This Indoor Ski Slope Means You Can Find Fresh Powder All Year Long Just Outside of NYC

Skiing in a shopping mall is more fun than you think.

Big SNOW at American Dream in New Jersey
Photo: Courtesy of Big SNOW

Big Apple-based adventure seekers need not fly all the way to Vermont or, heaven forbid, Colorado to spend a day on the slopes. The metro area has its own ski "resort," even though it might not be natural.

Only in the greater New York City area can you ride a lift to an artificial peak and glide down on skis all under the roof of a retail complex. That's what Big Snow is, inside New Jersey's American Dream mall, but don't let its abnormal locale deter you.

The long-awaited indoor ski slope opened in 2019 with three slopes, each coated in a hearty two feet of snow. It shares the East Rutherford complex with an indoor Nickelodeon Universe theme park, a DreamWorks waterpark, blacklight mini golf, an ice skating rink, and an aquarium. The abundance of attractions here provide virtually endless family entertainment options just a hop, skip, and jump from New York City.

Big Snow at American Dream Mall
Deanne Kaczerski

As for the 16-story indoor ski resort, it features four acres of skiable terrain and a 160-foot vertical drop to test even the most advanced skiers and snowboarders. The best part is perhaps that it's open year-round, maintaining a wintry temperature of 28 degrees even when the Northeast is practically melting during summer months.

The masterminds behind the first indoor ski park in North America want to make clear this is not a place for kids only (although children are absolutely welcome). In fact, some skiers might even see it as a better option than any other East Coast ski resort.

"People associate East Coast skiing and snowboarding with ice. The reason why that happens is because in the outdoor environment here in the Northeast, there's a lot of variability of weather and you go through freeze and thaw cycles so that creates ice," Hugh Reynolds, the vice president of marketing and sales at Snow Operating, which operates the slope, told Travel + Leisure. "We have the luxury of being able to control the weather indoors."

Reynolds said snow is made every night after the indoor mountain closes. It's then groomed and allowed to set before more snow is made "so every morning our guests get fresh tracks." The park is able to make 1,100 gallons of snow per hour.

"It's got a nice squeak to it," he said. "It's not powder snow, it's definitely groomed snow, but it's a good-quality snow, it holds an edge well, it's super predictable. It's really fun to ski and ride on."

Beginners can start out at the learning hill while more advanced skiers and riders can hit the main slope, which is divided into two runs: an intermediate blue run for those who want a challenge and a black diamond expert run peppered with half pipes, rails, and jumps for those who really know their way around a mountain.

Lindsey Vonn at Big Snow at American Dream Mall
Courtesy of Big SNOW

"To be able to take your family on a trip to New York City to experience a Broadway show, to go to the Statue of Liberty, to eat in amazing restaurants, and then take a day trip here in the middle of the summer or the winter… and do both on one [trip], it's pretty special," Reynolds said.

The slope is open daily with varying hours from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can bring your own gear or purchase a Snow Day Package, which comes with ski or snowboard equipment rental, outerwear (just pants and a jacket, no accessories or base layers), and a helmet in addition to a two-hour Slope Access ticket. Note that Big Snow does not offer equipment rentals à la carte.

Updated by Deanne Kaczerski
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