A new ski season is quickly approaching, and you will happily discover lots of new enhancements at 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 the U.S. However, 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, Epic, Indy, and the Mountain Collective, make skiing and riding all over the world more accessible while saving you money. Each of the passes have seen some moves for the upcoming ski season. Here’s a snapshot:
IKON Pass added in eight resorts including Sun Valley and Snowbasin (both coming over from the Epic Pass); British Columbia’s Panorama; France’s Chamonix and Japan’s Lotte Arai. Use the IKON pass to ski Mammoth Mt., Calif. this year, not the Mt. Collective, as in the past.
Epic Pass added in Vail Resorts’ newly acquired Pennsylvania ski areas of Seven Springs, Hidden Valley and Laurel Mt. and added an EpicFlex payment plan.
Indy Pass added Sunlight Mountain, Colo; Mt. Hood Meadows, Ore., Ski Bluewood, Wash.; Ski Sawmill, Pa. and Kelly Canyon Resort, Idaho to their lineup. Furthermore, a new cross-country component, in partnership with the Cross Country Ski Areas Association (CCSAA), means all Indy Pass holders will receive two daily trail passes for each participating cross-country ski area.
The Mountain Collective, closely tied to the IKON Pass, brings in Chamonix, France; Marmot Basin, Alberta, Le Massif Charelevoix, Quebec.
See what’s new at ski areas across North America for the upcoming ski season below.
First up, the long-anticipated base-to-base gondola is now a reality, opening up virtually uninterrupted access to all 6,000 acres of skiable terrain at both Palisades-Tahoe and Alpine Meadows. The base-to-base gondola will climb and descend nearly 2,000 vertical feet over a 16-minute ride, creating a fast tie-up between the Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows resorts, linking the two mountains for the first time in history.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, the often overlooked Lake Tahoe ski resort near Reno, Nevada added a new Leitner-Poma detachable quad lift as part of their $7.5 million capital investment to expand the Lakeview area of the resort. It replaces a triple and increases uphill capacity from 1,800 passengers per hour to 2,400, and quickening rider time.
Sierra-at-Tahoe was in the path of the Calder Fire that swept through the Lake Tahoe region in late August 2021. The damage was so intense the resort has yet to reopen. But plans are to re-open for the new season. The West Bowl area that sustained the most severe damage saw 5 million board feet of timber removed from the ski slopes in 55 days. The entire team is dedicated to ensuring that Sierra will be able to re-open. Stay tuned for the good news.
Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington’s Pacific Northwest will benefit from new owner Boyne’s 10-year plan. A new Doppelmayr triple lift will replace the Hidden Valley double with a triple chair, boosting capacity on the backside of Hyak this season. The new lift will feature conveyor loading and transport 1,800 skiers per hour.
Three of Vail Resorts’ Colorado destinations – Vail, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge – have new lifts to explore. Vail has installed a new high-speed, 4-person chair in Sun Down Bowl from the base of Chair 5 (High Noon Express) to the Wildwood restaurant. The lift is expected to reduce wait times on peak days at Chair 5 and offer more convenient access to the Sun Down Bowl trails. Furthermore, Vail’s Epic Lift Upgrade spans 12 resorts across the country and is designed to reduce lift line wait times and give skiers and riders access to new terrain and peaks.
Beaver Creek’s Game Creek Bowl will see a replacement of the current 4-person chair with a new high-speed, 6-person lift. That increases capacity by nearly 50 percent in this popular part of the mountain. At Breckenridge, the beginner/ski school experience will be enhanced at the busy Peak 8 base area. Rip’s Ride Lift will be enhanced by replacing the current fixed-grip double with a high-speed, 4-person chair, increasing uphill capacity by nearly 70 percent and making it easier for skiers and riders to move out of the base area.
