Arizona Snowbowl is breaking records faster than Bode Miller skiing downhill.
On the heels of an exceptionally busy two-week holiday season at the end of last year, the ski resort saw 80,000 visitors in January and another 64,000 in February, setting records for both months, according to General Manager J.R. Murray.
“This season, visitation could reach 300,000,” said Murray, who added that Snowbowl plans to remain open until the end of April. Later this month, the resort will determine days of operation and lift schedules for the rest of the season.
Higher-than-average snowfall has helped. This past Tuesday, total snowfall had been 282 inches, 40 inches more than the average for a full season.
But Murray also points to snowmaking on the mountain as a factor. Visits to Snowbowl have dramatically increased since snowmaking was introduced at the resort in 2012, giving the business the predictability to be successful, said Murray.
“It also reinforces to the marketplace that Snowbowl will be open every winter with good conditions,” he added.
For example, prior to snowmaking, the resort saw an average of 120,000 visitors. Compare that to the 2017-18 season, when there was less than 100 inches of snow all season long, and yet the resort saw 200,000 skiers and snowboarders. The difference was snowmaking.
What does this mean for our local economy? Snowbowl now consistently contributes more than $40 million to the region’s economy, employing about 550 during the ski season and more than 60 in the summer months.
Those summer months are going to be busier this year, too. Snowbowl has added a variety of activities to the mix for families last year to complement the always-popular Scenic Chairlift and hiking activities. They include a 150-foot summer tubing slope, bungee trampoline, mini-ropes course, and barrel-rolling. They are also in discussion with the Coconino National Forest to provide mountain biking at Snowbowl.
Congratulations to Arizona Snowbowl and J.R. Murray for an unprecedently successful year.