Shop & Ski 

Shop & Ski 

If I’ve learned anything about my homeland of New Jersey, it’s that my people don’t like being outside, and we’ve a long history of recreating the natural world in an indoor setting to better suit our delicate sensibilities.

It all started when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in Menlo Park, N.J. in 1879, thinking hey, why not bring the sun’s powers inside? Then, in the 1920s, Haviland Carrier (better known to friends as Willis) patented the air conditioner, because in no just world should Mother Nature be in control of the thermostat. In more recent years, tanning salons have proven indispensable, both in winter and summer, to maintain the tanned TV orange glow people know and love.

And now, it appears the people of New Jersey have found a way to control when we want our powder days – which apparently is every day – while not having to sacrifice a stop at Nordstrom and a freshly baked Auntie Anne’s pretzel. As the self-proclaimed Garden State ambassador to Durango, I introduce to you, “Big Snow American Dream,” North America’s first and only indoor ski resort, fittingly located in a New Jersey megamall.

Big Snow, which opened in 2019, is a 16-story ski/snowboard park, boasting “real snow” year-round. It has 4 acres of skiable terrain, four lifts and a capacity for 500 people. (For reference, Durango’s Chapman Hill Ski Area is 7 acres, but again, it’s outside, and anything can happen out there ...)

While other unlucky outdoor ski resorts have to deal with weather and diminishing snowpacks driven by climate change, NJ’s ski-mall-utopia has the ability to crank out 4.4 tons of snow an hour and a massive cooling generator that keeps the place at a steady 28 degrees, 365 days a year.

Sure, there have been complications, like in September when a fire broke out on a ski slope (not sure how that happens), which has indefinitely closed the park. And yeah, there’s a lawsuit after a woman injured on the slopes claimed park employees left her alone on experienced terrain while she was in a beginner ski course (don’t even start drawing “Class Action Park” comparisons!).

Resort officials, for their part, say the easy access and relatively affordable skiing area is introducing new people to the sport. And hey, some people like it, like one local woman who told a TV news station she sought shelter there amid a heat wave. “It is the best thing that they could’ve ever invented here in New Jersey,” she said.

So, moral of the story (if there is one?), don’t be too quick to dismiss. Whatever the case, it’s not like Durango has some big, vacant mall that could be going to other good uses, like a year-round ski resort (or affordable housing?) for an endless winter. Oh wait…

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If I’ve learned anything about my homeland of New Jersey, it’s that my people don’t like being outside, and we’ve a long history of recreating the natural world in an indoor setting to better suit our delicate sensibilities.

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