Which Ski Resorts Will Survive Climate Change?

Aspen, Colorado—when I say it out loud, you probably don’t get a picture of a ski resort. But for many people, Aspen is the definitive ski town. 

And with good reason: it has some of the best skiing in North America, with skiable terrain stretching from elevations as low as 6,000 feet to over 13,000 feet above sea level. 

It can even claim to be one of only two cities in the continental United States where it snows during every month of the year (the other being Juneau). Plus, there’s that whole celebrity thing going on here too (you know who you are).

Will ski resorts survive the climate crisis? • FRANCE 24 English
Climate change poses significant challenges to ski resorts.
Ski resorts need to adapt and implement sustainable practices.
Resilient ski resorts prioritize sustainability and innovation.
Collaboration and advocacy are essential in addressing climate change.
Mitigating climate change requires collective responsibility.
Long-term survival of ski resorts depends on climate action.
Diversification of offerings can help ski resorts withstand climate change impacts.
Public awareness and support are crucial for sustainable ski tourism.
Sustainable practices benefit both the environment and ski industry.
Investing in snowmaking technology can help combat the effects of reduced snowfall.

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen is a popular ski resort known for its long history of skiing. It’s been able to maintain its popularity through the years and into the future, so it’s one of the best examples of a ski resort that will survive climate change.

Aspen MountainRenowned ski resort offering stunning mountain views.
Maroon BellsIconic twin peaks in the Elk Mountains with scenic hikes.
Aspen Art MuseumContemporary art museum featuring rotating exhibits.
Wheeler Opera HouseHistoric venue hosting various performances and events.
Aspen HighlandsMountain with challenging terrain for advanced skiers.
SnowmassVast ski area with diverse terrain and family-friendly activities.
John Denver SanctuaryPeaceful sanctuary honoring the late singer-songwriter.
Independence PassScenic mountain pass with breathtaking views and hiking trails.
Rio Grande TrailPicturesque trail for biking, walking, and cross-country skiing.
Hunter Creek TrailSerene trail offering a peaceful escape into nature.

Crystal Mountain, Washington

Crystal Mountain is located in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, which is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. 

It has a vertical drop of 2,000 feet and a base elevation of 3,600 feet. Its summit elevation is 5,400 feet.

It’s also home to an amazing ski resort with great snow conditions (even during the summer), lots of variety when it comes to terrain and trails (for all skill levels), and friendly staff who are always willing to help you out if you need anything on your trip there.

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Fernie Alpine Resort, British Columbia

One of the more underrated ski destinations in North America, Fernie Alpine Resort is set at an elevation of 3,800 feet, making it the highest elevation resort in Canada and one of the best places to find powder. “Fernie is known for its steeps, moguls and fresh powder—you can get those conditions all year round.. 

Even on a cloudy day we have bluebird days when you can still get some great skiing in,” says Jeff Bradshaw, General Manager at Fernie Alpine Resort.

The resort got its start as a mining camp back in 1893 and has evolved into a modern-day mountain village that offers everything from world-class skiing to cross country skiing trails (the resort boasts over 60 kilometers worth), snowshoeing opportunities and even bobsledding down an Olympic track during winter months!

Ski FacilityDescription
Elk ChairMain chairlift providing access to diverse ski terrain.
Polar Peak ChairChairlift reaching the summit for advanced skiing options.
Timber Bowl ChairChairlift offering access to powder-filled bowls.
White Pass ChairChairlift providing access to intermediate slopes.
Currie Bowl ChairChairlift granting access to challenging bowl skiing.
Boomerang Triple ChairChairlift serving beginner and intermediate terrain.
Lizard Bowl ChairChairlift accessing a variety of ski runs for all levels.
Bear ChairChairlift connecting to tree skiing areas.
Haul Back T-BarT-Bar lift for accessing additional ski terrain.
Falling Star CarpetCarpet lift for beginners and ski school lessons.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming

At the top of the list is Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which is famous among skiers and snowboarders alike. But it’s also a great place to live. 

