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Visits to Utah resorts jumped 22% this winter

Closing day at Alta Ski Area, April 23, 2023.
Mitchell Elliott
Closing day at Alta Ski Area, April 23, 2023.

Once again, Utah set a record for winter visitors.

More than 7 million skiers and riders visited Utah’s 15 resorts this winter, an all-time high, according to preliminary data from Ski Utah.

That’s a 22% increase from last year’s record total of 5.8 million. That’s compared to a 6% increase at resorts nationwide.

Ski Utah President and CEO Nathan Rafferty said the reason Utah was so far ahead of the national average is clear.

FULL INTERVIEW: Utah's record-breaking ski season

“There’s a saying in our industry, ‘It’s the snow, stupid,’” Rafferty said. “At the end of the day, snow is the biggest driver of visitation, and we had snow coming out of our ears this year. I mean, 600 inches at both our resorts here in Park City.”

Alta Ski Area in Little Cottonwood Canyon reported 903 inches of snow this winter, which is the most of any Utah resort in history.

Deer Valley, Woodward Park City, Brighton, Solitude, and Snowbasin all claimed their longest seasons on record.

Rafferty called it a “once-in-a-generation season” that’ll be talked about for some time.

“We send out powder alerts at Ski Utah when it snows 12 inches or more at any resort in the state,” Rafferty said. “We average about 19 a year, and this year we had 44… we thought about starting to send out sunshine alerts because it had been so long since we saw the sun. But I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining because it really was the best year ever.”

Rafferty said they are still analyzing the data, but visitation from Utahns appears to be up. He also noted that there were slightly fewer beginner skiers and riders, likely due to the deep powder conditions.

To bring in those from out-of-state, Ski Utah focuses largely on California and the major cities on the East Coast.

Rafferty said they market off-peak times amid growing demand to visit Utah’s resorts.

“We don’t need as much help filling rooms at Christmas, and President’s weekend and MLK," he said. "But years like this one, we can turn on the marketing switch and say, ‘Hey, get out here in early December, we’re having the best early start to the season ever. Come in midweek in January before Sundance. Think about coming to ski in April.'”

Ski Utah will finish tallying up the visitation numbers for this past winter after Snowbird closes.

The resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon is planning to reopen for skiing in mid-June and plans to be open for the Fourth of July weekend, weather permitting.

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