A new ski season is quickly approaching, and lots of new enhancements at coming to many of your favorite ski resorts, plus changes to ski passes and more. Below is a ski run across the country with some highlights in each region of what’s new at ski resorts around North America. First things first, find out what’s new with the major ski passes.
Passes add resorts, other changes, too
The four major ski passes, Ikon Pass, Epic, Indy, and the Mountain Collective, make skiing and riding all over the world more accessible while saving you money. Each of the passes has made some moves in preparation for the upcoming ski season. Here’s a snapshot:
Ikon Pass added four resorts to its lineup, including Alyeska Resort, nestled in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains. California’s Snow Valley is a new addition in the West. The East will see the addition of Camelback Resort and Blue Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania. This year, Ikon Pass is also offering more perks, including Smith discounts and subscriptions to Outside+ and Paramount+.
Epic Pass expanded its European access. In addition to the Swiss resort Andermatt-Sedrun acquired in 2022, the neighboring Disentis Ski area will join Epic’s Swiss ranks, so pass holders may travel back and forth via its links, the Cuolm da Vi gondola and Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn. The Epic Pass also launched the Mobile Pass, a feature on the new and improved My Epic App that uses Bluetooth technology to scan you at the lift, hands-free, and straight from your pocket.
Indy Pass added more than 50 new Alpine and Nordic resorts for the 23/24 season, including resorts in Europe, Japan, and Western Canada. A few of the 28 new alpine partner resorts include SkiWelt, Austria (which includes nine resort villages accessible by one lift ticket), Baldy Mountain Resort in British Columbia, Montana Snowbowl, and Colorado’s Howelson Hill. Limited quantities went back on sale on October 10. For the first time, pass holders will receive a physical RFID-enabled Indy Pass.
The Mountain Collective pass now boasts direct-to-lift access at most of its resorts, so pass holders can have one physical pass rather than picking up one at the ticket office. Other than losing Thredbo, Australia, there aren’t many changes to its resort line-up in the 2023/24 season.
See what’s new at ski areas across North America for the upcoming ski season below.
Beginning in 23/24, Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, will add 3,700 acres to its ski-only destination, doubling its skiable terrain, adding 16 new lifts, and a new 10-passenger gondola. The project will unfold over the next three seasons, with new lifts and trails set to open as early as the winter of 25/26. In addition to terrain expansion across ten mountains in the Wasatch Back, Deer Valley will add a new village via U.S. Route 40, making the resort more accessible from all angles. The new base area is slated to host over 800 hotel rooms, 1,700 residential units, 250,000 sq. feet of retail and commercial space, and a 68,000-square-foot recreation center, meaning more food, drinks, and job opportunities.
Northern Utah’s Powder Mountain is under new ownership (Netflix’s co-founder, Reed Hastings,) and will begin to undergo major changes and updates for the 23/24 season. The Sundown base will see the beginnings of a new ski school building that will house the ski school, rentals, and a retail ship. A magic carpet is being added to the beginner area while the tow lift is being removed. And, for the first time ever, Pow Mow will utilize a snowmaking infrastructure, starting with the new conveyor lift area.
A new activity hub, “Launch Pad Yurt,” located near the top of Powder’s village chair, will host a boatload of non-alpine winter activities, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobile tours, and moonbike tours – 100% electric snow bikes to explore Powder’s terrain. Plus, Powder will open access to 500 acres of backcountry terrain of tight chutes and open bowls, available only via a snowcat ride up Lightning Ridge. Don’t worry; this experience comes with two guides for each group, and backcountry gear.
Neighboring resort, Snowbasin, plans to wrap construction on a new high-speed chairlift, expanded parking, and a new patio. The addition of the DeMoisy Express, a six-person high speed, will double Snowbasin’s up-hill capacity. A heated, cobblestone patio will be added to the Strawberry Lodge, spanning 5,000 square feet and increasing seating and dining options at the base of Strawberry Gondola and DeMoisy Express. Additional parking adds 124 stalls, further increasing the resort’s capacity for ski and snowboarders to discover rideable terrain outside of Ogden, Utah.
