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The Top Ski Resort Construction Projects for Winter 23-24

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Our fourth annual edition of Top Ski Resort Construction Projects is bigger and better than ever! Vail Resorts, Alterra, and Boyne Resorts have continued to invest in major resort improvements. All three companies have announced massive 2023 capital investments to upgrade infrastructure and maximize the guest experience. This is a comprehensive list of projects opening for the 2023-24 ski season.


Big Sky's new Tram is one of the most anticipated projects in North America. Courtesy of Big Sky.

We’ve segmented the top projects for this season into three categories: Lifts, Lodges, and Terrain Expansion (click the link to jump to that section). Lifts features 14 chairlifts, gondolas, and trams – some brand new, others replacing old lifts. In Lodges, you’ll find four new buildings that are transforming resorts. The most exciting category for ski junkies is Terrain Expansion – where we preview four resorts with entirely new trails, bowls, and glades.


For more about projects that have transformed ski resorts in the recent past, see our last three editions of Transformative Ski Resort Construction Projects.




14 New Ski Lifts Opening for the 2023-24 Season

  1. Big Sky, MT. New Lone Peak Tram.

  2. Steamboat, CO. Completion of the Wild Blue Gondola.

  3. Sunday River, ME. Installation of the new Barker 6— the resort’s second D-Line chair.

  4. Brighton, UT. Completion of the new Crest 6, the first D-Line Lift in Utah

  5. Snowbasin, UT. New DeMoisy Express-6 will double capacity in the Strawberry Area

  6. Whistler Blackcomb, BC. Replacement of Fitzsimmons Lift with 8-Pack

  7. Taos, NM. Replacing Lift 4 with a high-speed quad & Pioneer Lift with fixed grip triple

  8. Winter Park, CO. Upgrading Pioneer Lift to 6-Pack

  9. Mammoth, CA. Upgrading Canyon Express to a D-Line 6-Pack

  10. Solitude, UT. Replacing Utah's oldest detachable quad with a high-speed six pack.

  11. Breckenridge, CO. Upgrading the FIVE chair to a high-speed quad

  12. Snowshoe, WV. Replacement of the Powder Monkey Triple with a fixed-grip quad.

  13. Summit at Snoqualmie, WA. Upgrading Sessel Double in Alpental Area to quad

  14. Stevens Pass, WA. Replacing the existing Kehr's Chair with a fixed-grip quad

(click the resort name to jump to a specific project)


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1) Big Sky: New Lone Peak Tram


Perhaps the most anticipated resort project in North America, Big Sky will debut its new Lone Peak Tram for the 2023-24 season. The new tram will significantly increase capacity to the peak at 11,166 feet, with room for 75 passengers (up from just 15). However, ski patrol will limit capacity based on daily conditions to preserve the Lone Peak skiing experience. Charges will work on a “per-ride” basis, rather than daily – which had been the norm for the last several seasons. Pricing per ride will range from $10-$40+, depending on conditions. For more information on which season passes include tram access, and how to enable autocharge for tram access, visit Big Sky’s FAQ page here.


The new top terminal of the tram will feature a panoramic view platform with 360˚ views of the surrounding peaks. A glass floor viewing platform showcasing the fall line of Lone Mountain is set to complete in the summer of 2024 and open for the 2025-26 ski season.


Big Sky lift network
Big Sky's new tram is the first piece of an eventual base-to-peak lift network.

The new tram is the first step in Big Sky's eventual base-to-peak lift network, which includes a new gondola spanning from the base area to the base of the tram. The resort is planning an expansive food and beverage hub for the connection point between the gondola and tram. The mid-station of the gondola will also feature a new learning center, eatery, and adventure hub. Check out a video rendering of the entire project below:




2) Steamboat: Wild Blue Gondola Completion



The Wild Blue Gondola is the centerpiece of Steamboat’s massive investment that will catapult the resort to be the second largest in Colorado. It is also one of the final pieces of the puzzle to fall into place. The lower half of this new flagship gondola was completed last season, and the upper half will come online for winter 2023-24. The result will be the longest and fastest 10-person gondola in North America, increasing uphill capacity from the Steamboat base from 6,000 skiers/hour to 10,000. The new gondola will whisk riders 3.16 miles from base to peak in just 13 minutes, with an option to disembark at a newly created mid-station adjacent to Bashor bowl, home to the new Greenhorn Ranch learning center.


