by John Norton, Executive Director of the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism & Prosperity Partnership
Winter is here. A little late in coming. The valley got hit with a big snowstorm in early September, and we knew that snow wouldn’t last and it didn’t—even up on Paradise Divide. The next storm worth mentioning came last weekend and now with cold nights and low-angle sun, this new snow should last till May.
Weather as it should be. Good.
The Gunnison Valley showed its outdoors-appeal credentials this summer. Even with seven weeks of total closures, through August lodging sales were slightly up versus those same eight months in 2019. Our trails were busy. Fishing was excellent and is excellent even now. The whitewater kayak season was somewhat tame and short.
Many retailers did very well this summer. The restaurants that could exploit outdoor dining did well, too, though those are the exceptions instead of the rule. Saddled with 50% occupancies and many diners leery of spending two hours indoors with strangers, most our restaurants suffered. Many patrons ordered takeout to help the restaurateurs along.
And now it’s winter. Good.
Vail Resorts reported Epic Pass sales +13% in unit volume vs previous year at its last earnings call. As was the case last summer, people who love the mountains appear ready to get outside. Some portion of those pass holders, the adventurous ones, will find their way here. If our community manages the virus as well as we have to date, we should have a good ski season.
If you find your way here this winter, consider some takeout meals. No one has been beat up like our restaurants and they would be appreciative of any and all support.
Reflecting on late winter, summer and fall, the thought that isolating in the Gunnison Valley is hardly privation recurs. Winter should be no different. Much to be grateful for.