Sources: Larry Olmsted, Go Escape, USA Today, https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2013/07/19/ski-resort-summer-attractions-activities/2552835/ & Allen Best, Grist, “As ski season gets shorter, resorts build summer attractions” https://grist.org/article/as-ski-season-gets-shorter-resorts-build-summer-attractions/
“I came for the winter, but stayed for the summer.”
In recent years, top ski destinations have beefed up their warm-weather offerings to lure visitors. Most large ski resorts offer world-class golf and mountain biking. Many are adding bells and high-altitude whistles like man-made whitewater parks, ziplines and much more.
The added features strengthen a resort’s economic resilience, says Arthur De Jong, the mountain planning and environmental resource manager at Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, which has an alpine coaster, ziplines, and a mountain bike park. U.S. ski areas, which often lose money over the summer, are hoping to generate additional revenue to help cover year-round costs for everything from lifts to employee housing.
But that’s not the only reason: Looming over the shoulder of many ski areas, particularly those in the Sierra Nevada and at lower elevations elsewhere, is the specter of a changing climate. Summer attractions may help resorts offset losses incurred as warmer temperatures nibble away at the ski season. “Climate change makes it all the more imperative,” says De Jong.
In the East, where most ski areas operate on private or state lands, the push to create non-snow activities began some years ago.
But more than a hundred ski areas on Western national forests were governed by a 1986 law that authorized snow-related activities but provided no guidance for other uses. Forest Service managers made summer-use decisions on a cumbersome case-by-case basis. Seeking clarifying legislation, ski industry representatives argued that mountain operators could offer year-round outdoor recreation while controlling impacts to public lands.
For ski resorts and the communities that depend on them, the new attractions’ biggest benefit will be the long-term one, as they help buffer resorts from unpredictable weather and, eventually, big shifts in climate. Ski areas could lose as much as a third of their winter seasons by mid-century, according to a recent study from the University of Waterloo. “That’s not anything anybody in the ski industry would like to see,” says Aspen Skiing Co. spokesperson Jeff Hanle, “but we have to be prepared for it.””
What can your mountain do to prepare for these looming climate changes? Make the most of your mountain with supplemental year-round attractions that will keep your guests on your mountain, playing, spending, staying and coming back for more. Learn more about ADG’s state-of-the-art mountainside attractions at adgmountainsides.com