Sun Valley’s big season fed into a record skier count for Rocky Mountain resorts in 2018-19, according to a preliminary number announced by the National Ski Areas Association at its national convention last week.

Driven by impressive snowfall, U.S. areas totaled 59 million skier visits last season, an 11 percent jump over the 53.3 million visits logged in 2017-18. Twenty-four million of them came in the Rockies, which grew 15.6 percent to the highest figure in the 40 years since the Colorado-based association began tracking skier counts in 1978-79.

Overall, the early tally ranks 2018-19 the fourth-busiest season since that count began.

“The strong snow year has driven increases in visitation, and many of our ski areas have reported record years in that regard,” Adrienne Saia Isaac, NSAA director of marketing and communications, said in a statement. “It will be important to continue this trend by engaging new participants in skiing and snowboarding, continuing to improve the guest experience, and mitigating the effects of climate change to ensure the health of our industry.”

The group will release a year-end report at the conclusion of the skiing and riding season, Isaac said.

The early estimate puts Sun Valley just ahead of the curve.

Bald and Dollar mountains logged 426,500 combined skier days over the 2018-19 season, the resort announced in April—about a 12 percent jump over the 380,000 who hit the hills the year prior.

That puts 2018-19 squarely in the top 10 seasons since the resort began its official count in 1971-72, spokeswoman Kelli Lusk said. This year’s tally stands as the highest since skiers logged some 436,000 days during the 1996-97 season.

“Snow is our greatest asset,” said National Ski Area Association President Kelly Pawlak, “And this year was one to remember.”

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