• 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.

Was the trail map for your favorite ski area based on a painting by Jim Niehues?

marzNC

Angel Diva
#1
So who has heard of Jim Niehues? He is an artist who many ski areas have hired to create a painting that is the basis for their trail map.


Niehues is currently working on a new painting for Big Sky. He posts updates on his FB page.

What I discovered on his website is that the Massanutten trail map is based on a Niehues painting. Of course, the trail map doesn't show the details that are in the painting, like the mountains in the background or the shadows from the trees along the trails. The list for the east also includes Cataloochee, one of the smaller ski areas in NC.
 
#2
So who has heard of Jim Niehues? He is an artist who many ski areas have hired to create a painting that is the basis for their trail map.


Niehues is currently working on a new painting for Big Sky. He posts updates on his FB page.

What I discovered on his website is that the Massanutten trail map is based on a Niehues painting. Of course, the trail map doesn't show the details that are in the painting, like the mountains in the background or the shadows from the trees along the trails. The list for the east also includes Cataloochee, one of the smaller ski areas in NC.
Niehues has been doing trail maps for years and years - Probably most of the Tahoe resorts….. and many Colorado and Utah resorts. I have several jigsaw puzzles that are trail maps from different ski areas. I'm thinking he may have done those...
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#3
Is there a trail map he doesn't do? And I'm almost not kidding. He seems to do them all. Quite a niche he's made for himself. I wonder if he has to ski all the resorts before he does the maps. :wink:

Thanks for the links, though. Fascinating stuff.
 
Last edited:

marzNC

Angel Diva
#4
Of course, I had to look at the list for "East" to see what places were included for where I've skied in the southeast. A bit surprised to see Cataloochee, but not Sugar for NC. Not that surprised that Massanutten commissioned Niehues at some point after Lift 6 was added to the top of the mountain. Snowshoe, Wisp, and Whitetail were also in his gallery. Massanutten, SS, Wisp, Whitetail are all working hard to be destination resorts so I can see where they would be willing to pay for a winter time painting. The notable omission for VA is Wintergreen.
 

sibhusky

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#5
In general, the best ones seem to be his.

But that East link isn't all his maps. Went there, Camelback was missing and as I skied there for over 25 years knew they USED to be his. Went to their site and the map there is changed, but still his. The page of East does say "selected".
 
Last edited:

sibhusky

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#6
They also have the maps available for purchase. Interesting it says ours was done in 1997. I know there's a new one for the back, though. It has a whole new aspect from the old one. Wish I could find that one, the current one has text boxes over some runs they will be opening next season.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#8
In general, the best ones seem to be his.

But that East link isn't all his maps. Went there, Camelback was missing and as I skied there for over 25 years knew they USED to be his. Went to their site and the map there is changed, but still his. The page of East does say "selected".
Good point. The blurb on his sales website says he's done 240 ski areas, including some outside North America. Obviously includes most if not all of the destination resorts.

Now that I've looked more closely at a few of the paintings, I can see that Sugar in NC does use a Niehues painting as the base for their trail map. What's most noticeable is the detail in the trees and shadows, as well as any mountains in the background and clouds in the sky.
 
#10
I did a check for the ski areas more or less in the southeast. Given his unique style and the fact that he signs his paintings, pretty easy to tell which maps are by Niehues. Another feature is that he always puts cars in the parking lots. According to his website, the commission price starts at $3500.

By James Niehues
Cataloochee, NC - on website
Sugar, NC
Massanutten, VA - on website
Winterplace, WV
Snowshoe, WV - on website
Wisp, MD - on website

Not Niehues
Wintergreen, VA
Beech, NC
Timberline, WV
Canaan Valley, WV
Ober Gatlinburg, TN
 
#11
A cartographer did a paper about ski area maps in 2010 based on the maps that existed in 2008. He covers all the major players, including Bill Brown. Brown is the man who got Niehues started. Brown did a lot in the 1960s and 1970s before retiring. The entire paper is here.

Mountain Ski Maps of North America: Preliminary Survey and Analysis of Style
Alex Tait

Abstract

This article examines mountain ski resort trail maps in North America in 2008. It looks at the styles of maps used by resorts and at the main artists involved in producing the maps. The survey included maps from 428 resorts with additional analysis of maps from the 100 largest resorts. Point of view and creation method are the primary factors in determining the style of each ski trail map. Artists have employed three main types of views for ski mountains: panoramas, profiles, and planimetric maps. Panoramic views are by far the most common type of map (86% of all maps and all of the maps at the top 100 areas). Profile views are used in 8% of the maps and planimetric views in only 6%. Production methods for ski trail maps fall into three main categories: painting, illustrating, and computer rendering. Maps created with painting techniques are the most widespread, in use at 72% of all resorts and at 89% of the top 100 areas. Those created in a hard-edged vector-based illustration style are in use at 20% of resorts and those created through computer modeling and rendering at 3% of resorts.

Many artists have created ski trail maps for resorts in North America but one artist, James Niehues, has produced by far the most maps in current use. His maps are in use at over a quarter of all ski areas and at half of the top resorts. Niehues follows in the footsteps of two other Coloradans, Hal Shelton and then Bill Brown, and this Colorado School has been key in the development of a classic painted panoramic style of North American ski maps. Additional research is recommended to provide further details of the history of the maps and their creators as well as to analyze the artists’ terrain manipulations and to look at the growing use of electronic trail maps.
 
#12
This is really neat - he's done many of the Cdn Rockies maps! Thanks for posting this
 
#14
Last edited:
#15
Puzzles?? WANT. Where did you get them?
I actually purchased most of them at ski resorts. I have several Tahoe puzzles, Steamboat, Aspen, Whistler/Blackcomb, Vail. Maybe you can find them on the internet. They are all 500 piece jigsaw puzzles and really fun to work on.
 

Moonrocket

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#17
I want a puzzle! Based on this thread I just bought two of his posters to hang in our new condo. You can even see our condo on one of them that is of the whole valley. I think I'm going to get a you are here sticker for it or something.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#18
The recently completed Big Sky painting is available for sale. See Niehues FB page for how to get a signed version if you decide to buy one.
Turns out that he did more than one view for Big Sky. In addition to the main view, there are two others. There is a separate painting for the South Face, which includes Liberty (off the tram to top of Lone Peak) and all the trails around the Shedhorn and Dakota lifts (black only). Also a painting for the Bowl that has details of the A-Z chutes.

What is being sold is the main view. The others will become insets for the new trail map. Someone else who is a graphics artist will put that together when adding all the trail names and other useful info.
 
#19
I found a company that creates custom puzzles for a long list of ski trail maps. Needless to say, most of them are by Niehues. The puzzles are 13" x 18", 345 pieces. Can also get cards or a poster. Crystal is on the list. So is Massanutten. :becky:
This would be very helpful for me learning actual trail names. Crystal and other local ski areas (probably like non-destination resorts everywhere) aren't signed well, so when I talk about trails I have to say.. "'that one that starts from the top of Rainier Express then goes left and by the terrain park..."). Once at Stevens Pass Rob had ski patrol out looking for me because I thought our meeting point on a certain trail was someplace else entirely (and my phone was not charged) and he thought I was dead in a tree well.

ETA: Oh, I just saw they are only 345 pieces. That's kiddie level, right? Hmm.
 

VickiK

Angel Diva
#20
He did Mammoth to. I had no idea. That's why there's such continuity in feel with trail maps, I guess.
 

Staff online

Latest posts