Updated: Nov 7, 2022
Inflation, labor shortages, supply chain issues be damned — ski resort construction is on pace to be the most since we began chronicling major construction projects at North American ski resorts two years ago. Vail's Epic Lift Upgrade, a $320 million capital project, is the company's largest single-year investment into the mountain experience and a major contributor to this season's construction volume. Below, we highlight 14 transformative resort construction projects scheduled to complete in time for Winter 2022-23.
*As of early November, all projects are on or close to schedule to open this season. We've added November updates to each project below.
14 transformative projects for Winter 2022-2023 (click the resort name to jump to a specific project):
Snowbird, UT. New tram cars.
Palisades Tahoe, CA. Building a new gondola to connect the Olympic and Alpine base areas
Steamboat, CO. Completion of Master Plan, Phase II with a reimagined base area.
Keystone, CO.Development of new skiable terrain and lift infrastructure in Bergman Bowl. (Delayed)
Sunday River, ME. Installation of the new Jordan 8 — the fastest lift in North America.
Whistler Blackcomb, BC. Replacement of several lifts including a new 8-person Creekside gondola. (Delayed)
Vail, CO. Expanded access to the back bowls with two new lifts.
Breckenridge, CO. Increasing lift capacity from the Peak 8 Base Area by 70%.
Deer Valley, UT. New Burns Express lift to expand terrain access for beginners.
Stowe, VT. A new 6-pack doubles capacity and eliminates a hike at Mountain Lift.
Magic Mountain, VT. A new quad summit chair is the latest major upgrade for the independent resort.
Mount Snow. Upgrading uphill capacity with two new high-speed lifts.
Northstar, CA. Doubling uphill capacity with a new 6-pack Comstock lift.
Heavenly, CA. Upgrading North Bowl lift to increase capacity and alleviate congestion.
Vail's Epic Lift Upgrade
The Epic Lift Upgrade covers 19 new lifts across 14 Vail-owned resorts for the 22-23 Season
Vail is investing $320 million into 19 new lifts across 14 Vail-owned resorts, all in time for the 22-23 Season. Vail's major objectives are to significantly reduce wait times and increase uphill capacity. The project includes 12 new high-speed chairlifts, a new high-speed gondola, 6 new fixed-grip chairlifts, new lift-served terrain and an expanded restaurant. We've included details on 8 of the largest Epic Upgrades below.
*On November 4, Vail announced that lift improvements at Whistler-Blackcomb will not be ready for opening day on November 24. The new Big Red Express chair should be spinning in early December, but the Creekside Gondola's completion date is currently unknown.
*On August 4, Vail announced that the planned 555-acre expansion of Keystone's lift-serviced terrain will not be ready in time for the 2022-23 season (see Keystone section for details).
1. Snowbird, UT – New tram cars
A modern update to the country's most iconic tram ride
November Update: The new Red Tram was successfully installed as of November 5 and is ready for Snowbird's opening day on November 30.
Snowbird began operations of its new Blue Tram Car on July 16. The new car features floor-to-ceiling windows, a roof-top balcony and 3x3' glass floor panels that offer extraordinary mountain viewing opportunities during the summer.
After 50 years and over 790,000 miles of service, this past Spring, Snowbird announced that it would retire its iconic red and blue tram cars at the end of the season. Initial plans called for two new cars to be installed by June 2022. Plans, however, hit a snag when the new red car fell during installation and was damaged it beyond repair. For now, Snowbird has reinstalled the old red tram to function as a counterweight. Its controls are not compatible with the new system. Doppelmayr is committed to having a new Red Tram ready in time for the 2022-23 winter season.
2. Palisades Tahoe, CA – Base-to-base gondola
Connecting the Olymipic and Alpine base areas
November Update: Work has continued on both the Base-to-Base Gondola and the Red Dog chair. Both are on track to open in mid-December.
The base-to-base gondola a Palisades Tahoe is on track to open in time for winter 2022. Towers for the new gondola are in place, and work continues at each base area to round out the project. The 8-person gondola will transport 1,400 riders per hour from Olympic Village to the Alpine base area (or vice-versa) in 16 minutes. Riders will have the option to disembark at the K-22 mid-station to access K-22's legendary terrain.
