Aspen Journalism is compiling a data dashboard highlighting metrics of local public interest, updated weekly.
Occupancy has been on the decline following 2021’s peak
Paid occupancy in Aspen reached 72.6% in July, down from 75% last year. Snowmass recorded 57.5% paid occupancy, down from 2022’s 61.3%, according to the July 2023 occupancy report for Aspen and Snowmass lodges, compiled by local tourism officials and reservations tracking firm Destimetrics. July occupancy reached 65.3% for the two towns combined this year, down from 68.4% last year.
Occupancy in Aspen and Snowmass peaked in 2021 after the 2020’s slow down due to the pandemic. July occupancy for Aspen and Snowmass reached 87.7% and 75.5%, respectively, that year.
It’s worth nothing that only commercial occupancy is counted in the report. It doesn’t reflect the occupancy of short-term rentals.
August paid occupancy as of July 31 was at 45.2% for Aspen and Snowmass, down from 47.8% last year. “August seems to have quieted fairly significantly from July’s busyness,” the report’s summary noted.
Overall summer occupancy is down from last year with 39.5% of rooms booked for May through October as of July 31 for Aspen and Snowmass combined, down from 2022’s 42% and from 2019’s 45.6% before COVID hit.
“Summer last minute bookings continue to shrink the gap to last year,” according to the report. “We are currently pacing down only 6.1% from last summer, which is an improvement from last month’s 11.1%.”
Streamflows keep dropping but overall on par with average
Local streamflows are slowing down as snowpack is entirely melted.
At Stillwater, located upstream of Aspen, the Roaring Fork River ran at 56.5 cfs on Aug. 13, or 84.3% of average, down from last week when the river ran at 68.7 cfs, but up from 81.8% of average.
Water through the tunnel that sends Roaring Fork flows east of the Continental Divide dropped from 114 cfs on July 16 to 40.5 cfs on July 23, down to 1.7 cfs on Aug. 13.
The USGS sensor below Maroon Creek recorded the Fork running at 238 cfs on Aug. 13, or 98.8% of average, down from 294 cfs, but up 86% of average, on Aug. 6.
At Emma, below the confluence with the dam-controlled Fryingpan, the Aug. 13 streamflow of 595 cfs represented about 109.2% of average. That’s down from 612 cfs on Aug. 6, but up from 99.5% of average.
Meanwhile, the Crystal River above Avalanche Creek, which is not impacted by dams or transbasin diversions, flowed at 183 cfs or 94.8% of average. Last week, the river ran at 265 cfs, or 106.4% of average.
The Colorado River ran at 2,560 cfs at Glenwood Springs, or 91.1% of average, on Aug. 13, down from 3,250 cfs last week, while the Colorado flowed at 3,380 cfs near the Colorado-Utah stateline, or 86.4% of average.
Aspen Journalism is compiling real time streamflow data. You can find all the featured stations from the dashboard with their real-time streamflow on this webpage.
Lake Powell’s water level keeps dropping but remains above last year’s
Lake Powell‘s water levels began their seasonal rise in mid-March as warming temperatures initiated snowmelt, after the reservoir in the winter dropped to its lowest level on record since filling. Water levels peaked in early July and are now slowing decreasing. On Aug. 13, the reservoir was 39.01% full (based on updated 2017-18 sedimentation data). That’s down from Aug. 6, when the nation’s second-largest reservoir was at 39.56%.
Last year, on July 1, 2022, 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. Aspen Journalism in July published a story explaining the that drop in storage due to sedimentation. We will be now using the 2017-18 sedimentation data only.
On Aug. 13, 2022, the reservoir was 26.08% full.
On Aug. 13, Lake Powell’s elevation reached 3,577.5 feet, or 122.5 feet from full pool, down from 3,579.1 feet on Aug. 6. Last year, on Aug. 13, the reservoir reached 3,534.05 feet in elevation, or 165.95 feet from full pool.
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.
Air temperature close to normal
High air temperatures at the Aspen airport went from 75°F on Aug. 3 to 82°F on Aug. 6 before going down to 79°F on Aug. 10, one degree above normal. Meanwhile, low temperatures ranged from 41°F on Aug. 8-9 to 47°F on Aug. 6.
Air quality remains ‘good’ in Aspen
The air quality in Aspen was “good.” The AQI index for ozone ranged from 37 on Aug. 11 to 49 on Aug. 7.
- Colorado’s Division of Water Resources
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District
- Aspen Global Change Institute