In California, Palisades Tahoe is introducing a new parking reservation system for the 2023/24 winter season. While a majority of the parking inventory will be dedicated to free reservations, paid reservations are available to anyone who would like to guarantee their parking is secured in advance. Reservations will only be required on specific dates, typically weekends and holiday periods, and will be available to book the Tuesday prior.
Mammoth Mountain continues to make progress on its expansion plans, with the new Canyon Express expected to open in time for the 23/24 season. The newer lift will offer skiers and boarders quicker access to the mountain from Mammoth Mountain Canyon Lodge, and with an upgraded seat capacity from four to six skiers.
McCall, Idaho’s Brundage Mountain Resort will reveal a high-speed quad lift in place of the 32-year-old Centennial Triple Chair. The new Centennial Express will cut ride time from 16 minutes to just six minutes from base to summit, easing arrival congestion and balancing skier traffic across the mountain that now hosts two high-speed lifts. The lift addition is all part of a 10-year improvement plan for the mountain that kicked off in 2021. Other projects in the works include a new Mountain Adventure Center and a 37-acre ski-in-ski-out development.
At the end of the 2022/23 season, Stevens Pass said goodbye to its Riblet chair (a two-seater circa 1964) and announced an upgrade to Kehr’s Chair. This season will see the lift transform into a fixed-grip four-seater, shifted slightly right and a bit closer to the Double Diamond lift.
Steamboat, the overall winner in our 2022-23 Visitors’ Choice Awards, is on track to complete the second leg of its Wild Blue Gondola before the beginning of the season. It’s the second phase of two-part construction to create the longest and fastest 10-person gondola in North America. The second leg will take riders from the Greenhorn Ranch Learning Center to the summit of Sunshine Peak, offering access to areas of Sunshine Peak that are equipped with new snowmaking infrastructure this upcoming winter. Mahogany Ridge and Fish Creek Canyon expansion is also expected to wrap before the start of the season, offering lift access to once gated hike-to-access terrain via a new high-speed quad. In addition, the Range Food & Drink Hall will open, introducing cashless dining and new vendors that include Sunshine Bowl Ramen, Pioneer Pie, Twister Tacos, Why Not Sandwich Shop, and a full bar with indoor and outdoor seating.
Formerly known as Pandora’s, Aspen Snowmass Ajax is opening a new terrain pod in the 23/24 season. Hero’s will host a new high-speed quad and access to more advanced and expert terrain, increasing the ski area by more than 150 acres in Aspen Mountain’s first significant addition since the Silver Queen Gondola opening in 1985. Additionally, 26 new trails will take riders through new chutes and glades in north-facing, high-elevation terrain that is expected to hold more snow in dryer seasons.
Breckenridge has continued plugging along the transformation of its Peak 8 base area for the upcoming season. Its current five-chair lift will be upgraded to a high-speed quad, to be known as the FIVE SuperChair that will service beginner and intermediate terrain. With this upgrade, all four chairs out of Breck’s base area will be high-speed, enhancing the visitor experience by getting folks to Five Peaks more quickly and efficiently. The lift will also be open in the summer and access the resort’s popular alpine slide.
Keystone is set to debut a new high-speed six-passenger lift as part of its Bergman Bowl expansion that began in the summer of 2022 but was delayed after inappropriate bulldozing of high-alpine tundra. The lift will service 550 acres of terrain that was previously hike-to-only.
Winter Park will also have a brand new six-person high-speed, known as the Wild Spur Express. The lift will replace the Pioneer Express and will host a mid-station, allowing for quicker laps on the lift’s terrain. Other additions include new dining spots (including a taproom), and a new gear shop for premium demos right next to the resort’s gondola.
Copper Mountain is also making additions, but no new terrain. Instead, the resort will finally debut The Aerie, a 25,000-square-foot lodge located at mid-mountain, featuring a full-service restaurant, bar, and events room with a 270-degree view of the mountain. Other updates include snowmaking improvements and an expansion of the Far East parking lot.