The resort is also replacing the historic Red Dog Triple with a new, detachable 6-pack chair. The Red Dog was one of the resort's original chairlifts and used during the 1960 Olympics. The new Red Dog is on track to open this Winter. Follow live updates on the construction here.
3. Steamboat, CO – Master Plan Phase II
A completely reimagined base area for a Colorado icon
November Update: Work has continued as scheduled on Phase II of Steamboat's master plan, and each project is due to be complete in time for opening day.
The second phase of Steamboat's gargantuan Master Plan is set to complete for Winter 2022-23. This phase includes the opening of a brand new Greenhorn Ranch Learning Center, the Range Food & Drink Hall, and Skeeter's Ice Rink. The Rink will transition to an events lawn during the summer months.
The lower leg of the Wild Blue Gondola is also on track to open this Winter. The lower leg will offer access from the base area to the mid-station at Greenhorn Ranch in just 5 minutes. Wild Blue is the longest 10-person Gondola in North America.
In addition, the Christie Peak Express has shifted to a new base location between Steamboat Gondola and Wild Blue Gondola. For more on Steamboat's extensive Master Plan, click here.
4. Keystone, CO – Bergman Bowl expansion & upgraded Outpost Restaurant
Building a high-speed 6-pack to service 555 acres of new terrain in Bergman Bowl (Delayed)*
*The Bergman Bowl expansion will no longer open for the 2022-23 season. A third party construction crew built an unauthorized road through a protected high alpine tundra, halting construction on July 8. The U.S. Fire Service required Keystone to submit a restoration plan in order to resume construction. The plan has now been approved, but on August 4, Vail announced that it would not be in time to complete construction for the upcoming season. Bergman Bowl will remain hike-accessible (~30 - 45 minutes hike) only for the upcoming season.
Major terrain expansion is coming to Keystone. A new high-speed 6-person chair will expand lift access to 555 acres of terrain and 16 new trails in Bergman Bowl. Much of this terrain will cater to beginners and intermediates. Experts will benefit too as lift-access will expand to previous "hike-to" terrain in Independence and Erickson Bowls. The investment also covers a new ski patrol facility and new snowmaking infrastructure in the area.
The Outpost Restaurant, the popular Bavarian-style Stube at the Summit of North Peak, is expanding by 6,000 square feet, adding 300 more indoor seats and 75 more outdoor seats.
5. Sunday River, ME – Jordan 8, the fastest lift in North America
Increasing capacity to 3,200 skiers/hour & serving as the gateway to the Western Reserve
November Update: Sunday River is in the final stages of the Jordan 8 project. Chairs are being installed onto the haul line. The new chair will be ready for the 2022-23 season.
It's deja vu all over again on the East Coast! Just a year after Loon Mountain opened the Kancamagus 8, billed as the fastest lift in North America, Sunday River is set to introduce an 8-pack of its own. The Jordan 8 will replace the Jordan Express and increase uphill capacity from 2,100 skiers/hour to 3,200. The lift is alleged to run at ~19.5 ft/sec, barely edging out the Kanc 8 at 18 ft/sec. In reality, the difference in speed is nominal, but the fact is that Boyne Resorts continues its streak of major lift investments!
The Jordan 8 will serve as the gateway to the newly coined "Western Reserve," an area of several thousand acres, owned by Sunday River and prime for future trail development.
Sunday River has also reconfigured the Kansas trail, which provides access to return to the base area from Jordan Peak. To date, several sections of the trail went uphill, causing traffic jams and creating difficulty for many guests. These uphill points have been eliminated, so get ready for a much smoother ride. Snowboarders rejoice! You can find the latest updates on this project here.
6. Whistler Blackcomb, BC – Increasing out of base capacity
A new 8-person gondola at Creekside & replacing Big Red Express
November Update: On November 4, Vail announced that lift improvements at Whistler Blackcomb will not be ready for opening day on November 24. Due to supply chain woes, The new Big Red Express is now expected to open in early December. The Creekside Gondola's completion date remains unknown.
