Aspen Journalism is compiling a data dashboard highlighting metrics of local public interest, updated at least every Tuesday. Check back for updates as we add more features.
September 2021 sets new record for Aspen and Snowmass’ occupancy rates
This year set a new record for September’s occupancy rate in Aspen, as the paid occupancy in the town’s lodges reached 69.3%, surpassing the former record of 65.3% in September 2017. In September 2020, this rate was at 62.2%.
September’s paid occupancy rate in Snowmass also set a new record, reaching 55.8%. Last year, the rate was at 42.9%.
“The Food & Wine Classic, Ruggerfest, JAS/Labor Day weekend, many more events, groups and weddings along with incredible weather collectively contributed to such a remarkable performance,” according to the executive summary sent out with the September 2021 occupancy report for Aspen and Snowmass lodges compiled by local tourism officials and reservations tracking firm Destimetrics.
Reservations booked for October as of Sept. 30 account for 40% occupancy between Aspen and Snowmass, up from 29.1% in 2020 and 29.9% in 2019.
As of Sept. 30, 2021, paid occupancy to date since May plus reservations on the books for Aspen and Snowmass through October account for an occupancy rate of 59.3%. On Sept. 30, 2020, the figure tracking seasonal occupancy performance and forecasting was at around 37.6%. In 2019, this figure as of Sept. 30 sat at 55%.
“Winter occupancy is currently pacing up 85.5% over last winter and up 2.8% over 2019/20 season,” according to the report. “We have had a lot of great news around international travel opening back up but it will still be a relatively long-term recovery.”
The Crystal and Roaring Fork rivers streamflow rate remain high
After the rains of Oct. 8-9, local streamflows have slightly decreased, but they are still high compared to their historical averages.
The USGS gauge on the Roaring Fork near Aspen at Stillwater, located upstream of town and two major diversion ditches, measured streamflow at 37.4 cfs on Oct. 17, which represents 91.2% of average. A week before, the river was flowing at 43.5 cfs after several rainy days. On Oct. 17, 2020, the river ran at 32.6 cfs.
The ACES gauge, located near the Mill Street Bridge in central Aspen, measured the Roaring Fork at an average of 37.78 cfs on Oct. 17, down from 39.18 cfs on Oct. 10. The river ran at 33.08 cfs on that day last year.
The fact that the Mill Street gauge is now tracking closely with the Stillwater gauge reflects that two major diversion ditches — the Wheeler and the Salvation — located between the two gauges are no longer diverting water as the irrigation season comes to a close. Also, diversions from the Upper Roaring Fork basin through the tunnel running from Grizzly Reservoir beneath the Continental Divide to the Arkansas River basin have been close to nil since late August, meaning that the Roaring Fork River through Aspen is in the rare condition of flowing naturally at this time.
Roaring Fork streamflow levels now exceed the minimum instream flow of 32 cfs established by a 1976 water rights decree.
The Crystal River above Avalanche Creek, near Redstone, flowed at 98 cfs, or 100% of average on Oct. 17. That more than doubled from last year, when the river ran at 47 cfs on Oct. 17, 2020. The Crystal River at the CPW Fish Hatchery bridge ran at 93.7 cfs on Oct. 17. The current streamflow rate is below the minimum instream flow set at 100 cfs set by the 1979 water rights decree.
Clean air in Aspen
The air quality in Aspen was “good” this past week, besides Oct. 12 when the air quality was reported as “moderate” with an AQI index for ozone reaching 54.
Freezing temperatures reported in Aspen
Air temperature measured in Aspen dropped on Oct. 9 when it started to snow. Maximum air temperature went down to 52°F on Oct. 9, or 7.3 degrees below normal. After a spike reading 61°F on Oct. 11, the maximum air temperature went down to 42°F on Oct. 13, or 15.7 degrees below normal. Meanwhile, the minimum temperature decreased as well, down to 25°F on Oct. 13, or 3.9 degrees below normal.
Lake Powell keeps slowly drying up
Lake Powell‘s storage kept getting lower this past week, reaching its lowest level recorded since it began filling in the 1960s and ’70s on Oct. 17, when the reservoir was 29.67% of full.
Last week, on Oct. 10, the reservoir was 29.77% of full. The reservoir’s capacity has fallen since last year, when on Oct. 17, 2020, the reservoir was 45.84% of full.
The surface elevation of Lake Powell is also in decline and hit a record low on Oct. 17, 2021, when the reservoir’s elevation dropped to 3,544.8 feet, or 155.2 feet from full pool. But the reservoir’s decline over the past two weeks has slowed as it has lost only three inches since Oct. 10, when the elevation was at 154.9 feet from full pool. Last year, on Oct. 17, the reservoir reached 3,593.59 feet or 106.41 feet from full pool.
- Colorado’s Division of Water Resources
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District
- Aspen Global Change Institute