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Largest Lift Served Ski Areas in US

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I was just wondering what the largest 'lift-served' ski areas in the US might be.

There are many stats available that are about as bewildering as trying to predict the weather. What I am looking for is the size of ski areas that relate directly to the area available to a skier who is there to use the lifts exclusively.

I feel that if I have to take my skis off for anything more than boarding a gondola or tram, or if I have to pole my way uphill to another downhill run; it isn't lift served.

My gut feeling puts Squaw Valley and Vail at the top of the list, but does anyone have any real numbers on this?
post #2 of 27
I would say that the largest North American areas are Vail, Beaver Creek (maybe), Snowbird/Alta (now joined), Jackson Hole, and of course Whistler/Blackcomb. I do not have numbers on any of them, but i assume you could check their available acres and compare them. I didnt think that Squaw Valley was that big when i skied it - in comparison to all of the other areas that i mentioned.
Later
GREG

...Heavenly might make that list as well.
post #3 of 27
I don't have the stats right in front of me but Vail is still the largest in the US. The Canyons in Utah is a large resort They claim the 4th largest in the US. It is a hair over 4000 skiable acers. If you count the Alta/Bird pass as one you also get a vary large ski area. Alta/Bird might even be larger then Vail. Mammoth has also got to up there It's a big mountain and skis like an even bigger mountain.
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
I was talking about LIFT-SERVED acreage, not skiable acreage. There is a very big difference between the two at many resorts.
post #5 of 27
I think that the above mentioned places have excellent lift service. I think Vail has the most service (capacity wise) in the US. I have skied many of the resorts that were mentioned, and did not have to hike to hardly any places to ski at them. The only place that i recall having to traverse is the bowl out to your left at the top of Snowbird. there is excellent powder out there if you are willing to go get it early in the morning.

Later

GREG
post #6 of 27
I agree with feallen that many ski areas inflate their size with "skiable" acres. I wish they would also include "lift served" acres as well in their descriptions. Since they are probably all guilty of little inflation of the truth, none of them makes a big deal about it.

The notion that Snowbird and Alta are one area is a little deceiving. Yes, they do connect, but a ticket for both is cosiderably more that individually. To a snowboarder they aren't one area at all seeing as how snowboarding is strictly forbidden at Alta.

Has anyone noticed that along with non lift-served acreage the ski areas are also inflating their # of lifts. I am speaking of adding magic carpets and other ground level devices to the total. A ski area claiming 22 lifts might only have 16 actual chairlifts/gondolas/trams.

In any event the skier needs to look beyond the brochure headlines and into the stats fine print to see what they are actually getting for their skiing dollar.
post #7 of 27
I think Vail takes the cake on that one. Pretty much all their terrain is lift served including their back bowls and Blue Sky Basin. Approximately 5500 acres.
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by BCG
Has anyone noticed that along with non lift-served acreage the ski areas are also inflating their # of lifts. I am speaking of adding magic carpets and other ground level devices to the total. A ski area claiming 22 lifts might only have 16 actual chairlifts/gondolas/trams.
You wouldn't be referencing Steamboat would ya?
post #9 of 27
Snowmass claims to have the most skiable vertical, 4406ft.
post #10 of 27
Sorry not definitive, but pretty certain Vail is largest lift-served in US, followed by the following group not necessarily in exact order: Squaw, Mammoth, Big Mtn, Big Sky, Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Heavenly.
In Canada - Believe Whistler/Blackcomb is only one bigger than Vail, Lake Louise and one or two of the Interior BC areas are as big as many of the others.
Places with a lot of open bowl type terrain usually win this contest because that makes for more official skiable acres than places with tons of tree lined trails like Steamboat.

Will check some books that would be more definitive.

