The National Ski Areas Association’s has reported that U.S. skier visits for the 2013-14 season reached 56.2 million, a decline of 1.3 percent from last season and below the 10-year average of 57.3 million. The severe drought on the West Coast resulted in a drought of ski days as well, which in turn brought the national tally down.
California ski resorts saw visits drop 27.8 percent. Visits to resorts in the Pacific Northwest, which shared the snowless start to the season, declined 27.5 percent. The West Coast’s dry 2013-14 season generated resorts visits to the second lowest mark in 36 years.
The preliminary results, announced Thursday align with the 27.7 percent year-over-year decline in visits through January to Vail Resorts’ three California resorts reported in March. The company reported that a mere 33 percent of terrain at its Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood resorts was open at the end of January.
More positive numbers were generated in the remaining ski regions. The strong snowfall this season over many parts of the nation increased visitation to resorts in the southeast (up 15 percent), Rocky Mountains (up 6.4 percent), Midwest (up 4.1 percent) and the northeast (up 0.6 percent.)
Ski resorts in those four NSAA-divided regions saw a collective 5.3 percent rise in visits, marking a third-best performance in 36 years of analysis. If the West Coast had seen typical weather patterns and visitation, national ski visitation would have neared the 2010-11 high point of 60.5 million.
Colorado Ski Country in March reported a 13 percent increase in visits to its 21 resorts through February, compared to the previous season.