It’s scorching outside, so maybe letting your mind drift toward snow will cool you off. Honestly, there’s only one way to describe Utah’s most recent ski season: hot.

After a slow start, the 2023-24 ski/snowboard season turned out to be the second best in Utah history, at least in terms of visitors. And the snow did eventually come.

According to Ski Utah, the state’s 15 ski areas recorded more than 6.7 million skier visits, defined as one person skiing or snowboarding for one day, in a season that went into late May for a couple of resorts.

“We are immensely proud of this season’s success and extend our heartfelt appreciation to everyone who contributed to making it memorable. From our hardworking resort staff to the passionate skiers and snowboarders who choose Utah, thank you for your dedication and support. The future is bright for Utah with a variety of capital investments slated ahead of the 2024–25 season and the potential announcement of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games returning to Utah,” Nathan Rafferty, president and CEO of Ski Utah, said in a press release Wednesday.

Over the next two years, at least 14 lifts will be installed at Utah resorts, according to Ski Utah.

A report from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute in April shows that Utah’s ski industry contributed $1.94 billion in nonresident visitor spending during the 2022-23 ski/snowboard season, generating $197.9 million in state and local tax revenue. Skiing and snowboarding directly supported 25,980 statewide jobs and boasted a record 7.1 million skier days during that season.

How much does the Utah ski industry make?

Let it snow

Though snow totals in the past season didn’t smash records like they did in 2022-23, resorts across Utah and in the West ended up with stellar years. Powder magazine put it this way:

“For many ski resorts across the West, ‘weird’ wasn’t the half of it, with the first portion of winter proving to be, well, not great. In December, some skiers worried 2023-2024 would be a dud. Then, it started snowing. A lot. By the end of March, ski resorts in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado were touting impressive snowfall totals.”

Four Utah ski areas made the top 10 list of snowiest resorts in the country. Alta led the way with 628 inches, though short of its record-smashing 903 inches in 2022-23. Still, the Little Cottonwood Canyon resort recorded the state’s highest two-year total ever.

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“Even the three famously snowy seasons from 1981-84 in Utah did not have that much snow over two consecutive seasons,” per Ski Utah.

It’s too early to predict snowfall for the 2024-25 season.

“We will have an opportunity to match the three consecutive snowy winters of the early 1980s,” per Evan Thayer, OpenSnow forecaster for Utah, writing for Ski Utah. “Meteorologically, early indications show a high likelihood of bouncing back into La Niña conditions over the Pacific Ocean. While we don’t have a strong correlation to La Niña or El Niño in Utah, La Niña does theoretically elevate the chances for a colder-than-average winter. With any luck, it will also be snowier-than-average as well.”

The fast and curious world of skijoring in the American West

Snowiest ski resorts

Here at the top 10 for the 2023-24 season, per Powder:

  • Alyeska Resort, Alaska, 740 inches
  • Alta Ski Area, Utah, 628 inches
  • Brighton Resort, Utah, 568 inches
  • Snowbird, Utah, 566 inches
  • Timberline Lodge, Oregon, 541 inches
  • Solitude Mountain Resort, Utah, 539 inches
  • Sugar Bowl Resort, California, 485 inches
  • Mt. Baker Ski Area, Washington, 485 inches
  • Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming, 447 inches
  • Grand Targhee Resort, Wyoming, 438 inches
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