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An Expert Review of Big SNOW American Dream: Overhyped or Worth the Trip?

Published on 08/18/2023 · 10 min readSnowboard Expert Gaelen Mast gives a trip report on Big SNOW American Dream, the indoor ski area in New Jersey that offers year-round skiing and snowboarding!
Gaelen Mast, Snowboarding Expert
By Snowboarding Expert Gaelen Mast

Photo by John Arehart

While many people love summer, it can be a hard time for avid snowboarders and skiers. Sure, the weather is beautiful and everyone loves sunny warm days, yet many of us winter shredders catch ourselves thinking about the snow and how much we miss it. This was exactly my predicament late last summer when I finally made the choice to load up my Subaru, grab a few buddies, and make the trek to New Jersey to experience the unfathomable: indoor snowboarding on real snow (in a mall nonetheless)!

For those of you who don’t know, Big SNOW American Dream is the first and only snow dome in the United States, in North America, and in fact in the Western Hemisphere! Located in East Rutherford, N.J., inside of the American Dream megamall at the Meadowlands, Big Snow opened its doors in December 2019 and has quickly become well known throughout the country. But with all the hype around this place, I hope to answer the most important question about it: is it worth the trip?

Disclaimer: Neither I nor Curated are affiliated with Big Snow in any way. This is an independent review of my honest thoughts, based on two days of snowboarding there in August 2021.

Ease of Access

I was lucky enough to be within a reasonable driving distance from Big Snow (about three hours), but if you’re not from the East Coast, ease of access is likely a concern. Luckily, Newark Liberty International Airport is only about 20 minutes away from the snowdome, making it quite easy to fly into New Jersey and get right to the action.

It’s also worth noting that if you plan to make a multi-day trip, there are no hotels on the premises since Big Snow is inside of a mall. However, there are a dozen hotels within a 15-minute radius, and it’s easy enough to find lodging if you plan ahead. Now that we’ve got the logistics out of the way, let’s talk about what you’re here for—the snowdome itself!


Photo by Shemtov613

As you might imagine, Big Snow is not the cheapest. Seeing as it’s such a unique experience with virtually no competition, they are able to charge just about whatever they like. With that being said, I felt the pricing was actually pretty fair. The snowdome opens at 11 am every day and closes between 8 pm and 10 pm depending on the day. Tickets are sold in two-hour time slots and range from $34-$44 per participant, depending on the demand for the day. For this reason, I'd advise buying tickets well in advance as that’s the best way to get the lowest possible price. Time slots can be stacked, so if you anticipate riding or skiing for more than two hours, you can purchase back-to-back tickets and go for the entire time they’re open!

A little life hack for if you plan on spending a couple of days there: get the “6-pack” offer, which is $129 for six two-hour times slots and can be redeemed whenever you want. This breaks down to about $10.75 per hour and is a better value in the long run!

Your lift ticket is a scannable bracelet that also controls the lock for your locker where you can store your gear while riding. An employee at the doorway scans the bracelet to check in for your time slot.

Skiable Terrain

Let’s start with the obvious here: Big Snow is small—like 4-acres-of-skiable-terrain small. With a 160-foot vertical drop and just four trails, Big Snow is not the place to go for variety. With that being said, any time on snow in the middle of summer is better than no time on snow, so let’s break down what we’re working with.

The snowdome is essentially one mild hill broken into a few sections. One half is dedicated to a terrain park from top to bottom (called Northern Lights Park), and the other half is rated as a blue square/intermediate at the steepest point on the top (called Switchback) and a green circle/beginner on the bottom (called The Perfect Slope).

If I’m being honest here, the whole trail could have been rated as a green; it’s on a mellow slope, wide open, and straight the whole way down—perfect for those who haven’t touched their skis or snowboard all summer. There’s also a small bunny hill learning area (Lil’ Dipper) off to the side for those just getting their first turns in. Check out their trail map here to get a better idea of how everything is laid out.

The terrain park is where I spent most of my time (yep, I’m a jibber), and I’ve got to say, I was quite impressed! Despite not having a ton of space to work with, there were still about 7-8 features on the hill, including a medium-sized jump. The spacing between features was perfect and there was plenty of speed available to hit everything.

There was also a good variety in feature style and difficulty, including a few different rails, boxes, a pole jam, and the jump I mentioned before. The terrain-park crew at Big Snow is really on top of their game and went so far as to switch around a couple of features each night during the few days I was there. Hats off to the park crew for keeping things fresh and interesting; it definitely makes it more appealing to go back!

