• Women skiers, this is the place for you -- an online community without the male-orientation you'll find in conventional ski magazines and internet ski forums. At TheSkiDiva.com, you can connect with other women to talk about skiing in a way that you can relate to, about things that you find of interest. Be sure to join our community to participate (women only, please!). Registration is fast and simple. Just be sure to add webmaster@theskidiva.com to your address book so your registration activation emails won't be routed as spam. And please give careful consideration to your user name -- it will not be changed once your registration is confirmed.

The future of ski resort development in the US

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
I follow a podcast called Storm Skiing Journal, and a recent post has to do with the future of ski resort development in the US. It deals with a lot of interesting questions: Why aren't we entering a new era of ski resort creation? What future ski expansions are you most excited about? Which existing North American ski areas have the most untapped potential? And so on. You can read a transcript here.

What are your thoughts?

One from me is that I'd be delighted if Plymouth Notch came back from the dead. It's maybe five miles from me, so that would be amazing! Snow Valley would be nice, too.
 
Last edited:

Jenny

Angel Diva
That was interesring. I really only skimmed it, but there was quite a bit on Midwest/Michigan that I wasn’t expecting.

And I noticed @marzNC had a question answered!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
That was interesring. I really only skimmed it, but there was quite a bit on Midwest/Michigan that I wasn’t expecting.

And I noticed @marzNC had a question answered!
:smile:

Stuart is from Michigan. So he understands the Midwest region far more than most ski journalists. I've been chatting with him about skiing in the southeast after he expanded beyond the northeast a few years ago. His interviews with General Managers and COOs are very informative.
 

Amie H

Angel Diva
Well, I stayed up later than I intened reading that!

2 of his "hope to ski someday" places are on my list, too: AZ Snowbowl and Wolf Creek.

I would like to add my two cents to his response re: Midwest out-of-the way hills in the UP. Over the past few years there have been different operators of direct flights from Chicago ORD to Ironwood Gogebic airport. This year was Denver Air Connection, which looked promising as the aircraft used were larger than those of the previous operator (you couldn't check skis on those planes!) DAC also offered really affordable RT prices (under $200) and courtesy bag checks. I'm mildly obsessed with tracking air travel so I was queued up to take a DAC flight to the UP for weekend skiing except there is virtually no ground transportation option when you land!
I was thinking a "ski bus"/shuttle running from the airport to Whitecap (WI), Big Powderhorn, and Big Snow (Indianhead/Blackjack) could be a not-too-expensive investment, either pooled and operated among the 3 areas, as a private enterprise for someone running it as a reservation-only service, or as a joint private/public entity, also offering stops at other areas that would benefit locals (say, to get to jobs at the resorts.)
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
2 of his "hope to ski someday" places are on my list, too: AZ Snowbowl and Wolf Creek.
Even though Wolf Creek requires a little driving, well worth it. First trip was in Feb 2021, second was at the start of this season. It's a "ski area," not a "ski resort" and I hope it stays that way.
 

Amie H

Angel Diva
Even though Wolf Creek requires a little driving, well worth it. First trip was in Feb 2021, second was at the start of this season. It's a "ski area," not a "ski resort" and I hope it stays that way.
Remind me where you stayed? Pagosa Springs?
 

Christy

Angel Diva
I am hugely surprised he didn't mention climate change in his response to "why isn't there more ski resort development." It is not an accident that all the big development projects are north of the border. The development that is happening at WA ski areas is generally to make these places 4 season resorts, which they never have been. Even little Snoqualmie is doing what they can by putting in mountain bike trails. (The consensus is that there won't be skiing at low elevation Snoqualmie in 30 years.)

It's interesting that he singles out WA as the place that "needs" the most new development but his comments about ski resort development here are not very well informed. Environmentalists, who he seems to blame, are not the main issue, and "wilderness" which has a specific legal meaning is not the issue. The places that could be ski areas in WA have generally been tried; they've failed due to low elevation. You can do anything about a place that gets tons of precipitation but doesn't get cold enough to turn the rain to snow. The WA Cascades are rugged with limited access. There are only 5 paved roads across or to the WA Cascades and there are ski areas at all of them, except for the spot where Early Winters resort was to be (and there was broad and strong opposition to Aspen Co developing this--again it wasn't just environmentalists. The ranching interests and county commissioners there still have animosity toward outside interests including visitors).

