A record ski season pushed attendance up 3.5% across the country from 2020-21 visitation, according to the National Ski Areas Association.
There were a total of 61 million skier visits to the United States during the 2021-22 season, the association announced Friday.
The Rockies region saw the biggest increase with more than 25.2 million visits. This is a record for the region comprising New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.
The Northeast, Midwest and Southwest Pacific regions also saw an increase in visits. The only two regions to see a decline are the Pacific Southeast and Pacific Northwest.
“This record attendance indicates that the U.S. ski industry is healthy and demand for outdoor recreation remains strong,” the association said in a statement. “There were signs of this during the 2020-21 season as the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic caused more people to seek outdoor activities. A high number of skiers bodes well for the long-term health of the sport, especially since the number of participants has remained relatively stable over the past decade.
At least 11 more ski areas opened last season compared to 2020-21 figures for a total of 473.
Snowfall totals generally lead to higher visits, but last season was below the 10-year average of 166 feet of snow. The average snowfall across the country this winter was 145 feet.
Despite record attendance, many ski resorts reported having problems attracting and retaining staff throughout the season. At least 81% of the ski resorts surveyed said they did not have all the necessary staff. The average number of unfilled positions was 75.
Upon awakening, resorts responded by raising wages, adding end-of-season bonuses, and investing in affordable housing for the workforce.
In Summit County, Vail Resorts has decided to raise its minimum wage to $20 an hour for next season, and the company is currently in a battle with the City of Vail to build an employee housing project. in East Vail.
Looking ahead to next season, resorts have planned a record amount of capital investment, totaling $758 million. These investments include new lift infrastructure, terrain expansion, workforce housing, improved restaurants and other amenities, reports the National Ski Area Association.