What state has the most ski resorts?

Newsroom Best Of Topics What state has the most ski resorts?

The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), an organization whose members include most major ski resorts across the country, keeps tabs on an astonishing amount of information. One nugget is the number of ski areas per state.

According to the latest data available,  NSAA reports that 470 ski areas were in operation during the 2019 – 2020 season. During that season, which was cut short because of COVID-19, ten ski areas did not open for the season, while four ski areas re-opened or opened for the first time. According to NSAA, the two new ski areas were Big Snow American Dram (New Jersey) and Woodward Park City (Utah). While the two re-opened ski areas were Teton Pass (Montana) and Coopervale Ski Area (California).

Which state has the most ski resorts, Whiteface Mountain.
Whiteface Mountain Resort, New York. Credit: Onthesnow.com

Which State Has The Most Ski Resorts

New York has the most ski resorts, with 51.

Which State Has The Fewest Ski Resorts

Alabama, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Tennessee are at the other end of the spectrum, with one each.

How Many States Have Ski Resorts?

Back to the numbers of NSAA member resorts per state operating last winter. Thirty-seven states have ski resorts.

How Many Ski Areas Are Operating In The United States?

NSAA reports 470 ski areas were in operation during the 2019/20 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 470 that were in operation during the 2019-20 season. That’s no surprise to skiers and riders, who have witnessed ongoing closings and consolidations among resorts over the years.

But, 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.

  • 2019/20: 470
  • 2018/19: 476
  • 2017/18: 472
  • 2016/17: 481
  • 2015/16: 463
  • 2014/15: 470
  • 2013/14: 470
  • 2012/13: 478
  • 2011/12: 474
  • 2010/11: 486
  • 2009/10: 471
  • 2008/09: 473
  • 2007/08: 481
  • 2006/07: 485
  • 2005/06: 478
  • 2004/05: 492
  • 2003/04: 494
  • 2002/03: 490
  • 2001/02: 493
  • 2000/01: 489
  • 1999/00: 503
  • 1998/99: 509
  • 1997/98: 521
  • 1996/97: 507
  • 1995/96: 519
  • 1994/95: 520
  • 1993/94: 518
  • 1992/93: 529
  • 191/92:546

Why Resorts Close

Let’s use Colorado as an example of how and why we see the demise of the number of ski resorts across the country. The reasons vary, but you’ll get the “drift.”

Ski Broadmoor

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. Vail shut it down to eliminate competition along the I-70 corridor.

Berthoud Pass

Berthoud had a long history of firsts before its eventual closing. It opened as Colorado’s first official ski area in 1937. The resort 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

Geneva Basin Ski Area was originally opened as Indianhead Ski Area in 1963. One of the main reasons for Geneva Basin’s eventual downfall were the financial problems that plagued the ski area. In 1984, this was made worse by an accident with one of the chair lifts 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 eight years under its original owners. However, the resort ran into financial trouble. Ownership changed often in the period that followed.

The park was closed for good, but still operates as a backcountry skiers park, funded and managed by volunteers of the Cuchara Foundation.

Ski Idlewild

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

This small ski area 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 resort to close down soon after its grand opening. This ski area operated briefly between 1972 and 1974, never fulfilling its initial designs and promise.

The pattern is almost always the same for small ski areas a cross the country. The mom and pops fade away but the bigger conglomerates keep on keeping on.

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