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U.S. ski industry reports data from 2023–24 season

The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) released preliminary skier visit numbers for the 2023–24 season, reporting a total of 60.4 million. Despite weather challenges, this season ranks as the fifth best on record.

“Some ski area operators described the season as a roller-coaster, and I applaud those same operators for being flexible, reopening to take advantage of a late season storm or making snow in late March to squeeze in one more week,” said Kelly Pawlak, NSAA president and CEO. “Skiers are a hardy bunch and responded enthusiastically. The strong skier visits speak volumes to their passion for sliding on snow.”

The skier visit number is a perennial key performance indicator for the downhill snowsports industry. A skier visit is a measure of frequency recorded every time an individual uses a lift ticket or pass at a ski area.

This season in context

Following two consecutive seasons of record visitation, the start of the 2023–24 snowsports season was met with both anticipation and unseasonably warm temperatures, leading to a delayed start in many regions of the country. Despite that, U.S. ski areas tallied over 60 million visits, which indicates the resilience of snowsports among renewed interest in outdoor recreation post-pandemic.

Visits by ski area size

Extra-large resorts tallied the bulk of skier visits at 57%. Although small ski areas account for 59% of U.S. ski areas in operation, they tallied approximately 13% of total skier visits. NSAA measures ski area size by vertical transportation feet per hour, a calculation of uphill lift capacity.

Regional impacts

NSAA divides ski country into six regions. While performance remained strong in several regions, all six regions experienced a decline in skier visits against last season’s unparalleled numbers. The Rocky Mountain region remains the most visited, reporting 26.7 million skier visits, followed by the Northeast at 12.4 million and the Pacific Southwest at eight million. The Midwest was the fourth-most visited region, tallying 4.8 million visits despite also reporting the biggest year-over-year decrease (26.7%). The Pacific Northwest region reported 4.2 million visits. The Southeast reported 4.2 million visits and had the least change year-over-year.

Ski areas in operation

Additionally, NSAA’s count of ski areas operating in the U.S. totaled 487 for the past season. Changes in this number included the reopening of seven ski areas, the founding of one new ski area and the loss of one ski area due to a merger. Other fluctuations were caused by the closure and reopening of small ski areas, and factors such as inflow of capital, weather and local interest.


Historically, fluctuations in skier visit numbers could be correlated with snowfall: more snow generally meant more skier visits. This season, a slightly below-average snowfall season still yielded a skier visit number that would have been considered high in a normal year prior to the pandemic.

Average snowfall at ski areas nationally totaled 158 inches, a departure from the previous season’s 225 inches (a record snowfall year for several ski areas). The 10-year average holds at approximately 173 inches. The average length of the season was 106 days, a decrease of only seven days from the previous season, a testament to the importance of snowmaking in a below-average snow year.

Capital investment

Capital investment for 2023–24 season totaled $754.3 million (per 130 reporting ski areas). Lift infrastructure continues to be a focal point for the U.S. industry, with 99 new and upgraded lifts being installed at ski areas this past season.

The average ski area reinvested $29.20 per skier visit back into the resort. The approximate $4 increase over last season’s average signals that ski areas remain laser-focused on improving the guest experience despite reduced visitation.

Next season’s (2024–25) capital investment is projected to reach nearly $500 million, including plans for 71 new and upgraded lifts.