Image Credit: JP Douvalakis, Keystone Resort

It was another season full of ski resort expansions across North America. New trails and modern lifts were added from coast to coast, providing new experiences for skiers and riders.

To commemorate the 2023-24 season, we’ve compiled a list of the six biggest and best North American ski resort expansions from this past winter. To avoid making this article look like a research paper, we’re defining expansions as adding two or more trails/glades or one new trail that is significant enough to be noted. But first, here are some honorable mentions:

  • Cranmore: Multiple connector trails were added across the historic New Hampshire ski resort. The South Way, East Branch, Gentoo Lane, C-more’s Return, and K2 runs have made accessing other trails easier than beforehand.
  • Lee Canyon: This season, a new beginner terrain pod opened at the Nevada ski resort. While Lee Canyon’s new runs were on the trail map last year, this was the first season that they were lift-serviced. Three beginner trails are situated in Ponderosa, a fixed-grip quad chairlift. In addition, a surface lift was added, which services another new beginner run. More terrain expansions are planned in the future.
  • Massanutten: While the Virginia ski resort only opened one trail, it was very notable. Massanutten opened No Hessitation this past winter, its first double black diamond trail. The piste starts with a steep drop in and gradually mellows out. The trail also has automated snowmaking and LED lights for night skiing.
  • Powder Mountain: PowMow and Monument Ranch opened a new backcountry skiing experience. The 500-acre terrain area has a 3000-foot vertical drop, which includes deep bowls and narrow chutes. More new lifts and other terrain expansions are planned in the coming years.
  • Sun Valley: The Idaho ski resort revitalized its Warm Springs lift network, adding a high-speed six-pack (Challenger) and quad (Flying Squirrel). Along with these additions, they added an extension to the Flying Squirrel trail and sculpted 54 acres of new glades. Click here to learn more about these new additions.
  • Taos: This past ski season, Taos opened three new advanced and expert trails. Two of these runs are located near the new Lift 4, while the other trail is next Lift 1. Ponsse Scheme and Cache Stash are classified as single black diamonds. These trails were sculpted from tree cleanup due to a 2021 snow squall wind event. The new double-black diamond trail, Dadou’s, is on the looker’s left on the notorious Al’s Run. This is named after beloved Taos ski instructor Bernard “Dadou” Mayer, who passed away in 2022. 
  • Trollhaugen concluded its three-year expansion project, opening six new trails and a fixed-grip quad chairlift last winter.

7. Loon Mountain Resort:

Since 2007, South Peak has been known as Loon’s underutilized terrain pod. However, that is beginning to change (pun intended).

In December 2023, Loon Mountain opened the Timbertown expansion. Located next to the Escape Route parking lot, this terrain pod features a mix of beginner and intermediate trails and glades. It is serviced by a Doppelmayr Alpenstar 4-CLF chairlift. The Timbertown expansion finally gave Loon a wide network of trails where beginners can learn how to ski.

This offseason, the snowmaking infrastructure at Timbertown will be completed. Surface lifts are also planned for this area, as Loon intends to make it its main hub for first-timers. In the 2025-26 season, a new pulse gondola will be added to South Peak, connecting the Riverwalk Resort to Timbertown.

6. Sugarloaf:

Beginner and intermediate skiers got a new terrain pod at Sugarloaf this past season. In February, Sugarloaf opened up West Mountain, a terrain pod that features a mix of beginner and intermediate terrain. The twelve-trail expansion is serviced by a detachable high-speed quad. In the coming years, various real estate developments will be built around this terrain pod.

I got to ski West Mountain on a rainy and foggy day in March. The terrain on West Mountain is pretty mellow and can be handled by beginner skiers. The new chairlift is a comfy and speedy ride, plus the terrain is enjoyable.

5. Marmot Basin:

In March 2023, Marmot Basin opened Marmot Cirque for the first time to the public. Located atop Marmot Peak, Marmot 2, and the Cornice, the 62-acre expansion introduced some of the toughest high alpine terrain in Canada. The expert chutes ranged from 250m to 500m. These runs are only accessible by bootpacking through a couple of routes, making reaching them only for experts.

While that opening happened last season, a major lift replacement helped make accessing it easier. With Marmot Basin replacing the Knob Chair in the summer of 2023, the new Knob chairlift helped make more terrain lift accessible and make reaching the Cirque a little less daunting. The new Knob chairlift has a top terminal that’s roughly 361 feet higher than its predecessor.

This would have been ranked higher if most of the terrain had not been hike-to, along with its initial introduction in March 2023.

4. Whitewater:

The Raven chair is a fixed-grip quad chairlift from Leitner-Poma and can carry 1600 uphill guests per hour. The difference between its predecessor is that the new chairlift travels 163 meters/around 535 feet further up the mountain, concluding at the summit of Silver King Ridge.

This new chairlift allowed Whitewater to add 123 acres of skiable terrain, most of which is of advanced difficulty. Fourteen steep and deep trails and glades have been added to Silver King, meaning there’s even more potential for face shots.

Here’s the old map for comparison:

3. Keystone:

After originally planning to open the Bergman expansion during the 2022-23 season, a construction mistake led to its opening this past ski season. In December 2023, the much-anticipated expansion opened to the public.

Previously, the Bergman Bowl was only accessible by hiking to it, or by taking a snowcat. Now, its serviced by a detachable high-speed six-pack chairlift. The new chairlift services beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert trails and glades. This new terrain pod mostly appeals to intermediate skiers, but it does make accessing advanced terrain, like over at the Erickson and Independence Bowls, much easier.

2. Steamboat Resort (Mahogany Ridge & Fish Creek Canyon):

For decades, Steamboat was criticized by some hard-core skiers and riders for having a lack of expert terrain. That changed this season, as Steamboat opened a spot that had been a popular area for backcountry skiers.

This past winter, Steamboat opened the Mahogany Ridge Express chairlift, which directly services advanced and expert terrain. Off the Edge of The World trail, there’s a variety of expert runs with a mix of tree skiing, chutes, and cliffs.

PeakRankings gave a comprehensive breakdown of this new terrain pod, which you can check out below.

1. Aspen:

After a few decades of planning and deliberation, the Hero’s expansion was approved in 2021. A few offseasons of construction later, the expansion opened to the public on December 15th, 2023.

This new area is serviced by the Hero’s chairlift, a detachable high-speed quad. It consists of mostly expert trails and glades, but there is a route for intermediate skiers to experience this new area. The terrain pod is themed to the heroes who have helped shape Aspen throughout its history, like Jim Crown. The Hero’s expansion has also allowed Aspen to extend famous runs like Walsh’s, Hyrup’s, and Kristi. Work will continue this summer on more tree thinning across the new terrain pod.

Image/Video Credits: Steamboat Resort (Featured Image), Keystone Resort, Loon Mountain Resort, Sugarloaf Mountain, Marmot Basin, Whitewater, PeakRankings, Aspen Snowmass

Update 5/17: After originally forgetting to include them, we’ve added Trollhaugen and Whitewater to this list.

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