Last Season, Colorado Accounted For Nearly 25% Of All Skier Visits In The US, More Than Any Other State.

The Rocky Mountain High state has iconic areas like Aspen, Steamboat, and Telluride. But it also has a well-developed trade and marketing organization, Colorado Ski Country USA, currently headed by Melanie Mills. The group’s scope is widespread, covering public policy, domestic and international marketing, and communications for the 22 ski areas it represents.

Melanie Mills, CEO, Colorado Ski Country USA

Mills, who has been President and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA for 9 years, has worked in the ski industry for more than twenty. She arrived in Colorado in 1990, after meeting her future husband in the lift line. In her role as CEO, Mills works closely with CSCUSA’s member resorts, its board, and other associations and state tourism and economic entities.

Great skiing can be found in many states. Why does Colorado consistently get more skier visits than the others?

Many people associate Colorado with skiing and vice-versa.  The state gets great snow, and great snow contributes to the number of skiers who choose to visit. Our areas offer something for every type of skier or boarder, as well as a broad range of on and off-mountain recreational, dining, and entertainment experiences. Member resorts also are family friendly. These are what keep our annual visits so high.

What is the economic impact skiing has on Colorado’s economy? Is it trending up or down?

The ski industry is a huge part of Colorado’s economy. It’s deeply ingrained in the state’s brand. Our most recent economic impact study showed Colorado’s ski industry contributing $4.8 billion annually and supporting 46,000 year round jobs. Last year was the third year in row we set a record for the number of skier visits.

What is Colorado doing to preserve its many skiing assets during this time of global climate change?  

 Colorado Ski Country ski areas and the ski industry generally have and continue to lead when it comes to mitigating our impact on the environment and fighting climate change. Many of our resorts participate in the National Ski Areas Association’s Climate Challenge and advocate for policy measures to address climate change. We also work with a wide variety of industries, non-profits and advocacy groups on public policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the threat of climate change to our industry. A page on our website is devoted to sustainability, and includes ways for people to get engaged and find other organizations we work with on these issues.

Does Colorado appeal specifically to the older vacation skier? If so, how?

Seniors are an important segment of our market. Visiting seniors will find skiing contemporaries enjoy discounted tickets, including lessons and mountain tours with other seniors.

This year, we welcomed the return of the Winter Park Express, which is a train running Saturdays, Sundays and Holiday Mondays during season from Denver’s Union Station to the base of Winter Park Resort. It’s a scenic two-hour ride through 28 tunnels. It’s the only place in the US where you can travel, car-free, to the area without setting foot in a car. We also have a train that runs from Union Station to Glenwood Springs, a short trip from Sunlight ski area, which offers some incredible hot springs as well.

 What would you recommend to older skiers planning a two week ski tour of the state?

Colorado is home to many great ski towns with a range of  skiing and other recreational and cultural offerings. They could stay in one place the entire time, get to know the mountain and explore the town and surrounding area, or they could ski multiple areas for a day or two while travelling our beautiful state, something to consider for those who may want to rest between ski days. Options are available at We also have a travel page with information about different airports and transportation options for the state.



  1. Bill Tidmore says:

    I just finished a week at Telluride with a great shuttle service from Montrose airport to the ski area provided by Mountain Express including a grocery stop at City Market. The ski area workers were great, as also the rental shop personnel at Christys. I skied 5 days with a break of one day without ever a bad run or long lift lines. My second trip to Telluride but I have skied all over Colorado with wonderful trips. I would recommend this area for seniors however go easy with this altitude, maybe use Diamox to help acclimate.

  2. I ski three straight weeks in Colorado. I smell more and more marijana. I now get three or four whiffs a day. This bothers me. This year I experience more straight line speeding and recklessness than ever. Especially at Vail. I had some very close calls and one hit. I suspect the two things are related. At age 75 I dont want to get hurt. Melanie had better look into this before the visitor numbers really start to drop. My group is already taking an exploratory trip to Utah.

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