Sure, we’re fans of hitting the slopes in the hope of getting away from it all, but where there’s a crowd, there’s sure to be a reason. We scoured the internet for the most up-to-date numbers on skier visits across the land, and (while it might not come as a surprise to anyone who’s sat in I-70 traffic) Colorado resorts find themselves overwhelmingly atop the list.
Skier Visits: 1,634,250
Vail finds itself in the top five when it comes to sheer size of North American resorts, and number one in country for the number of people who make their way to its slopes. Convenient access via I-70 two hours from the Front Range (Denver, Boulder, and Denver International Airport), make it a feasible day trip for plenty of Coloradans and visitors to the state, while Eagle County Regional Airport is just 40 minutes west of the resort (an neighboring Beaver Creek) for all those who can afford cutting out (most of) the I-70 grind. The only downside is the obvious crowds (especially Friday through Sunday) that frequently congest lift lines and many of the resort’s more popular runs (remember the meme making the internet round of the Chair 5 lift line seen from space?), but if you’ve got your routine dialed in and a secret stash, it’s really like no place on earth.
Skier Visits: 1,600,750
If you don’t have the patience to drive the extra 40 minutes to Vail, hop off the highway and join 1.6 million of your closest friends at Breck. To accommodate the masses (and add to its already sprawling terrain), Breck opened Peak 6 during the 2013/14 season, which has given skiers and snowboarders a new reason to flock to the Summit County resort.
Mammoth Mountain, California
Skier Visits: 1,128,500
Mammoth was seeing big numbers even before last year’s snowpocalypse, and this season probably will pad their visitors stats. While Tahoe hasn’t seen snow totals like last season yet this year, Mammoth boasts a base depth of 84 inches and some of the best skiing in California, too.
Skier Visits: 1,036,000
Location, location, location. Keystone is one of the closest resorts for skiers and snowboarders from the Colorado’s Front Range, and it boasts a pretty sweet terrain park and challenging backside terrain. Oh yeah, and then there’s the resort’s cat-skiing operation, which runs full-day guided trips for anyone looking to test themselves away from the masses.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Skier Visits: 923,576
Steamboat’s not exactly on the beaten path (visitors must navigate Rabbit Ears Pass, or winding Highway 131), and it’s not the steepest or most challenging of Colorado’s mountains, but one stop in Steamboat and you’ll probably be hooked. The downtown is reminiscent of a smaller Telluride or Breckenridge, with early 20th century architecture dominating its town center, and plenty of family-friendly bars and restaurants to choose from. Steamboat also enjoys 336-inches of annual snowfall, keeping a dedicated base coming back for more year after year.