I went to North America's only indoor ski and snowboard park with real snow, and it was an artificial winter wonderland inside a giant warehouse
Big Snow is the first indoor ski and snowboard park in North America where visitors can shred on real snow. The park, located in American Dream Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, boasts 5,500 tons of man-made snow over its more than four acres of skiable terrain. I'm an avid snowboarder, so I strapped in and tried out the park on Big Snow's opening day. While experienced skiers and riders may get bored of Big Snow's limited options quickly, the park is a great spot for beginners or shredders looking to escape the heat on a summer day. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Welcome to Big Snow, the first indoor ski and snowboard park in North America that has real snow.
Located at the American Dream retail and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Big Snow is just six miles from midtown Manhattan and a 28-minute non-stop bus ride from Port Authority Bus Terminal.
I had the opportunity to check out the new human-made "mountain" on its opening day, and — as an avid snowboarder — I was excited to try riding indoors for the very first time.
As guests first arrive, they are greeted by Big Snow's vast array of ski and snowboard gear.
The swanky shop offers everything one might need for a day on the slopes, including jackets, gloves, snow pants ...
... skis and snowboards ...
... helmets, goggles, and Sno-Go ski bikes.
They even had Big Snow-specific merchandise for sale.
I was able to catch a glimpse of the slopes through a window in the front shop and decided to get out there.
But there were several things I had to do first. Guests are first asked to purchase a ticket and plug in some personal information via iPads.
After that, visitors are ushered into fake "gondolas" to watch a video tutorial detailing the process of getting ready to ski or snowboard.
Then it's "time to gear up," according to the sign.
Big snow has jackets and snow pants in all different colors and sizes.
Some of the gear is even branded.
Next, it was time to get boots. Guests climb up onto a platform so that Big Snow employees can easily fit them for boots.
Last but not least, it's time to grab skis or a snowboard. Employees use guests' boots to determine the binding size and send visitors off to the slopes.
I snagged a board and stashed my stuff in a locker before zipping up my coat.
And then I was finally ready to head "outside."
Where an artificial winter wonderland awaited me.
5,500 tons of human-made snow was spread out over more than four acres of skiable terrain in the colossal space. I had never seen anything like it.
The crunch of the snow felt familiar under my boots.
It was a frigid 28 degrees Fahrenheit inside the park.
So I decided to hop on the lift and get moving.
It was a quick trip on the lift, but I enjoyed taking in the view of the park from above.
There are three "trails" at Big Snow: a green circle, blue square, and black diamond, which correspond to easy, medium, and hard, respectively.
I took the black diamond, which was nowhere near as challenging as a similarly-graded trail on an outdoor mountain.
The snow felt like the machine-generated snow I've boarded on at other mountains, but didn't have an icy layer underneath.
Though experienced skiers and snowboarders are likely to get bored with the park's limited offerings, Big Snow's terrain park has elements that would appeal to even the most intense park rats.
But no matter where on the hill they're most comfortable, guests are sure to love Big Snow's après-ski options.
Joe C's Café — the waffle shack — sells specialty hot cocoas with flavors like s'mores, peanut butter pretzel, and picante.
I went with s'mores, which boasted a classic hot cocoa base with whipped cream, graham cracker crumbles, broken up chocolate bars, mini marshmallows, and a chocolate drizzle. The whole ensemble is topped with a toasted marshmallow skewer.
The s'mores waffle was great as well. The shack also sells peanut butter pretzel and unicorn horn-flavored "waffle wands."
Once I polished off my treats, I headed back to the locker room, but not before saying goodbye to Big Snow's abominable snow monster, "Big."
As an experienced rider, I probably wouldn't return to Big Snow for a typical riding experience day. That said, I could see myself spending time there to escape the heat in the summer.
Big Snow is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, year-round. Lift tickets start at $29.99 for two hours or $69.99 for a two-hour session plus accompanying equipment.
Source: Big Snow Now check out the buzziest traditional ski and snowboard resorts of the season:
Here are the 14 most popular ski and snowboard destinations for US travelers this season