Echo Mountain ski resort is having a record year.
Sales of daily lift tickets are up 81 percent, and enrollment in the ski and ride school is up 71 percent over this time last year, according to resort officials. In addition, rentals have increased 77 percent and retail sales 42 percent.
While specific attendance numbers aren’t being released by the privately owned business, it’s clear the resort is seeing its best year yet.
The small ski resort, which opened in 2006 on Squaw Pass, is attributing the recent success to a new focus on family and beginning skiing, as well as to favorable snow conditions.
“We attribute our growth to expanded offerings for skiers, excellent teaching programs for kids and adults in our ski and ride school, a complete rental shop, and first-class terrain features,” Jerry Petitt, head of the family-owned resort, said in a statement. “It certainly helps that Mother Nature gifted us with the best snow in Colorado throughout December.”
Marketing director Scott Gales said part of the resort’s recent success is likely due to Echo Mountain’s shedding of the “terrain-park-only” status. Gales said he used to be asked by the public if the mountain was open to regular skiers.
“We’re getting to the point where we don’t have to worry about questions like that. People seem more familiar with the concept that … (it is) a good beginner-to-intermediate mountain,” Gales said.
Echo’s general manager, Cindy Dady, said the resort has made recent strides by attracting young skiers and snowboarders.
“We have definitely a new reach to different people. We’re marketing more toward the families,” Dady said. “Within our marketing efforts, we’re not just looking at one demographic anymore. We’re really trying to market to more.”
Dady added that the resort is trying to increase its visibility in the county and the Denver area. In addition, she said, Echo’s ski and ride school is building its reputation.
Oh, and there’s also the snow. More than 110 inches of snow has fallen on Echo’s slopes this season. As of last week, larger resorts like Loveland and Breckenridge were reporting about 28 inches of snow at their base, while Echo was reporting 35 inches.
“It doesn’t hurt when you’re getting the lion’s share of the snow,” Dady said, attributing it to some large snowstorms and the resort starting to make snow as early as September.
“We already had snow (made), so that’s why we were able to hold onto those snows that we got in October and then the early snows in November and December,” Dady said. “Now if the crew hadn’t gone and taken those crazy steps of blowing snow so early, I don’t know if we’d have been able to hold onto those early snows as well as we did.”
Echo Mountain officials are pleased with the start to the ski season.
“All the pieces have come together this year, and it doesn’t hurt when Mother Nature helps you out,” Dady said.
Echo mountain sits on 85 acres of terrain, has one chair lift, a rope tow and a magic carpet. A regular-season day pass for an adult is $49, $36 for children 6-12.