Ski Lift Lines Apocalypse Hits American Resorts Across The Country

Sun Valley Ski Lift Lines on Saturday January 30th Photo by: Curtis Fong

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Saturday, January 30th will be a day that lives in infamy. A day that skiers & snowboarders went skiing on the West coast, went snowboarding in the Midwest, and schussed down the slopes on the East coast. No mountain was left un-skied, creating what we’re calling “Ski Lift Lines Apocalypse.”

As you’ll see below, if you felt like the ski lift lines were especially long, you weren’t alone. Here’s just a glimpse of what people endured on Saturday, January 30th.

West Coast

Northstar Lift Lines Apocalypse
Photo by: Nick Borelli
Kirkwood Ski Lift Lines on Saturday January 30th
Photo by: Isabelle Tsien

Mammoth Ski Lift Lines on Saturday January 30thRockies

Sun Valley Ski Lift Lines on Saturday January 30th
Photo by: Curtis Fong / Dan Giesen
Big Sky Ski Resort shedhorn lift
Photo by: Russell Morris


Devils Head Ski Lift Lines on Saturday January 30th
Image appears courtesy: Ski The Midwest

East Coast

Ski Lift Lines on Saturday January 30th

Ski Lift Lines on Saturday January 30th

The Perfect Storm Literally

So, how did this happen? What caused this mass influx of people to every ski area across the country. It couldn’t be just one thing. We’re thinking there’s a multitude of reasons for these lengthy ski lift lines.

Scarcity Of Fresh Snow

This winter’s storm track has been pretty much locked up in the Pacific Northwest for most of the season. The week prior to January 30th though, fresh snow fell across most of the country.

Mountains Are Considered ‘Safe’ Over Beaches

By around mid-January, most people are over the cold and snow. They’re planning or about to head to a beach destination for some sun and fun. But not this year it seems.

Drive Markets Over Fly Markets

What do all these places have in common? They’re all ski resorts that you can drive to within a few hours. Many of these skiers and snowboarders would’ve skipped these spots and flown to somewhere remote like Canada for their powder fix (which is still closed to the US).

Where To Go Instead?

If you do want to get away from the crowds, skip the major resorts. Find a small one that’s a bit further away. Or another option for those with a higher risk tolerance, head to a resort that’s even further away. We’ve heard Telluride is SUPER empty this winter as well as many of the Idaho resorts such as the the two New Indy Pass Ski Resorts.

Being eternal optimists, we’re hoping this was a one-time situation that won’t happen again. Fingers, toes, and ski poles crossed.

27 thoughts on “Ski Lift Lines Apocalypse Hits American Resorts Across The Country

  1. Still skiing right onto the chairs at Taos Ski Valley, Ski Santa Fe, Red River and Angel Fire in New Mexico, and with a 52-inch base TSV has some excellent terrain open…..

  2. Any chance you could PLEASE tell where each photo was taken. My wife and I are currently on a 2 week road trip to Vail, Beaver Creek , Breckenridge, and Keystone. (We live by Snowbasin). No lift lines to speak of, but we learned years ago to avoid weekends like ….. a plague or pandemic. Weekday season passes are way cheaper and the resorts would rather distribute the business. Thanks

    1. Lift capacity reduced for social distancing is a legit reason, but maybe to maximize revenue lost from good and drunk business, some resorts may not be limiting sales as much as we assume.

  3. Quit talking about Idaho !!!! We don’t want you or the crowds that’s why we chose to live the lifestyle long time ago !!!

    1. My parents moved to Idaho along time ago from California ( they are the good Californians) and I agree… stay out! Bc when I visit , I respect it and leave ?here in Cali, everyone visits our snow and trashed the place and wreak havoc , they don’t even patronize the local cafes . They bring their trash and leave it too! Sad ! Keep Idaho clean:) it is sad how quick Idaho is growing though.

    2. On the east coast, at Okemo Mountain resort, the lines have been modest with the exception of the 6 person Sunburst express, which is not unusual. Moving around the mountain and finding a very modest line has been relatively easy, and the conditions have been really good.

    3. Seriously, and that first picture on the article is sun valley. So… obviously There are crowds here too – it’s your lead picture!! Aaarrgh.

