Moonlight Basin is a popular run on the Valdez side of Thompson Pass. There is a large pullout of multiple vehicles on the hairpin turn, and another on a little bit further up the highway past the Blueberry Lake turn off.
The second higher turn off is more used for vehicles withsnowmachines in tow. While the hairpin turn is right at the base of Moonlight Basin and provides easier access for skiers and splitboarders, or families with sleds who make runs on the bottom hill.
The lower half of Moonlight Basin is essentially a series of large stairs steps on the slope. Each step face / mini-slope can range from 30ft to over a hundred in height and generally about a 40ft wide bench between each step.
The first few can be intimidating to climb for anyone new to snowmaching at some sections reach near vertical points and deep tracks may already be cut in the snow.
The transition section there is a half pipe ravine or smooth open slopes outside it to the east or uphill right.
Once on top there are a couple bowls creating the basin portion of Moonlight Basin.
From the top of the bowls a confident snowmachiner can traverse the ridge and come down inside Thompson Pass proper, or simply ride back down the slope.
Most snomanchines in Moonlight Basin are enroute to other locations or playing taxi for friends with skis or a board.
The ride down can be wonderful powder. On the ridge up top there can be wind blown crust.
Avalanche danger in Moonlight Basin is generally quite low and it’s assumed to be one of the safer locations in Thompson Pass. Also it is less prone to be fogged in as runs inside the pass may sometimes happen early in winter.