Yosemite National Park Officials Looking For Suggestions on Preserving Badger Pass Ski Lodge

Yosemite officials want your thoughts on how best to preserve the Badger Pass Ski Lodge. Photo courtesy of Kenny Karst/DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.

Would it be blasphemy to suggest that Yosemite National Park get out of the ski business?

Now, that's not expected to happen any time soon, but that question does come to mind as park officials turn to the task of tending to the time-burdened Badger Pass Ski Lodge, an historic structure in California's alpine ski history. Built in 1935, the day lodge not only anchored that state's very first alpine resort, but its architecture also reflected "Parkitecture" with a dollop of Swiss chalet influence.

As time understandably has taken a toll on the resort lodge, Yosemite officials now want your input on how best to address that toll. Beginning on January 14 and running for 30 days, Yosemite officials will take your comments to help them compile an environmental assessment outlining how best to tend to the lodge's needs.

The purpose of the rehabilitation project is to provide a phased program for rehabilitation of the Badger Pass Ski Lodge that will:

* Maintain and protect the integrity of the historic Badger Pass Day Lodge and character-defining features of the Badger Pass cultural landscape;

* Treat critical deck, structural, and drainage deficiencies contributing to past and ongoing water-intrusion damage;

* Replace temporary structures with permanent buildings of compatible construction to maintain continued ski area operations; and

* Maintain ski area service and support functions while protecting the winter recreation visitor experience at Badger Pass Ski Area.

The rehabilitation would protect areas of primary historical significance, while allowing flexibility to accommodate the needs associated with current and future Ski Area use in non-character-defining areas.

The lodge rests in Monroe Meadow at an elevation of 7,200 feet at Badger Pass, roughly midway between Wawona and Yosemite Valley. It is accessible year round via Glacier Point Road and has served as a family ski area and winter recreation center in Yosemite since 1935.

Park officials say repairs to the lodge are needed to "protect its historic integrity, assure visitor safety, and maintain ski-area visitor services while preserving the natural and cultural resources at the ski area."

But what if someone suggested that the lodge be wiped from the park's landscape? Would Yosemite officials consider that? How appropriate is it for a national park to feature a downhill ski resort? After all, when the Disney empire wanted to build such a resort in the Mineral Basin area of what today is part of Sequoia National Park, there was an incredible uproar, one that lasted nearly 20 years until the U.S. Forest Service gave the land in question to the Park Service to prevent its development.

And once upon a time there was a downhill ski area in Rocky Mountain National Park, but it was shuttered in 1991 after 36 years of operations.

As to the historic nature of the Badger Pass Lodge, some no doubt would claim the O'Shaughnessy Dam that is responsible for the reservoir that fills Hetch-Hetchy Valley is historic, but many no doubt also would applaud if it were dismantled.

On the other hand, for many long-time Yosemite vacationers, Badger Pass is key to their wintry pilgrimages to the park. They learned to ski there, as did their parents, and now their kids. To them, the Badger Pass Ski Area is as much part of the Yosemite experience as is climbing Half Dome, floating the Merced, or picnicking on the shores of Tenaya Lake.

Plus, the ski area has a small footprint, covering just 80 acres, and is relatively far removed from the Yosemite Valley and its iconic geology. Expansion is not in its future, and the mellow nature of the resort -- 80 percent of the runs are rated either for beginners or intermediates -- lends to its low-key, generally unobtrusive nature.

“Badger Pass is here to stay. Anything you write, those last six words are the most important message I can give you,” says Kenny Karst, public relations manager for DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc., the park's main concessionaire. “It is a family institution in the Sierra. It is the oldest ski resort in the Sierra Nevada. It also is renowned for its ski school, so if someone wants to learn how to ski, Badger Pass is the place to visit.”

While there were rumblings back in 2003 that perhaps Badger Pass had outlived its usefulness, DNC thinks otherwise. This past summer it invested $2.5 million in not only applying paint to the day lodge but, essentially, rebuilding the Eagle chairlift with a new motor house, control room, wheel assemblies and haul cable. Plus, DNC has bolstered its marketing efforts.

