Ski area visitor traffic holds steady, helped by early-season snowfall

Skier visits in the state through Dec. 31 are up 1 percent over last season, according to Colorado Ski Country USA.

It’s not much of an increase, but given the economic factors, any increase is a positive, said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA, an industry marketing group representing 22 Colorado ski resorts.

“It’s a solid start,” said Mills. “However, we still have a long way to go with a lot of season left. For now, we’re glad to see a little momentum in the way of increased visitation and are hopeful it will continue.”

The report said early-season snow allowed some resorts to open early and have plenty of trails available for visitors. Also, the holiday season, particularly New Year’s week, was busier than expected, thanks to an extended storm period in mid-December.

Most resorts don’t release skier numbers until after the season is over.

“We are holding steady with last season,” said Sarah Allen, a spokeswoman for Powderhorn Resort. “We are projecting that we could end up even, if not slightly up from last year. All this snow certainly helps.”

Aspen Skiing Co. was running about 3 percent ahead of last season, spokesman Jeff Hanle said in a conversation last week with the Aspen Daily News.

“We’ve also had a pretty strong January,” Hanle told the newspaper.

He said a below-average snowpack resulting from a dry December and January has not hurt business.

The storm that hit the state last week dropped more than six feet of snow in places and should boost winter skier numbers. Silverton Mountain saw the heaviest snow, recording 81 inches over four days. Nearby Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort received more than 55 inches, while Wolf Creek reported 48 inches and Telluride 34 inches.

Mills said mildly improved skier numbers posted during the holiday period are “positive” but not yet cause for celebration.


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