Facebook Twitter

A historic ski season, by the numbers

It was a record winter for Utah’s ski resorts, both in snow and skiers

SHARE A historic ski season, by the numbers

Parker Densmore, center, and friends start a backcountry ski tour at Alta Ski Area, which is closed for the season, on Friday, June 2, 2023. The group was celebrating Densmore’s 200th consecutive day of skiing this season.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

If you were to compare Utah’s Delicate Arch with the amount of snow that fell at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, it would be buried. By nearly 280 inches.

Of course, that’s not really how snowpack works — there was never 903 inches, which is what Alta Ski Resort recorded this winter, piled up in the Wasatch Mountains at one time. But during the record-breaking 2022-2023 ski season, Alta recorded enough cumulative snow to dwarf Utah’s iconic red rock landmark.

Resorts opened early and closed late. Skiers waited for hours at the bottom of Little Cottonwood Canyon as the Utah Department of Transportation triggered avalanches like the mountains had never seen before. Mountain homes buckled under the weight of snow, while ski resort employees were trapped for days at a time. More skiers than ever flocked to Utah’s ski resorts — some are still skiing.

“The snow just didn’t stop falling until May,” said Nathan Rafferty, Ski Utah president, in a statement. “There is still some skiing to be had in Utah as we head into summer, and we are looking forward to enjoying warm weather activities as resorts start to open for summer operations soon.”

From a banner financial year for the industry, to the longest season ever for some resorts, here are some statistics that show just how unprecedented this winter was.

  • UDOT recorded 550 avalanches in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons this year — 98 of them crossed the road, and 62 of those were big enough to bury a vehicle.
  • At 903 inches, Alta recorded more snow than any other resort. But it wasn’t the only resort that had its record broken — 12 of the state’s 15 ski areas had more snow than ever. Snowbird had 838 inches, shattering its previous record of 783 set in 2011, Brighton had 881, Solitude had 816, Park City Mountain Resort had 636 and Deer Valley had 606. At 613 inches, Snowbasin had more snow than its last two seasons combined.
  • Utah’s statewide snow water equivalent — essentially the moisture in the snowpack — peaked at 30 inches in early April, surpassing the decadeslong record of 26 inches.
  • Data is still preliminary, but Ski Utah expects to report 7.1 million skier visits during the season, shattering the previous record set in 5.8 million during the 2021-2022 season.
  • Those skiers spent $2.54 billion, an 8% increase from last year’s $2.35 billion. Ski Utah says the ski industry contributed to $256.8 million in state and local tax revenue.
  • Alta had so much snow it averaged 5.1 inches of each day.
  • Brian Head opened on Nov. 4, earlier than any other resort, and closed on May 7 in what was its longest season ever and the most snow it had in 10 years.
  • In addition, Brighton, Snowbasin, Park City, Deer Valley and Solitude all experienced their longest seasons ever.
  • Ski Utah defines a “powder day” as a 24 hour period that gets over 12 inches of snow — Utah had 44 powder days, sailing above the yearly average of 19.