And it shouldn't be overlooked that Badger Pass offers tubing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing options for winter park visitors. How fair would it be to do away with alpine skiing but allow these other winter activities to continue?

Comments

Is it "blasphemy" to take out a ski-operation & lodge in a National Park? No, I think it is viewed as blasphemous, to have such a facility in a Park.

Those who like having a resort & ski development in the Park will not regard proposals to remove it as "blasphemous", but rather as yet another example of environmentalist extremism - and intolerance.

If an old resort such as described in this article is still popular, well-liked and meeting the needs of an important part of society, then I see no compelling reason to remove it.

Actually, I suspect that it is really those who dislike the presence of this business & venue, who feel blasphemed.

Myself, I certainly see no reason to 'carry' a derelict old business on the budget, especially if is no longer filling its role. Just because we have this once-cute ol' chateau up on the mountain, does not strike me as obligating us to treat it as some shrine, pour money into something purely because it's on some 'registry'.

If the outfit is done-in and unwanted, clear it out. If it's run-down & needs work, but is well-liked and serves many people, then fix it.

The ski area in Rocky Mountain National Park mentioned above was originally called Hidden Valley and briefly renamed Ski Estes (after the town of Estes Park on the east side of the park). It was established in 1955, and although it did cease operations in 1991, it was several years before the Park Service actually took down the lifts (a couple of T-bars, a couple of Pomas and for a time, also a double chairlift) and not until 2002 that the old day lodge was demolished. There is now a warming hut and restrooms, plus sleddiing/saucering on that was once the beginner slope. The ghost ski trails are popular w/ snowshoers as well as with telemarkers and snowboarders who hike high up to the ghost runs on the upper mountain. Trail Ridge Road, which is not plowed, bissects the upper and lower parts of the former ski area.

Also in Colorado, the Berthoud Pass ski area, though on Forest Service and not on NPS land, had the first double chairlift in the state and a base lodge built in 1937 in a National Park style (i.e., boxy and brown). In the '40s, roughly 1/3 of all Colorado skiers skied at Berthoud. I-70 and the big resorts later eclipsed it, and it limped in and out of service through several owners. In the end, the USFS removed the lifts and tore down the old lodge in 2005, later replacing it with a warming hut. It too is a popular area for backcountry skiers.

There was also once a ski area at Lassen Volcano NP in California. Its old A-frame lodge is still standing, or was when we went there five or so years ago.

All, some or none of this may relate to the ultimate fate of the Badger Pass lodge.

Claire @ http://travel-babel.blogspot.com

I have mixed feelings on the issue of downhill ski facilities in the National Parks. On the one hand, thousands of sharp ski edges and the oil dripping from the lift cables & grooming machinery cause noticeable vegetative impacts. Ski areas do provide more incentive for the NPS to provide access for other types of non-motorized winter recreation, though.

When the small poma lift & rope tows operated at Paradise here at Mount Rainier until the early 70's, the Park Service seemed to take pride in meeting the challenge of opening the road daily and most of the Rangers actually ranged on skis. Even with 2WD GSA patrol vehicles and surplus beater plows & trucks from Bremerton that the Navy had given up on, on average the road opened about one hour past eight AM for every six inches of new snow. Currently that figure is about one hour for every two inches and declining every year. This despite less average snow, more powerful equipment, and a fleet of SUV's that would make a Saudi prince blush.

Non-openings and extended closures are also increasingly common. A large percentage of local winter recreationists are choosing not to waste their time here, to the dismay of local businesses. It seems as though the NPS would rather raise the drawbridge and polish their brass buffaloes all winter.

Would it be blasphemy to suggest that Yosemite National Park get out of the ski business?

This question is irrelevant since Yosemite National Park is not in the ski business; that's the business of Yosemite's government-granted monopoly, the privately-held Delaware North Company Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.

