Does the Health of U.S. Cities Correlate with Their Distance to Ski Resorts?

Liam Abbott | | BrainsBrains
Portland, Oregon, with Mt. Hood in the background. Image courtesy of Ruttledge, Ed via USGS.

This week, published its 2021 list of Healthiest & Unhealthiest Cities in America. In their report, Wallethub ranks 182 of the most populated U.S. cities by measuring them in 44 categories of what they determined to be key indicators of good health. These indicators range from the number of healthy restaurants per capita to most walking trails per capita to the average cost of a medical visit. You can check out all of the parameters they used in detail on their website here.

Here at SnowBrains, we were interested in any correlation between how healthy a city is and its distance to the closest ski hill. Here is what we found:

Graph courtesy of Liam Abbott.

Except for Honolulu, HI, and Austin, TX, the top fifteen healthiest cities on Wallethub’s list were within a three-hour drive of a ski hill.

When we look at the bottom fifteen healthiest cities, we see that only four are within a three-hour drive of a ski hill (Detroit, MI, Toledo, OH, Huntington, WV, and Montgomery, AL). Brownsville, TX, which had the lowest score on Wallethub’s list of 182 cities, also had the longest driving time to a ski hill at almost thirteen hours to Ski Cloudcroft in New Mexico.

Chart courtesy of Liam Abbott.

It is important to note that Cloudmont Ski Resort, located in DeKalb County, Alabama is the closest ski hill for eight of the bottom fifteen cities. Although Cloudmont is indeed a place you can ski, it only offers two 1000′ (305m) runs that offer a 150′ (46m) vertical drop and are serviced by two pony lifts. Without this small ski hill in northern Alabama, the distance to the closest ski hill would dramatically increase for many of the lowest-ranked cities.


In conclusion, when looking at the top and bottom fifteen healthiest cities according to Wallethub, there does indeed seem to be a correlation between how healthy a city is and its proximity to a ski hill. I am not one to say if this is merely a coincidence or an actual correlation, but it may point towards a more significant relation to people’s health and proximity to mountains. Let us know what you think!

Photo fo Cloudmont Ski Hill. Being in Alabama, they rely on their high elevation and cool enough temperatures at night to blow snow for skiing. Image courtesy of Cloudmont Ski & Golf’s Facebook.

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2 thoughts on “Does the Health of U.S. Cities Correlate with Their Distance to Ski Resorts?

  1. Blizzard Ski and Snowboard is a club. not a ski hill/resort. I’d suggest you use Hyland Hills Ski Area or Buck Hill as a reference.

  2. Correlation vs. causation… The ski hill is a correlation. I think you’re primary causes for a healthier population are going to proximity to alternative recreation activities (mountains = trail running, hiking, climbing, snowshoeing, skiing, lakes, etc…) and financial stability of residents.

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