By Amanda Eggert EBS Senior Editor
BIG SKY – With more than 478,000 skier visits during the 2016-2017 season, Big Sky Resort broke its previous visitation record set last year by approximately 1,000 visits.
The resort also set a single-day visitation record on Dec. 28, 2016, when a total of 8,392 people rode Big Sky’s slopes. It was followed by another banner day Dec. 29, which surpassed 8,000 skier visits.
Although Big Sky didn’t get hit by many of the storm cycles that regularly pounded ski areas to the south, the resort’s public relations manager Chelsi Moy said the resort had an average total snowfall year.
According to a snowpack telemetry site on Lone Mountain, precipitation was 121 percent of average and the snow depth was 51 inches when the resort closed on April 16. The National Resource Conservation Service records and publishes data from that site, located at 8,800 feet.
Moy said the snow that fell had a higher concentration of water than typical seasons. “It was more of a wetter snow this year than in the past,” she said. “It was almost like a coastal snowpack.”
Moy attributes the resort’s strong skier totals to investment in infrastructure like the new Powder Seeker and Challenger chairlifts, Big Sky Resort’s rising exposure on a national scale, and population growth in the Bozeman area.
The April Pass, which allowed purchasers lift access from April 1 to April 16 for $179, likely contributed to record skier visits as well, Moy said. The resort rolled out that pass option for the first time in early February.
“We’ve never done anything like that before, and we would consider that a success,” Moy said.
This spring, the resort unveiled eight different season pass options for the 2017-2018 season. The increase in pass offerings is part of an effort to connect consumers with options that will work for them, Moy said.
Big Sky skiers and riders can make their selection based on how much they’re willing to pay, and when and where they plan to ski. The premium pass includes unlimited access to all lifts and the tram while the least expensive pass can be used for a total of 15 days of skiing, primarily during the early- and late-season.
The newest option is the Platinum Medallion Pass, an unlimited, transferrable season pass that’s available through April 30. A limited number of these passes are available and it’s marketed as a good option for businesses to share with their employees or clients.