Curbed Ski has been on the El Niño beat all winter, from explaining exactly what you need to know about this year's record-breaking El Niño to documenting each round of El Niño snow. But we've also had the pleasure of enjoying a whole lot of El Niño powder this season, and it looks like we're not alone. Across the west, El Niño-hype has everyone itchin' to get on the hill, and ski areas are enjoying one of the busiest winters they've seen in years.
In Colorado, skier visits for the first part of winter (October 29-December 31) are up 10 percent compared to the same time last year. And according to Colorado Ski Country USA, this year's skier visits are better than the first period five-year average by 13 percent. The hype of El Niño snow increased bookings just in time for a successful holiday period.
Vail Resorts is also reporting good numbers for the ski season through January 10, 2016. Across all of their properties in Colorado, California, and Utah, season-to-date total skier visits were up 11.1 percent compared to the prior year season-to-date period. Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said, "While our results were clearly aided by a very strong rebound at our Tahoe resorts, we also saw solid revenue growth at our Colorado resorts and double-digit revenue growth at Park City." The comeback story of this winter has to be the California ski areas, where four years of dismal drought has been replaced with great El Niño snow. Throughout the state ski areas have already seen twice as much snow than they did all of last winter.
Ski areas in the southwest are also reporting a banner year. Arizona Snowbowl saw twice the visitation in December 2015 as it did the year before, while Wing Mountain had a record Christmas Day. According to the Arizona Sun, the increase is in large part due to out-of-town skiers coming to take advantage of El Niño snow.
Even in the Pacific Northwest, a region that doesn't usually do quite as well during El Niño years, hype over powder has produced record-breaking skier visits. From December 19 through January 3, Stevens Pass logged its best visitation numbers during a holiday period since skier visits started being electronically recorded in the 2006-07 winter season. Visitation to the resort is up 119% season-to-date over last year's awful winter.
The lesson? Whether or not a snowstorm is caused by El Niño, the hype is real. El Niño inspires more people to pay attention to weather and ski areas across the west are reaping the benefits.
· Lake Tahoe skiing: Vail Resorts visits up 11 percent so far [Sierra Sun]
· 'Godzilla' El Nino hype makes more people want to ski [9News]
· Jammed up in the mountains [Arizona Daily Sun]
· Holiday Visits at Stevens Pass Set Record [First Tracks]