      1. Hey Mike,

        Very true. We were thinking more like resorts like Soldier Mountain & Pomerelle based on earlier weeks but alas it sounds like it was insane even in those resorts.

    1. That’s right! I WORK there and no lines. Ever. Literally. The mountain is operating at half capacity and there isn’t a single chair with a line, day after day…

  4. I just skied Mount Baldy in Southern California today with no lift lines and the best spring skiing in years.
    It’s hard to believe those lift lines in the photos. Fake news?

    1. Hey David,

      That’s awesome! You’re very fortunate. 🙂 Did you by any chance ski on Saturday? It was absolutely bananas all over the country including in our neck of the woods.

  5. I don’t know what mountains in ID you’re talking about but as a North Idaho native – I’ve NEVER seen the slopes and lift lines as busy as they are this year (every weekend I’ve gone this year) . I went last weekend and it was so busy – all the parking lots were full 100% and the road up and across the freeway Bridge was lined with cars with many turning back. Not to mention many lift lines over 150+ yards long at lookout pass ( the resort that is normally known as the quiet “m’a and pa” resort.). Idaho has been so busy that 2 million more people visited Idaho state parks last year than the previous. I’ve jokingly said in the past that Idaho is full…. Unfortunately I now know that it’s not a joke but a fact of life. Just try and get a hotel room…. Idaho IS sadly full….

  6. Looks like a lot of Jerry’s out for the weekend. Get a brain and you’ll never stand in a lift line.

  7. Maybe it’s because a four seat chair only has 1 or 2 people in it. Cut down the lift capacity by 50% or more and that’s what you get. You can blame it on the PLAGUE.

  8. Definitely was at the mountain on Saturday. Definitely did not have apocalyptic lines. Definitely have 240” this year including 2’ last week and Saturday. Definitely not saying where. Definitely my favorite mountain in the US. ?

  9. Huh, pnw have been pretty empty this season, but I know washington state ski resorts are limiting ticket sales quite a bit. I hope it stays that way too because if washington state’s governor saw those lift lines on the news he’d close all the states ski resorts down.

  10. Having grown up in Denver I’ve watched the situation go from bad in the ’90’s to intolerable now. I’ve been dreaming of a steep state income tax for multiple years for those who want to move to my beautiful state. Bad for business? You bet. But great for Coloradoans. That’s what it’s about, right?

  11. I’ve dubbed the crowd the “covid-crazies”. And it’s great for the industry, but bad for my sanity. Get there early & ride/ski non-stop until your tired, hungry, or annoyed with the crowd & then call it a day.

  12. Here is the problem. Even though the ski areas are supposed to be limiting their capacity they are not. Instead of monitoring lift capacity which is the metric they should be using. Meaning if the hourly capacity of a lift is 1,000 people an hour ( thus limiting the number to 250 people). They are doing it by ski acreage (1 person per two acres). Thus they are creating a bottleneck at the lifts which is causing a violation of the safe distancing mandate. Plus some resorts are telling their guests to they are not allowed to eat in the line or on the lift. Instead telling them to either stop on the side of the trail or go to the restaurant on the mountain where they are limiting capacity.

  13. Skied Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire Wednesday and the lift lines were long like you see on a weekend. Last year you could ski midweek and have the mountains all to yourself. There was 3 parking lots full of cars no way they are limiting people like they claim.

  14. Knew Mammoth would be terrible on Saturday so we drove over to June, After waiting in bumper to bumper line of cars that crept slowly to the parking lot we finally arrived only to be told the parking lot is full and no more skiers allowed. Also that much of the small ski area was closed do to avy control. Been waiting for the snow to ski and went for a bike ride instead. =

  15. I have an alternate theory on why the lines have been so long. I was skiing at Winter Park on the 30th and was surprised at how little guidance was given by the lift operators. It appears that they are deliberately avoiding telling, or encouraging people to sit together. The singles lines have been removed, and people in small groups seem unsure on what to do. Although there were signs stating that up to two groups could sit on the same chair with one empty seat between them, we almost never saw two groups sharing a chair with an empty seat between them. The norm was for each group to stay separate, no matter how small. I saw many, many 6-seater chairs with only 1 or 2 people on them. Other than the signs, there was no guidance or direction given by the lift operators. So, even though there were not too many people at some of the lifts, the lines moved very slowly.

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