Busiest day in Vail so far this season comes on Saturday, according to car count
541 cars spill out of parking garages, the highest total yet for the current season
The town of Vail allowed 541 cars to park for free Saturday on the South Frontage Road, the highest car spillover total yet recorded this ski season.
The next highest road count occurred on Jan. 28, when 461 cars were parked on the frontage road.
Saturday’s spillover was the third day in a row in which the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures had filled. It was a snowy day, with Vail Mountain reporting 6 inches of fresh snow at 5 a.m. Morning crowds, which were cued up in advance of Gondola One’s 8:30 a.m. scheduled opening, were lined up along Bridge Street all the way to the Covered Bridge in Vail Village.
Six inches of fresh snow had also been reported on Thursday, and Friday’s morning report showed 2 inches on the snowstake.
While Eagle County Schools was still in session during the week, many other school districts throughout the country enjoyed a mid-winter break following the President’s Day holiday on Feb. 20. The time away from school attracted families to ski resorts in Colorado.
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Vail Mountain did not limit lift ticket sales at all during the holiday week, despite a warning issued in August saying daily walk-up lift tickets might not be available if the company’s resorts get too busy this season.
The warning was widely publicized throughout the early season, with the New York Times mentioning the policy in a story that was published Dec. 4, the last day Vail Resorts’ “Epic Pass” season pass was on sale for the 2022-23 season.
Vail Mountain spokesperson John Plack, on Tuesday, confirmed that Vail Mountain has not reached 20,000 guests in a single day this season, a number that would require Vail Mountain to disclose its attendance to the U.S. Forest Service.
The agreement to disclose skier numbers in excess of 19,900 people dates back to the 1990s when Vail Resorts was seeking federal approval for Blue Sky Basin.
“The town, feds and resort company forged an agreement that included guidance about managing the resort to a maximum of 19,900 people on the mountain at any time,” the Vail Daily reported in 2015, following four days of Vail Mountain exceeding that number.
Plack said Beth Howard, who was hired as Vail Mountain’s Chief Operating Officer in 2019, has not yet seen a day in excess of 19,900 during her tenure as COO.
Vail Resorts, in an annual early season update to investors, said skier visits to its North American properties were up 12.5% this season through Jan. 8, as compared to the 2021-22 season.
Nationwide, 2021-22 was the busiest season in U.S. history, with 61 million skier visits recorded, according to the National Ski Areas Association. That figure is up 3.5% from the previous season.