There's already so much competition for space out there. The snowmobiling community just got the USFS to yank a conditional permit for 3 yurts that would have served backcountry skiers. 3 whole yurts. Imagine someone trying to develop a new ski area, or expand one--the opposition from snowmobilers, backcountry skiers, nordic skiers, snowshoers, dog mushers, mountaineers not to mention the logging industry would be massive. There's a ton of grumbling about Crystal's new hotel/lodge/summer activity development and that doesn't even expand the ski area.

So the idea that developers should just work more closely with the USFS in WA to find new areas to develop just isn't based on reality.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
I am hugely surprised he didn't mention climate change in his response to "why isn't there more ski resort development." It is not an accident that all the big development projects are north of the border. The development that is happening at WA ski areas is generally to make these places 4 season resorts, which they never have been. Even little Snoqualmie is doing what they can by putting in mountain bike trails. (The consensus is that there won't be skiing at low elevation Snoqualmie in 30 years.)

Yeah, I was surprised by this, too. It's hard to justify the expense of putting in a new ski area when in 30 years it may be completely unsustainable.
 

Christy

Angel Diva
Oh, well, here's why. I missed this the first time I looked at it. This is based on his experience seeing ski areas in the east stay in business despite less than ideal weather.

But, in general, I believe the existential threat of climate change to the long-term viability of skiing as a business tends to be somewhat overstated.
 

Iwannaski

Angel Diva
It’s really interesting to me how little people understand what is going on with our earth and what some of the larger risks are.
Interesting, terrifying,heartbreaking, disappointing, mind boggling… I don’t even know.
 

Amie H

Angel Diva
I've stayed in both Pagosa Springs and South Fork. There are advantages/disadvantages to each town. The bigger question is what airport to fly into.
In the back of my mind I have a trip flying ORD to Durango, then skiing Purgatory and Wolf Creek, with a soak or two in Pagosa Springs. Unfortunately, direct flights to Durango and Gunnison originating in ORD aren't on any airlines' schedules that I've seen in the past few years. I can get to either connecting through DEN or DFW.
 

rivarunnamomma

Certified Ski Diva
Mountain biking is definitely the new development strategy for ski areas in BC. Last year, big grants were given out to community organizations interested in developing local tourism amenities, with special emphasis on partnering with smaller ski areas transitioning to provide year-round recreation (and employment) by adding mountain bike trails. A few years ago, SilverStar was bought by a US company ... partly for its great skiing ... but also for its existing (awesome) mountain bike park and potential for lots more trails. In Whistler/Blackcomb, summer visits surpassed winter visits almost 10 years ago! https://www.piquenewsmagazine.com/whistler-news/not-just-a-ski-town-any-more-2494645 Global warming is TOP OF MIND in this industry.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
For U.S. Forest Service land, the new rules based on the law change in 2011 weren't clear until about 2014. So unlike ski resorts that have been 4-season resorts from the start, many of the destination resorts in the Rockies couldn't have revenue generating activities such as high ropes courses, zip lines, or lift-served mountain biking.

The business model for the ski areas/resorts in the southeast that began in the 1960s and 1970s based on 100% snowmaking and survived as viable businesses is quite different than what had been the norm for ski areas/resorts at big mountains in the west where snowmaking wasn't considered a high priority until after 2010. Snowmaking used to be an add-on function in Oct-Dec just to make sure there would be enough beginner/intermediate terrain for the late Dec holiday period. One advantage for the southeast is that water is not usually that much of an issue, which is very different from the west.

My home hill, Massanutten, was a 4-season resort from the start back in the early 1970s. That's true of other ski resorts in the northeast that are on private land. While Massanutten only has 75 skiable acres, the total acreage is in the thousands of acres available for hiking, golfing, swimming pools, and an indoor/outdoor waterpark. The high season is from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Massanutten is in the midst of a major expansion planned for 2022-24. New trails are being cut on the upper mountain. The fixed-grip quad to the summit will be replaced with a high-speed detachable quad.
 

Members Online

No members online now.

Latest posts



Top