VAIL, Colorado " Sunny skies and a holiday week boosted Colorado's Vail Mountain to its busiest day in more than a year Friday.
Vail saw more than 19,900 skiers on the mountain at one time Friday, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which owns most of Vail Mountain. It's the first time Vail has reached the number this season or last season.
In town, 688 cars were parked the frontage roads, which Vail uses for overflow parking when its municipal garages fill. Cars stretched from the Vail Golf Course on the east to the Vail Cascade Resort on the west.
Snowboarders Greg White and Chris Sbarbaro, of Chicago, parked on the frontage road near the Vail Cascade, about a half-mile from the Lionshead gondola. They said they'd had a great day on the mountain, and really didn't wait in any lines, sticking around Chairs 2 and 26.
"We were able to avoid most of the crowded areas," Sbarbaro said.
And they didn't mind parking on the frontage road, where they dodged the $25 fee for parking in the garages. They did have to take a lengthy stroll in snowboard boots.
"Small price to pay," White said.
Vail ran a special shuttle today for people who parked along the frontage road east of the village, between Aspen Lane and Ford Park. Across Vail, buses were full of people, said Mike Rose, the town's parking and transit supervisor.
"We're jamming," Rose said. "We're packed, and we have extra buses."
Meanwhile, Beaver Creek also exceeded its Forest Service-imposed "manage to" number of 11,000 again Friday.
"It was a big day for Eagle County ski resorts," said Don Dressler, snow ranger for the Forest Service.
Beaver Creek reached the 11,000 mark Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Vail and Beaver Creek must notify the Forest Service when that "manage to" number is reached, and the agency reviews the mountain's ability to handle that high number of skiers.
Matt Carroll, general manager of the Double Diamond ski shop in Lionshead in Vail, said at one point Friday there were 23 people crowded into the store's bootfitting area.
"We were pretty busy," he said.
Carroll said he's seeing a lot of East Coast and Midwest visitors this week. He's hoping there wills still crowds after Christmas-New Year's week.
"It's one of those things where a lot will still be determined in another week or so once the holiday rush slows down," he said. "But so far we've been pretty pleased."
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or email@example.com.