"Affectionately known as Devil Needs Cash or Does Not Care by its employees", DNC has mined more than a billion dollars from Yosemite visitors while allegedly treating its workers, especially foreign nationals, unfairly. Some allegations against DNC echo those uttered by Wal-Mart bashers. (Ironic that some NPT readers boycott Wal-Mart for these reasons but are silent about concessionaire corruption.)

Some allege that DNC's lodging rate increases far outpaced inflation over the last decade.

While "in all, the company paid between seventeen percent and twenty percent of its revenues for fees, rights and park improvements", the arrangement is corporatist. DNC, through a state-granted monopoly, directly benefits through taxpayer funds.

Delaware North Company Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. should get out of the ski (and all) business at Yosemite National Park. Money spent in Yosemite should stay in Yosemite. Corporations should not benefit from public funds, and money spent in Yosemite should not line the pockets of DNC's owner and corporatist billionaire Jeremy Jacobs Sr., who is currently serving his second term on the U.S. Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.

Very enlightening Frank. Glad to see your sharp mind and investigative research skills have not been dulled by the passing of yet another year.

I agree, let's get the parks out of the governmental corporatist grip they currently suffer under and look for new paradigms with which to preserve these gems for the future.

Happy New Year Frank!

We'll keep fighting the good fight!

C'mon Frank, this is America. Isn't becoming a success the American dream? Don't you aspire to better yourself and your family? The Jacobs' family success is the American dream, with three brothers earning their start in business selling peanuts and popcorn at ball games.

Now, I'm not taking sides pro- or con-concessionaires, but if you're going to deride Mr. Jacobs the flip side should at least point out that while he is a billionaire, he and his wife also give millions to charities each year.

Jacobs' work with the United Way has not only benefited the communities where the company operates, it has also earned him the designation as part of the Million-Dollar Roundtable of donors. Jacobs is also a member of the Jeremiah Milbank Society, recognizing him for his strong support the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. [9]

In 2007, Jacobs provided a $1 million gift with his family to support an endowed chair in Immunology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). The gift was made to RPCI’s Leaders for Life endowment campaign in honor of Jacobs’ brother, the late Lawrence D. Jacobs, MD, an immunology researcher who died in 2001. [10]

The University at Buffalo announced on June 11, 2008, a $10 million gift from Jacobs, his wife, Margaret, and family to establish the Jacobs Institute, which will support research and clinical collaboration on the causes, treatment and prevention of heart and vascular diseases. Again, the gift was made in honor of his late brother, Lawrence. The Jacobs' gift is the largest single gift ever to UB and makes the Jacobs family the university's most generous donor, with gifts totaling $18.4 million.[11] Mr. Jacobs is also a benefactor of the University of Buffalo and has served as chairman, trustee and director of the UB Foundation, chairman of the President's Board of Visitors, and advisor to the School of Management in addition to serving as chairman of the University of Buffalo Council since 1998.

Source: Wikipedia.org

By the same measure Wal-Mart doles out millions in charitable donations each year as well as its direct participation in disaster relief such as was performed in Hurricane Katrina, Rita and Ike. By all accounts they were much more effective than FEMA in getting food and supplies quickly to the neediest disaster victims in the aftermath of all three hurricanes because that is, after all, what they are in the business of doing in the first place: the distribution of goods.

I think Frank was just pointing out the duality of standards when it comes to the typical corporate bashing seen in much of the commentary written on this website.

Happy New Year, Beamis!

Happy New year to you too Kurt! (And to all NPT readers!) And congratulations on NPT's phenomenal success this past year! The hard work of the NPT team shows in the quality and depth of content your readers have come to expect.

To answer your previous questions, I believe becoming a success IS the American dream. I do aspire to better myself and my family. The Jacobs' family recent success, however, is not the American dream the nation was founded upon.