Vail will increase Creekside's out-of-base uphill capacity by 35% with a new, faster 8-person Creekside Gondola in place of the 6-person gondola. Vail is also replacing Big Red Express, a high-speed quad with a high-speed 6-pack and improving uphill capacity by nearly 30%. As part of the Big Red upgrade, guests will now have a modernized experience from mid-mountain out of the Creekside Area. Construction is set to complete in time for this Winter.
Since acquiring Whistler in 2017, Vail has invested $127 million in upgrades to the resort including the Blackcomb Gondola, three new and upgraded lifts and the RoundHouse restaurant expansion.
7. Vail, CO – Improving access to Sun Down & Game Creek Bowls
New high speed quad in Sun Down Bowl & upgrading Game Creek to a 6-pack
November Update: Vail has not announced an official opening day for the new lifts, but hopes to have them operational by the time that sufficient snow has accumulated to open the Sun Down and Game Creek bowls – usually in mid-December.
Vail's back bowls are getting an upgrade with a new high speed quad running from the base of Chair 5 (High Noon Express) to Wildwood restaurant in Sun Down Bowl. Skiers and riders will now be able to lap Sun Down Bowl without traversing from High Noon Express.
Uphill capacity in Game Creek Bowl will also increase by 45%, thanks to a high-speed 6-pack replacing the long-standing quad.
8. Breckenridge, CO – Increased out-of-base & mid-mountain capacity
Upgrading Rip's Ride Lift and increasing it's uphill capacity by nearly 70%
November Update: The Rip's Ride project is on schedule and will be complete in time for opening day.
Vail is replacing Rip's Ride Lift, a fixed-grip double with a high-speed quad. This will increase uphill capacity by nearly 70% and help to ease congestion in the Peak 8 base area. This lift primarily services the ski school and beginner terrain. This new lift follows the opening of the Freedom Superchair for the 2021-22 season, which has helped to improve mid-mountain circulation amongst Peaks 6 and 7.
9. Deer Valley, UT – Burns Express Lift
Expanding beginner access to a wealth of teaching terrain
November Update: The Burns Express Lift is due to open in late December.
The first phase of Deer Valley's extensive Snow Park Village Transformation project, the new Burns Express Lift, will debut this Winter in the Wild West learning area. The lift will provide direct access from Snow Park base area to Little Baldy Mountain. Ski school will benefit from access to additional beginner terrain and out-of-base capacity will improve, generally.
10. Stowe, VT – New Sunrise Lift to Replace Mountain Lift
Replacing fixed-grip triple with high-speed 6-pack will double uphill capacity
November Update: As of October 3rd, construction work was on schedule and the project should be complete ahead of the winter season.
Vail is replacing the classic fixed-grip triple, Mountain Lift, with a high speed 6-person lift and extending it to the Mansfield Base Lodge. This will double uphill capacity and eliminate the hike to the base of the lift. Access to lower-level terrain will improve for beginner and intermediates. Plus, the lift will become more reliable on windy days.
11 . Magic Mountain, VT – The Black Chair
A new summit quad for the fiercely independent resort
Magic Mountain has continually improved its guest experience and established itself as one of the best independent ski resorts in New England since being acquired by Ski Magic LLC in 2016. Those improvements continue with the final touches on a new "Black Chair" – a.k.a. the summit quad. The chairlift was purchased from neighboring Stratton Mountain in 2018 but operations have been delayed due to Covid-19, mechanical difficulties, and supply chain issues. The resort appears poised to spin the lift for winter 2022-23.
12. Mount Snow, VT – Two new high-speed lifts
A high-speed 6-pack and a high-speed quad will increase capacity and cut ride times
November Update: Work has continued as scheduled and both lifts should be operational in time for the upcoming season.
Mount Snow will feel very different with big upgrades to its aging lift infrastructure. Vail is installing a high-speed 6-pack to replace the Sundance and Tumbleweed lifts, both fixed-grip triples installed in 1984 and 1997, respectively. The new lift with increase uphill capacity by 70% and alleviate crowding in the main base area.
