What is a Ski Bowl?

by Frank V. Persall

If you're new to skiing, you could be forgiven for thinking that this sport involves nothing more than getting to the top and skiing back down, but that couldn't be more true. This is a versatile sport that is made up of many forms, including bowl skiing. But what exactly is a ski bowl and what on earth is it for?

Bowl skiing is a type of skiing that is done on the side of a mountain on a bowl-shaped piece of terrain. Different ski bowls are larger than others and require a greater level of experience to ski on. Sometimes, they may be as large as an entire side of a single mountain!

Of course, there's a lot more to it but we are going to cover everything you need to know about bowl skiing as well as introducing you to some of the best ski resort options for skiers who want to test their skills in the ski bowl.

What Is A Ski Bowl?
What Is A Ski Bowl?

Summary of Bowl Skiing

  1. Ski bowls are a type of ski resort that is found in the mountains
  2. They feature slopes that are steeper and more challenging than traditional ski resorts
  3. Ski bowls are often less crowded, which makes for a more relaxed skiing experience
  4. They can be expensive to visit, so make sure you factor in the cost when planning your winter vacation
  5. Despite their drawbacks, ski bowls offer some of the best skiing in the world

What Is Bowl Skiing?

Bowl skiing is a term that is used to describe skiing on a certain sort of terrain on the side of the mountain. When you visit your favorite ski resort, you will notice that, as you move up the mountain, the terrain starts to change. When you are at the bottom of the mountain, there tends to be a lot of foliage and trees. However, as you ascend to the top the terrain begins to open out and there is a lot more space for skiing.

In particular, this area of the mountain is referred to as the bowl, quite simply because it is similar to the shape of a bowl. This terrain often has powder snow that is beautiful to ski on. In fact, many experienced skiers will tell you that bowl skiing on this powder snow brings them some of the best skiing days of their lives.

The best way to describe a ski bowl would be to say that skiers can literally ski around the inside of it. Depending on the mountain, the terrain will vary with some ski bowls being 360º whereas others are considered to be half bowls. In any case, bowl skiing is an unforgettable mountain-side experience.

Is Bowl Skiing Hard

If you have never skied on this type of terrain before, it stands to reason that you may feel a little nervous. But the good news is that there are ski bowls that are suitable for beginners, just as there are those that are considered to be a little more challenging and geared more towards experienced skiers.

Quick Note
There are also different ski bowls with varying levels of intensity to get to, some of them require a lengthy climb up the side of the mountain so this is worth keeping in mind.

Furthermore, bowl skiing needs to be tackled carefully since the terrain can change so rapidly. At some points, you will be gliding across powder but that powder can quickly change to solid crud in the blink of an eye. The issue is that, unlike other areas of the ski resort, the terrain on this part of the mountain is not tended to and is much more natural.

Top 10 Best Resorts That Offer Super Bowl Skiing

Across the United States and Canada, there are some excellent ski resorts that offer a variety of activities. For skiers that are looking for the beautiful powder snow and natural beauty, there are many that offer bowl skiing.

1. Big Sky Resort, Montana - Link

Big Sky Resort, Montana
Big Sky Resort, Montana

In the winter of 1995, Big Sky Resort in Montana erected a series of ski-only bowls with nearly vertical sides. The bowls at Big Sky were designed to be wide enough for skiers and boarders to spread out across the width of the hill, creating a surface similar in size and scope to some of North America's most legendary powder bowls.

Big Sky Resort in Montana erected a series of ski-only bowls with nearly vertical sides. The bowls at Big Sky were designed to be wide enough for skiers and boarders to spread out across the width of the hill, creating a surface similar in size and scope to some of North America's most legendary powder bowls.

The Big Sky Resort ski bowls include: Bozeman Bowl, Bear Paw, Lone Mountain, North Chutes & South Chutes. The ski bowls are cut into the mountain with angles that range from 85 degrees to just over 40 degrees. There is no skiing across the face of these bowls; they must be descended in their entirety. The ski bowls include a mix of terrain, including gladed areas and pillars.

If you are looking for a resort that offers bowl skiing with a huge range of terrains then Big Sky Resort has got it all. With six ski bowls, this resort offers everything including some tricky tight chutes. What's more, at more than 11,100ft, you get a breathtaking view.

2. Copper Mountain, Colorado  - Link

Copper Mountain, Colorado
Copper Mountain, Colorado

Lift accessed, snow filled bowls throughout Copper Mountain offer skiers one of the most unique experiences found anywhere.