Steamboat Wild Blue Gondola
Steamboat will complete stage two of its Wild Blue Gondola in time for the 2023-24 season.

3) Sunday River: New Barker 6 Lift


Sunday River will debut the new Barker 6 just a year after the introduction of the Jordan 8. The Barker 6 will be the resort’s second Doppelmayr D-Line chair – making it the only resort on the East Coast with two – and will significantly ease congestion at the popular Barker Base Area.


The new Barker lift will feature Sunday River’s signature red bubble, heated seats, and a ride time of just over 4.5 minutes. The new lift is a welcome addition to the resort, as the existing Barker Express was known for its frequent mechanical breakdowns.


Boyne Resorts has made major investments in the D-Line chairs across their resort portfolio. The first was introduced at Big Sky in 2018. The chairs are the fastest in North America, and are known for their wind bubbles and ergonomic heated seats.


4) Brighton: Crest 6, the first D-Line Lift in Utah



Brighton is also a beneficiary of Boyne’s ongoing investments in D-Line lift infrastructure. The Crest 6 will be the first of its kind in Utah. The new Crest 6 will replace the oft-crowded Crest Express. In typical Brighton fashion, the lift will not feature a bubble or heated seats, which we applaud whole-heartedly. The new lift will feature a 5.3 minute ride time, and an hourly capacity of 2,400 skiers. The lift will feature Boyne's signature 90º loading conveyor, which will improve flow and reduce congestion in Brighton's popular base area.


5) Snowbasin: DeMoisy Express, a New 6-Pack


Snowbasin DeMoisey Express
Snowbasin will expand its award-winning lift network with the DeMoisey Express.

Snowbasin’s new lift – the DeMoisy Express – will further cement the resort's status as having one of the top lift systems in North America (ranked #2 by SKI Magazine in 2022). The new 6-pack Leitner POMA lift is the same model as the recently installed Middle Bowl Express. It will double uphill capacity in the Strawberry area to 4,800 skiers/hour (in tandem with the Strawberry Gondola). The new lift will also enable better access to existing terrain and the creation of three new intermediate runs.


6) Whistler: Fitzsimmons Express, a New 8-Pack Lift


Whistler Blackcomb Fitzsimmons Express Construction
Construction is well underway on the new Fitzsimmons Express at Whistler.

Whistler is on track to replace the hugely popular Fitzsimmons express (currently a high-speed quad) with an 8-pack chair, increasing capacity from 1,850 skiers/hour to 3,300. The new lift will help alleviate congestion in Whistler Village, which often reaches critical crowding levels on weekends and holidays. Construction started at the end of last ski season, and is on schedule to be completed for the upcoming season.


7) Taos: Replacing Lift 4 & Pioneer Lift


Taos' new fixed-grip triple Pioneers Lift (left). The removal of Lift 4 (right). Courtesy of Taos Ski Valley.


Over the summer, Taos Ski Valley upgraded two chairlifts to help guests move more comfortably and more efficiently around the resorts. Lift 4 was replaced with a high-speed detachable quad and the Pioneers Lift was replaced with a fixed-grip triple chair.

Taos is also set to introduce three new trails for experts this season. Trails include single black diamonds, Ponsse Scheme and Cache Stash along with Dadou’s, a double black. The trails are the result of Taos's ongoing forest health initiatives and more specifically, the resort's forest cleanup after the 2021 wind event.


8) Winter Park: Upgrading Pioneer Lift to a 6-Pack


A view of the Pioneer Lift with a star indicating the location of the new mid-station.