The Sunbrook Lift, initially installed in 1990, will also be upgraded to a high-speed quad. The Sunbrook has long been a slow, nine minute ride, leaving this area relatively uncrowded. The new lift ride will be just over four minutes long and better shielded from the wind. This will also create opportunity for Mt. Snow to re-invent the Sunbrook Base Lodge.
13. Northstar, CA – Comstock Lift
A new 6-pack lift will reduce wait times and increase capacity by nearly 50%
November Update: Work has continued on schedule and the new Comstock lift should be operational in time for the upcoming season.
Northstar is vastly improving skier flow with a major upgrade to the popular Comstock Lift. The current mid-mountain quad will be replaced with a high-speed 6-pack lift, nearly doubling uphill capacity and alleviating congestion in this busy area.
14. Heavenly, CA – North Bowl Lift
A new high-speed quad will increase capacity by 40%
November Update: Work has continued as scheduled and the new North Bowl lift should be operational in time for the upcoming season.
Heavenly is replacing the fixed-grip triple North Bowl lift with a new, high-speed quad. The new lift will increase capacity by 40% and decrease the combined ride time of the Boulder and North Bowl chairs. The new lift is also expected to reduce wait times at the Stagecoach and Olympic lifts.
Longer Term Projects
We've just scratched the surface with projects that are on track to open this season. Here are 9 more major projects planned for the next few years:
Big Sky, MT: The final phase of the Big Sky 2025 plan will see the construction of a new Lone Peak Tram and a new Gondola connecting the base area to the bottom terminal of the tram. The tram is due to open for the 2023-24 season, with the gondola to follow at a later date. > View Big Sky Guide
Mammoth Mountain, CA: Debuting in 2023, the Canyon Express and Broadway Express chairs will be replaced with new, high-speed 6-pack chairs. Longer term, Mammoth has announced a massive redevelopment of its Main Lodge that will create a new "Gateway to the Sierras". The project is due to break ground in 2023. > View Mammoth Mountain Guide
Crystal Mountain, WA: Crystal has begun a $26 million project to build a new, 25,000 base lodge dubbed "Mountain Commons." The new lodge is the centerpiece of over $100 million in projects over the coming years, and is due to open for the 2023-24 season. > View Crystal Mountain Guide
Loon, NH: The latest phase of Loon's Flight Path 2030 is pointing south. Loon announced expansion plans at South Peak. The resort outlined plans for expanding South Peak's terrain by 30+ acres and a new four-place chairlift. The project will provide the foundation for longer term plans to create a new learning area here. > View Loon Mountain Guide
Deer Valley, UT: The Utah resort has announced a major renovation and expansion of its Snow Park Base Area, including new skier services facilities; new, contemporary food, beverage and après options; an expansive ski beach; an integrated transportation and mobility hub; underground parking facilities; and chairlift reconfiguration. The project is due to break ground in 2023. > View Deer Valley Guide
Taos, NM: The resort has unveiled a $300 million Master Plan which includes a host of lift upgrades – most notably a base-to-base gondola connecting the front and backside base areas. The plan also includes new dining facilities and expanded summer programming. > View Taos Guide
Winter Park, CO: Winter Park's Master Plan outlines 6 new lifts including a10-person gondola between the resort and the town of Winter Park. The resort has also announced plans for expansion onto Vasquez mountain. > View Winter Park Guide
Sugarloaf, ME: The main cog of Sugarloaf's 2030 plan is the West Mountain expansion featuring a new chairlift and significant trail development. The plan will expand the resort's beginner and intermediate terrain and alleviate traffic at the Super Quad. > View Sugarloaf Guide
Mayflower Mountain Resort, UT. With the potential to become the first new full service resort in the United States in 40 years, the proposal for Mayflower Mountain Resort envisions 1,000 skiable acres, 15 ski lifts, a gondola, up to 825 hotel rooms, a 68,000 square foot recreation center, and up to 250,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. The Wasatch Country Council received an update in late July 2022. NY-based real estate firm, Extell Development Company is moving ahead with construction on 14 skiing and 11 hiking trails.
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