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Best California Ski Resort: Prepare to be humbled in the mountains 

Alpine Meadows

When you need to get away from the crowds, most people head up into the mountains. But what happens when the crowds follow you? You go to Alpine Meadows, which offers hospice and harbor for those world-weary folk in need of an adrenaline-induced total cortex reboot. With more than 2,500 acres taking up two sides of a mountain, Alpine hosts thirteen lifts and hundreds of runs, some of which drop the entire length of the 2,000-foot vertical difference from summit to base. Here's the key part: Alpine actively encourages exploration of its backcountry. Called "adventure zones," these distinctly unmeadowlike sections are so desolate, so gnarly, and so untouched that you might just see Indiana Jones galloping through your line on a horse. Drop off thirty-foot cornices into windswept fields of powpow. Disappear with your friends into tree-filled powder runs straight from the videogame SSX Tricky. Alpine is so rugged it draws retired Special Forces soldiers from across the country once a year. You might dine with the man who killed Che Guevara. Remote, epic, and open till May 21.

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