U.S. Ski and Snowboard Industry Reports Record Visitation
Preliminary numbers from the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) indicate record visitation at U.S. ski areas for the 2022-23 season, with a total of 64.7 million skier visits, a 6.6 percent increase over the previous season.
A skier visit is recorded every time an individual uses a lift ticket or pass at a ski area. The number is preliminary as several ski areas have extended their seasons. NSAA will collect updated numbers as those ski areas close for winter operations.
What the Number Means
Two consecutive seasons of record visitation signals that the U.S. ski industry is healthy, and that the demand for outdoor recreation is strong. Factors contributing to this record season include:
- A robust snow year in the Rockies and Pacific Southwest regions.
- Growing options of season passes and frequency products.
- And an increased desire to get outside, especially among lapsed skiers who have returned to the slopes since the pandemic.
The Rocky Mountain region reported a record high number of skier visits for the second consecutive season, totaling 27.9 million. The Pacific Northwest also finished with its best year on record, totaling 4.5 million. Other regions with increases in season-over-season skier visits were the Northeast and Pacific Southwest. The Southeast and Midwest reported small decreases in skier visits compared to 2021-22.
Historically, fluctuations in skier visit numbers could be correlated with snowfall. This season was no different, with record snow totals at western ski areas contributing to increased visitation frequency, despite weather-related travel challenges. Average snowfall at ski areas nationally totaled 224”, a 30 percent increase over the 10-year average of 173”.
Capital investment by ski areas totaled $812.4 million in the 2022-23 season, a record high for the industry. The majority of capital expenditures was invested into lift infrastructure, with 63 new and 86 upgraded lifts installed at ski areas across the country.
Season Pass Sales Holding Strong
For the fourth season in a row, season passes surpassed day tickets in share of skier visits. Season pass holders made up 50 percent of visits nationally, with standard day lift tickets claiming 33 percent of visits.
The ski industry is gradually recovering from last season’s staffing challenges, with 60 percent of ski areas reporting being understaffed, down from 81 percent last season. The average number of positions left unfilled also decreased from last year’s high of 72 to an average of 39 positions this season.