The latest piece of Winter Park’s master plan, the Pioneer Lift will be upgraded to a six-pack chair from its former quad status. Originally built in 1986 with a capacity of 1,970 skiers/hr, the new lift will have capacity for 2,800 skiers/hr. It will also feature a new mid-station that will negate the need for more advanced skiers and riders to ski all the way to the bottom of the lift, which services beginner terrain.


9) Mammoth Mountain: Canyon Express, Upgrade to 6-Pack


Summer construction at Mammoth faced one of the largest snowpacks in history. Courtesy of MMSA/ Peter Morning.

Mammoth’s Canyon Express Quad, the main artery for skiers out of the Canyon Lodge Base Area, will be upgraded to a Doppelmayr D-Line 6-pack, increasing capacity by 800 skiers/hr. The resort had an unforgettable ski season, keeping lifts spinning until August 6th! It’s not often that summer lift installation projects have to contend with actual skiers on the slopes, but this was no ordinary winter in California. Luckily, the project is underway and on schedule to open in time for this upcoming winter.


10) Solitude: Eagle Express upgraded to high-speed 6-pack


The oldest high-speed quad in Utah will be replaced with a high-speed six pack.

Solitude will replace the Eagle Express – the oldest surviving detachable quad in the nation, and the first in Utah – with a high-speed six-pack chair. No mention has been made of an increase in capacity, though a modest upgrade should be expected. The new lift will mitigate maintenance issues that plagued the current lift. It is on schedule to open in Mid-December.


11) Breckenridge: FIVE Superchair, Upgrade to High Speed Quad


A rendering of the new FIVE SuperChair departing the Peak 8 base area.

Breckenridge continues development in its Peak 8 zone with the upgrade of the existing FIVE double chair to a high speed quad. The upgrade is an indicator of the resort’s commitment to developing a better experience for beginners, and will alleviate some of the massive congestion that plagues beginner terrain on Peaks 8 & 9. The new chair will also allow skiers and riders to access the Park Lane Terrain Park without having to ride the Colorado Superchair, further improving flow out of the Peak 8 Base Area.


12) Snowshoe (WV): Powder Monkey


Snowshoe will replace the existing Powder Monkey Triple with a new fixed-grip quad.

Snowshoe, West Virginia’s largest resort, will replace the Powder Monkey triple chair – built in 1977 as one of the resort’s original lifts – with a new fixed-grip quad. The new lift is the first installed by the resort since 2006, and will increase capacity and improve access to advanced terrain in the resort’s Western Territory.


13) Summit at Snoqualmie: Sessel Triple (Alpental Area)


The new Sessel Triple is the first step in creating new access to high alpine terrain at Alpental.


Summit at Snoqualmie has announced the installation of three new lifts in the Alpental area, starting with the replacement of the Sessel Double with a new fixed-grip triple for the upcoming season. The new lift will be realigned and extended, nearly doubling uphill capacity to 1,800 skiers/hr, and allowing for longer, more interesting descents. The Sessel Triple is the first step in a new network of lifts that will transform access to upper mountain terrain, with the future Edelweiss and International chairs set to come online in 2024-25.


14) Stevens Pass: Kehr's Chair


Stevens Pass will replace the aging Kehr's Chair with a fixed-grip quad.

Vail has announced its first step toward combating some of the unbelievable congestion that has occurred at Stevens Pass since they purchased the Washington resort ahead of the 2018 season. The beloved Kehr’s Chair – a Riblet double built in 1964 – will be replaced by a fixed-grip quad. Details on capacity and ride time have been scant, but the new chair should be a welcome step in improving uphill access at the resort.


