Utah's ski resorts shatter previous visitation records with help of long winter

Skiers walk out of the Brighton Center at Brighton Ski Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon on, April 4. The 2022-2023 ski and snowboard season resulted in a record estimate of 7.1 million visits, Ski Utah officials said Thursday.

Skiers walk out of the Brighton Center at Brighton Ski Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon on, April 4. The 2022-2023 ski and snowboard season resulted in a record estimate of 7.1 million visits, Ski Utah officials said Thursday. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's record-breaking snowfall also led to records being broken when it comes to ski resort visitation, state ski experts say.

Ski Utah, a nonprofit that promotes the state's ski and snowboard industry, reported Thursday that preliminary numbers indicate that the 2022-2023 ski season will produce a record 7.1 million skier visits this season, which is a 22% increase from the previous record set during the 2021-2022 season. In addition, at least 12 of the state's 15 resorts broke their visitation records.

"We are thrilled to have been a part of this historic season of endless powder days, record-breaking snowfall and boundless fun," said Nathan Rafferty, the organization's president, in a statement.

A big reason that the numbers are preliminary at this point is that some resorts remain open, even at the beginning of meteorological summer. Per Ski Utah, Woodward Park City remains open through Sunday and Snowbird Resort plans to reopen for Father's Day weekend, June 17-18, conditions permitting.

Once all 15 are closed for good, it will put to an end a very long season. Utah's 2022-2023 ski season began when Brian Head Resort opened on Nov. 4, 2022, marking Utah's fourth-earliest start on record. A series of storms that developed midway through the season kept resorts going as long as they did, many closing only because they didn't have the staff to keep up operations.

Utah ended up with 44 powder days, which are days of over 12 inches of snow in a 24-hour span. That's well above the annual average of 19, according to Ski Utah. Those storms didn't only help Utah set an all-time snowpack record, but several resorts ended up with record-high snowfall levels. Alta Ski Area topped them all, reaching 903 inches, or more than 75 feet, between October and April.

"The 2022-2023 season had a fantastic start, with resorts opening earlier than originally anticipated due to an abundance of early snowfall," Rafferty said. "The snow just didn't stop falling until May."

Meanwhile, the estimated 7.1 million skier visits during the winter translated to about $2.54 billion in spending, about an 8% increase from the previous season. The 2021-2022 season helped bring in $256.8 million in state and local tax revenue, according to Ski Utah.

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com.

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