Another epic winter in store for resorts? Maybe — if not with snow then definitely with speed and size

Just how epic was last winter’s freakishly long ski and snowboard season in California?

Chew on this data from two A-list destinations:

Mammoth Mountain remained open until Aug. 6, completing a 270-day season, its second longest on record.

The resort received 800-plus inches of snow at its 11,053-foot summit and 618 inches at its base. January saw 245 inches of snow in 31 days.

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows at Lake Tahoe shut its last lift July 15, its latest closing date ever, completing a 200-day season. Squaw received 728 inches of snow.

Winter destinations

January was the resorts’ snowiest month on record, 282 inches, including 23 feet in 23 consecutive days. February was the same, at 196 inches.

Resorts in California and across the West would be happy this season with a winter, say, half as snowy. Here’s what new and newsworthy:


The California Ski Industry Assn. has introduced a Mountain Safety Guide, a compendium resource for guests. The print version, a trail map-sized guide, will be available at many of the association’s 29 member resorts in California and Nevada. The guide also is available online at Ski California

Alpine Meadows' renovated base lodge has eight new automatic doors for easier access to the sun deck. More info »

Winter holiday roundup
Children with Snowman at Big Bear Mountain Resort. Big Bear Mountain Resort

Bear Mountain installed two new “magic carpet” conveyor lifts in the beginner area on its east side. More info »Info:

Bear Valley has unveiled a new high-speed six-seat chairlift, replacing its Bear chair. The new chair is said to travel three times faster than the old one. More info »

Boreal Mountain Resort debuts what’s said to be the largest solar installation among all California ski resorts, on the roof of the Woodward Bunker, an indoor training facility with skate parks. More info »

Heavenly Mountain Resort’s California Lodge has a new rooftop bar, Lat 38, with fire pits. Also new: The GoPro Ski and Ride School offers video/photo instruction in conjunction with ski and snowboarding lessons. More info »

Homewood Mountain Resort adds a new snowcat grooming vehicle and now incorporates local Airbnb rentals on its website. More info »

Kirkwood Mountain Resort’s new Red Cliffs Family Lodge offers evening movies and games for overnight guests. More info »

Mammoth Mountain’s new 200-foot-long, sloped Progression Airbag, said to be one of only three in the world, allows freestylers to practice jumps and tricks (and land safely) before trying them on snow. After the Jan. 17-21 Mammoth Grand Prix, the 2018 U.S. Olympic Snowboarding and Freeski teams will be named for the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, beginning Feb. 9. More info »

Northstar California Resort introduces an early-morning First Tracks program that allows guests to tour the mountain with guides before lifts open to the public. More info »

Sierra-at-Tahoe has expanded its sculpted “smart” terrain, said to accelerate the learning curve for skiers and snowboarders. More info »

Snow Valley Mountain Resort, marking its 80th season, opens the Southland’s first six-person high-speed chairlift, the Snow Valley Express. It will travel more than twice as fast as the fixed-grip chair it replaces. More info »

Sugar Bowl | Royal Gorge Resort invested $3 million in capital improvements over the summer, bringing its two-year investment to more than $6 million. Sugar Bowl’s new Village Kids Center features a dedicated learning area and a magic carpet lift. Royal Gorge, North America’s largest cross-country resort, made significant trail improvements across its eight trail networks spread over 6,000 acres. More info » Sugar Bowl | Royal Gorge Resort

Winter holiday roundup
Snowboarding at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows invested $4 million in new and upgraded avalanche mitigation infrastructure, including an on-call helicopter at Squaw, 13 new Gazex pipes and four new avalaunchers. The chopper will enable ski patrolers to get on both mountains earlier and faster after storms. The pipes push an oxygen/propane gas mixture toward the snowpack and create shock waves to release unstable snow layers. The avalaunchers (two at each resort) are cannons that fire explosives from a safe distance into avalanche-prone areas. More info »

One other piece of news from Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, which are about six miles apart by road: The resorts announced plan to link the two areas with a long-imagined 13,000-foot gondola to transport skiers and riders, and hope to have the gondola, which will require approval by state and federal authorities, up and running by the 2019-2020 season. Linking the two areas would create the largest ski area in California, with 6,000 total acres.


