Success Story
February 21, 2024

Ski Park Starting New Run with EDA Investment

Frost Fire Park in Northern North Dakota has been driving tourism to the Pembina Gorge for nearly half a century. Located just five miles from the Canadian border, the weekend ski area attracts skiers and snowboarders from hundreds of miles away who not only enjoy winter sports but also frequent hotels, restaurants, and small businesses in the area. 

A photo of an EDA sign for the project.
An $2.2 million EDA American Rescue Plan Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation grant added new snowmaking equipment at Frost Fire Park.

The ski season typically runs from late November through March – but like most ski parks, Frost Fire relies on snowmaking to continue operations in warmer temperatures. Despite multiple repairs over the years, the park’s snowmaking system it stopped working completely in the fall of 2022. 

“We tried as hard as we could to get it up and running but we finally made the call to not have a season, which was a very tough decision,” Pembina Gorge Foundation Board of Directors Vice Chair Patrick Chaput said. 

The 2022-2023 season closure’s impact on the community began to snowball.  In addition to harming the economic health of the more than 40 seasonal employees at the park, neighboring hotels and restaurants, which missed out on months of potential tourism, saw decreases in sales. 

“A lot of people depend on the winter work to come out and do their jobs and the other big impact was on restaurants, motels, and businesses in the surrounding towns. They were asking us when we were going to get up and running again, because they were feeling the pinch without tourists coming through,” Chaput said. 

Thanks to the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Frost Fire leaders knew the pain of the closure would be short-lived. EDA awarded the Pembina Gorge Foundation a $2.2 million American Rescue Plan Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation grant to install new snowmaking infrastructure. The new equipment was installed in the summer and fall of 2023, and once complete, the team got right to work making snow for this season. 

A photo of machinery.
New equipment is helping make snow for Frost Fire Park.

“The one thing about our system is that it’s efficient enough and has enough capacity that we were able to make more snow and better snow than we were able to with our old system,” Chaput said. 

Even with warmer-than-usual winter temperatures so far this year, the improvements are leading to an increase in winter visitors.  

“Our numbers are picking up. Through the end of December, we had almost as many skiers as we had the prior two years,” Chaput said. 

Leaders hope to add more winter amenities in the future including an improved terrain park, ski school, and ski clubs, and spin off more small businesses associated with the park.

To learn more about EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs, go to


  • Infrastructure