Outdoors

Off The Beaten Track: Shahdag Mountain Resort

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Photo:Global Travel

Skiers and snowboarders live by no other rules than sick slopes, bluebird skies, and powder days. And most of us take advantage of these rules in common places such as Breckenridge, Tahoe, or Park City. But just because these resorts offer stellar amenities and are convenient to get to, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other places with equal (or greater) value.

The human urge to go faster doesn’t end at the borders of the United States or the boundary of the Alps. Sure, there are amazing resorts there as well, but have you ever thought of the Middle East as a snow sports haven? You aren’t crazy—many people don’t even realize that the Middle East is dotted with epic mountains that reach heights of 18,406 feet. Yes, you read that right, 18,406 feet.

So where does one choose to ski in the Middle East? There are many options, but one resort shines above the rest. Shahdag Mountain Resort in Azerbaijan takes the cake when it comes to epic views and pristine slopes.

With fourteen slopes that show off the rolling hills of the Greater Caucasus Range, Shahdag Mountain Resort is brimming with potential. After opening in 2012, Shahdag has seen remarkable success it it’s initial phases. A buildout is planned that will add upwards of ten new hotels and hundreds of cottages.

The slopes vary in range from green to red (which is a vague step below an American black), so Shahdag is the perfect place to bring a group with varying proficiency levels. There’s also a ski school with national and international instructors for your friends who might need a bit of a refresher. And don’t forget about the two terrain parks to practice your professional-level tricks.

Shahdag Mountain Resort remains the first and largest winter playground in Azerbaijan, with plans to get bigger and better. And you can even visit in the summer, too!

Have you ever skied in an unconventional place? If so, we’d love to cover it! Fill us in on your best and craziest ski spot in the comments.

Mandy Burkholder is a travel, adventure, and outdoor writer who honed her craft in the foothills of the La Plata Mountains of Southwest Colorado. After a stint in the Swiss Alps, she now resides in Tennessee. Follow her on twitter — @mandyburkhold3r