What is Bowl Skiing – Quick Explanation + Extra Pro Tips

Skiing is a complex sport when it comes to terminology and technical jargon. There are plenty of terms that are familiar to skiers only. With its complexities, skiing has plenty of types and techniques. One of them is bowl skiing. So, what is bowl skiing?

A mountain slope that looks like a bowl attracts bowl skiers. It has very few trees and has a broader clearing. A bowl skiing is a great open space where all runs lead to the bottom of the terrain.

Skiers love to ski on bowls because of the broad open areas and because it fits all skill levels; beginner, medium, or expert. Some bowls are complete. You can ski all around 360 degrees from the center. Others are partial, like half of a giant bowl, where you can only ski 180 degrees from the center.

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Why Do Skiers Enjoy Ski Bowls?

Skiing makes you appreciate the winter season. It also gives you access to some of the most beautiful sites in the world. Standing on top of a mountain 13,000 ft above sea level is fantastic.

Bowls are great for skiing because of the vast landscape. It allows the skiers to practice their skiing abilities and improve their skills. Experienced skiers feel very excited about skiing on bowls. They enjoy the challenge of skiing on the highs and lows of the terrain. 

Skiing bowls are one of the most exciting skiing features, and they’re not for the faint of heart.

The true beauty of ski bowls is that no two bowls are the same. You can ski a bowl repeatedly and always find a new line to ski on. Some people describe bowl skiing as a metaphor for life and as a meditative experience.

Are Bowls Hard To Ski?

Bowls are not made up purely of challenging terrain, and intermediate skiers can try them out. However, skiers must have some experience before they start bowl skiing. Therefore, practicing before bowl skiing can always help.

Ungroomed bowls can be a greater risk for skiers than groomed bowls. If you are skiing a backcountry bowl, then make sure you are aware of the dangers of avalanches and know how to deal with them. 

You should also have appropriate skiing gear for bowls.

Where Can You Find Bowls To Ski?

You can locate ski bowls in mountain ranges worldwide, including Reunion Island, the Circo de Gredos in Spain, and Cirque de Garvanie in the Pyrenees. In addition, there are numerous ski bowls in the United States and Canada. There’s also one in Chandra Taal in India.

Below are some of the famous ski bowls you can visit.

Loup Loup Ski Bowl

It is a ski area in the Methow Valley of Okanogan County, Washington, midway between Twisp and Omak on Highway 20. The ski area’s season lasts from November to April. 

However, it is open to the public four days a week or on holidays. Loup Loup offers ski and snowboard lessons, rentals, and children’s programs.

Big Sky Resort

It is the second-largest ski resort in the western United States, in southwestern Montana. Big Sky Resort offers all-set places for conferences, weddings, and corporate retreats.

Sugar Bowl

It is a ski and snowboard area in northern Placer County near Norden, California, along the Donner Pass of the Sierra Nevada, approximately 46 mi (74 km) west of Reno, Nevada, on Interstate 80, that opened on December 15, 1939. It has scenic views and plenty of room to ride your skis.


It is in the western United States, in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, Salt Lake County. The ski bowl has a skiable area of 2,614 acres (10.58 km2). Alta is known for receiving more snow than most Utah resorts, which means fantastic terrains for enthusiastic skiers.

The Sugar Bowl Ski Resort

It is in the Lake Tahoe area and has a reputation for high snowfall and advanced skiing. The Sugar Bowl is about 17% beginner, 45% intermediate, and 38% advanced across all its runs.

What Equipment Do You Need For Bowl Skiing?

For bowl skiing, you need the same equipment as you do in skiing. The primary gear you need for ski touring is touring skis, touring bindings, climbing skins, telescopic touring poles, and ski boots. 

If you consider leaving the ski slopes, take your avalanche safety equipment, crampons, and ski touring helmets.

Tips for Bowl Skiing

Here are some essential tips for you to think about:

Check The Weather

Think carefully about the weather and what other skiers are doing. Go prepared and take the necessary equipment with you, along with backups. Be prepared for avalanches. 

When there are snowstorms or dark clouds, visibility can become low. It is no longer safe to be barreling down the slope when you can’t see where it ends. Furthermore, mountain peaks and the whole view of the ranges are the safest and best enjoyed on clear sunny days. 

Taking Warnings Seriously

Keep alert to the messages you see. Keep an eye out for warning signs and stick to them. If you see a sign saying ‘out of bounds,’ take it to mean there is danger and take a different route. 

Sign boards help you enjoy a safe day, not just the fun. If you see a ‘caution’ sign, it is alerting you to some danger. It could be a bustling part of the trail, or there is some obstacle. 

Always take all boards seriously.

Be Attentive To Changes In Terrain

The gradient of some sections may look doable until you reach them. Use these for a bowl with marked runs to gradually build up your confidence rather than just diving in. A natural part of skiing bowls is that the terrain can change drastically and quickly. 

For example, you can fly over a powder one minute only to suddenly land in chopped-up snow. Keep alert to changes such as this so you can anticipate and react quickly.

Make Sure You Can See Clearly 

Many bowls tend to be above the tree line, and there is nothing in sight. Hence bad visibility can leave you feeling lost and directionless. Therefore, it’s best to go on a clear day when you can see everything in front of you. 

Watch out for boulders and tree stumps, easily mistaken when covered with snow. Furthermore, other skiers can come from different directions at high speeds in a ski bowl. So being able to see is crucial.

Practice The Dropping In Technique

“Dropping in” is a ski term mainly used by advanced and expert skiers. And it’s often used to explain how you enter a bowl. While plenty of bowls with steep and scary entrances demand such a term, not all of them are like that and don’t need dropping in. 

Take your time and try different ways. Many bowls have established gates or mellow, broad openings that will allow you to enter based on your own skill set and experience with skiing.

Final Word

Skiing is all fun and games with proper research, practice, and optimal gear. When you bowl skiing, take the best-suited skis for the terrain, well-equipped ski gear, and extra insulation via warm clothing. 

The mountains can be harsh to the people that underestimate their majestic powers of wind, snow, and ever-changing tracks. Be careful to have the best time bowl skiing!

Mitchelle Lynn