No large ski area has been built in the US since Tamarack Resort in Idaho back in 2004 and none have been built in Canada since Revelstoke in 2007. With the recent news of a massive ski area being planned for the Fraser Valley in Canada and a large area being reborn in Maine, I thought it was prime time to go over the currently proposed ski areas, as well as those arising from the ashes in both Canada and the US.
About halfway between Vancouver and Whistler is the small town of Squamish, home to the Sea to Sky Gondola, and the future home of Garibaldi, a massive proposal for this tourist destination. This 1,625 acre, 21 chairlift resort would be a sort of stepping stone between the smaller North Shore ski areas in Vancouver, and the largest resort this side of the Atlantic, Whistler. As the vice president of planning for Garibaldi said, “The resort will in all cases be in between the North Shore areas and Whistler. It will be bigger in size than the North Shore but smaller than Whistler, more expensive than the local hills but much less than Whistler, and offer more terrain than the North Shore but less than Whistler”. Garibaldi is also working closely with the Squamish First Nation, which helps their chances of completing this project.
This plan for the biggest ski area in North America may actually have some traction. Proposed to be an equivalent to skiing in the Alps in Canada, this area would have a proposed vertical drop of almost 7,500 ft, as well as an annual snowfall of over 550 inches! The Master Plan has been approved by the government and VGD has been working with the Simpcw First Nation throughout the project, avoiding some of the pitfalls of the failed Jumbo Glacier Resort. One thing working against them is the remoteness, as the nearest large town to Valemount is Edmonton, almost 5 hours away.
With over 13,000 acres of backcountry skiing access and around 720 inches of annual snowfall, Zincton is proposed to be much like the Silverton of Canada, with a focus on lessening the environmental impact and increasing the amount of fun. It’s also similar to Silverton with its remoteness, as the nearest international airport is over a 4-hour drive away. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, but only time will tell.
With a proposal of over 11,000 skiable acres only an hour from Vancouver, BVMR is definitely ambitious. Included in the proposal are two mountain-top villages accessed via gondolas and 2,300 vertical ft. of skiing on average runs. What’s missing however is the above treeline terrain that would make this a competitor to Whistler as well as the partnership with the local First Nations, which will likely render this proposal dead in the water.
This longstanding proposal for a private ski area between Squ*w Valley and Alpine Meadows is likely getting some more traction due to the Alpine-Valley Base to Base gondola crossing the property. When Troy Caldwell finally gets the lifts running, this small 425-acre member-only resort will feature some gnarly terrain off the backside of KT-22, which will only be open for property owners and their friends.
Here’s another private area for the “1% of the 1%”. This 3,000 acre, 3,000+ vertical ft. resort will open next year with two brand new High-Speed Bubble Quad chairs. Found on the mountains just south of Snowbasin, this area will provide those Hedge fund managers Olympic-level skiing without any crowds.
As if the Wasatch Range needed more ski resorts. This area just to the south of Deer Valley claims to have 4,300 acres of terrain served by 18 lifts, including a two-stage gondola. Other sources say that it’s closer to 5 lifts and 400 acres, which would be a little less exciting in my book. Whether it will be connected or competing with Deer Valley is yet to be known, but I would say highly likely if the second set of numbers are right.
This area closed not too long ago, but after being snatched up by Mountain Capital Partners (owners of AZ Snowbowl and Purgatory) its lifts will be running again soon. Currently, the permits only allow for the former 67 acres to be run, but previous plans to expand to 200 acres up Bill Williams Mountain could be revitalized, and given MCP’s expansionist past, that seems likely.
Lifts ran here for only three years in the 70s before closing, but the potential of this area south of Steamboat Springs has led to current proposals for the next big Colorado ski area. Boasting a 2200 ft. vertical drop and up to nine lifts, this resort would create some competition in the Yampa Valley. Sadly, since the last proposal in 2017, not much has moved forward in getting the work actually done.
Another major Colorado resort proposal is a little closer to the Front Range population. This Area would be a gondola ride away from northern Colorado Springs and would provide high-speed lifts, 1,500 vertical ft. and over 1,000 acres of terrain to a city that currently has to drive almost 3 hours to get a similar experience. However, like Stagecoach, nothing has moved forward since 2017, and the project seems to have died.
This tiny area in southern Colorado is currently being reborn. Work has been done restoring chair 4 here, which provides around 300 vertical ft. of downhill skiing to a place that hasn’t seen a lift run in over 20 years! They also plan on incorporating mountain biking from the chairlift, so you could be flying down the mountain with incredible views of the Spanish Peaks. The expected opening is next year, and maybe in the future, they’ll get the summit chair running as well.
This isn’t much of a brand new ski area as it is a large expansion. The current Kendall Mountain is a small one-lift area with 300 ft. of skiing in the isolated town of Silverton. The proposal is anywhere from 300-800 acres and up to a 3,700 ft vertical drop, with one lift possibly reaching above 13,000 ft.! This would be a large undertaking for what is currently a sleepy little mountain town, but would also provide complimentary skiing to the expert-only Silverton Mountain.
Is this the next big-name ski area? No. Is it two rope tows and three ski runs? Yes. It’s not the most glamorous ski area, but this small town tow is full of heart. With 350 vertical ft. and around 250 inches of snow, this seems like it’ll be a fun little place to stop at, even if only for a few runs, on your way up to Mt. Bohemia.
Led by former American Ski Company head Les Otten, the rebirth of The Balsams sure is ambitious. The plans for this now closed ski area are to expand from 3 lifts and less than 100 acres to 22 lifts and over 2,200 acres! This final buildout would make The Balsams the largest ski area between Colorado and Europe. Wow.
Currently known as Big Squ*w Mountain, this proposal could end up rebuilding the fourth largest ski area in Maine. Current management of the area is under pressure from the court system to rebuild some of the mountain, but other entities have much bigger plans. Provident Resources Group in Louisiana has proposed spending around $100 million on improvements to make a year-round resort complete with hotels, ziplines, and of course, new chairlifts. The end result would be a 1,700 ft. vertical mountain with a state-of-the-art base village.
Which resorts are gonna get built? Which are you most excited about?