The Bowls take a little bit of work to get there but once you catch a glimpse of them from any lift, it is clear how special they are. The humbling size and scale of these magnificent snow filled basins takes your breath away and never gets old.

While the Bowls are accessible to all, they do require a certain level of physical fitness and ability to enjoy to their fullest. Accessible from virtually any point on the mountain, there is never a bad time to carve them up. The Bowls have been open since early December but it looks like we may have to wait a while longer before they are fully open.

At Copper Mountain, you will find four double black diamond bowls, each of which gives you a different type of terrain to try out. There are those which are much steeper and ideal for the thrillseeker whereas some of the less challenging ones are great for family time.

3. Alta Ski Resort, Utah  - Link

Alta Ski Resort, Utah
Alta Ski Resort, Utah

Alta Ski Area is a ski resort in the western United States, located east of Salt Lake City in the Wasatch Range of Utah. It is known for being one of the few major U.S. ski areas not located on either coast or in Colorado's front range, although it does get some spillover traffic from there since it is only about 50 miles (80 km) north of the state line. Alta is known for its snow, terrain, and lack of people on the slopes. It has some intermediate terrain but is noted as a place mainly for experts skiers. There are two adjacent ski resorts located on different parts of the mountain: Alta Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, and the smaller Little Cottonwood Canyon Ski Area, which is known as Snowbird. Alta is difficult to access via road, but not difficult to access via a short aerial tram ride from nearby Snowbird.

Alta Ski Area has 12 lifts: two triples, five doubles, three surface tows, and two quads. There are three terrain parks on Alta's slopes with good natural hits in addition to man-made features including jumps, ramps and other jibs. Alta's lift tickets can be used at both areas of the resort for an additional charge when conditions permit. A ski bus operates between the two bases during winter months, but due to its high elevation (elev 6100 feet), Alta typically has better conditions than nearby resorts, especially during mid-winter.

Alta is one of only two U.S. resorts to prohibit snowboarding (the other being nearby Deer Valley). This policy led to a confrontation in 1996 between Alta's management and the first organized group of snowboarders attempting to ski at Alta called Snowboarders of Alta.

Alta is a beautiful maintained and remote skiing resort that boasts some great opportunities for bowl skiing. Here, visitors can try out the world famous wildcat ski bowl and if you're feeling a little unsure, this resort is renowned for its top class ski lessons.

4. Arapahoe Basin, Colorado - Link

Arapahoe Basin, Colorado
Arapahoe Basin, Colorado

For people who are looking for a ski bowl that offers versatility, you won't be left disappointed at Arapahoe Basin. Here, you will find the Montezuma Bowl that boasts a range of chutes, tree skiing and wide open skiing space with amazing views.

5. Sun Valley, Idaho - Link

Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley, Idaho

At Sun Valley, you will find several ski bowls on Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain including the amazing Sepps Bowl. Conditions here guarantee gorgeous powder snow all year round and the resort caters to every level of experience.

6. Snowbird, Utah  - Link

Snowbird, Utah
Snowbird, Utah

Snowbird is considered to be one of the best resorts for powder skiing in North America and as such, attracts a huge number of annual visitors. Here, there are some epic chutes and crazy bowls that will certainly give even the most experienced skier a run for their money.

7. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia - Link

Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia

The Ski Bowls are six skiing runs that are the result of two large avalanche slides in 1965, 1968, 1990 and 1995. The bowls were created by natural avalanches because Whistler Blackcomb's backcountry is so big it has enough room for ski terrain even when the area is damaged - although it looks very different to before!

The Ski Bowls are some of the best places to ski at Whistler Blackcomb and the backcountry is quite popular with people who bought a day pass for it.

There are three ways to access the bowls: hike up them, take an avalanche safety course and get certified and then you would be able to access via helicopter or use your splitboard to access the bowls.

There is also a cat skiing tour available which allows you to drop into some of the Ski Bowls and ride them back up again (similar to heli-skiing).

The Ski Bowls are open to ski touring between December 1st and March 31st every year. This is due to avalanche danger that would be too high otherwise, especially during spring when there's more snow on top of the weak layers in the past slides. The Whistler Blackcomb website has detailed information about how they manage avalanches so people can safely ski in the bowls.

If you want a bowl skiing experience that includes incredible views that go on for miles, then a visit to Whistler Blackcomb is a must. There are seven bowls with varied terrain that caters to all levels of ability.

