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Colorado’s Independent Ski Areas Thriving In Shadow Of dueling, Consolidating Resort Giants

Wolf-Creek Wolf Creek in Southwest Colorado is among the many ski areas in the state to post strong revenue and skier numbers. (Wolf Creek - Facebook)

In the shadow of battling behemoths, smaller, independent ski areas are thriving.  Arapahoe Basin, Echo Mountain, Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn, Ski Granby, Silverton Mountain and Wolf Creek all report record visits, and revenues in the last two seasons.

“It’s not just that the big areas are crowded and skiers want to escape crowds,” said Bob Nicolls, the owner of Monarch ski area, which saw record visitation in 2021-22, with income for the ski area climbing 20% above the previous season. “I think it’s more about value. I think skiers are seeing our value versus the high prices of large ski areas. All boats are rising as people want to be outdoors.”

As major resorts owned by the largest ski area operators in North America — Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Co. — price daily lift tickets well north of $200 as part of a strategy to push skiers toward early-purchased season passes, independent resorts are finding traction.  

Every smaller, independent ski area in Colorado has reported record numbers of visitors in recent seasons. Even with a warm November delaying openings and a late December impacted by COVID, Colorado’s independent ski areas are counting 2021-22 among their best seasons ever, with record visitation and spending by guests. 

 Read the full story at ColoradoSun.com

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