With many ski areas across North America reporting big pre-season snowfalls, winter 2016-17 is already off to a good start! Arapahoe Basin in Colorado was able to open in mid-October, while Jackson Hole reported more than five feet of October snow (the most in that month in a century).
Here are ten of North America’s snowiest ski areas, solely based on the highest snowfall averages year-in and year-out. Remember, numbers should be taken with a grain of salt as measurement methods can vary amongst resorts.
1. Alyeska, Alaska, USA: 669 inches (1,699 centimeters)
Alyeska posted the biggest snowfall in North America last season, a particularly snowy one thanks to the strong El Nino effect. But the resort has been keeping meticulous records for 34 seasons and its annual average snowfall at the top of the slopes is consistently humungous.
2. Mt Baker, Washington, USA: 659 inches (1,674 centimeters)
Mt Baker has a reputation as, normally, the snowiest ski resort in the world but its stats took a knock in the unprecedentedly bad 2014-15 season. That year, the resort’s numbers (like most on West Coast of North America) were less than half the norm. This may be the reason why Alyeska crept 15 inches higher, although its figures are based on a 15 rather than 34-year average.
Mt Baker still holds the record for the snowiest reported ski season ever with an incredible 1,140 inches (2,896 centimeters) in the 1998–99 season.
3. Kirkwood, California, USA: 600 inches (1,524 centimeters).
Kirkwood claims a range of different average snowfall figures, but Vail Resorts owners are currently putting the figure at a nice round 600 inches. This number not only makes it one of the snowiest in the Tahoe region, but also the world.
4. Alta, Utah, USA: 514 inches (1,310 centimeters)
Utah is known for having some of the planet’s lightest, most skiable powder. Add in the fact that Alta has one of America’s (and the whole world’s) greatest average annual snowfall totals, and it’s really a winning combination. No surprise the Alta is such a cult favorite destination for skiers.
5. Solitude, Utah, USA: 501 inches (1,272 centimeters)
Another Utah resort famed for both the quality of its snow and the volume that accumulates, Solitude is coy about the exact average figure. They say it’s “over 500 inches” so we’re assuming at least 501 inches.
6. Snowbird, Utah, USA: 500 inches (1,270 centimeters)
Snowbird has one of the longest ski seasons in North America, and having one of the biggest snowfall tallies on the continent clearly helps with that. Linked to Alta, it has a snowfall average of 500 inches according to its official resort stats.
This year, Snowbird published monthly average snowfall totals based on the past ten seasons and it’s remarkable how similar the tallies are through the main months of the season. It averages 76.3 inches in November; 90.7 inches in December; 90.4 inches in January; 87.2 inches in February; 98.4 inches in March; and 88 inches in April.
7. Revelstoke, BC, Canada: 480 inches (1,212 centimeters)
Revelstoke is known for having North America’s biggest lift-served vertical and for its on-site heli-skiing, but there doesn’t seem to be an official average snowfall stat.
As one of the continent’s newest resorts, the ski area does publish a detailed graph showing snowfall totals season by season. 2010-11 was the snowiest season recently with 485 inches.
8. Whistler Blackcomb, BC, Canada: 461 inches (1,170 centimeters)
Along with being the biggest ski area on the continent and having one of the longest seasons, Whistler Blackcomb can also claim a spot in North America’s top ten for snowfall, with an average of 461 inches.
9. Stevens Pass, Washington State, USA: 460 inches (1,168 centimeters)
Stevens Pass reports its average annual snow base is a very healthy 105 inches (267 centimeters).
10. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA: 459 inches (1,165 centimeters)
Jackson Hole attracts powder hounds from around the world to enjoy its spectacular freeriding terrain, but it’s also one of the continent’s snowiest with nearly 40 feet of snow falling annually.
“Average” snowfall numbers are hard to compare between resorts, because it really depends upon their methodology of collecting the data. For example, are they measuring depth at the summit, mid-mountain, or base?
Fun article Patrick….but Mt Baker is in the State of Washington, not Oregon as your article states.
Thanks for catching our typo, Kevin! We’ve made the edit above.
Not all snow is created equal. The resorts mentioned in the Northwest tend to get the wetter heavier stuff, which some denigratingly call concrete. Utah on the other hand gets the really “unwet” fluffy stuff. There’s a ski magazine called “Powder” but none called “Concrete.” Ski freaks talk about pow-pow days, never heard the term con-con day. Just like cocaine, not all snow is the same.
Still another list of some real data mixed in with marketing quotes and SWAGs. For real stats, measured in a consistent basis, with location of measurement, see my website bestsnow.net.