The 5 Oldest Ski Areas in the U.S.

Tyler Hatch |
Granlibakken, CA
Granlibakken Lodge, CA / Photo Credit: Granlibakken

Skiing has a long history stretching back hundreds of years, but organized resorts in the United States have only been around for about a hundred years. Surprisingly, the oldest resorts in the country are somewhat unknown and unheard of, as many of the resorts are quite small. These five resorts are the oldest public ski resorts still in operation in the U.S.

5. Mt. Hood Skibowl, OR

Mt. Hood Skibowl
Mt. Hood Skibowl, OR / Photo Credit: Mt. Hood Skibowl Facebook

First open to skiers in 1928, Mt. Hood Skibowl is a resort that offers skiing and riding during the winter and many summer activities in the off-season. Skibowl is known for having the largest night skiing area in the country and is also the closest ski resort to Portland, Oregon. The resort reaches an altitude of 5,000 feet and receives an average of 300 inches of snowfall yearly. The resort initially began as two separate resorts, Skibowl and Multorpor, but the two merged into one in 1964. Being founded in 1928, Mt. Hood Skibowl is the fifth oldest ski resort in the U.S.

4. Granlibakken Ski Area, CA

Granlibakken Ski Area, CA / Photo Credit: Granlibakken Facebook

Located on the shores of Lake Tahoe, California, Granlibakken is a lodge that operates year-round and offers skiing in the wintertime. Skiing was new to the Tahoe area, and in 1927, a toboggan slide was built, which brought winter activities like skiing to Snow Canyon, the locals’ name at the time for what is now called Granlibakken. Shortly after opening, the ski area hosted a group of Norwegian skiers on a tour of the western U.S. and gave ski jump exhibitions. The group included Lars Haugen, the seven-time national ski jumping champion, who gave the resort its Norwegian name, which means “hill sheltered by trees.” The resort is known for its rich history dating back to 1927, making it the fourth oldest in the country.

3. Mountain High Ski Resort, CA

Mount High, CA
Mountain High Ski Resort, CA / Photo Credit: Mountain High

The next oldest ski resort, Mountain High Resort, is in the San Gabriel Mountains in Wrightwood, California. The resort is less than a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, making it one of Southern California’s most visited ski resorts. As the population of Southern California began to boom in the 1920s, skiers flocked to an area in the San Gabriels near where Mountain High Resort operates today, to recreate during the winter, which eventually turned into the resort it is today. As a result of all the winter recreation in the area, construction of the world’s largest ski jump began in an unsuccessful attempt to draw the Winter Olympics. Following the construction of the ski jump, the resort opened a couple of tow ropes to accommodate more skiers, which was later followed by the fifth chairlift built in the United States and the second built in California. The resort’s official opening year is recognized as 1924, making it the third oldest in the country.

2. Storrs Hill Ski Area, NH

Storrs Hill, NH
Storrs Hill Ski Area, NH / Photo Credit: Lebanon Outing Club Facebook

The first public ski resort in the Eastern U.S., Storrs Hill Ski Area, New Hampshire, opened in 1923. The ski area originally operated as a ski club for the local high school, but later, in 1925, the resort had a ski jump built on the hill, bringing more popularity. The resort built its first lodge in 1935 and had its first tow rope installed in the same year. In 1986, the city where Storrs operates, Lebanon, New Hampshire, decided they no longer had enough money to sponsor the ski area. The hill nearly closed as a result but was bailed out when a caring local donated a large amount of money to fund the resort. The resort is recognized as the second oldest in the country after being opened in 1923.

1. Howelsen Hill Ski Area, CO

Howelsen Hill, CO
Howelsen Hill Ski Area, CO / Photo Credit: Howelsen Hill Facebook

The oldest ski resort in the U.S., Howelsen Hill Ski Area, Colorado, was first opened in 1914. Located next to Steamboat, Colorado, the resort has a peak elevation of 7,100 feet. The ski area is known for sending more athletes to international competitions than any other ski area in North America. It has produced 89 Olympians since its conception, combining for a total of 130 Winter Olympic appearances. The resort has the largest and most complete natural ski jumping complex in North America and claims to be the oldest in the country and the continent.

These resorts have rich histories, with some coming close to closing while others thrived for generations, but all have significantly impacted ski culture and history in the states. In the grand scheme of things, skiing is relatively young in the United States, but the future looks very bright.

Howelson Hill, CO
Ski Jumping at Howelson Hill, CO / Photo Credit: Colorado Encyclopedia

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2 thoughts on “The 5 Oldest Ski Areas in the U.S.

  1. Howelson Hill IS in the heart of Steamboat Springs, Colorado! It is NOT Howelson Hill, Colorado.

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