 

4 New Lodges at Ski Resorts for the 2023-24 Season

  1. Crystal Mountain, WA. New Mountain Commons Base Lodge

  2. Copper, CO. The Aerie Mid-Mountain Lodge

  3. Brighton, UT. Sidewinder Mid-Mountain Lodge

  4. Windham, NY. Master Plan with new lodges and culinary offerings

(click the resort name to jump to a specific project)


1) Crystal Mountain: New Mountain Commons Base Lodge



In March 2022 Crystal Mountain announced a $100mm investment plan – dubbed “Reimagine Crystal.” This plan will transform the resort with modern amenities, an enhanced guest experience, and improved access. The resort, Washington State’s largest, has experienced a tremendous uptick in popularity over the last decade, especially since the introduction of the Ikon Pass and acquisition by Alterra in 2018. This plan comes in response to the resort battling increasing crowds from the Seattle metro area and beyond.



Mountain Commons is the first step in Crystal's Master Plan. The plan calls for a brand new, 25,000 sq ft open concept lodge that will enhance the arrival experience, increase capacity, and expand options for dining.


While funding for some of the longer-term objectives (a new base area hotel and summit lodge) of the “Reimagine Crystal”campaign remains uncertain, construction on the Mountain Commons is underway and due to complete ahead of the upcoming season.


2) Copper Mountain: The Aerie Mid-Mountain Lodge



Copper Mountain will open its long-awaited mid-mountain lodge, dubbed “The Aerie.” Aptly named, the American Eagle lift will unload directly onto the lodge's upper level. The new building boasts 25,000 sq ft of space across two levels. It will feature Copper’s first on-mountain full-service restaurant, Forage and Feast. The Aeerie will also offer a bar and lounge, a cafeteria, a separate dining area for private events, and 270-degree views of the surrounding mountains. The project is on track to open for the 2023-24 season.


3) Brighton: Sidewinder Mid-Mountain Lodge


The Sidewinder Grille will offer a unique, mid-mountian dining option to guests at Brighton.

Brighton is introducing the first mid-mountain dining option in the resort’s history. The Sidewinder Grill, located adjacent to the base of the Snake Creek lift, promises to offer “beers, burgers, and bathrooms.” What more could one want! The new lodge will be a single-story hybrid structure, constructed from three repurposed shipping containers joined by two large, timber-framed dining halls. The 4,600 sq ft facility will seat 180 patrons, with an additional 7,600 sq ft of outdoor dining space available on a heated concrete terrace. Brighton’s website suggests that the new lodge will open during the 2023-24 season.


4) Windham Mountain, NY: Master Plan


Windham Mountain is the latest resort to announce a master plan aimed at making transformative changes to the resort's lift infrastructure, snowmaking capabilities, on-mountain dining, and residential real estate opportunities. Work will be ongoing through 2025, but this upcoming season will see major upgrades to Windham's culinary offerings. The main lodge will feature a revitalized food hall and the addition of a full-service Mediterranean restaurant, but perhaps the most exciting development is the debut of a brand new, "Italian-Alps style" mid-mountain restaurant. We can't wait to make the trip to try it ourselves!



 

4 Terrain Expansions for the 2023-24 Season

  1. Steamboat, CO. Mahogany Ridge and Fish Creek Canyon Expansion

  2. Keystone, CO. Bergman Bowl Expansion

  3. Sugarloaf, ME. West Mountain Expansion

  4. Loon, NH. South Peak Expansion

(click the resort name to jump to a specific project)


1) Steamboat: Mahogany Ridge and Fish Creek Canyon Expansion


Terrain expansion at Steamboat
The Mahogany Ridge / Fish Creek Canyon exapnsion will make Steamboat the second largest resort in Colorado.

The final piece to Steamboat’s “Full Steam Ahead” will expand access to 655 acres of new expert terrain. Located skier’s right of the current resort boundary, the new terrain will feature vast expanses of Steamboat’s famous glade skiing, in addition to expert features such as cliffs and chutes. The slightly mellower Mahogany Ridge area will be directly serviced by the new Mahogany Ridge Express – a Doppelmayr detachable quad – while the more intense Fish Creek Canyon section will require a ~25 minute walk back to the chair. The expansion makes Steamboat the second largest resort in Colorado (behind Vail) and represents a massive improvement to their offering for expert skiers and riders.


