As anyone who follows this blog knows, Liftopia and skiing in general generate a lot of data and statistics around skiing, lift tickets, and other information. In this post we’ll take a look at which state is the “Biggest Ski State.” The answer depends on how you measure it.

One thing we track at RRC Associates is the number of active downhill skiers and snowboarders in any given year. By “active,” we mean just that: people who actually went to a downhill ski area in that season.  Through our research program with the National Ski Areas Association, we know a lot about active skiers and snowboarders. We know their age and other demographic characteristics, number of years of participation, where they live, where they ski, and many other interesting and important facts about the market.

Looking at the numbers by where skiers and snowboarders live tells some interesting stories. Which state do you think has the most skiers and snowboarders? Which state’s residents participate most frequently? Which state do you think is the “Biggest Ski State”? The answers might surprise you, and will certainly give you some tidbits to share on your next chairlift ride.


Which state has the most skiers and snowboarders?

The 2011/12 season was challenging weather-wise for many ski areas; one result was that fewer people came out to ski or snowboard, thus reducing the number of “active” participants in that season. For that reason, we looked at a five-year average, rather than the 2011/12 season, in terms of the number of active skiers and snowboarders living in each of the 50 states.

Over that five-year period, California has averaged the most active skiers and snowboarders, with over 1 million (including most of Liftopia’s staff). The number two state by this measure? New York, with almost three-quarters of a million people who ski or ride.  Rounding out the top five are Colorado, Illinois, and Massachusetts.  The first three states have a lot of ski areas, while the latter two have a few ski areas in their states, but are located near other states with more skiing and snowboarding options. Interestingly, number six is Texas, a state with no ski areas.  Other well-known ski states like Vermont, New Hampshire, Utah, Maine, Montana, and Oregon actually have relatively few active resident skiers and snowboarders overall; at the same time, New Jersey, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio, which are generally not known as ski states, have a strong resident population of active skiers and snowboarders.  To a large degree, these patterns are reflective of the individual state’s total population – big states like California, New York, and Texas have a lot of people overall, which contributes to the large total number of residents who ski and ride.

Biggest Ski State

Interested in learning which state’s residents ski or ride most often? Or perhaps relative to its total population, which state produces the most visits? Check back tomorrow – we’ve got you covered with part two of this two-post series!

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Sub-Categories Guides / Lifestyle / North America / Ski / Ski & Snowboard / Snowboard / The Industry / Travel
  • Steve

    Id like to see an article of skier visits in any given state during the year, im pretty sure it would be colorado, utah, california then vermont

    • Katie Kearsey

      Hi, Steve! We’ll be talking about which state produces the most visits relative to its total population tomorrow in part two of this two post series. Make sure to check back!

  • dan crowley

    you need to take the number of active skiiers and divide it by the states population to find just how popular skiing and riding is in a given state.

    • Katie Kearsey

      Hi Dan! We’ll be sharing info about which state’s residents ski/ride most often, and we’ll also be talking about which state produces the most visits relative to its total population tomorrow in part two of this two post series. Thanks!

  • Art Vandelay

    So, what did we learn? More people = more skiers? I think skiers per capita is what you’re interested in, if you want to produce something useful or interesting…

    • dutch58

      not especially…where is Florida and Georgia? Both are top ten population centers.

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  • thwg

    please use better graphics for your maps tomorrow, at least a different color range. it will take literally 3 seconds in arcgis