Health + Fitness

The Top 3 Countries to Ski and Snowboard in the World

Brett “Cowboy” Kobernik gets big air at Utah’s Big Cottonwood Canyon. (Photo: Danita Delimont/Alamy Stock Photo)

Looking to hit the slopes this winter? The United States, France and Austria consistently rank as the three most popular countries to ski and snowboard each year.

The United States topped the list during the 2015-16 season, with a record number of people swooshing down its mountains, according to the U.S. National Ski Areas Association.

In fact, the U.S. beat out France for the first time ever with 53.9 million people flocking to the nation’s snow-covered peaks, an increase of six percent.

Alaska, Washington and Oregon more than doubled the number of skiers and snowboarders during the period, attracting 5 million visitors.

The Rocky Mountain and Pacific Southwest also were popular when it comes to ski days.

In the U.S., 37 states operated 463 ski areas during the 2015-16 season.

New York had the most with 48, followed by Michigan with 42, and Wisconsin and Colorado, both with 30.

The 2016-17 season has already begun with Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin the first ski resort in the country to open its runs. The resort is just shy of an hour’s drive from Denver.

Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Ski Area, also in Colorado, have long been North America’s first resorts to open each year, given consistent snow fall that hits the region in late October.

Colorado's Arapahoe Basin
Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin is the first ski resort to open during the 2016-17 season. (Photo courtesy of Arapahoe Basin)
Loveland Ski Area, Colorado
Loveland Ski Area, also in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, is consistently one of the first resorts to open each winter. (Photo: Loveland Ski Area)

A ski day is counted as each time an individual buys a one-day pass to go up and down a mountain.

France is Europe’s most popular skiing destination, in terms of ski days, but saw its numbers drop to 52 million days last season, a decline of three percent.

Austria came in third with 49.9 million days, also a decline from previous years due to a lack of snow at low and medium altitudes and unpredictable weather.