Echo Mountain ski area, just outside of Evergreen, Colorado, is for sale in an auction scheduled for early August. The area is currently owned by a Maryland hotelier who bought the 226-acre dormant Squaw Pass ski area at a 2002 auction for $700,000 and has since plowed several million dollars into developing the area.
Echo Mountain has grown from 12,000 visits in its inaugural 2005-06 season to 32,000 last season. The 2011-12 ski season was the worst in two decades nationally for both snowfall and visitation. But Echo had decent snow and saw strong visitation, with revenue climbing 30 percent and daily ticket sales up 50 percent.
The owner promises that he will not close the ski area if bidders do not reach his undisclosed reserve price in the sealed bid auction. Recent ski-resort sales demonstrate the uncertainty of this type of commercial sale. Jackson Hole’s Storm King and Utah’s Brian Head have been on the market for more than a year. Last August, the Powderhorn ski area atop the Grand Mesa sold at auction for $1.4 million in a deal that included 600 developable acres. Vail Resorts picked up Lake Tahoe’s Kirkwood ski area in February for $18 million. Florida real estate investment trust CNL purchased Washington’s Stevens Pass for $20.5 million last fall.
Echo Mountain was initially highly-touted for terrain park enthusiasts, but over the last couple of years has broadened its image to be more of a family-oriented resort. And the area offers strong summertime potential for new ownership as well as the possibility that the ski area could more than double its vertical drop.
Echo now includes parking lots, two base-area buildings, three lifts and 16 trails on 80 acres of the 226-acre parcel, which boasts top-tier snowmaking and lights for night skiing. The Echo team has developed only a third of the parcel, opening the opportunity to expand its 660 feet of vertical to 1,500 feet. Bids in the sealed auction are due Aug. 2. More information can be found at echomtnauction.com.