I think America was an attempt to break free of government monopolies and the mix of government and commerce known as mercantilism. I applaud those who rose from obscurity to be highly successful and make large profits. But those who earn profits on the backs of taxpayers have not generated any new wealth; they have merely (and arguably forcibly) transferred wealth from taxpayers to themselves. No amount of charity can disguise that.

Yes, Beamis, that was the major point. If you examine the charges leveled at DNC, they resemble those directed at Walmart. Low wages. Unfair treatment. Poor or no health coverage. Discrimination. Where's the outrage? Why bash corporations like Walmart while sparing rebuke for government-granted corporate monopolies?

I just don't get it.

At first, I was tempted to comment on keeping this "precuious jewel" and continue the tradition for a relaxing getaway for many world families to visit. However, when I read Mr. Repanshek's sob story of how my federal tax dollars are used to maintain a wealthy man wealthier.....I think you should geat real. Hell, If i was rich, I too would donate millions of dollars to my faviorite charity. You are a typical "American Business sucker" who falls for the small change money when tax payers are footing the bigger bill.

I believe that the resort needs to be torn down and or have a "real" private corporation build a new resort without the help of our federal tax dollars.

And for Frank, thank you for the information. You keep fighting! Becuase I do the same in my region of the country! You are not alone.

If we could retire All the persons in the world who think and act like Mr. Repanshek, Our Great Country will be restored as it was once with "Good Morals and Ethics".

Happy New year to all

I was the ranger at Badger for a couple winters. There is a lot of park history tied up in downhill skiing at the park. I am inclined to vote for keeping it as a low-key, family-oriented place. It's also a great jumping off point for day ski tours to Dewey Pt. and longer overnight tours to Glacier Point and the Ostrander ski hut.

I'll leave the argument about concessions, capitalism, corporate-bashing and what constitutes success to other posters.

Rick Smith

Geez, Alexander, Happy New Year to you, too!

I don't see where I was telling a "sob story" at all. All I was merely pointing out (after noting that I was not taking a stand one way or another on the business practices of concessionaires) was that the Jacobs family had very American roots but because they succeeded at their business (under the rules of the game, by the way) they were being ridiculed. You might say they succeeded because of "Our Great Country" and the opportunities it offers.

And really, it's not federal dollars that are keeping DNC in business. It's the dollars out of the pockets of Yosemite visitors. True, the federal government technically owns the structures that DNC runs its operations out of, and is responsible for most of the upkeep beyond the 17-20 percent (if that's the correct percentage) that DNC must send back to the government. But if the rooms weren't full, if the restaurants weren't busy, if the gift shops weren't crowded, DNC wouldn't be there.

And if you've been following the state of the National Park System, you know the government's not doing the best job in maintaining those facilities. Indeed, as I understand it one of the reasons the DNCs, Xanterras and ARAMARKS of the world have little competition for park concession contracts is because 1) the rate of return is so low and/or 2) smaller companies just don't have the financial wherewithal to survive in a highly seasonal market with rundown facilities.

If it weren't for government oversight, would it be too hard to assume that concessionaires likely would invest more heavily to upgrade these facilities and pass the cost on to the taxpayers in the form of higher rates (and possibly pay their employees more, but that's just speculation). And then taxpayers would be howling that the government isn't doing enough to make national parks affordable. So which model would you prefer?

Suffice to say that the intricacies of the national park concessions market are too many to distill in a few short graphs.

And finally, Alexander, before you measure me for a coffin, know that sometimes, just sometimes, I take an approach to spur dialog, not to hold it out as my strongly held personal view.

Frank, I follow your point re the transfer of wealth but, sadly, it too is the American way, is it not?. Standard Oil might have been the model. Wall Street firms are only the latest iteration. And what did public outrage in light of those bloated salaries and insane bonuses produce? Some of the fat cats are going to forgo their year-end 2008 bonuses. Gosh. It might be said that we (America) are victims of our own success, no?

