It may seem a little backwards to look for skiing and snowboarding on literal piles of lava, but volcano skiing is one mountain adventure that needs to be on any snow-slider’s list.
From the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest to Ring of Fire to Iceland and beyond, these prominent peaks offer a unique ski experience that everyone should try at least once in their lifetime.
Not sure where to get started? Here are five of our favorite must-ski volcanoes. Now get schussing.
Mt. Rainier, Washington
The crowned jewel of the Cascade Range is also a pretty darn good place to ski in just about any season.
Once considered the snowiest place in the United States, the Paradise side of Rainier is a great launching point for backcountry skiers and boarders. Start from the parking lot at 5,400 feet, skiers and boarders climb to nearly 10,200-foot Camp Muir to score some turns on the mellow pitches of the Muir Glacier.
More advanced riders can drop off skier’s right into Nisqually Chutes if conditions permit, adding some steeps to the equation. Make sure to bring enough water and sunscreen for a whole day of high altitude exposure. Sure, it’s not the beach, but this is one burn you don’t want to feel.
Mt. Hood, Oregon
If climbing uphill isn’t your thing, Mt. Hood has you covered with lift-serviced glacier skiing nearly year round. Just an hour and change outside of Portland, Mt. Hood is home to six ski areas, but features a summer ski area at Timberline that keeps the lifts spinning until August every year.
There are handfuls of race and freestyle skiing and snowboarding camps along the glacier, but the public can also enjoy some summer volcano turns with a day ticket. For those that just need to get high, summit access lies beyond the final lift tower, but proper avalanche awareness and crevasse rescue experience is recommended.
Mt. Fuji, Japan
When weather permits, the postcard-perfect snowfields of Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji are a volcano ski that can’t be missed.
From the summit skiers can connect a 6000-foot descent to Go-Go-Me Station, or pick their way down the mountain’s north side with views of the Pacific Ocean.
Whichever route you choose, make sure to climb early and make sure your descent lines up with the hottest part of the day, when frozen snow is most likely to have softened up.
Mt. Etna, Italy
If you like your volcano skiing with panoramic ocean views, Mt. Etna in Sicily should probably work its way up your hit list.
A bit removed from the typical European ski experience this still-steaming volcano off the coast of Southern Italy has two ski areas, but offers a full range of backcountry options across four separate volcanic craters.
Etna even features a mountain hut, the Citelli Hut, for overnight stays at the base of a 6000-foot descent. If snow isn’t good enough for you, there’s always an option to shred long ash fields in the summertime.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Hawaii: The land of big waves, pineapples, piña coladas and—skiing? That’s right, high on 13,796-foot shield volcano Mauna Kea is most definitely a thing, and most definitely the strangest volcano ski on this list.
It doesn't happen every year, but more often than you might think Mauna Kea, a Hawaiian volcano whose name translates to “White Mountain,” is blessed by the powder gods when the high-altitude temperatures drop.
Mauna Kea does not have lift access, but has roads to its handful of mountaintop observatories, making for easy car shuttle laps, and one heck of a sunset ski.
More from GrindTV