But if I-70 closes, skiers and riders can't get to their favorite resort. That's what happened on New Year's Eve. Santa Claus had made it to Loveland, but no one else could, so the ski area had to shut down for the day. Visitors were stranded all along the major highway that runs through the mountains, providing access to places like Keystone, Copper, Winter Park and Breckenrige.
Those who were already at their resort were in for a treat after the record-breaking December snows. Darcy Morse with Winter Park said with Christmas falling mid-week, they weren't as busy during the days leading up to the holiday. But afterwards, things picked up. "Bookings were up; hotels were packed; restaurants were packed; the base was animated. We only saw lift lines in the morning so it was well distributed around the mountain. With 25 lifts open, people could spread out."
The deep snow helped with numbers at Steamboat. Heidi Thomsen with the resort says it created a lot of national attention, along with Steamboat's new Ski Ambassador, Olympic Gold Medalist Jonny Moseley. "Along with picturesque bluebird days, we couldn't ask for a better holiday season. Everyone had a big smile on their face, enjoying that time with their families. That's what Steamboat is all about."
Kristin Rust with Aspen/Snowmass says town was "definitely jumping," and the multiple powder days helped as well. "That will trickle down to the word-of-mouth affect, which means people coming over Christmas and having an incredible time will tell their friends how great it was and to get to Aspen. Christmas is very early in the season. It's a big bread and butter period. What it will hopefully do is set the tone for later in the season. We've had a record snowfall in December, which helped tremendously."
Aspen/Snowmass broke the all-time record for the most snowfall in the month of December with 118 inches at the top of Snowmass. It's triple the monthly average for snowfall. Mike Kaplan, President and CEO, Aspen Skiing Company, adds, "These are by far the best conditions I have experienced in my 15 years in Aspen/Snowmass."
Greg Ralph with Monarch says the cold got to the visitors, typically from the southern states such as Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. "It's a little shocking when they get to this temperature. The buildings have been packed because it has been so cold. Lift lines have been minimal, if at all. We have had great snow. They're having a great time out there."