So, you’re thinking about opening a ski area in Colorado, are you, and wanna know what Uncle Sam’s going to charge you? No? Okay, well, surely you’re curious what Vail and Aspen pony up for the right to run those lifts on public lands, yes?

Well, it’s enough that you can practically hear White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams suppressing a grin when he told Summit Daily that areas paid “in spades.” In fact, for the last year available, the 2014-15 ski season, resorts paid a record $17.9 million. That was up 12.5 percent, or more than $2 million, over the previous year. The money, despite Fitzwilliams’ stoke, goes to the Treasury, not the national forest.

Vail paid the most, nearly $6 million. It, however, can afford it: In fiscal year 2015, the resort giant had $1.5 billion in revenue and nearly $366 million in profit.


Here’s what each of the 11 resorts in the White River National Forest paid in leases:

Arapahoe Basin

Aspen Mountain


Aspen Highlands

Beaver Creek



Copper Mountain








Photo by Aspen Snowmass

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Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal. Follow him on Instagram at @stevecasimiro.