Heavy snow led to a top-five Colorado ski season and a whole lot of cars through the I-70 tunnels
It wasn't quite a record season in Colorado, but 2018-19 saw double-digit jumps in interstate traffic over last season
The Colorado Sun
Ski resorts across the U.S. counted more than 59 million skier visits in 2018-19, which makes the season the fourth busiest since annual visitation counts began in 1978-79.
That’s according to the National Ski Areas Association, which on Tuesday released its preliminary tally. While it doesn’t appear the season will surpass the record of 60.54 million visits set in the super snowy winter of 2010-11, it is an 11 percent increase over last year.
Visitation in the Rocky Mountain Region — defined as New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Colorado — climbed 15.6%, setting a record at more than 24 million visits. Of course, it was the bountiful snow that lured the record surge of skiers and snowboarders.
“The strong snow year has driven increases in visitation, and many of our ski areas have reported record years in that regard,” NSAA spokeswoman Adrienne Saia Isaac said in a statement. “It will be important to continue this trend by engaging new participants in skiing and snowboarding, continuing to improve the guest experience, and mitigating the effects of climate change to ensure the health of our industry.”
Colorado’s ski industry does not report visitation at individual resorts, but it is safe to say the state’s resort industry certainly enjoyed a banner year. Whether visitation climbed beyond the 2015-16 record of 13 million, we may never know for sure. Trade group Colorado Ski Country will release visitor counts for its member resorts in June, but that won’t include stats from Vail Resorts’ ski areas Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek and Crested Butte, which traditionally report well over 4 million visits a year. Vail and Breckenridge typically each log around 1.6 million visits, making them the two busiest resorts in the country.
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At least one boulder will need to be blasted as part of the cleanup effort.