Sun Valley Region Earns $35 Million Annually From XC Skiing

Posted by Roger Lohr
Roger Lohr
Roger Lohr is Cross Country Ski Editor of He is founder and edit
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on Monday, 16 September 2013 in Cross Country News & Information

Cross country skiing at Galena Lodge

The Sun Valley, Idaho region has long been a vacation destination with many attractions to travelers and the economic impact of Nordic (XC) skiing in the region has been quantified in a recent study. 

The data collection analysis by Sustain Blaine for the 2012-13 winter,showed $16.3 million of direct and indirect economic impact in the region, and after a multiplier effect formula was applied, XC skiing in the region was found to add a total of $34.4 million. 

Sustain Blaine is a public private partnership engaged in economic development in Blaine County, Idaho (including the towns of Sun Valley, Ketchum, and Hailey).

There were $2.7 million in direct impacts, $6.2 million in indirect impacts, and a $10.4 million multiplier effect during the previous 2011-2012 season for a total of a $19.4 million economic impact associated with XC skiing in the Sun Valley region. 

While it is uncertain that many communities understand that XC skiing can be an economic engine, the Sustain Blaine study should certainly get attention and increase interest in XC skiing in the Sun Valley business community.

Harry Griffiths, Sustain Blaine executive director, told and "the region has 200 kilometers of groomed ski trails and services at facilities such as Galena Lodge and the Sun Valley Lodge and the average visitor stays four days and spends $200-300 per day.” 

The economy related to XC skiing has direct impacts such as trail pass sales, equipment rentals, ski lessons, employment, and retail sales. There are also event revenues from the large 9-day Nordic Festival and Boulder Mountain Ski Tour/Race and athlete programs associated with local training facilities and programs. 

Indirect impacts include second order expenditures such as visitor lodging, rental automobiles and gasoline, meals and retail sales at non-related stores (i.e., furrier) or businesses (i.e., movie theater).

A third component of the study involves effects, which applies a multiplier of 1.2, according to statistical methodology accepted by the Bureau of Economic Affairs. 

“There are instances of people, who attend events held in the area and just fall in love. They relocate or purchase a second home here and that has a multiplier effect on the economy,” Griffiths told us.

Compared to alpine skiing at the Sun Valley corporately-owned alpine ski resort, the visitors and income associated with XC skiing in the region is on a secondary tier. “In 2012-13, there were more than 300,000 alpine skier days and about 100,000 XC skier days in the area,” says Griffiths. 

While there are few statistics that track the crossover or mixed activity between alpine and XC skiing, it does exist. Split families might see Mom and a younger child go XC skiing for a partial day while Dad takes the teenaged kids to the alpine area slopes. 

Perhaps they meet for lunch or Mom plans for the entire family to go XC skiing on the third day of the vacation so they can have some quality time together. These families expenditures can be expected to include rental gear, lessons or a guided outing, and purchases of XC ski-appropriate lighter clothing and so on.

Photo: Cross country skiing on Galena Lodge trails


Roger Lohr is Cross Country Ski Editor of He is founder and editor of and is a writer and marketer, based in Hanover, N.H. He’s been published in, SnowLink, NSAA Journal, Nordic Network, Cross Country Skier, SkiTrax, Ski Area Management and others. Lohr also conducted the CCSAA Skier Visit Study and created the Best XC Ski Area Poll and worked for Snowsports Industries America (SIA). On Twitter @XCSkiTravel.


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