three weeks of every summer down in Chile or Argentina, skiing my ass off. Maybe New Zealand. I still haven’t pulled that off.

Luckily for me, I have an alternative forty minutes from home; indoor skiing at Big Snow American Dream in New Jersey. I mean, it’s not a perfect substitute.

Big SNOW Trail Map
Big SNOW Trail Map

Anybody that’s been there will tell you, there’s not much to it. It’s probably less than two hundred feet of vertical. There are three short trails, one of which is covered with terrain park features and one of which is built up into a zig zag course for terrain based learning. Unless you’re a never-ever or a park rat, Big Snow is a pretty basic offering.

It has a big air conditioning and snow making system that keeps the surface fresh and the air at a constant twenty eight degrees. When summer gets to be a little much, we have a little pressure valve we can access for a couple hours of simulated winter.

God Bless America

Big Snow sells tickets in two hour increments, which is about right for me and my kids. Even when it’s ninety nine degrees outside and we haven’t skied in months, Big Snow isn’t gonna demand much more than two hours attention.

Last year, before Big Snow suffered a fire and had to shut down for about six months, we bought some multi day tickets. We actually spent a few hours there the day before the fire occurred. We went back last week.

I’m gonna be honest, it was awesome. We grabbed lunch at the food court and then went back to the car for our gear. Lugging ski gear through the mall is a little different. There’s always a few people that seem surprised or bewildered by it as we go by. Your two hours doesn’t start until you get your card scanned on the way to the slope so there’s no hurry getting booted up.

When we did finally make it to the snow, the blast of cold felt great. And skiing for two hours while the weather outside was swelteringly hot didn’t suck.

Ski Tote
Ski Totes mandatory

We aren’t park rats but we hit some jumps. We aren’t newbies but we went ahead and skied the little banked turns in the learning area. The most fun to be had at Big Snow is to be found alongside the terrain park, skiing down the Poma line as fast as possible. I went back to that over and over.

Big Snow is the kind of place that’s easy to make fun of. It’s in a mall. It’s little. I mean it’s really little. I’ve made made fun of it plenty. But I appreciate it a lot more now. Because of Big Snow I get to ski in the middle of summer without leaving my hemisphere.

14 comments on “The Only Game in Town

  1. Good report, and glad you made the voyage. I still haven’t been there myself, incredibly, even though it’s the closest ski area to me. Soon. I’m excited about their plans to open these all over the country.

  2. Thanks for the first hand report on Snow. Sounds like fun and an opportunity to refresh your balance points and perhaps lay down a few arcs. I do have a question, how crowded was the hill? Were you hemmed in by other skiers? Could you turn where you wanted or was it dodgem?

  3. A few of our Adaptive Instructors have been able to meet some students who live in NYC- a good way to remember what it is about – have not done it yet but willing to give it a try – brrrrrrrrrrrr-peace

  4. Oh yeah for sure!!
    Went there when they first opened first a giant game then 2 hours of skiing in October!!
    Hell yeah!!

  5. Nice report. I’ve visited Big Snow twice this summer with my pals from Hunter. It’s fun, strange and big fun every time. 2 hours covers it perfectly. Big Snow definitely scratches that itch to ski in the off season.

  6. Nice. I’ve thought about buying time there, but haven’t got round to it yet.

    On skiing down under: some years back, a New Zealand tour operator contacted me through my affiliation with Faster Skier. They had one bed left for 9 or 10 days in the hostel they operate near The Snow Farm. $1000.00 included bed, board, skiing, and entry into the Merino Muster 42 km race. A screaming bargain.

    The airfare was a killer, ~ $4000.00 and 48 hours travel time. I turned it down. Still kicking myself.

  7. I moved to Jersey City from New Hampshire and remember seeing that hulking, angled structure that was part of the Xanadu development that seemed stalled out and just burning tax payer money. I was on the site one day and asked somebody about the angled structure and they said it was supposed to be an indoor ski slope but would most likely be demolished to make something else as Xanadu was a complete money suck and generally considered to be a failure. A few years later my wife and I moved down by Sandy Hook and in the dog days of summer I would always say “too bad we can’t jump into the truck and head to Xanadu for a few runs.” My wife would look at me like I was crazy as she knows I like the real thing better than anything else and Im kind of a snow snob. I would say to her “lets throw some beers in the cooler, head to The Meadowlands, tie one on, and make some turns.” I never got to do it and Im glad the project was finally finished so the good snow loving folks in New Jersey and New York can get some during the dog days. +1

  8. Richard: tickets are limited for each 2-hour session. Since the primary market for Big SNOW are newbies, they don’t want to have too many on snow at the same time. Ticket prices increase as slots are taken up.

    I met up with friends a couple times last summer. Great way to start a never-ever, which was the case for my daughter’s BF the first time.

  9. Stuart: Thanks. I’m sorry I didn’t work in your interview with Joe Hession (CEO of Snow Partners, the company that runs Mountain Creek and Big Snow). It was a great listen- fun and informative. One thing I’d like you to pass along next time you talk to Joe. Additional Big Snows need to be BIGGER. It sounded like he was considering making new locations smaller. They need a little bit more vert and a little bit more variety. I know it can’t be like a real mountain but it needs just a little more- like a steeper bump run maybe.

    ML: Ha! No, I didn’t ask but I remember them saying no uphill on social media somewhere.

    Richard: It’s crowded sure, but manageable- not as bad as you’d expect.

    Anita & Harv: I agree it’s a natural venue for an adaptive program.

    Peter, Steve & Greg: Right on. Nobody’s saying it’s great skiing but it scratches the itch.

    Meimei: You’re right. I was initially skeptical that it would work for never-evers. Something the CEO, Joe Hession, said in Stuart’s awesome interview kind of turned me around though. He made the point that the ski industry has always been good at getting people to try the sport but not as good at getting them to show up for a second or third time. His point was that making the first day as easy and painless as possible greatly increases the chances of making a never-ever into a lifelong skier. Joe has certainly figured out how to make it less painful- at Big Snow and Mountain Creek and at other places he’s worked. I’m still a huge fan and advocate for feeder hills but if Big Snow can help recruit new skiers, I’m all for it. The next logical step for those folks is to day trip up to Mount Peter or Thunder Ridge.

  10. Great report! I have always said skiing – ANY kind of skiing – is better than not skiing. Growing up in CT taught me that. My buddy from CT has made the trip twice this summer. Driving from NH, is an overnight…Brownski, have a couch i can crash on?

  11. Went there last summer we had a fun time skier on my birthday for the first time. Will go again when we are in the area. BTW ski boots go on really easy when they have been out in 90 weather! Side note I had an even better birthday this year with the Mets sweeping two from Atlanta.

  12. Kevin, no. No beds available. I suggest combining trips with something else Meadowlands related. It’s probably not worth getting a hotel room unless you’re really desperate.
    Mark, yes. Warm boots go on so easy.

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