El Niño’s lack of snow can’t stop skiers from flocking in droves to Colorado’s slopes

Jason Blevins
The Denver Post
KEYSTONE, CO - DECEMBER 02: Snowriders head down a run at the Keystone Resort December 02, 2014. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

The snowless February didn’t slow traffic at Colorado’s ski areas, where visitation is pacing 6.2 percent ahead of last year.

Colorado Ski Country, which represents 21 of Colorado’s 25 ski areas, saw visits climb 3.8 percent from January through February compared to the same span last year. Vail Resorts last week said visitation to its stable of resorts, which includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge, was up 9.9 percent for the 2015-16 season compared to the previous season.

“We’re very pleased with the way the season is shaping up,” Colorado Ski Country chief Melanie Mills said in a statement. “While we would’ve liked to have seen more significant storms come through Colorado in January and February, the weather pattern was not unexpected given that this is an El Niño year. Resorts received enough snow to hold up their fantastic early season conditions and guests have been enjoying the sunny days and mild temperatures just the same.”

Skier visits were pacing 13 percent ahead of the five-year average in January, after big storms in the early season primed the slopes for a busy holiday period. For comparison, visits in the early part of the record 2013-14 ski season, which saw 12.6 million skier visits, were pacing 6.7 percent ahead of the five-year average.

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