bluebird-day-mount-hood

Mount Hood resorts pulled in 1.78 million visits in 2013-14.

Poor early-season snow conditions took their toll on Mt. Hood resorts in 2013-14, as visit numbers dropped by nearly 100,000 from a record high the previous season.

Mount Hood's five ski and snowboard resorts attracted 1,248,961 visits from September of 2013 to September of 2014, according to John Gifford of the Pacific Northwest Ski Area Association. The figures include the combined totals at Mt. Hood Meadows, Timberline, Mt. Hood Skibowl, Summit and Cooper Spur for skiing, snowboarding, tubing, Nordic skiing and sight-seeing. They are not broken down by ski area because the resorts are privately held businesses and their individual visit numbers are considered confidential.

Last season's visit numbers represent a significant drop from the record year of 1,342,405 visits in 2012-13. That's probably due to the thin snow pack a year ago, especially during the Christmas holiday season and in January. Skibowl was unable to run chairlifts during the Christmas holidays, Meadows struggled with unusually thin snow levels well into January, and Cooper Spur's season was pretty much a bust.

Last season's visit numbers were 93,444 lower than the year before and 45,697 lower than the three year average. They were 101,456 higher than the 10-year average, but that average may be skewed lower due to the abysmal low-snow year of 2004-05.

It's unclear how much of a financial hit the $200 million Mt. Hood snowsports economy took from the lower visit numbers, but it could be as high as $12.3 million or more. 

Here's how I calculated that figure:

  • 80 percent local visits, averaging about $90 per visit on tickets, transportation, accessories, food and drinks = $6,727,968.
  • 20 percent destination visits, averaging about $300 per visit for lodging, tickets, transportation, accessories, food and drinks = $5,606,640.

As for this season, skiers, riders, shop owners, resort employees, restauranteurs and lodging proprietors are all hoping for lower temperatures to turn that terrible December rain into beautiful early-season snow.

In past seasons Mount Hood Meadows has drawn about 500,000 visits, SkiBowl 400,000 (including summer visits), Timberline 350,000, Cooper Spur 10,000 and Summit 5,000.

Approximately 150,000 skiers and snowboarders live within a 90-minute drive of Mount Hood.