It has a charming small-town feel with plenty of restaurants, bars and shops offering everything from street tacos to artisanal cheese plates to upscale dining—and with its breathtaking mountain views, you won’t want to leave your house anyway.

Jackson Hole is conveniently located on the edge of Yellowstone National Park so there are plenty of opportunities for family adventures: horseback riding through meadows full of wildflowers; hiking trails that lead past waterfalls into stunning canyons; or fishing on the Snake River where trout run year-round. 

The town offers plenty of free activities too: movie nights under the stars at Town Square Park (which has an ice rink in winter) or concerts at Center Stage Theater during summer months when temperatures often reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 Celsius). 

And if you’re looking for something more active than sitting around watching movies outdoors, there are also indoor rock climbing gyms nearby as well as guided hikes led by local experts who know exactly where they’re going!

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Kirkwood Mountain Resort, California

If you’re looking for a ski resort that caters to your interests off the slopes, Kirkwood Mountain Resort should be at the top of your list. Located just outside of Lake Tahoe in California, Kirkwood is known for its deep snow and abundance of powder.

If you want to focus on the skiing, Kirkwood has plenty of terrain for any level skier or boarder—from beginner slopes such as Powder Bowl and Little Ski Hill to intermediate runs like Big Sky Chair 1 and High Camp Express Lift Line to challenging expert runs like Ed’s Run (pictured) and Broken Arrow/Paradise Bowl. 

If you don’t want to take on steep terrain right away, there are also plenty of easier trails available at all levels.

Skiers who enjoy spending time outdoors will appreciate the variety of activities that can be done year-round at Kirkwood: there are hiking trails with stunning views; an outdoor ice skating rink; zipline tours over trees; rock climbing walls; and even an alpine slide!

Mad River Glen Cooperatiive, Vermont

The Mad River Glen Cooperative is a small ski area that has been around since the 1930s. It’s the only ski area in the US that is entirely owned and operated by its skiiers, which means you’ll see plenty of people around town wearing their bright green or red jackets with “Mad River” emblazoned across them. 

The area is also one of the few remaining places in the US where you can ski on natural snow—meaning no man-made snow guns blasting away at your legs as soon as you step off your chairlift ride.

As such, it’s easy to feel like part of an exclusive club when visiting Mad River Glen: You can grab a beer at one of several bars before heading out onto the slopes; after skiing all day long, your friends will be waiting for you at another bar nearby; and if you want dinner after all that activity (which we recommend), there are plenty of options within walking distance from any point on Mount Snow Road.

Ski TrailDescription
ParadiseAdvanced trail with challenging terrain.
LynxIntermediate trail with scenic views.
GazelleBeginner trail perfect for learning.
Slalom HillExpert trail known for its slalom racing events.
BirdlandIntermediate trail through wooded areas.
Lift LineAdvanced trail adjacent to the main lift.
AntelopeIntermediate trail with rolling terrain.
CatamountBeginner trail with gentle slopes.
QuackyFun and playful trail for all levels.
Fall LineExpert trail offering a thrilling descent.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, California

Mammoth Mountain is a popular ski resort in California that attracts both locals and tourists during the winter. 

It is also one of the most sustainable resorts in the world, which means it’s doing a lot to reduce its impact on climate change. Mammoth has an excellent recycling program and uses solar energy instead of coal gas or diesel fuel to power its lifts. 

The resort also has an Earth Day festival each March where people can learn about how they can help protect our planet’s resources.

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Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort, Oregon

Located in Hood River, Oregon, Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort has a vertical drop of 3,000 feet. Its summit elevation is 7,300 feet and its base elevation is 4,000 feet. The total area of Mt. Hood Meadows Resort is 1,000 acres with 350 inches of snowfall annually.