Steamboat’s long-range expansion plans get real for visitors this season with the lower leg of its new Wild Blue Gondola opening, while the upper leg will come online next winter. It will be the longest gondola in North America and the fastest 10-person gondola in the country. Steamboat’s state-of-the-art gondola will feed skiers and riders through a newly created mid-station, located adjacent to Bashor Bowl, and with the final destination atop Sunshine Peak. Some 10,000 skiers per hour will now be able to go bottom to top in 13 minutes. Meanwhile, the centerpiece of Steamboat Square – Skeeter’s Ice Rink – will open this winter.
Telluride will see The Plunge Express (Chair 9) replaced with a new Dopplemayr high-speed, detachable quad that will increase uphill capacity to 1,800 per hour, traveling over 2,000 vertical feet. Look for it to open before Christmas.
Buttermilk Mountain at Aspen Snowmass will see its village transformation become reality this season with a new 9,000-square-foot skier services building and a renovated and rebranded Buttermilk Mountain Lodge restaurant. This $23 million renovation will create a more seamless experience for guests, with an intuitive skier services building including ski school, rentals and ticketing all in one location.
Finally, we round out the Colorado Rockies at Purgatory, near Durango, Colo., which has completed the first phase of major snowmaking expansion with a $1.5 million first phase. Purgatory’s upgrades will allow the opening of the high-elevation terrain early if the temperatures won’t allow for top-to-bottom skiing.
Skiers and riders at venerable Boyne Mountain in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula will welcome a Doppelmayr D-line, 8-passenger chair as part of Boyne’s Renaissance 2.0 growth and development plan. This is the midwest’s first 8-passenger chairlift, and replaces the Disciples I and II chairs serving primarily beginner and intermediate terrain. The D8 will feature auto-locking safety bars and a child-friendly raisable loading carpet.
Two new chairs will improve the skier experience at Boston Mills and Brandywine, 30 minutes south of Cleveland. Boston Mills will replace a double chair with a fixed-grip quad, while Brandywine replaces its triple chair with a fixed-grip quad.
KSL Resorts adds new high-speed, 6-person lifts at Blue Mountain in Palmerton and Camelback Resort in Tannersville, both in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. The Blue Mountain lift replaces 2 doubles lifts where it rises to 980 feet. The new lift can transport 3,000 people and be top to bottom in 5 minutes. Black Bear 6, Camelback’s new high-speed, 6-person enclosed lift replaces the existing Sullivan Express, a smaller 4-person lift.
Virginia’s Bryce Resort will show off a new 2,500-foot Skytrac fixed-grip quad lift. The quad replaces Chair 2, an old center pole classic, doubling the uphill capacity to 1,800 passengers per hour.
Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont gets attention as part of owner Vail Resorts capital improvement plans. Projects include lift upgrades, like a new, high-speed, 6-passenger chairlift, as well as terrain and snowmaking expansion, improved arrival process, and a freshening up of the resort’s Clock Tower base area. Snowmaking capacity can now cover 98 percent of its trails.
The classic ski resort of Stowe in Northern Vermont will replace its existing Mountain Triple with chairs that can fit up to 6 riders, also thanks to Vail Resorts ownership. The replacement and extension of the existing fixed-grip triple to a high-speed, 6-person lift this winter will increase uphill capacity by 100 percent and eliminate the steep hike to the base of the former lift.
Southern Vermont’s popular Mt. Snow will replace 2 old triple chairs at the crowded base — the Sundance and Tumbleweed chairs — with one high-speed, 6-person chair. Uphill capacity will increase by 70 percent. The Sunbrook Chair on the back side of the mountain also will be replaced by a high-speed quad, decreasing the ride time lift to less than 10 minutes.
Last, but not least, British Columbia, Canada’s Whistler-Blackcomb is upgrading the experience out of the Creekside Base Area. The Creekside 6-person gondola will be replaced with a new high-speed, 8-person model that will increase uphill capacity by 35 percent. A new high-speed, 6-pack where the new gondola deposits skiers about halfway up the mountain will replace the Big Red Express quad and will take skiers and riders the rest of the way to below Glacier Bowl and Little Whistler Peak.
Note: This is a partial listing of the major improvements at many ski resorts.
Header image: @Ben Birk/Palisades-Tahoe