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.

Summer occupancy sets new record high in Aspen and Snowmass

“It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that both Aspen and Snowmass saw new records in occupancy,” according to the executive summary sent out with the October 2021 occupancy report for Aspen and Snowmass lodges compiled by local tourism officials and reservations tracking firm Destimetrics.

Snowmass and Aspen’s combined paid occupancy for October 2021 reached 47.3%. Last year, the combined occupancy was at 41.3%.

The month of October ends the summer months as categorized by the report, providing a full review of the summer season. Snowmass and Aspen achieved a summer occupancy of 60.3%, up 52.7% over last year’s 39.50% and up 6% over 2019’s 56.5%. Aspen finished at 65.6%, beating the record year of 2018, which was at 62.6%. Snowmass also set a new record with 51.5%, up from 2018’s 50.8%.  

As international travel was still restricted, more people came into town instead, according to the report.

“June hung on to have a traditional occupancy performance, while September saw a new record. July was the standout month, seeing our highest performing occupancy month ever,” the report noted. “Couple that with Glenwood Canyon closing and significant private home occupancy, and it’s understandable why July felt tremendous visitor pressure.”

As of October 31, winter occupancy is at 36.7% for Aspen and Snowmass, up 88.4% from 2020 and 7% better than in 2019.

“December, February and March are all up double digits while January is down 11% strictly due to the lack on international business on the books,” according to the report. “U.S. restrictions have been lifted, and fully vaccinated guests are welcome this winter, however the announcement has come too late for us to see a full recovery.”

Local streams flowing below their minium instream flows but near last year’s levels

The USGS gauge on the Roaring Fork near Aspen at Stillwater, located upstream of town, measured streamflow at 17.4 cfs on Nov. 21, which represents 56.1% of average. A week before, the river was flowing at 16.5 cfs. On Nov. 21, 2020, the river ran at 17.5 cfs.

The ACES gauge, located near the Mill Street Bridge in central Aspen, measured the Roaring Fork at an average of 21.23 cfs on Nov. 21, up from 20.34 cfs on Nov. 14. The river ran at 20.67 cfs on that day last year.

Roaring Fork streamflow levels remain below the minimum instream flow of 32 cfs established by a 1976 water rights decree but are close to last year’s averages.

The Crystal River above Avalanche Creek, near Redstone, flowed at 65 cfs, or 95.7% of average on Nov. 21, which is down from 75 cfs on Nov. 14. That’s up 35% from the streamflow last year, when the river ran at 48 cfs on Nov. 21, 2020. The Crystal River at the CPW Fish Hatchery bridge ran at 76.7 cfs on Nov. 21. That puts the river below the minimum instream flow set at 100 cfs set by the 1979 water rights decree.

Air temperature drops in Aspen

Last week, Aspen experienced a temperature drop, from a high of 61°F on Nov. 15, which is 19.5 degrees above normal, to a high of 42°F on Nov. 17, which is 1.6 degrees above normal. Minimum temperature also decreased from 28°F on Nov. 16 to 13°F on Nov. 18 — the latter being 3.2 degrees below normal.

Air remains clean in Aspen

The air quality in Aspen was “good” this past week. The AQI index for ozone ranged from 32 on Nov. 16 to 37 on Nov. 21.

Lake Powell hits new record low

Lake Powell could potentially fall below minimum power pool in 2022, which is an elevation of 3,490 feet, according to the U.S Bureau of Reclamation. “Should extremely dry hydrology continue into next year, Lake Powell could reach elevation 3,490 feet as early as July 2022,” the press release noted.

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 Nov. 21, when the reservoir was 29.08% of full.

Last week, on Oct. 31, the reservoir was 29.27% of full. The reservoir’s capacity has fallen since last year, when on Nov. 21, 2020, the reservoir was 44.11% of full.

The surface elevation of Lake Powell is also in decline and hit a record low on Nov. 21, 2021, when the reservoir’s elevation dropped to 3,542.7 feet, or 157.3 feet from full pool. The reservoir has lost six inches since Nov. 14, when the elevation was at 156.7 feet from full pool. Last year, on Nov. 21, the reservoir reached 3,588.98 feet or 111.02 feet from full pool.

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,...