Southern California skiers will find that airfare prices to Denver are plummeting – to less than 100 bucks in some cases – just as snow is finally arriving in the northern Rockies.
Much like the Sierra, its snowy cousins to the west, the Colorado Rockies had struggled with a dry spell so far this season. Some resorts closed in December, and others had only 50% of runs and lifts operating.
Restricted, round-tip fares from LAX to Denver are being offered for $96, by American, Frontier, Southwest, United, Virgin America, according to Airfarewatchdog, which tracks seat prices. Last week, those same flights were going for $254.
Fares also dropped dramatically out of Burbank and Orange County. The best fares out of John Wayne last week were $286. They are now $118, as offered by American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest and United. Prices from Burbank to Denver have dropped similarly.
The airfare Hail Mary comes in the lull between the Christmas holidays and the busy spring break. The deals are for restricted, round-trip flights. Fares can change daily and availability is not assured.
Statewide in Colorado, 78% of lifts are spinning, serving 54% of available trails, according to Ski Central, which tracks conditions across the state.
That could be changing soon. The Pacific storms that left up to 2 feet of fresh snow in Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes over the past week also reached the Rockies, in time for the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.
The most fell in southwest Colorado, where Telluride saw 15 inches of new snow in 48 hours. Elsewhere, Vail reported 14 inches of fresh snow in the last week and will be opening additional terrain this weekend.
The storm dumped 10 inches further north, in Steamboat, which was already doing relatively well, with 94% of runs open over a 46-inch base. Ski Central reported Vail had 56% of runs open, over a 29-inch base and Aspen, 64% over a 22-inch base.
Forecasts called for snow through Friday, and a stormy pattern over the final weeks of January.