Huntsville, UT - A great view from the patio of John Paul Lodge at Snowbasin Ski Resort.
View from the patio of John Paul Lodge at Snowbasin Ski Resort. Michael DeYoung /

Alta, the state’s oldest lift-served resort, marks its 80th season this winter in a big way: with a new high-speed quad chairlift, Supreme, replacing the Cecret and old Supreme lifts. The new chair originates near Alf’s Restaurant and is expected to improve overall mountain flow. More info »

For the 20th year, Deer Valley will host men’s and women’s FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup events in moguls and aerials Jan. 10-12.Various countries’ national Olympic teams are expected to select their athletes during or after the events. Six Olympic athletes are at Deer Valley this winter for its “Ski With a Champion” outings. Individuals or groups of up to six skiers (Deer Valley does not allow snowboarding) can join an athlete for a full or half day on the slopes…for a fee, of course. More info »

Beginners will have more options at Park City Mountain with a new conveyor- belt lift and beginner trail at the Park City Base Area. Also new: the free, guided on-snow Silver to Slopes Historic Mining Tour , showcasing Park City’s rich history. The resort’s Grand Summit Hotel, in Canyons Village, has undergone an extensive $15-million renovation, including a complete overhaul of all 212 suites. More info »

Snowbasin has replaced its old Wildcat triple chair with a new high-speed, six-person lift that will take only five minutes to climb nearly 1,300 vertical feet. More info »

Snowbird’s Creekside Lodge has been remodeled, adding more than 13,500 square feet. It will house the Mountain School, ticketing and enhanced dining options. The Cliff Spa, on the roof of the Cliff Lodge, has been renovated with new radiant heated decks, fire pits and more communal areas. More info »


Winter holiday roundup
Gravity-powered mountain coaster at Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort. Daniel Bayer

The state’s collection of year-round mountain coasters at ski resorts is increasing by four this winter, with new installations at Snowmass, Copper Mountain, Purgatory and Steamboat (opened in September), joining Vail and Breckenridge.

In one of the few significant U.S. terrain expansions this season, Arapahoe Basin has added 371 acres of expert and extreme skiing by including the Steep Gullies and the Beavers, formerly backcountry terrain, within its boundary ropes. This season skiers and riders will have to hike back to the Pallavicini chair. Planned for the 2018-19 season are a new four-person chair and two new intermediate trails in the Beavers. More info »

Eldora, outside of Boulder, debuts Colorado’s only completely new lift, a high-speed six-seater that replaces two chairs and is said to cut base-to-summit riding time to four minutes from 15. More info »

Parent Vail Resorts has upgraded three high-speed quads to six-seaters: Keystone’s Montezuma Express, Breckenridge’s Peak 10 Falcon SuperChair and Vail’s Northwoods Express. At VR’s Beaver Creek, a fixed-grip double chair has been replaced by a high-speed quad to better serve Red Buffalo Park, a new 200-acre family learning area.

Winter holiday roundup
Gravity-powered mountain coaster at Copper Mountain Ski Resort. Tripp Fay / Copper Mountain Resort

Copper Mountain’s Center Village welcomes three new restaurants: Toast & Co. (breakfast/brunch), Downhill Duke’s (with dog-friendly items) and Ten Mile Tavern. More info »

Crested Butte Mountain Resort introduces the CB Steep Guides program to help expert skiers and riders navigate its most extreme terrain, including the imposing North Face. More info »

Loveland Ski Area, celebrating its 80th anniversary, is expanding its snowcat operation into Dry Gulch. More info »

Silverton, the powder-choked, one-chairlift, extreme-terrain mecca in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, will offer guests snorkels (yes, really) on days of 50 inches of snowfall or more. More info »

Snowmass marks its 50th anniversary with events, including monthly fireworks, throughout the season. More info »

Telluride, in its 45th season, continues a multi-year, multimillion-dollar investment in snowmaking and grooming upgrades. More info »

Elsewhere in the West

Sun Valley, Idaho
Downhill skiing on Bald Mountain slopes with town of Ketchum, Sun Valley, Idaho. Glenn van der Knijff / Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image

Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia has announced the largest single investment in the resort’s history. The $52-million outlay will include a new 10-passenger gondola, new six-passenger high-speed lift and new four-passenger high-speed lift. More info »

Sun Valley in Idaho is offering advanced skiers instructor- and patroler-led guided previews of its Cold Springs Canyon terrain expansion, planned for the 2018-19 season. The resort will replace the two-person Cold Springs chair on Bald Mountain with a high-speed quad, opening 380 acres of open bowl and tree skiing. Sun Valley will play host to the 2018 U.S. Alpine ski championships March 19-26. More info »

Montana’s Big Sky Resort, two years into a 10-year, $150-million redevelopment plan, has added four new carpet lifts, three at the Mountain Village Base Area and one at the Madison Base Area. More info »

As part of a $2.6-million infrastructure upgrade over the summer, Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana relocated its Chair 5 from the Ptarmigan Bowl to the East Rim. The lift, the first on the resort’s east side, will improve access to intermediate and advanced terrain. More info »

Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort — which received 593 inches of snow last winter, the most in its 51-year history — invested in its snowmaking system, expanding uphill water capacity by 30%, to the top of the Casper lift. More info »