Eyes west: How the snow is stacking up compared to average in the Western U.S.

There are generally two types of ski trip planners: 

  1. Pouring over snow reports every day since Oct. 1 and riding the snowllercoaster. 
  2. Talk to me after Christmas.

No matter which one you are, I think we could all use a step back to see where the snow has fallen this year (or not fallen) before we plan our trip out west. 

Stevens Pass on a powder day in 2020.

There’s nothing scientific about the ski areas I chose here, just general regional significance in the American west. All data was gathered through OpenSnow, which I couldn’t recommend enough. 

Here’s a snapshot of the snowpack at 14 ski areas compared to their averages for the first three months of the 2020/21 season:

(NOTE: This is not a total snowfall ranking! 73% of snowpack in Utah is VERY different than 73% in California.)

Wolf Creek: 129% of average

The Creek is used to fast starts and this year was no different. Dumps in late October and November brought it above average and it has been pretty consistent ever since. They are also 100 percent open. 

Stevens Pass: 127% of average

An enormous mid-November dump brought Stevens to more than twice their early season average. It has slowed slightly since then, but remained above average. 

Whitefish: 114% of average

Big Mountain had a big start to the year in October and November until the snowfall slowed recently. 

Whitefish Mountain’s snowpack percentage compared to an average year. (OpenSnow)

Jackson Hole: 97%

Jackson has been very up and down compared to average since the season began. Big dumps in October and November brought more than twice the average before returning to about average in December. 

Telluride: 97%

Early November snow brought them above average, but they’ve seen a steady decline since then. 

Taos: 95%

A late October dump brought them to three times their average snowpack at that time. Since then, however, Taos has steadily come back to their December average. 

Aspen: 79%

Some mid-November snow helped bring them back to average briefly, but it has slowed again in the Roaring Fork valley. 

Big Sky: 77%

After a big October, the tap turned off, hovering around average until falling off of late. 

Arapahoe Basin: 73%

A Basin saw a very slow start to the year. It has not yet reached its snowpack average. 

Snowbird: 73%

Snowbird is another resort that has seen a slow start to the season. It did slightly better than nearby Park City to start, but just barely. 

Squaw Valley: 70%

A mid-November dump brought the snowpack roaring up to nearly twice the average, but things have dried up of late. 

Schweitzer: 64%

Another area with a big, volatile October and November that has grinded to a halt in December. 

Park City: 61%

Extremely slow start in Utah. Snowpack only reached average once, and just briefly. Consistently little snowfall since. 

Steamboat: 61%

A very slow start has stayed slow in northern Colorado.

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