A preliminary study showed US ski areas tallied 53.3 million skier visits this season compared with 54.8 million visits in 2016-17, down an estimated 1.5 million or 2.8 percent this season compared with the prior winter.
“I am pleased that the 2017-18 season was right in line with our 40-season average, with the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest performing above the 40-year average,” said Kelly Pawlak, NSAA president and CEO.
A skier visit is the purchase of a lift ticket for a full or partial day and is the standard business barometer for the ski industry.
While the overall number was in line with the 40-year average, this season produced the lowest amount of skier visits in seven seasons, according to NSAA’s data and was the third-worst season in 18 winters. Only 2011-12 with 50.97 million skier visits and 1999-2000 with 52.2 million visits were worse.
“The Northeast region held steady at 11.8 million visits, less than 1 percent down from the previous season,” NSAA said in a statement. “The Rocky Mountain, Pacific Northwest and Pacific Southwest regions were down slightly more, ranging between 5 and 14 percent.”
The Rocky Mountain region was down about 5 percent, according to an NSAA spokeswoman. That equates to a loss of about 1 million skier visits from the 21.73 million that hit the slopes in 2017-18, blamed mostly on the lack of snow at the start of the season at the majority of Colorado resorts.
Resorts in the Midwest and Southeast regions logged gains this season. The Midwest was up 17 percent in skier visits while southeast resorts were up 3.6 percent.
Despite the overall number slumping, several resorts set records for skier visits, according to NSAA. Jackson Hole, Whitefish and Bridger Bowl in Montana, Stevens Pass in Washington and Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho all set records.