Copper Mountain set new visitation records for summer attractions despite pandemic, giving hope for strong ski season

Copper Mountain saw record-breaking numbers for guest attractions this summer while other resorts saw strong business despite the pandemic, buoying hopes for a strong ski season.

Copper Mountain spokeswoman Taylor Prather said the resort broke records for resort “activities” including golf, mountain biking and the Rocky Mountain Coaster. Prather declined to comment whether lodging, food and beverage sales were similarly strong.

“While there were more people visiting this summer, we leveraged all three villages to help spread people out across the resort and used signage to inform guests about mandatory facial coverings and maintaining a minimum six feet of social distancing,” Prather said in an email. “While the demand for outdoor recreation was high this summer, we are anticipating a similar scenario moving into the winter season and are adjusting our operations with the guidance of Summit County Public Health and CDPHE.”

Arapahoe Basin opened a new Aerial Adventure Park, which was a boon to its summer business. The challenge was built in trees with ladders, ropes, balancing features, ziplines and jumps.

“That brought in a good crowd, and the restaurant and retail shop were open,” said Leigh Hierholzer, A-Basin marketing and communications director. “We did not have a record summer, but we did have a really good one. Considering all that went on this summer, we were very pleased overall.”

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Many in the outdoor industry speculated that Coloradans would vacation closer to home because of the pandemic and were eager to get outdoors following coronavirus lockdowns. That appears to have been the case.

“We were very pleased with the excitement and visitation across our Colorado resorts this summer,” said John Plack, a spokesman for Vail Resorts. “We saw travelers at Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek and Crested Butte Mountain Resort express their preferences for outdoor experiences and the option to drive to our resorts.”

Winter Park had a “very successful summer,” according to spokeswoman Jen Miller, adding that the resort’s Trestle Bike Park was especially busy. “For the most part, people were positive and supportive of us being open, and they appreciated being able to venture out and play on our mountain.”

On the Western Slope, Powderhorn saw its best visitation numbers since opening its bike park in 2016, according to spokesman Ryan Robinson.

Sunlight hosted a three-day archery event in July that attracted more than 700 archers.

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“Attendees rode Sunlight’s Primo chairlift to the top of the mountain, where they then had their choice of five different downhill archery courses,” Troy Hawks, Sunlight’s sales and marketing director, described in an email. “All attendees wore masks in the base area and physically distanced in the lift lines. It gave the operations crew a good look at what winter operations will look like.”

The Monarch ski area does not have summer operations, but marketing director Dan Bender said nearby businesses did well.

“Some businesses in Salida did report a banner summer with record numbers,” Bender said, including “some restaurants and rafting companies.”

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