Oops forgot about Canyons, other poster correct that they make claim for lots of lift served acreage too.
post #11 of 27
Jamesj, good list. Just thought of another one: Mount Bachelor claims 3683 acres "accessible by lift" so it must be up there amongst them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utah49
Mammoth has also got to up there It's a big mountain and skis like an even bigger mountain.
That's true - some places "feel" bigger than their official acreage, and some places "feel" smaller...
post #12 of 27
The Slidebrook lift at Sugarbush is the Largest Lift, Serving Ski Areas in US.
post #13 of 27
from fodors 2003 skiing USA, skiable acres: CA-Heavenly 4800, mammoth 3500, squaw 4000, CO-Snowmass 3000, steamboat 3000, vail 5300, winterpark 2900, MT-Big Sky 3600, big mtn 3000, WY-JH 2500, UT-canyons 3500, Alta&Snowbird 2000+ each/total:4700, VT-Killington 1200.
Vail biggest in US west, Killington biggest US east.
canada: recent expansion put Whistler/Blackcomb at 8000, lake louise 4200, sunshine 3100
post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 
""from fodors 2003 skiing USA, skiable acres: CA-Heavenly 4800, mammoth 3500, squaw 4000, CO-Snowmass 3000, steamboat 3000, vail 5300, winterpark 2900, MT-Big Sky 3600, big mtn 3000, WY-JH 2500, UT-canyons 3500, Alta&Snowbird 2000+ each/total:4700, VT-Killington 1200.
Vail biggest in US west, Killington biggest US east.
canada: recent expansion put Whistler/Blackcomb at 8000, lake louise 4200, sunshine 3100""

-----------------

Those are the exact numbers I was wanting to dispute accuracy on. Every one of those ski areas has inflated their numbers significantly with this concept of 'skiable acres'. How many people do you see using parts of the ski areas that are not lift served. I contend that it is far less than ten percent of the overall skier population paying the bills for any given resort, and it would make far more sense to report resort comparison numbers accurately in the number of acres of skiable terrain accessible from on mountain lifts at the area. ....There are some very grievous offenders in the skiable vs. lift served number game, with some of the ones mentioned above being in that category. Heavenly, Jackson Hole, Alta, Park City, Copper Mtn., Breckenridge, Keystone, and Taos are just a few of the resorts that publish large skiable terrain numbers, and have SIGNIFICANTLY less than that available to lift-served skiers who PAY to ski the entire mountain. ....Is it fair? I guess it depends on your own personal situation, but I do think it would be a grand service to the entry level ski market if someone took the time to unmask the 'pretenders'.
post #15 of 27
Would be interested to hear from folks who have visited a number of these areas, about how they really stack up in the size dept. based on human observance and gut feelings.
post #16 of 27
This is an interesting topic - one I hadn't really considered. I know one of the things I loved about Alta and Taos is the option to get to that "extra" terrain, either via traverse or short hike.

I'm trying to recall my first trip out west - I thought I was good back then, but definitely scared myself on some of the steeps at Alta. I think most entry level skiers looking for options in the west might consult a trail map (or maybe I'm the only obsessive one who does that before a trip) to determine what options are available? For example, Alta seems to have limited green terrain available from the Albion base, while Snowbird seems to have more options from the Wilbere/Mid Gad and Baby Thunder lifts.

I guess I do see your point though - most areas tell you their lift served vertical, and then add the additional hike-to vertical as a secondary piece of info. I did find one that breaks it out like you want - moonlight. Anyone else do this?
post #17 of 27
Wow, didn't realise how small places were in the US...I know sunshine (my local hill this season)...but compared to french resorts these places are postage stamps....Le Trois Valleys is 54800 acres....Chamonix is 15-30000 dependong on which bits you count......!
post #18 of 27
An excerpt from Fodor's 2003 - "Heavenly...is the largest ski resort in the state...while Mammoth Mountain looks and feels the largest...Heavenly has 1300 acres more than Mammoth, but Heavenly's slopes are covered in trees, whereas Mammoth's slopes are wide open. Unless you're a tree skier, Mammoth has a lot more skiable terrain.
post #19 of 27
ive skied all over western canada and utah and montana in the u.s. ,,,
whistler is the obviouse choice for feeling huge, ive only spent a few days there but basically felt lost the whole time..
In the interior sunpeaks is really big,,, basically all lift served (but not that challenging)
and in the rockies lake louise feels really big ,,, about 4200 acres i think with huge back bowls that are almost tottally treeless and go on forever this place skis big,, at least as much as alta/bird which is a lil bigger ( and alot more expensive) some stuff at lake louise u have to treverse a lil bit for but nothing major cant really think of any major acreage that is exclusively hike in,,,

park city is probably the worst ive seen ,, semmed like half the place was a major hike away ,, also way too expensive,,
post #20 of 27

neat map

Here's a pretty cool assed map on the whistler blackcomb map. I'd take it with a grain of salt though, as it is on the whistler site.

http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/maps/?id=acreage

Just to rub it in a little, I am moving to the 3 vallees for the winter; they say it's 400 square kilometers, upwards of 100,000 acres. 200 lifts (not sure if that includes magic carpets and BS like that) I am banking on there being a lot of terrain, anyways.

