Rocky Mountain resorts might have been lucky enough to be buried under snowfall this week, but a number of ski areas on the west coast are currently battling with wildfire risk and extreme weather at the other end of the scale.
A number of resorts are under immediate threat from the record-breaking wildfires currently ravaging California and Oregon. Just yesterday the US Forest Service announced ALL forest land in the state is closed to the public. Many ski areas reside on Forest Service land, among them Mammoth Mountain and Snow Summit who have both had to suspend summer operations.
China Peak Resort yesterday announced that they had ‘miraculously’ escaped serious damage as the result of the Creek Fire. The blaze reached the ski resort on Wednesday, leaving the owners fearing the worst, but the resort and the lifts were spared, with some employee housing destroyed.
“The fear was that it was coming up the backside of the ski area and that was going to attack the west side, which would be chair 7 lift and that trail system. But that never happened.”
– China Peak owner Tim Cohee
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, CA has had to close a couple of trails at Squaw Valley and restrict public access at Alpine Meadows, but otherwise is continuing with summer operations as normal.
Mount Baldy, CA will be closed this weekend due to the closure of National Forest land. The resort hopes to reopen as soon as possible.
In Oregon, all recreation and public access to Mount Hood is closed due to three wildfires in National Forests. A small fire ignited within the Mt. Hood Meadows boundary on Monday which managed to burn a few acres. Thankfully it was contained before causing damage to lifts or facilities. Officials preemptively cut the power to Mount Hood on Monday and it’s not expected to be restored until Sunday 13th.
Timberline Lodge, OR, who only stopped skiing a couple of weeks ago, has suspended outdoor operations until further notice.
In Washington, Crystal Mountain remains largely inaccessible due to fire-related road closures and has suspended operations for the rest of the season.
Further east, the wildfire threatening Bridger Bowl, MT although slowed, is still active. Recent snowfall was a blessing, it did not completely extinguish the fire. Temperatures are expected to rise again and it is hoped further dry, warm weather doesn’t escalate things. The public is being asked to avoid forest trails and roads to give firefighters room to work.
The Medio Fire, in New Mexico, has burned over 4,000-acres and is currently 95% contained. The fire, which was started by lightning on 17th August, had been threatening Ski Santa Fe who were preparing their snowguns to douse critical infrastructure should they have needed to.
Back at the beginning of August, a wildfire swept through Soldier Mountain ski area in Idaho, destroying their brand new bike park, closing the resort indefinitely.