Trail Map Artist James Niehues Wins Hall Of Fame Nomination

Sydney Stephens |
Credit: James Niehues

If you’ve ever been to a ski resort, chances are you’ve laid eyes on one of artist James Niehues’ paintings. Iconic, precise and visually pleasing, Niehues has created over 350 views of mountain aspects for ski resorts since his first painted map in 1988. His paintings are featured all over the world.

Credit: James Niehues

James Niehues hand paints each painting with brush and airbrush watercolors. He takes pride in the detail and tries to convey a full view of a mountain in a single image- which often requires slight manipulation of the actual view in order to include the full map. The end result is effortless looking despite his careful and calculated approach to naturally blend different aspects of the mountain. When he meets people at ski resorts and tells them that he created trail maps, they are often surprised and state that they thought the images were created by computer programs. To this, he replies “no, I paint every one of those trees!”

Alta and Snowbird, UT. Credit: James Niehues

“That’s what I do, that’s what I live for.”

Niehues’ contribution to the skiing and snowboarding community has won him a nomination to the  U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.

Niehues has compiled his works into a single book called The Man Behind the Maps that is available for purchase on his website, that also features his blog. You can see a list of the resorts he has painted below. If you think you can recognize your favorite mountain’s resort map, try taking his quiz “Name That Niehues” on his website.

Credit James Niehues

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