Kind of puts things in perspective to the biggest north american resort at 8000 acres.
post #21 of 27
We've had the discussion on actual ski area size over at skilifts.org (forum: search for 'Shrinking Heavenly'). Some areas indeed do post inflated stats. We used Global Mapping software with DEM/DOQ maps and very accurately determined acreage. Here were some of the highlights:

-Heavenly is really about 2550 acres and has about 3,000' vertical feet.
-Squaw is really about 2440 acres and has 2,500' vertical feet.
-Park City actually has the 3,300 acres it claims.
-Jackson Hole really has about 2,000 acres.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Powdr
post #22 of 27
has anyone noticed that all American Ski Co. resorts tend to lie abour conditions all the time?
post #23 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Powdr
We've had the discussion on actual ski area size over at skilifts.org (forum: search for 'Shrinking Heavenly'). Some areas indeed do post inflated stats. We used Global Mapping software with DEM/DOQ maps and very accurately determined acreage. Here were some of the highlights:

-Heavenly is really about 2550 acres and has about 3,000' vertical feet.
-Squaw is really about 2440 acres and has 2,500' vertical feet.
-Park City actually has the 3,300 acres it claims.
-Jackson Hole really has about 2,000 acres.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Powdr

Thanks Powdr,


That is the kind of information I was looking for. It really is 'telling' just how much these guys are willing to stretch the truth for a buck!

This still doesn't address the 'lift served' part of the illusion though. Your evalaution of Park City's acreage at 3300 still doesn't get them off the hook when the lift served area is more like 2000, but at least there are some nuggets of truth in their presentation.

I wonder if all this false advertising would be of interest to the legal community?


P.S. - That skilifts site is excellent!
post #24 of 27
Being a Park City 'homer' I don't mind the hike-to part of their stats. It's actually about 800 acres that is not directly lift served (Pine Cone Ridge & a small portion of Jupiter Peak). This terrain is patroled and avalanched by PCMR and regularly skied by guests. They therefore have IMO a legit right to count it as inside their boundaries. This terrain also offers a great backcountry experience to skiers not familiar with back country safety. Something that is rare in today's cookie cutter corporate resorts.

As a side note, PCMR 'added' this acreage to their stats after ASC exploded onto the old Park West ski area. PCMR felt compelled to compete in acreage with The Canyons' 3500 acres (their #s are legit too, BTW). Nonetheless, even at 2500 acres, PCMR is still a very large mountain, and I rarely hear complaints about being bored by lack of variety.

Powdr
post #25 of 27
There is a huge difference between what lies in the official resort boundary vs what one could actually ski upon. I don't think many resorts would go to the trouble to report the sum of all trails.
post #26 of 27
I wouldn't get to bent over the numbers most resorts present. A good 80% of the skiers wouldn't go to the inbounds hike in areas even if it were lift served. The majarity of skiers want nice groomed blue and green runs. The hike to areas are for expert skiers. On the biggest weekends of the year I never see a lift line for the Jupitar peak lift at Park City and according to a good many Utah skiers PCMR is flat the same goes for the Mayflower side of Deer Valley. What i have noticed is that some resorts are dumbing down. by that I mean grooming runs and areas that a few years ago were never groomed.
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utah49
...and according to a good many Utah skiers PCMR is flat....
If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that. Anyone who says that either Deer Valley or PCMR are flat are either not good enough to venture into the back areas (Daly Chutes, Jupiter Peak, Puma, etc.) or are trying to be impressive with something they heard instead of actually experienced.

I will take anyone who says either is flat up to Daly Chutes or 5150 and see how they react when they look down the throat of these chutes.

Powdr
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