As for DNC's pay practices, are they not the industry standard? Wal-Mart might have perfected the use of retirees as door greeters, but if you look around many park concession operations you'll see retirees working the tills, as well as young (low-paid) college students interested in an adventure before they get serious with life and, of late, Eastern Europeans or Asians looking to solidify a foot in the U.S. (To be fair, I understand some operations offer benefit packages and 401Ks, but I don't know the extent of those or how widespread (up and down the pay scale or throughout the operation) that practice is.)

I'm not endorsing that model in the least. In a way it's not too far removed from the Park Service's move to use volunteers, seasonals and outsourcing to replace full-time rangers, a practice I've long criticized. Unfortunately, it seems to be what society is tolerating.

And really, isn't what's transpiring with the concessions companies simply free-market economics? If the market balked at their rates and their employment practices, wouldn't that lead to change or failure?

Beyond all that, though, what model would you suggest replace the concessions companies? Should the federal government buy out the DNCs and Xanterras of the world and hand the businesses over to non-profits? And if so, where would the government find the hundreds of millions (small billions?) and the non-profits fully capable of running such businesses to do so?

And let's not overlook that non-profits have been known to overpay their top executives (I believe the head of the Boy Scouts gets nearly $1 million annually) while the minions far below are volunteers. Some university trusts pay their managers exorbitant salaries and bonuses. I would suggest the situation in the parks you decry is not that far removed from what's going on in the rest of America's business sectors.

Kurt, to answer your question let me tell you a story.

I visited the Tower of London in June. I paid about 16 pounds for an adult ticket, and all of that money went to the Historic Royal Palaces, an independent charity that receives no government support. My wife and I toured the castle all day long, and at lunch, we were famished from exploring the castle's well-preserved nooks and crannies. We ate a modest but high-quality lunch at a cafe integrated into a historical building. It was nice knowing that 100% of our food purchase went to maintain the castle. During our roving, we encountered countless interpreters, some dressed in period costume, who were very knowledgeable and helpful. On our way out, we stopped at the gift shop and picked up some affordable high-quality, full-color, gloss tour books. I felt good about the purchase because I knew that my money was my vote for maintaining the castle and all of my money would stay with the castle.

Skim the Historical Royal Palaces' Trustees' Report if you would like to see how national parks could be operated in America.

Frank,

Interesting concept, but.....

...You paid 16 pounds per ticket, which works out (today) to about $46 and change for the two of you to tour the Tower. So a family of four could be expected to pay between $75-$100 just to gain entrance for one day? So you're OK with denying access to Americans, whose taxes go a good ways to supporting the National Park System (in theory), who balk at such pricing?

...The non-profit partners with the Diamond Trading Company, aka De Beers, and a private investing firm to achieve its financial goals, so the business isn't entirely self-supporting.

...The report is a bit cryptic, but it seems to indicate they stage private events in the Tower (and other properties) to defray costs. Now, I realize some park units lease out their facilities for events, but I don't think for a profit.

...They are dragging their feet on paying bills:

During 2007/08 55% of supplier invoices were paid within 30 days of date of invoice (60% in 2006/07) and 71% within 40 days (76% in 2006/07).

...Four of their staff were paid between $159,000 and $174,000 annually, 12 made nearly $87,000. The CEO made $202,000+ this past year, an increase of $10,000+ from the year before (an increase of roughly 5% in salary, plus another 3.6% in pension benefits). It's unclear what the salary ranges of the rest of the staff of 564 were, so it's hard without further sleuthing to compare this salary structure to that of an American concessionaire.

All that said, I'm in favor of searching for a better business model. I just don't think it's easily attainable due to the scale involved with the National Park System.

There were tour packages which included free admission for children. 16 pounds was 32 bucks back then, but my anger for the exchange rate was directed not at Britons, but at the Federal Reserve and our government for continued currency devaluation; our $600 "stimulus" (read: inflation) check went to offset the exchange. But entrance fees need not be any higher than they currently are in US national parks. With increased revenue from retail and lodging, entrance fees would not need to be increased; they might actually decrease.

