Dec 04, 2008
Sunshine Village has long been known for its winding gondola ride that carries you almost 1,650 vertical feet from the parking lot-along the walls of a valley and box canyon-to the village base area and the rest of the lifts. On this 13-minute ride to the rest of the lifts (or 6 minutes to Goat's Eye mid-station), you have plenty of time to survey the slopes where the real thrill rides begin. Much of the skiing on Sunshine's three peaks is wide-open, bowl-type skiing, but the bottom half of the slopes are covered in evergreens for those who like their runs cut through trees. Though a restaurant and rental shop are near the parking lot at the gondola base, the real 'base area' for Sunshine is at the top of the gondola at 7,082 feet, where you will find a mountain village with a lodge, rental shop, general store, restaurant and the only slopeside lodging in the national parks. (A clarification: The base-elevation stat we list is for the gondola base; this book uses the term 'base area' to mean the greatest concentration of shops and services.) From this point lifts take off in all directions. Most people never head all the way down until the end of the day, and some not until the end of their vacation. It's worth noting that Sunshine has the longest ski season in the region, running from the middle of November through the middle of May. If the weather is clear, the views across and down the canyon are nearly as breathtaking as the runs.