8. Tuckerman Ravine, New Hampshire  - Link

Tuckerman Ravine, New Hampshire
Tuckerman Ravine, New Hampshire

Located on the Southeast side of Mount Washington, Tuckerman Ravine has some impressive bowl skiing on offer. This is a great place for trying out steep bowl skiing as in places, the steeps can go up to 55º!

9. Vail, Colorado  - Link

Vail, Colorado
Vail, Colorado

Vail is one of the most famous skiing resorts in the world and with seven back bowls, you won't be short on choice. The resort covers more than 3000 acres and offers bowl skiing for a wide range of levels. Check out the Outer Mongolia bowl for intermediate levels.

10. Telluride, Colorado - Link

Telluride, Colorado
Telluride, Colorado

If you are an advanced skier then you will likely take great pleasure from trying your skills at bowl skiing on the Black Iron Bowl at Telluride. However, there is also the opportunity for less experienced ski enthusiasts to try out their powder talents on the Revelation Bowl at the back end of the resort.

Ski Bowls Offer a Variety of Terrain, Including Groomed Slopes, Moguls, and Trees

Skiing and snowboarding resorts that offer ski bowls provide a variety of experiences for skiers and snowboarders. Ski bowls are large areas that contain multiple steep slopes, hills, and even mogul courses designed to offer challenging terrain without the need for lifts or trails. Most ski and snowboarding resorts also include some form of bowl skiing as part of their terrain.

Some skiers and snowboarders love the challenge of skiing down a steep mountain, while others are just looking for a relaxing day of fun on the slopes. Ski bowls accommodate both types of people, as they offer challenging terrain that requires skill and coordination to safely navigate.

People enjoy skiing and snowboarding in ski bowls because:

  • There are no lift lines, which means plenty of fresh snow all day long.
  • The steep slopes in ski bowls require skiers and snowboarders to use their equipment properly, so it provides practice for beginners who want to learn how to safely control their speed on the mountain.
  • Ski bowl skiing can be done on both skis and snowboards.
  • People of all ages can ski or ride in a bowl, as they are appropriate for all skill levels.
  • Bowls offer an incredibly scenic view of the area, such as mountains and valleys. There is also typically very little wind near the bowls at the top of the mountain, which means less chance of getting snow in the face.

Many People Enjoy Skiing and Snowboarding in Ski Bowls Because They Offer a Unique Experience

When the winter comes around, many people go skiing and snowboarding in ski bowls. Ski bowls are areas that have slopes or hills on them to help people get a good ride when they are on the ski slope. There is often some type of lodge near by where skiers can buy food and drinks, and there may also be some type of activity for younger children like tubing or playing in the snow. It's not uncommon for someone to spend an entire day (or several days) skiing in a ski bowl. There are often slopes that even the most experienced skier would find challenging, and that's one of the reasons why people like to go to ski bowls.

The hills on ski bowls range in difficulty from beginner (easy), intermediate (moderate), and expert (difficult). The difficulty of each slope is usually identified by color, like green (easy), blue (moderate), and black (difficult). Skiers can choose which type of slope they want to go down depending on their ability.

There are often grooming machines that go around and smooth out any bumps and dirt on the slopes. If a machine doesn't do this, it's important for skiers to be cautious of rocks or logs that may have been put there by animals or other people. Having some type of knowledge about which ski bowl to go to is also helpful; some offer larger hills while others may only offer beginner hills. A person who wants to find the best ski bowl will ask friends, family members, or read reviews online that talk about ski bowls in different areas.

Ski bowls are often considered to be family-friendly because they offer a place where people can enjoy themselves, spend time with friends or family members, and not have to worry about cars or traffic. Some ski resorts even allow dogs on the slopes! There are many options available when it comes to skiing in a bowl, so it's important for someone to find the best option available in their area.


Bowl skiing is a form of skiing that is done on the natural terrain of the mountain where things can go from rough to smooth in seconds. With powder snow and much thicker terrain, skiers are certainly treated to a challenge. The ski bowl is essentially a higher point of the mountain where the ground creates a bowl-like shape that can be skied around.

There are many excellent resorts across North America that offer bowl skiing so if you fancy trying your hand at this, why not check out some of our skiing articlesto get you prepared?

How Is Ski Jumping Scored

Sunday River Ski Resort Peaks

About Frank V. Persall

Frank is originally from the UK, but he has a passion for skiing that knows no bounds. He has made it his life's mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the World. Frank loves spending time with his wife and three children on ski slopes, as they all share his love for the activity.

Thoughts on "What is a Ski Bowl?"

You can get FREE Gifts. Or latest free skiing books here.

Disable Ad block to reveal all the info. Once done, hit a button below