Glad to see some of the Diamond Trading Company's ill-gotten profits go toward a good cause.

What's so bad about saving or investing your money?

What's so bad about private dinners or weddings held in historic buildings? An unused building is not a productive building.

Better to drag one's feet on paying bills than to forcibly take money from others or to print money to pay the bills.

Trusts have to deal with the hard reality of economics. National parks have to deal with the harsh reality of politics. I prefer the first option.

Debates over capitalism, wealth transfer and the like have drifted far from the original post as to whether or not the old Badeger Pass day lodge should be demolished or rehabilitated, and the related discussion as to whether lift-served skiing/snowboarding belong in national parks.

As the one remaining Alpine ski area in a national park, Badger Pass is able to provide an incredibly affordable, if modest, ski or snowboard experience without snowmaking. An adult season pass at Badger Pass costs $376 ($249 if purchased by the end of today, Jan. 4) and just $118 for children to age 12 ($115, not much of a savings, if bought today). With easy slopes and reliable snow, it is the ulimately beginner/low intermediate ski area. The legendary Nic Fiore has been unning the ski school for more than half a century, so there's even human tradition at issue. The area recently spent $2 million to upgrade its chairlift.

I don't live in California and have no personal stake in this decision, but if I did, I would lean toward keeping Badger Pass operating as long as people are coming to ski. It brings families into the Yosemite in winter to see the park in its tranquil winter beauty.

Actually, there's a small alpine resort on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park...

Actually, there's a small alpine resort on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park...

A resort (?) LOL!
The Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club that runs and maintains the lifts is not for profit.
Anybody can become a member!

See Hurricane Ridge.

Basically, this is Olympic National Park. Socially; as far as the cumulative human experience is concerned. Yes, the puny remaining downhill ski facilities are to-snicker-at, largely because they are overshadowed by the miles of groomed & 'wild' cross-country runs, and by all the hordes who have previously been humiliated by impulsively jumping on rented cross-country skis - now wisely supporting the booming snowshoe venue.

I don't have the stats handy, but Olympic (bravely) puts them out - and I think Hurricane is hands-down the main event.

Yeah, it's an alpine resort, with a podunk downhill. Several acres of asphalt parking, a big two-lane road gouged 17 miles up the jutting face of the outlying Olympic ridges. Nice ol' lodge that's now mostly an oversized hangout-hut, classic outside viewing decks (and great view), incredibly overused bathrooms, and assorted concessionaires. Feverish snow-gear rentals all winter.

... Ok, I checked: Hurricane by itself pulls 3 million annually. It may be a LOL resort, but they all pay to get through the gate at the bottom of the hill, and it's called "The Hurricane Ridge Road" because that's what statistically everybody goes up it for. And then they pull out the serious cash at the top. A nice piece of a billion dollar bill annually, no doubt.

(Bigger truth is, you can - and many locals do - play around in the nice pull-outs going up the road, and from the top, after the snow melts, from the aforementioned expanse of paved parking, drive 12 miles out along the skyline of Hurricane Ridge on the (only slightly hair-raising) gravel/bedrock/melt-muck of Obstruction Peak Road to Obstruction Peak, its half-acre of pot-holed trailhead parking, and thus motorized access to what the surging hordes (3 million, eh?) back at Hurricane really wanted, but didn't quite have the nerve to go for.)

In winter, Obstruction Peak Rd is the more-serious cross-country track, I believe not-groomed. 24 mile run all the way out & back, all on terrific exposure.
=====

Deer Park - Blue Mtn

Now, just a few miles short of Port Angeles, which you drive through to get to Park Headquarters and the foot of Hurricane Ridge Road (They bought extra land and built extra road, just to tie HQ and the Visitor Center to the big Hurricane draw. No accident.) you drive past Deer Park Road. There's a big cinema complex at the intersection. When you see the cluster of big movie-theaters in pretty-much a countryside setting, that's where the foot of Deer Park Rd is.

