The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), an organization whose members include most ski resorts across the country, keeps tabs on an astonishing amount of information. One nugget is the number of ski areas per state. Many may guess that it’s Colorado, or perhaps California, that has the most ski resorts. However, they aren’t even in the top three.
According to the latest data from the annual Kottke National End of Season Report, 473 ski areas were in operation during the 2021 – 2022 season. New ski areas added included: Quarry Road, Maine; 77 Snow Park, Vermont Tech Vt.; Emery Park, N.Y. Skytop, Lotus Lake, Pa; Hiawatha, Mich.; Bear Canyon, Mont; Chapman Hill, Lee’s Ski Hill, Colo. and Blizzard Mt., Idaho.
Closed ski areas that re-opened last season included: Northampton Park, Double H Ranch, Villa Romas, N.Y.; Standing Rocks, Wis.; Ski Brul;e, Mich.; Snowhaven, Id.; Elko Snobowl, Nev.; Badger Pass, Calif. and Sitzmark, Wash.
Among the many questions we get is that of where the highest concentrations of ski resorts in North America are. While the west may bring to mind fresh powder, it’s actually the east and some midwest states that have such a high concentration of ski resorts.
Which State Has The Most Ski Resorts
New York has the most ski resorts, with 52. That’s followed by Michigan with 39 and Wisconsin at 33. Close behind Wisconsin is Colorado with 32 ski resorts.
Which State Has The Fewest Ski Resorts
Maryland, Rhode Island, and Tennessee are at the other end of the spectrum, with one each. Alabama’s Cloudmont did not operate last winter.
How Many States Have Ski Resorts?
Back to the numbers of NSAA member resorts per state operating last winter. Thirty-six states have ski resorts.
- New York: 52
- Michigan: 39
- Wisconsin: 33
- Colorado: 32
- California: 26
- New Hampshire: 26
- Pennsylvania: 26
- Vermont: 26
- Minnesota: 20
- Maine: 18
- Idaho: 18
- Utah: 15
- Montana: 16
- Washington: 15
- Massachusetts: 12
- Oregon: 11
- Wyoming: 10
- Alaska: 10
- New Mexico: 8
- North Carolina: 6
- Ohio: 5
- Connecticut: 5
- Nevada: 5
- Virginia: 5
- Illinois: 4
- West Virginia: 5
- Arizona: 3
- Iowa: 3
- North Dakota: 3
- New Jersey: 3
- Indiana: 2
- South Dakota: 2
- Missouri: 2
- Maryland: 1
- Rhode Island: 1
- Tennessee: 1
How Many Ski Areas Are Operating In The United States?
NSAA reports 473 ski areas were in operation during the 2021/22 season. The number of ski areas has generally trended downward over the years, as evidenced by 20 years worth of data that shows 622 resorts operated in the 1987-1988 season, compared with 473 that were in operation last season. That’s no surprise to skiers and riders, who have witnessed ongoing closings and consolidations among resorts over the years, plus significant changes in climate and weather patterns.
However, the NSAA says that in recent seasons the total number of ski areas has remained relatively steady, and most of the fluctuation is due to cycles of closure and re-opening of small ski areas.
Why Resorts Close
Let’s use Colorado as an example of how and why we see the closure of ski resorts across the country. The reasons vary, but you’ll get the “drift.”
Ski Broadmoor was the largest and longest-operating ski area in Colorado Springs. It was opened as part of the Broadmoor Resort in 1959 and was home to some of the best American skiers of the ’60s and ’70s. The resort sold the ski area to the City of Colorado Springs in 1987, but the city was unprepared to take on such a big responsibility. They sold it to Vail Resort in 1991, which ended up closing Ski Broadmoor.
Berthoud had a long history of firsts before its eventual closing. It opened as Colorado’s first official ski area in 1937 and it added the first double chair in the state as well in 1947. Safety, permitting issues, the rising competition and popularity of nearby Winter Park, plus many owner changes, forced the closing of Berthoud Pass for good in 2003.
Geneva Basin Ski Area was originally opened as Indianhead Ski Area in 1963. One of the main reasons for Geneva Basin’s eventual closure were the financial problems that plagued the ski area. In 1984, this was made worse by an accident with one of the chairlifts that forced the resort to shut down until the problem could be resolved. It never re-opened despite a number of attempts.
Cuchara Mountain Resort
Cuchara Mountain Resort opened in 1981 as Panadera Ski Area and operated for 8 years under its original owners. However, the resort ran into financial trouble. Ownership changed often in the period that followed. Cuchara Mountain Resort closed for good, but still operates as a backcountry skiers park, funded and managed by volunteers of the Cuchara Foundation.
Downtown Winter Park was known as Hideaway Park, and was home to Ski Idlewild, which began operation in 1961. Idlewild was a favorite of novice skiers.The resort ran into trouble, however, in 1986 after a chairlift malfunctioned. No one was hurt, but that was the beginning of the end. Today, many of the cross-country trails remain open to backcountry skiers.
Hidden Valley opened officially in Estes Park in 1955. This ski area was known to many to be quite challenging and hilly, with evenly split terrain between beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs. Although this area closed its doors and sold its lifts in 1991, its hills still remain a popular place for sledding, tubing, and backcountry.
Stagecoach Ski Area
Major funding issues forced the partially-built Stagecoach Ski Area to close down soon after its grand opening. This ski area operated briefly between 1972 and 1974, never fulfilling its initial designs and promise.