Aspen Journalism is compiling a data dashboard highlighting metrics of local public interest, updated weekly on Tuesdays.

June’s occupancy rate is down from last year, but the total of number occupied rooms is up

Paid occupancy in Aspen reached 63.4% in June, down from 64.3% last year. Snowmass recorded 42.7% paid occupancy, down from 2021’s 47.6%, according to the June 2022 occupancy report for Aspen and Snowmass lodges, compiled by local tourism officials and reservations tracking firm Destimetrics.

However, this rate for Snowmass has an important caveat. Last year, the Viewline and Wildwood hotels were excluded from the report as they were closed for renovation. But these two hotels represent a significant portion of Snowmass’ inventory. With those properties operating this year, the total number of occupied rooms is higher than last June. “So, while the hotels are seeing lower occupancy percentages as reported in these reports, the retail, restaurants, and activities companies should be seeing more visitors this year than last year,” according to the summary.

July’s paid occupancy was projected to reach 60.9%, based on reservations on the books as of June 30 for Aspen and Snowmass, down from 74.9% last year — but it represents a similar amount of room nights booked as last year.

Overall summer occupancy is down from last year. On the books, Aspen and Snowmass summer occupancy is at 38.2%, down from 2021’s 46.9%. “When the total rooms rented filter is applied, summer is pacing slightly up to last year,” the report noted. “This trend of occupancy versus total occupied rooms will continue this summer and throughout the winter as well as there are hotels scheduled to be out of next winter’s inventory as well.”

Streamflows running at about 50% of average

The USGS gauge located on the Roaring Fork River below Maroon Creek measured streamflow at 51.7% of average, or 237 cfs, on July 24. That’s down from July 17, when the river was flowing at 312 cfs; however, as a percentage of average, this week’s value rose from last week’s 50.8%.

Near Emma, the Roaring Fork was flowing at 478 cfs on July 24, or 64.8% of average. That’s down from 511 cfs on July 17 but up from that day’s 57.4% of average. Streamflow also increased from 420 cfs on July 22 to 436 cfs on July 23.

The Crystal River above Avalanche Creek, near Redstone, flowed at 174 cfs, or 46% of average, on July 24. That’s down from July 17 when the river was flowing at 235 cfs, but up from 44.3% of average last week.

Downstream, the Crystal River at the CPW Fish Hatchery bridge ran at 89 cfs on July 24, down from 191 cfs on July 17.

Lake Powell’s water level has lost two feet since last week

Lake Powell‘s storage remains at one of its lowest levels recorded since it began filling in the 1960s. While the amount of water stored in the reservoir began increasing in April due to seasonal runoff, both the storage and surface elevation values reported at the reservoir have been on the decline the over the last three weeks.

On July 24, the reservoir was 25.71% full (with a total capacity based on a 1986 sedimentation survey) or 26.82% full (based on 2017-18 sedimentation data), down from July 17, when it was 26.06% full (1986 data) or 27.21% (2017-18 data).

On July 1, the Bureau of Reclamation revised its data on the amount of water stored in Lake Powell, with a new, lower tally taking into account a 4% drop in the reservoir’s total available capacity between 1986 and 2018 due to sedimentation.

“After inputting the new data on July 1, 2022, storage values at the current elevation were updated, resulting in a decrease of 443,000 acre-feet,“ bureau officials wrote in an email. 

Aspen Journalism published a story explaining the recent drop in storage due to sedimentation.

The reservoir’s capacity has fallen since last year, when on July 24, 2021, it was 32.65% full (1986 data).

On July 24, Lake Powell’s elevation reached 3,536.9 feet, or 163.1 feet from full pool, down from 3,538.3 feet on July 17. Last year, on July 24, the reservoir reached 3,554.9 feet, or 145.1 feet from full pool. The surface elevation of Lake Powell came back up above the target elevation of 3,525 feet on May 16, after dipping below it on March 15.

The “minimum power pool” for turbines generating hydropower at the Glen Canyon Dam is 3,490 feet, and 3,525 feet has been set as a buffer to ensure that the reservoir and the turbines can continue to function properly.

Besides one day, Aspen air quality was ‘good’ last week

The air quality in Aspen was “good” this past week, except July 20 when the AQI index for ozone reached 64. For the remainder of the week, the AQI index for ozone ranged from 37 July 24 to 48 on July 18.

Laurine Lassalle

Laurine Lassalle is Aspen Journalism’s data desk editor, where she works to catalogue and analyze local public data. She also heads our our “Tracking the Curve” project, documenting COVID-19 in Pitkin,...