U.S. ski resorts topped 59 million skier and snowboarder visits this season — not quite a record but about 11% higher than last season, according to preliminary numbers released Tuesday by National Ski Areas Association, a trade group.
Visits — defined as the purchase of a lift ticket for any portion of the day and including season pass use — were up 15.6% in the Rocky Mountain Region, which includes Colorado, NSAA said in a statement.
“Total visitation numbers were highest in the Rocky Mountain region at over 24 million, a record year for the region, followed by the Northeast with approximately 12.7 million,” the statement said.
Record snowfall for many ski areas helped spur business, NSAA said. Snowfall was up 31% nationwide from last season.
“Snow is our greatest asset and this year was one to remember,” NSAA President and CEO Kelly Pawlak said in a statement. “Skiers and riders were greeted with an awesome on-snow experience.”
The 59 million skier visits this season was the fourth best winter since NSAA started tracking national performance in 1978-79. Last season there were 53.27 million visits during a season that saw poor snow conditions for most of the country.
This season’s performance was the best since the record 60.54 million skier visits in 2010-11. The only other season that topped 60 million visits was 2007-08.
The strong performance was announced at the NSAA National Convention and Tradeshow in San Diego. NSAA conducts annual surveys of its member resorts to analyze the performance of the ski industry. Additional research will be released later this year in the Kottke End-of-Season report.
Colorado Ski Country USA, a state trade group, will release statewide skier visits in June. Alterra Mountain Co., which owns Winter Park Resort, does not release specific skier visit numbers.