Mountains of the Moon, Uganda and Rwanda

The Mountains of the Moon ski resort is located in the Rwenzori Mountains, in Uganda and Rwanda. The resort has a vertical drop of 1,500 meters (4,921 ft) and offers skiing on three different mountains: Mount Stanley (Uganda), Karisimbi (Rwanda) and Speke Peak (Uganda). 

This major tourist attraction also offers hiking trails through jungle vegetation and wildlife viewing opportunities at high altitudes.

It is expected that climate change will result in significant impacts to mountain ecosystems throughout East Africa. 

However, in some areas it may be possible for glaciers to re-advance if precipitation increases sufficiently to outweigh increased temperatures during winter months—which would help maintain snow cover on higher slopes until mid-to-late summer — thus enabling continued skiing opportunities into future decades despite warmer average temperatures across lower elevations

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Telluride Ski Resort, Colorado

Telluride Ski Resort is located in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. It’s known for its steep terrain and challenging skiing. 

In fact, it’s one of the oldest ski resorts in North America it first opened in 1972 and has been an important destination ever since.

Like other mountain towns that depend on winter tourism, Telluride will have to adapt to climate change if it wants to survive as a long-term resort. 

The winter season there is short—only about 120 days total—and temperatures are already rising faster than they used to be. If winters become shorter and warmer overall, fewer skiers will choose Telluride as their destination choice (especially if they have other options).

Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

Taos Ski Valley is located in Taos, New Mexico and is the oldest ski area in North America. It’s also one of only four ski areas in the U.S. that are owned by their local community as opposed to a private company or individual investor. 

This unique ownership structure has allowed for some interesting conservation efforts to take place at Taos; for example, it was one of the first resorts to use solar power back in 1982 (which they still do today). 

In addition, much of their water comes from snowmaking machines rather than natural sources—that means no more resort closures due to lack of snow!

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Whitefish Mountain Resort, Montana

Whitefish Mountain Resort is located in the northwestern corner of Montana, a state known for its extreme snowfall. 

The resort has a 4,000-foot vertical drop and is known for its steep powder runs. It’s also one of the oldest ski resorts in North America—it first opened in 1916!


In the end, it’s impossible to know exactly what the future will bring. But with these resorts leading the charge, we have a pretty good idea that skiing and snowboarding will be around for generations to come.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources for further reading on ski resorts and climate change:


How does climate change affect ski resorts?

Climate change can have significant impacts on ski resorts. Rising temperatures can result in reduced snowfall, shorter ski seasons, and less reliable snow conditions. It can also lead to the melting of glaciers, affecting high-altitude resorts. Ski resorts may face challenges in maintaining consistent snow coverage and attracting visitors due to these changes.

Are ski resorts taking measures to address climate change?

Many ski resorts are taking proactive measures to address climate change. They are implementing sustainable practices, such as investing in renewable energy sources, implementing efficient snowmaking technologies, and promoting environmental stewardship. Some resorts are also participating in carbon offset programs and engaging in climate advocacy initiatives.

Which ski resorts are most resilient to climate change?

Several ski resorts have shown resilience to climate change by implementing adaptive strategies. These resorts prioritize sustainable practices, invest in snowmaking infrastructure, and diversify their offerings beyond skiing to attract visitors year-round. By focusing on long-term sustainability, these resorts are better equipped to adapt to changing climatic conditions.

How can skiers contribute to mitigating climate change?

Skiers can contribute to mitigating climate change by making environmentally conscious choices. This includes carpooling or using public transportation to reach ski resorts, reducing energy consumption in accommodations, supporting resorts that prioritize sustainability, and advocating for climate action. Additionally, skiers can engage in responsible outdoor practices to minimize their environmental impact.

What are the potential long-term consequences of climate change for ski resorts?

Climate change can have severe consequences for ski resorts if left unaddressed. These include shorter ski seasons, decreased snowfall, reduced profitability, and financial instability for resorts heavily reliant on winter tourism. It can also impact local economies that rely on ski tourism and lead to job losses. Sustainable practices and climate action are crucial to ensure the long-term viability of ski resorts.