Colorado ski area rent to federal landlords fell 20% in 2019-20 |

Colorado ski area rent to federal landlords fell 20% in 2019-20

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun
Snowboarders get in line for the Colorado SuperChair at Breckenridge Ski Resort on May 12.
Photos by Ashley Low

DENVER — Colorado ski areas operating on public land saw revenue decline 20% in the pandemic-clipped 2019-20 ski season. And that decline, the largest in at least 20 years and likely since the creation of the Parks and Lands Management Act in 1996, led to a rare drop in rent ski areas pay their federal landlords.

The 23 ski areas sent the U.S. Treasury $24 million in revenue-based rent for the 2019-20 ski season, which is the Forest Service’s fiscal year 2020. That’s down from a record $30.1 million in 2018-19 and the lowest since the 2013-14 season.

With the growth of season pass sales eclipsing day-ticket sales, revenue-based fee payments paid by ski areas to their federal landlords have risen steadily. Since the 2008-09 ski season, the year Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass debuted, revenue has increased every year.

The larger ski areas endured the steepest declines in revenue during the 2019-20 ski season, which was cut short when resorts closed in the middle of an always busy March to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Spending at resorts in the White River National Forest — the most trafficked in the U.S. with several of the busiest ski hills in the nation, including Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek, Snowmass and Copper — fell 26%, based on the revenue-based rent reports. The 11 ski areas in the White River forest paid $16.7 million in rent, down from $22.7 million in 2018-19.

(The Forest Service for decades reported rent payments paid by individual ski areas, but in 2018 started providing only regional totals after Vail Resorts argued the reports revealed too much about its financial performance.)

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.