Deer Park, on Blue Mountain, is where the olden-days ski-resort was. 19 mile road (more than slightly hair-raising & crude), cleared higher up only in summer. I've seen old pictures, and Deer Park was one serious swingin' winter shindig. Later it shifted over to Hurricane, where the scene has hung on uninterrupted.

But if you'd like a ski-resort-like setting without the 3 million companions, that you can drive up to, get out your map and find Deer Park Road. Just a few mile east of Hurricane. Campground, trailheads, tiny Ranger Station. Trail goes back to Obstruction Peak, so with 2 vehicles a mayor high-country traverse is possible, one-way.

Call HQ about road-conditions first - it gets graded/plowed/cleared only once it's finally 'practical' (snow nearly all gone).

Yep, Hurricane Ridge is a ski-resort. And ol-time lodge.

Yup, I had to laugh at the thought of our little visitors center as a Lodge / Resort (ala for profit Badger Pass Ski Lodge) which is only open on the weekends (weather permitting) during the winter for the hordes, of which I have been a member going on quite a few decades now :-)
I also find it very easy to escape the horde of folks to spend a night or more camping in the winter wonderland of Our Olympic National Park.

Hurricane Ridge! In Olympic Natl Park! And I thought my brain had a lock on ski area trivia, and I never heard ot this one. Of course, I looked it up (http://www.hurricaneridge.net), and while it might indeed be a cash cow for whatever entity (concessionaire or not-for-profit), but it is hardly "an alpine resort," as someone suggested. Eight hundred feet of vertical, 2 rope tows and a Pomalift, a day lodge open only for six hours on weekends and "some holidays" and annual visitation of 5,000 hardly qualifies it as a resort.

FWIW, the Hurricane Ridge website also reports, "Hurricane Ridge is the furthest west ski area in the contiguous United States and one of only three remaining ski areas in the U.S. located in a National park, the others being Badger Pass at Yosemite, and Boston Mills/Brandywine at Cuyahoga Valley, OH." The park's website does not mention the ski area, and the ski area's website does not mention the natl park, so who knows. I'm mildly interested, but not enough to make a phone call.

FWIW #2, US and Canadian parks are operated different. Ski Lake Louise (or whatever it's called this year), I believe Sunshine and maybe even Norquay are within Banff National Park boundaries, and Marmot Basin is in Jasper National Park. Probably others too. Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent countries.

ClaireWalter,

The figure of 5,000 you saw must have been intended for something else, not the annual visitation figure for Hurricane Ridge. The annual figure is right around 3 million. Like elsewhere, visitation at Olympic has fallen lately, but maybe not as much.

Essentially, everyone who goes to Olympic, goes to Hurricane Ridge. That is why I said earlier, that this destination is Olympic. Some visitors also go to, e.g, the Hoh River (rainforest), but the overwhelming visitation to Olympic is to Hurricane Ridge.

Winter usage is much lighter than summer season, but overall a good rough approximation is that Hurricane Ridge resort-complex (it has several venues going on) might earn $200-400 million per year.

Yes, Claire, the Park website does mention Hurricane Ridge, prominently. Good winter-pictures there.

If a person is a cross-country skier, Hurricane Ridge is seriously nice. If they are a Sun Valley, Whistler-type 'commercial downhill' maven, then Hurricane is a pathetic, not-funny joke. However, if a skier is a beyond-the-tow type, then Hurricane again rises into the fairly spectacular ranks. I note cross-country people heading out with downhill skis on their back.

The reason the Park administration continues to allow Hurricane to operate as it does, and maintains a fancy road for it & it alone, is that the Hurricane Ridge resort-complex is by far and away the largest revenue-generator in Olympic. It is likely that all other earning-venues combined are small compared to Hurricane Ridge.

Ted,

ClaireWalter's 5,000 figure is for the winter season at Hurricane Ridge, not for year-round. This is directly from the page she considerately linked to in her post.

