It’s no secret that powder days are something of the “holy grail” of skiing. Once the first snowstorm of the year comes, many skiers are chomping at the bit for powder days. But it begs the question, what ski resorts receive the most snow each year?
It should come as no surprise that the ski resorts of Western North America see the most annual snow. The 2022-2023 ski season has been a particularly snowy season for many ski resorts in California, Utah and other western states, with there being weeks in which a number of ski resorts received several feet of snow. Utah ski resorts Brighton and Alta surpassed 600 inches in the first week of March, while some parts of California recently received about 200 inches of snow in less than a month.
So how does this season stack up historically? Read on as we explore some of North America’s snowiest ski resorts.
The Snowiest Ski Resorts In North America
The snowiest ski area in North America is Alyeska, Alaska, where the annual snow dump on the ski slopes averages 669 inches. It has jumped as high as 848 inches but, during the 2021-2022 season, the total took a dip to a mere 394 inches. So, if your decision is based on whether you can guarantee you will find natural snow during your winter vacation, head to the Great Land (which is what Alyeska means in Aleut). Alyeska is located just 30 miles from Anchorage in Girdwood and offers 1,400 skiable acres, steep and deep with plenty of room to roam.
Fittingly, we head to Canada next, where British Columbia is no slouch in the snow department. Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia logs in with an average snowfall of 426 inches, while Revelstoke checks in at 447 inches. British Columbia is the snowiest Canadian province, by far, and the others don’t come close. The Ski Big 3 resorts in Banff, Alberta, for example, get about half the snowfall of BC’s snowiest resorts.
The Snowiest Ski Resorts In the U.S.
Can the U.S. ski resorts compete? Yes, many can. In fact, Mt. Baker in the North Cascades of Washington is considered one of the snowiest ski areas in the world, where it averages a whopping yearly snowfall of more than 600 inches. Need more proof? Mt. Baker broke the world record for snowfall in a single season: 1,140 inches, or 95 feet, in the 1998-99 season. The ski area’s summit elevation of 5,089 feet delivers skiers and riders 1,500 feet of vertical. As you can see, mountains don’t have to reach the sky to pull in all that snow.
Few other U.S. ski resorts come that close. You’ll need to head up Little Cottonwood Canyon out of Salt Lake City, Utah, where Alta and Snowbird collect snow by the meter. Alta averages 538 inches each season, while next door neighbor Snowbird accumulates 435 inches. Do those numbers hold up across Utah? Not exactly. The resorts in Summit Country – Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley – get about 200 inches less than those in Little Cottonwood due to a difference of about 1,500 feet in altitude. Still, no matter how you cut through it, there is indeed truth to Utah’s claim of having “the greatest snow on earth.”
The most popular ski state is Colorado, where Wolf Creek, near Pagosa Springs, reigns supreme, averaging 387 inches of snow each winter. Crested Butte near Gunnison averages 216 inches. Winter Park – the Denver favorite – is a sure bet for good snow averaging 347 inches, while early-to-open Loveland on I-70 picks up 344 inches on average. Vail and Aspen average 189 inches and 179 inches respectively. Steamboat hits an average of 185 inches of snow annually.
Snowmaking rules the East
You won’t find many record breakers in the American Midwest, but the temperatures make snowmaking a guarantee even if the natural stuff isn’t all that exciting. Still, Michigan’s tough skiing Mt. Bohemia averages some 270 inches, aided by generous lake-effect snow. Boyne Mountain, by comparison, averages 119 inches.
The Eastern part of the country won’t set many snowfall records despite those occasional Nor ‘easters that are often unpredictable. But the averages are more than sufficient with many ski resorts in this region having the most sophisticated and powerful snowmaking systems in the world. Killington – the beast of the east in Central Vermont – averages 250 inches, while Stowe to the north accumulates about the same. Sugarloaf, Maine checks in at 200 inches of snow on average.
You be the judge. You can choose the deepest surface and the snowiest resort, or decide that no matter where you ski or ride these days because of high-tech snowmaking you’ll be just fine.
Header: Alyeska Resort