In the wait for the ski lift are two different kinds of individuals. Some endure the agonizingly slow lift ride up the mountain for every minute that it takes. Some relish the journey, admiring the magnificent vistas as they ascend to the peak. Depending on the kind of ski lift they are utilizing, certain winter sports lovers have varying degrees of enthusiasm for the journey.
Ever since the first ski lift was constructed in Germany in 1908, people have been creating different ways to go up the mountain. The most popular kind of ski lifts are chair lifts, which are made out of a hanging chair that is dragged by a cable. Skiers are pulled up the slope while maintaining contact with the ground with their skis thanks to drag lifts and rope tows.
Gondolas entirely envelop the rider, much like hanging glass chambers. Similar to trams, funiculars run on tracks that travel up and down mountains. Conveyor belts dubbed “magic carpets,” which are mostly seen in children’s ski areas, are integrated into the mountainside of certain ski resorts.
Check out our list of the top five longest ski lifts in the US if you’re the kind of person who enjoys using the ski lift. However, if you’re the fidgety sort, you might want to continue reading so you know which lifts to steer clear of. The longest ski lifts in the nation are all gondolas, with the exception of one. At 11,012 feet, or little under 2.1 miles, the Slide Brook Express in Vermont is the longest chair lift in the United States. But the longest ski lift is over a mile longer.
5. Heavenly Gondola — 12,149 feet
Situated in the breathtaking ski resort town of South Lake Tahoe, California, the Heavenly Gondola ranks as the country’s fifth-longest ski lift. You’ll be in awe of the breathtaking vista of the surrounding area and the incredibly blue Lake Tahoe after the 2.3-mile trip up Heavenly Mountain.
Heavenly Resort operates the gondola lift, which can accommodate up to eight people. At 1,200 feet per minute, or 11 minutes and 45 seconds, it covers more over two miles. With 138 cabins, the resort has one of the fastest lifts in North America, with a capacity of 2,800 passengers per hour. The summit station of the Heavenly Gondola is situated at an elevation of 9,156 feet. The height of Heavenly Mountain is 10,067 feet at its top and 6,255 feet at its base.
4. Jackson Hole Aerial Tram — 12,463 feet
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, named by Forbes Magazine as the best ski resort in North America, welcomes visitors from all over the globe who are eager to experience the region’s renowned “cowboy powder.”
The 2.36-mile journey to the peak of Rendezvous Mountain takes nine minutes on the Jackson Hole Ariel Tram, which can accommodate 100 passengers. At $32 million, the tram boasts the largest continuous vertical climb (4,139 vertical feet) of any lift in the United States.
3. Silver Queen Gondola — 13,216 feet
Aspen, Colorado’s town and the summit of Aspen Mountain are connected by the Silver Queen Gondola. More than 75 trails are easily accessible for skiers and snowboarders from the drop-off location once they are on the mountain.For 2.5 miles, Aspen Mountain Snow Resort operates the lift. The 2,267-foot ascent to the summit takes the gondola around 14 minutes.
In Aspen, the gondola is a well-liked attraction for visitors who are not just skiers and snowboarders. In addition to year-round dining, the resort features guided snowshoe trips, summertime yoga classes, and hiking options. One of the world’s tallest disc golf courses is located atop the mountain. Only after taking a ride on the Silver Queen Gondola may guests access these activities at the summit of the mountain.
The lift ascends to the Sundeck at 11,212 feet from its starting point at 7,945 feet in Aspen’s gondola plaza. The Silver Queen Gondola is the third-longest ski lift in the US, measuring 13,216 feet.
2. Silver Mountain Gondola — 16,350 feet
The Silver Mountain Gondola held the record for the longest ski lift in the US until December 2023. The gondola transports passengers 3,400 vertical feet over a distance of 3.1 miles. The gondola drops passengers down at the Mountain Haus terminus on Kellogg Peak, which is situated at an elevation of 5,700 feet, from the community of Kellogg, ID, which is situated at the base of Silver Mountain at a height of 2,300 feet.
With 73 routes, 1,600 acres of skiable land are available at Silver Mountain. Silver Mountain Resort has a 700-foot magic carpet, five chairlifts, and a gondola. The maximum capacity of a Silver Mountain Gondola car is eight passengers. It takes 19 minutes to get from the base to the summit. This is undoubtedly a leisurely ride to take in the views.
1. Wild Blue Gondola — 16,684 feet
The longest ski lift in the US was established when the Wild Blue Gondola at Steamboat Resort in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, opened for business in December 2023. Known as a “engineering marvel,” Wild Blue is the fastest gondola in North America with ten seats. In approximately 13 minutes, the lift covers a distance of 3.16 miles and 3,371 vertical feet.
Wild Blue takes skiers to the summit of 10,384-foot Sunshine Peak, starting from Steamboat Square at Steamboat Ski Resort. In the event that strong winds affect the upper part of the mountain, engineers built a mid-station stop at Greenhorn Ranch to allow the lower lift to function independently.
In section two, Wild Blue can accommodate 171 cabins at a speed of seven meters per second (23 feet per second). According to Vail Daily, it has the biggest diameter haul rope in North America and the largest direct drive in the entire globe.A heavier haul rope will withstand severe winds more effectively. The entire cost of the Wild Blue Gondola is in the multimillion-dollar range.
The fastest and longest ski lift in the US is also the newest gondola in North America. It appears that Wild Blue pleases riders who are impatient to reach the summit as well as those who want a silky ride while cruising thousands of feet above a wintry paradise.
Highlights of Top 5 Longest Ski Lifts in the United States
|Wild Blue Gondola
|Steamboat Springs, CO
|Silver Mountain Gondola
|Silver Mountain, ID
|Silver Queen Gondola
|Aspen Mountain, CO
|Jackson Hole Aerial Tram
|Jackson Hole, WY
|South Lake Tahoe, CA