And although most would agree that Hurricane Ridge is indeed the prime Olympic destination, studies have shown that the Hoh Rain Forest receives approximately equivalent annual visitation. This study showed that about half of Olympic's visitors see Hurricane Ridge, and with current visitation around 3,000,000, that puts about 1.5 million visitors on Hurricane Ridge every year (0.3% visiting in winter). Ted's $200-400 million annual lodge earnings figure would require $130-$260 spent per visitor, meaning a family of four would spend $1000 there annually. ........ummm, I'm going to say that's overshooting it a bit.

My uneducated guess is that the Hurricane area makes enough money in the winter to justify plowing expenses, but not much profit - operating expenses will be extremely high during that time. The summer season is probably what puts them in the black. But having no knowledge of the concessionaire and their operations, I'm really just speaking out of my you-know-what. :)

I fully agree. Badger Pass is a gem, and constitutes a fairly low-impact use of park land. It doesn't compare to the mega-resort that Disney envisioned for Mineral King.

Those interested in the history of skiing in the National Parks should not miss Ch XIV, "The Problem of
Winter Use" in the Mount Rainier Administrative History: http://www.nps.gov/archive/mora/adhi/adhi14.htm

The ski lifts and winter lodging have been gone for over 35 years, but current MRNP management still seems to view winter use as an inconvenient 'problem'. Many tens of millions of dollars have been spent to relocate the road and address some of the past issues. The large staff still plows the road after each snowfall to prevent serious damage to Glacier Bridge and various structures at Paradise. Yet the public is increasingly excluded over the past several years, with ever more flimsy excuses.

The ski area at Hurricane Ridge is not a resort. We are a small non-profit club, operating the ski and snowboard lifts for our community under permit from the National Park. Our group is mostly volunteer, with only a small number of paid employees to keep overhead low. The ski and snowboard area is a great place for local children to learn a healthy winter sport that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. We are not a pathetic joke, we are a passionate, committed group of people who work very hard every winter. By keeping the overhead and prices low we allow many people in our community the opportunity to enjoy skiing and snowboarding. We are not a cash cow for the Park, they do not share any responsibility, liability or revenue from our operation, and most locals buy the annual pass for entrance to the Park. The local skiers and snowboarders do help the concessionaire at the Lodge, they have food and ski rentals. But the non-profit winter ski operation is not the only reason the Park plows the road in the winter; it allows access for snowshoers, x-country skiers and visitors who want to take in the winter scenery. We operate in the red every year, depending on fundraisers to make up the shortfall. They have been "skiing in the Olympics" for over 50 years, who knows how long we can continue, but for now, it is one of the best little community ski hills I have ever been to!

I have been to many National Parks and National Rec Areas throughout the US and Canada and in some places it is essential to have these services. Sometimes they are the only ones who are constantly and constistantly responsible to maintian areas and facilties. In some places they only have a Ranger come up once or twice a week it is their job to patrol and keep the people safe not to dool out tickets or hotdogs. Whomever the conssessionar is they must work hand-in-hand with the National Park Service and the Dept of the Interior to provide the best quailty for the services needed or requried. DNC does a good job for the most part at Yosemite NP although they should be held to the same standards as other consessionars at other National Parks, not just Baseball Parks. Disney Parks & Resorts may have a different approach to the room and services than DNC. But if there is no one to feed and provide addtional revune to the Park Service then only kaos will insue, trash will not be picked up during holiday weekends, traffic will be snarled to a stand still in some parks and wildlife and natural resouces will be harmed and endangered. These places are simi-wilderness although paved and piped for the traveler's convinence but if the Federal Government was placed in charge of the places as like the US Army was in charge of Yellowstone National Park from 1908 to the 1930's the resouces may not be properly managed and maintained. The US Goverment and Armed Services have relied on for-profit private companies and organizations to provide services from shipping supplies to troops from the Civil War to meals in Afganistan. They are an essential apperatus to not only make government work but also operate to it potential.