For those in the Fort Collins area, a brand new ski area, Hoedown Hill, is set to open in late November in Windsor, Colorado. Throughout the 70s and 80s, Fort Collins had a local mountain, but it closed in ’86. Hoedown Hill is a welcome revival, albeit small. The ski area will service 12 acres of beginner, intermediate, and advanced terrain shorter in length, as well as a terrain park and a tubing park.
Over in Montana, Big Sky Resort‘s new Lone Peak Tram is on schedule to make its debut this winter, capable of transporting 75 people at once rather than 15. The Tram will climb almost double the altitude (4,612 feet) in one four-minute trip and take off a bit lower than its predecessor. Tram tickets will need to be purchases separately from season and day passes, and the cost will fluctuate between $10 and $40, depending on snow conditions, weather, and visibility.
Boyne Mountain continues to upgrade its current lifts, replacing the Boyneland and Superbowl chairs with Dopplemayr fixed-grip chairlifts. Accompanied by a loading carpet, these lifts will have much faster loading speeds, a 20 percent increase from their predecessors, as well as new alignment to increase skiers’ flow and ease of use.
Boyne Mountain’s sister resort, The Highlands, formerly known as Boyne Highlands, is wrapping up the installation of the first six-person, high-speed bubble chairlift. The lift, to be called Camelot 6, is the first of its kind in the Midwest. It will replace three existing triple-place lifts, Camelot, Valley, and MacGully, and will extend to the top of Upper Camelot slope for quicker access to terrain for winter users and expanding mountain biking operations in the summer.
Loon Mountain Resort has been hard at work on its South Peak expansion, which will add 11 trails and one fixed-grip quad to the resort, increasing its skiable terrain by over 400 acres. The 30 acres of new terrain, known as Timbertown, will cater to beginner and intermediate skier levels, and access two tree-skiing areas, Lincoln Woods and Wildwood. A vertical drop of 2,190 feet makes it the longest ski resort in New Hampshire. The new terrain pod is slated to officially open in December.
New Hampshire’s Attitash Mountain Resort is on track to reveal The Mountaineer, a new four-person, high-speed lift, by mid-December. The lift replaces the Triple Summit and will reduce ride time by more than half, increase uphill capacity, and support the relief of base area congestion. Nearby, Cranmore Mountain Resort will officially celebrate the opening of Fairbank Lodge, a brand new, 30,000 square-foot base lodge, that will offer a food pavilion, a slopeside bar, ski shops, locker rooms, and two-story residential condominiums. On the slopes, keep an eye out for a fourth terrain park.
Sugarbush in Vermont recut Reverse Traverse and equipped it with snowmaking, opening up one direct line from the Valley House Quad to the Heaven’s Gate chairlift – Heaven’s Gate Traverse. This move makes the traverse easier to follow and less brutal to ski, while the snowmaking component will allow Sugarbush to open more trails in the early season. The Lodge at Lincoln Peak is also getting a facelift that will hopefully be completed in time to enjoy for the 23/24 season.
Sugarloaf is also expanding, adding 12 new trails that range from easy to intermediate in difficulty. A new high-speed quad, which originally operated at Big Sky Resort, is making its way east to cut ride time to under seven minutes at a rise of 1,433 feet. Originally projected to open in January or February of 2024, the lift is now expected to open in December.
Middlebury Snow Bowl in Hancock, Vermont, is making way for a brand new quad lift that is slated to debut in 23/24, as well as installing lights for night skiing and a new beginner trail accessible by conveyor lift.
Maine’s Sunday River has been hard at work replacing its Barker Express chair with a six-person high-speed bubble chair to protect riders from the biting East Coast cold. The lift will be known as Barker 6, and be equipped with heated seats, headrests, and footrests, guaranteeing a cozy ride to the summit in under five minutes.
Last but not least, Sunshine Village in Alberta, Canada, is in the process of replacing its Angle Express lift with a high-speed six-pack bubble chair. Sunshine Village’s second bubble chair will shelter riders from the cold while providing heated seats for the ride to easy, intermediate, and advanced terrain. Skiers and riders will have to wait until the 24/25 season for a full opening, but construction has started in the 23/24 season.
Header image: @Maguire / Breckenridge / Vail Resorts