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Finding An Ideal Ski Resort Location. GIS Group Project: Meredith Faust Dana French Kalyna Malm. First things first:. In order to find an ideal ski resort location, we need elevation data. Digital Elevation Models.

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Finding An Ideal Ski Resort Location

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Finding an ideal ski resort location l.jpg

Finding An Ideal Ski Resort Location

GIS Group Project:

Meredith Faust

Dana French

Kalyna Malm

First things first l.jpg

First things first:

In order to find an ideal ski resort location, we need elevation data

Digital elevation models l.jpg

Digital Elevation Models

  • With GIS, the appropriate data is incorporated into a layer called a DEM, or digital elevation model.

  • While searching for DEMs on the web, several options are available.

Types of dems l.jpg

Types of DEMs

National elevation data ned l.jpg

National Elevation Data (NED)

  • Developed by USGS

  • Merges highest resolution & best quality elevation data from across the US into a seamless raster format.

  • 1:24,000 scale DEM data for continental US & 1:63,000 scale for Alaska

  • Result of maturation of USGS effort

National land cover data nlcd l.jpg

National Land Cover Data (NLCD)

  • Used by Geostat Center at UVA

  • Accquired by Landsat’s Thematic Mapper sensor, as well as a number of other data sources

  • 30-meter format, shading scheme

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Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM)

  • A joint effort from NASA, NIMA (National Imagery & Mapping Agency), DLR (German Space Agency), ASI (Italian Space Agency)

  • Flight of shuttles occurred February 11-22, 2000

  • 12 Terabytes of raw data, being processed into DEMs

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Step 1 finding elevation data l.jpg

Step 1: Finding Elevation Data

  • We found elevation data in NED form near the southern Virginia/North Carolina border at the following web site:

  • The following slide shows the specific area we selected for our ski resort

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Geographic Context

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Step 2: Looking for Common Ski Resort Features

  • In order to see the way that ski resorts are typically set up, we searched the internet for pictures of existing ski resorts.

  • The following pictures show a large ski resort in Vail, Colorado, and Wintergreen right here in VA

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Vail, Colorado

Wintergreen l.jpg


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Ski Run Design

  • The best ski resorts have maximum slopes converging to a few ski lifts.

  • Based on actual resorts, slopes run parallel down small valleys within the mountain side

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Properties of Area Ski Resorts

WINTERGREEN mountain has an elevation of 3,515 ft, with a vertical drop of 1,003 ft.

The longest run is 1.4 miles

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Whitetail, PA


Blue Knob




935 ft

600 ft, 1 mi

1,072 ft, 1.75 mi

1,500 ft, 1.5 mi

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Winterplace, WV

Beech Mtn, NC

Sugar Mtn, NC

603 ft, 1.25 mi

830 ft, 1 mi

1,200 ft, 1.5 mi

Close to Blacksburg

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Step 3. Using GIS

  • There are 2 options that can be used to determine the best possible ski slopes for our selected area

    • Option 1: 3D Analyst in Arc Scene

    • Option 2: Neighborhood Analysis

Option 1 l.jpg

Option 1

Using the 3D Analyst in ArcScene to make the Data three dimensional

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3D Analyst

  • Use the 3D analyst extension on ArcScene to view the DEM in three dimensions

  • Once this is done, it will be easier to find a specific location for a ski resort: from the picture of Vail, we concluded that a good ski resort contains a large valley, surrounded by two or more mountains containing a variety of different slopes for possible ski trails.

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Our DEM in its Original Form:

Turning the dem from 2d to 3d l.jpg

Turning the DEM from 2D to 3D

  • Right click on the layer name

  • Go to properties

  • Click on the base heights tab

  • Use the same settings as the picture to the left

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Option 2

Using Neighborhood Analysis to determine the highest elevations

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Neighborhood Analysis

  • Another way of finding the best ski resort would be using Neighborhood Analysis in the Spatial Analyst extension.

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Neighborhood Analysis

  • You will need the following for this type of Neighborhood Analysis:

    • A DEM of the target location

    • The Spatial Analyst extension and toolbar activated

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Our DEM in its Original Form:(with the Spatial Analyst activated)

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Now highlight the Neighborhood Statistic function under the Spatial Analyst arrow

Select your criteria for analysis. In our example, we used Maximum

Neighborhood Analysis Cont.

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Neighborhood Analysis

  • Because we are using a DEM, the maximum function will find the highest (maximum) areas compared to each cell around it in the grid.

  • When the program is done computing, The areas with the largest slope in the grid in relation to its neighborhood will be shown

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The following map output has the maximum slope of our DEM shown in RED.

The most exciting potential ski areas are shown inside the blue circles.

Neighborhood Analysis

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Neighborhood Analysis

Discussion l.jpg


  • This is the best possible geographic location for a Ski Resort within our selected area because:

    • 3 mountains surrounding a large valley that is prime for ski slopes

    • The Neighborhood Analyst found steep slopes within this region

      …. and

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Further Discussion

  • This area is optimal for other reasons:

    • Interstate Access

    • Nearby Colleges provide many potential customers

    • High annual precipitation compared to other locations in Virginia

And of course the best reason l.jpg

And, of course, the best reason:

  • Because it would be…


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