2) Keystone: Bergman Bowl Expansion


Keystone Bergman and Erickson Bowl Expansions
Keystone's long awaited Bergman Bowl expansion will open in 2023.

After postponing work on the Bergman Bowl expansion after last year's hiccup, Keystone is re-embarking on their ambitious expansion project. Encompassing more than 550 acres of new terrain across Bergman and Erickson Bowls, the project involves the installation of a high-speed 6-passenger chairlift in Bergman Bowl, complemented by 16 new trails and advanced snowmaking technology.


Bergman and Erickson Bowls were previously accessible only by hiking. Bergman Bowl will feature mostly intermediate runs, providing unique high-alpine access to mellower, more approachable terrain. Expert skiers and riders can seek the thrill of steeper, more challenging runs in Erickson Bowl. After a year’s delay, Keystone’s long awaited expansion is due to open for the 2023-24 season.


3) Sugarloaf: West Mountain Expansion


Another project that has suffered significant delays (though in this case due to Covid-19), the West Mountain Expansion – the cornerstone of Sugarloaf's 2030 master plan – is now well underway. Significant upgrades are on track to be in place for this winter. The new Bucksaw Express Quad will make its debut, servicing more than 120 acres of new skiable terrain across 12 trails. The new terrain will significantly improve Sugarloaf’s beginner terrain, freeing up congestion in the base area and providing improved access to new and existing real estate on the resort’s western boundary. As of writing, the new trails have been cut, and construction on Bucksaw Express is ongoing. The new lift is expected to debut in January 2024.


4) Loon: South Peak Expansion



New Englanders will be stoked to learn that Loon is expanding their South Peak lift service and terrain this summer. With a focus on enhancing the skiing and riding experience and addressing congestion, the project encompasses over 30 acres of skiable terrain, a new carpet-loaded fixed-grip Doppelmayr Alpenstar quad, and state-of-the-art automated snowmaking technology. The expansion will provide direct-to-lift access from the ever-more popular Escape Route parking lot. Due to Loon’s increase in popularity over the last few seasons, the lot is now utilized on most weekend days, and previously required a shuttle ride to access the resort.



 

Long Term Projects on the Horizon


Looking Ahead: Transformative Lift Projects of the future


While this article is focused on projects that will open this season, we would be remiss not to mention two transformative lift projects that COULD be underway in the coming years.


Little Cottonwood Canyon Gondola

The Little Cottonwood Canyon Gondola is one of the most polarizing projects in recent memory. As of July, the Utah Department of Transportation has officially approved the Little Cottonwood Canyon Gondola. After years of deliberation, it appears that Utah will build a gondola stretching 8 miles from the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird and Alta above.


Gondola Connecting Stowe & Smugglers' Notch

On the East Coast, a proposed interconnect gondola between Stowe and Smugglers’ Notch is still in the pre-approval phase (it’s only public knowledge thanks to investigative journalism by the local News & Citizen).


Stay tuned for more information on both of these transformational lift projects.



Mega Expansion: The New Look Deer Valley

Deer Valley Mayflower Expansion
Deer Valley has announced it will operate the new Mayflower Resort, more than doubling its skiable terrain.

In some of the off-season's biggest news, Deer Valley has announced that it will absorb and operate the new Mayflower resort, more than doubling its skiable acreage. You may recall that Mayflower – located directly adjacent to Deer Valley – has long been in development but bogged down by delays due to permitting, funding, and the Covid-19 pandemic. Deer Valley has come to an agreement with developer, Extell, to absorb and operate the new resort, which will more than double Deer Valley's skiable acreage to 5,72 acres, from 2,026 acres. The new resort is due to open for the 2025-26 season.


More to come on this massive project, which represents one of the largest ski area expansions in history.

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