The 11 Most Anticipated Upgrades and Expansions Coming to North American Ski Resorts This Season and Beyond

Brent Thomas | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Changes can be exciting. Credit: Big Sky Resort

Two consecutive seasons of record skier visits signal that the U.S. ski industry is healthy and that the demand for outdoor recreation is strong. To keep up with the demand, many ski areas are improving, upgrading, and expanding their operations.

The thought of faster and bigger lifts, new terrain to explore, and an overall enhanced experience only makes snow enthusiasts even more excited for the upcoming season. Here are our most anticipated developments coming for this season and down the road.

Big Sky, MT: Lone Peak Tram Upgrade

big sky
The new Lone Peak Tram will have many benefits. Credit: Big Sky Resort

Riding the Lone Peak Tram and skiing the double black and even triple black diamond runs are a bucket list for many skiers and riders. The old Lone Peak Tram had a capacity of 15 people. This would often create lines when conditions were prime. The new cabins will have a capacity of 75. A fivefold increase, although it will likely not be filled to capacity in the winter. Access to the tram will be on a per-ride basis and not per day like in the past.

Aspen, CO: Pandora Terrain Expansion


A new high-speed quad and expanded terrain are widely anticipated at Aspen Mountain. The Pandora Expansion adds 153 acres, an increase of 20%, and will improve skier circulation on the upper mountain. The new lift will rise 1,220 vertical feet and provide access to intermediate and expert glades as well as four new cut trails.

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Keystone, CO: Bergman Express

new lift
Credit: Vail Resorts

The new Bergman Express will revolutionize Keystone and will provide access to wide-open high-alpine skiing in Bergman Bowl. It will also offer breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and ranges. Technically, Bergman Bowl has always been part of the resort but you just had to hike to get to it. Now the new high-speed 6-passenger chair will provide easy access and link the bowl with the rest of the resort. It will add 555 acres and 16 new trails to Keystone’s existing footprint.

Sun Valley, ID: Warm Springs Enhancement

new lifts

The top ski resort in North America for three straight years as voted on by SKI Magazine is about to get even better. Slated for completion in December 2023, the Warm Springs enhancement, with two new lifts, will greatly improve skier circulation on the mountain. Work is being done to replace and realign the Challenger Chairlift, construct the new Flying Squirrel Chairlift, and extend the Flying Squirrel trail and snowmaking. The new lift project will remove the Greyhawk lift and replace the existing Challenger lift with a Doppelmayr high-speed 6-pack. The bottom terminal of the new Challenger lift will be shifted to the location of the current Greyhawk bottom terminal, and the new Challenger lift will have a mid-unload station located near the current top terminal of Greyhawk, allowing skiers and riders easy access to the popular Greyhawk terrain and race venues. The Flying Squirrel lift, the second out of Warm Springs base, will be a Doppelmayr high-speed quad and will link to the top of Upper Picabo’s Street trail.

Whistler Blackcomb, BC: Fitzsimmons Express

Construction on the Fitzsimmons Express. Credit: Matt Sylvestre

The Fitzsimmons Express is one of the main base area lifts at Whistler Blackcomb but has always played little brother to the Whistler Gondola and Excalibur (Blackcomb) Gondola. That could change this season as the old quad chair will become an eight-passenger workhorse. Uphill capacity will increase by an impressive 73% making powder day panic a little less chaotic. The new chair and uphill capacity will also be welcomed by mountain bikers in the summer as “The Fitz” is the primary lift for those on two wheels. Up to five bikers and bikes will be able to fit on each chair.

Snowbasin, UT: DeMoisy Express

new lift
Credit: Snowbasin Resort

The uphill capacity of the Strawberry area of Snowbasin Resort will double with the addition of the 6-person DeMoisy Express Chair. The popular area to this date had only been served by the Strawberry Gondola. This will help ease congestion, improve mountain flow, and provide quicker access to the base of the mountain.

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Steamboat, CO: Wild Blue Gondola and Terrain Expansion

The Wild Blue Gondola at Steamboat Resort, picture: Steamboat Resort Website

Steamboat has been adding several improvements over the last few years. This year brings the completion of the upper section of the Wild Blue Gondola. It will be North America’s longest and fastest 10-person gondola, transporting skiers and riders from the base area to the top of Sunshine Peak in an impressive 13 minutes. This will help to significantly redistribute skiers and riders across the mountain.

Maybe even more exciting is the 650 new acres of glades and bowls in the Fish Creek Canyon and Pioneer Ridge portions of the mountain. The area located skier’s right of the current boundary was previously hike-to-only terrain via a backcountry gate. With the addition of this advanced to expert acreage, Steamboat will now be the second-largest ski resort in Colorado.

Brundage Mountain, ID: Centennial Express

Both main lifts on the front side of the mountain will be high-speed quads. Credit:

Brundage is replacing the Centennial Triple chair with an express quad lift that will greatly improve the efficiency of the base area for getting skiers and riders up the mountain. The ride time will be cut from 14 minutes to six minutes and having two express chairs in the base area will be huge for accessing the best terrain on the mountain.

Copper Mountain, CO: Aerie Lodge

A rendering of the new Aerie Lodge. Credit: Copper Mountain

Many upgrades are happening at Copper Mountain, and the most anticipated one is the debut of The Aerie, a new mid-mountain lodge that will redefine the culinary experience at Copper Mountain. The 25,000-square-foot lodge will contain the resort’s first sit-down mid-mountain restaurant. There will also be a cafeteria with a bar and lounge, event space, and beautiful views of the Gore and Ten Mile ranges.

The following season it will upgrade the Timberline Express chairlift located on the western side of the mountain. The resort will be replacing the four-person chairlift with a high-speed six-pack chairlift, which will significantly increase the lift’s uphill capacity.

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On the horizon…

Although not slated to be introduced this season, these are the projects we are most excited about in the future.

Deer Valley, UT: Major Expansion

Deer Valley Resort Skiers Only Expansion
The Utah resort will double its skiable terrain while adding premier hospitality via a new village and portal. Credit: Deer Valley Resort Company

With 16 new lifts and adding 3,700 acres to its footprint, this massive terrain expansion from Deer Valley will only add to the already world-renowned, ski-only destination. 

Tamarack Resort, ID: 2,000-acre terrain expansion

tamarack, idaho, expansion,
Proposed winter terrain expansion. Credit: Tamarack Resort

Tamarack’s application to expand its terrain by over 2,000 acres has been approved by Boise National Forest. Although it does not mean the expansion will be permitted, it would make the resort the eighth-largest resort in North America.

Brian Head Resort, UT: Terrain Expansion

Future of Brian head
The current expansion plan for Brian Head. Photo Credit: Life of Brian Head, Utah Facebook

Brian Head has big expansion plans to more than double its skiable terrain to 1,500 acres, making it the 7th largest ski resort in Utah. It has the highest base elevation of any resort in the state at 9,600 feet and averages an impressive 360 inches of snow annually.

Many more projects are happening this year and in the coming years. These are the ones we are most excited about. Which ones will you experience this winter?

Gladed run at Steamboat Resort. Credit: Steamboat Resort FB

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