I thought your numbers were skiers per season per acre. It's confusing to keep leaving that out of the term when you are throwing numbers around. I keep bringing this up because you know some people just pop in on the middle of threads. Yeah, the days is hard to know for each, but I'm sure there some way to estimate it. That per day average is closer to what people see on the ground on a visit. And certainly impacts crowd density at places with short seasons.
The absolute numbers there are less important than the relative numbers. Despite my home base at Mammoth, I'm not going to worry too much about varied length of seasons because most skier visits everywhere are concentrated ~Dec. 20 - early April.
The relative numbers tell us that Whitefish is about 1/3 as dense as Vail, which jibes with both common sense and personal experience. I look at that list and say that 300 is an acceptable number at a big area with a good lift system. Once you get to 500, I'm going to be more actively looking for the more secluded areas of the mountain.
Every season between 2001 and 2010 was between 1,555,000 and 1,676,000. The banner 2010-11 season was 1,750,000. So your only argument can be that there's been a significant increase in the past 3 years. I can't find Vail's individual numbers for 2014 but we know the collective of their 4 CO areas was 5.5 million (12.6 total - 7.1 for Colorado Ski Country). The 2008-2011 average for those 4 resorts combined was 5.2 million. So I'm guessing 2013-14 was about 1.8 million at Vail, a 9% increase over the 1,645,000 in 2000-01.
At any rate, there a good chance I'll be in Vail Jan. 12-16 (note month AND midweek), so I'll be happy to report if my impressions change. But until that time I'm going to believe the numbers above more than peoples' anecdotal comments. Perhaps the concentration on weekends and holidays has become worse, but fortunately that's not my problem.
Also note that Vail would need to have at least 2.5 million skier visits to become as crowded as Breck is right now.
True, but you also have to consider lift capacity too. Skier visits/acre isn't nearly as important skier visits/uphill capacity if you end up spending half your day waiting in lift lines.
Ignoring the impact of crowds makes these ranking a joke when it's such a key factor in the quality of ski experience.
Then you may want to start marking Jackson down too. Skier visits are steadily rising (over 50% during the same era that Vail was demonstrated nearly flat above) and its lift system is not all that high capacity for an area with 500K skier visits (less than Snowbird's lift capacity for example). The tram has always had chronic lines and TR's from last year seem to indicate that the gondola is now having some of the same problems. Jackson is adding lifts, but in the recent past skier visits are growing faster than lift capacity.
Edited by Tony Crocker - 11/25/14 at 10:16am