Early Snow Means An Economic Boost As Ski Resorts Open Across Parts Of The Mountain West

At least two states in the Mountain West have opened ski resorts early due to healthy dumps of snow. Many more are scheduled to open next week. This could be a good sign for our region’s economy this winter.

Several ski resorts in Colorado are already up and running and Vail and Aspen plan to open in the next few days. Western Montana’s Discovery Ski Area also opened this past weekend.   

“This is one of the most phenomenal early winters that we’ve had in several years,” said Amy Roberts, Executive Director for the Outdoor Industry Association.

She said most resorts usually aim to open by Thanksgiving week, even if they have to manufacture snow. But the impact of real snowfall this early in parts of our region will have a noticeable impact on local economies and the outdoor industry at large.

“The ski resorts are seeing people book early,” Roberts said, “and they’ll come in early and so they’ll have that longer period of filling hotels. Restaurants will be full. And then the retailers will be able to move merchandise more quickly before Christmas.”

According to the National Ski Areas Association, visitors spent more than $8 billion at U.S. ski resorts in the 2016-2017 year. Nearly a fifth of those resorts are in the Rocky Mountain West.  

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.