Snow Quality

Regardless of the terrain available, nothing matters if the snow is bad, thus it feels important to discuss snow quality as I imagine some of you are wondering what skiing/riding on entirely manmade snow indoors feels like. To be entirely honest, I was quite impressed! It certainly wasn’t the best snow I’ve ever ridden, but it was also far from the worst. With the snowdome staying at a consistent temperature of just under 30 degrees and with no humidity, the snow was relatively dry, not quite fluffy, but definitely not hardpack. I also encountered nearly no ice, which is a huge plus!


Despite this place being rather small, the number of ways to get to the top of the “mountain” was impressive. Their main lift (The BIG Express Quad) is a high-speed, four-person chairlift that goes directly over the center of the trails with a runtime of about 4-5 minutes from bottom to top. There was also a rope tow on the far right (Platter Lift) that opened on busy days, although we never saw it in action. There were also not one, but two magic carpets on the bunny slope!

Crowds & Atmosphere

Photo by Shemtov613

Throughout my entire experience, what shocked me the most were the crowds or lack thereof. One of my main concerns about a place like this is that it could easily become overcrowded. However, I didn’t find the number of other skiers/riders to ever be an issue. I don’t think I ever waited more than two minutes in the lift line, I had plenty of space to carve on their main trail, and even in the park I hardly ever found myself waiting for other riders.

It is worth noting that I visited on a Tuesday and Wednesday, and I would expect it to be busier on weekends. However, going in August meant summer break was in full swing, and yet despite this, Big Snow wasn’t crowded at all!

Another slight concern I had was the atmosphere. Was it going to be intimidating with nothing but seriously talented riders and skiers? Was it going to be pure chaos caused by an alpine race team setting up a course in the middle of the slope? Maybe a combo of both? The point is, I really had no idea what to expect when riding on an indoor ski slope. The honest truth is it felt just like riding at any other mountain. There were really good riders training for next winter, total newbies trying skiing out for the first time, and of course, a fair share of weekend warriors just taking some turns for fun! If you’ve ever been to any other ski resort, expect it to feel like that, just on a smaller scale.

Notable Amenities

In addition to the actual slopes, Big Snow also had a small rental shop with both snowboards and ski gear, a concession stand with a few different food options with benches to sit and eat, and a ski patrol area. I had my own equipment so I didn’t spend any time inspecting the rental options nor did I purchase any food as it was quite honestly somewhat overpriced. However, it was nice to know those options existed. Although there was no lodge area to rest or warm up in, you could walk out of the dome and into the locker room as many times as you pleased if you needed to change layers, grab some water, or just get out of the cold for a moment.

Big Snow is strongly geared towards exposing new people to the sports of skiing and snowboarding, and making their experience as fun and easy as possible. In addition to the standard ski/snowboard/boot equipment rentals, they also offer outerwear rentals of jackets, pants, and even gloves.

Big Snow helped pioneer the concept of terrain-based learning, and now many major ski resorts such as Killington Mountain in Vermont, Aspen Snowmass in Colorado, and Whistler Blackcomb in Canada feature the same learning progression. They offer group and private lessons for all abilities, from first timers to experienced people looking to keep their skills sharp during the warm months.

It's worth noting too that where Big Snow is located, American Dream Mall, features numerous eating, shopping, and entertainment attractions, including a water park and an amusement park. It's a unique idea of ski après to put on a bathing suit and hit the wave pool on Memorial Day Weekend, but it's possible at American Dream.

Who Is Big Snow For?

Big Snow is best suited for...

First-TimersIt removes the intimidation of an alpine environment. Rental options include outerwear and clothing.
Young ChildrenShort, easy commute for New Jersey residents. Many entertainment options off-hill if kids get bored. No potential weather issues.
Casual Skiers & SnowboardersNovelty of skiing indoors during warm weather months. There are other attractions in American Dream to make it a full day of fun.
FreestylersLots of terrain park features for those of varying abilities.
Die-HardsWill jump through any hoop in order to ski & snowboard more.

Hopefully, by now, you’ve got a pretty good feel for Big Snow and if it’s worth it for you to make a trip! If you’re someone who’s really into freestyle riding, you’ll certainly get more out of it than the casual rider who likes cruising, simply due to the limited terrain you can ride. It’s a unique enough experience that I would highly recommend any snowboarder/skier try, even if just for one day! If you’ve ever caught yourself dreaming about winter in the heat of July, a couple of laps at Big Snow might just be your remedy until the snow starts falling again!

If you’ve been inspired to take a Big Snow trip after reading this article, make sure you’re well prepared! The key to a good session is having the right gear, and I want to make sure you’re covered! Here at Curated, you can chat with Snowboard Experts (like myself!) completely for free and get personalized recommendations for gear that will suit you best! What are you waiting for? Shoot me a message, say what’s up, and let’s get you some gear and some stoke for your next snowboard adventure!!


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