For those of you that just can’t wait until the official start of winter, here
are some fine ski resorts that are eager to open as early as mid October or
early November. High elevation, or in some cases serious snowmaking
capabilities, make these ski resorts good bets for skiing before December.
BestEarly Season Ski Resorts in the East Sunday River Sunday
River is legendary when it comes to snowmaking, often opening before Halloween as
a treat for East Coast skiers. Sunday River blankets their trails with their
1,600 gun salute of consistent quality snow, typically starting on Locke
Mountain for early November skiing and riding, then moving on to cover the all
eight interconnected peaks.
Killington for decades was the first to open in the East - earning the
reputation of the Beast of the East. Powdr Corp owners dialed back that
race for a few years, but in 2011, Killington and
Sunday River opened on the same day, October 29 for Halloween skiing. In
2012, Killington opened Oct 14 on limited terrain for pass holders only - but
still first, and reopened Nov 5 - one day prior to Sunday River's Election Day
ski opener. Killington’s 1,500 gun snowmaking is mighty powerful.
Sugarloaf Sugarloaf has a northern Maine location, elevation, and cold temperatures –
allowing it to open most seasons by mid to late November, Nov 9, 2012. Snowmaking at the Loaf
has been ramped up since Boyne was brought in, the Loaf and sister resorts
Sunday River and Loon are flexing their snowmaking arsenals
from fall to late spring skiing.
Okemo Okemo calls their snowmaking effect the Okemo Blizzard. This Vermont resort
hurries to have a high trail count by mid-December, often offering the most
trails open in the east by the holiday week.
Loon Loon in New Hampshire has stepped up
their game, along with snowmaking powerhouse siblings Sunday River and
Sugarloaf, to open early in the White Mountain state and stay open into April,
giving Bretton Woods some competition.
Jay Peak is blessed with a northern Vermont location and the mystical Jay Cloud
effect, which provides them an anomaly of natural snow. Jay gets and retains its
early season snow most seasons, not a guarantee but a good bet.
Best Early Season Ski Resorts in the West
Breckenridge is referred to as Colorado’s early season secret with
Breckenridge Lodging opening early to accommodate mountain enthusiasts after
a long day on the slopes. Breck's snowmaking
and high elevation mountain make for a good early season trip, often opening as
early as the first week in November. Breckenridge has the highest summit
chairlift in Colorado, The Imperial Express, reaching 12,840’.
Alta Alta is a high elevation skier’s paradise, and Utah is known for its frequent
natural snow. The combination is elation to Utah skiers, who are always at the
ready, when Alta opens mid-November.
Snowbird Snowbird has snowmaking, like an insurance policy. This Little Cottonwood Canon
resort gets early season dumps of dry light Utah powder, and often opens with
tons of terrain by late November. We have skied the entire mountain certain
Thanksgiving weeks – much to be thankful for.
Loveland in Colorado is feverish about being the first in the country to open
for skiing, usually in October. Sometimes there is still grass at the 10,600’
base but snow showing at Loveland’s 13,010’ summit, but Loveland cranks up the
lifts and crazy skiers come out to make first tracks. Loveland is anything but
luxurious (with Highway 6 Loveland Pass running right through the resort), but
it does post one of the longest ski seasons in Colorado.
A-Basin in Colorado is high elevation, like Loveland and often races to open the
same time as its Colorado competitor. A Basin also goes late in the spring, with
parking lot beach parties out numbering the bumps on mountains.
Arapahoe Basin has
quite a following, with loyal fans making turns on Palavachini from
October to May.
Wolf Creek Wolf Creek Ski Resort in Southwest
Colorado has trademarked "The Most Snow In Colorado" typically getting 470' of
snow. Wolf Creek opens in October most seasons, and even hosts the US Ski Team
for early season training. This ski area is a powder gem, as most people have
never seen or skied The Wolf.
Brighton is at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, same elevation as
Alta, Utah, and the
same frequent snowfall as Utah’s big name resorts next door – typically allowing
for good early season conditions. Brighton isn’t fancy, but the skiing here is
Solitude in Utah actually guarantees early season snow. If you book by
mid-November an early season ski and stay at their slopeside
Inn at Solitude,
and they don’t have four or more lifts open during your vacation (prior to
mid-December) - you get a refund.
Keystone in Summit County typically opens first weekend in November.
the snowmaking king with one of the most extensive snowmaking systems in
Colorado. With downloading available (if necessary) from mid-mountain on the
River Run Gondolas, Keystone is a great place for an early season ski and stay
Squaw Valley in California is oft blessed with
deep lake Tahoe snow, Squaw opened early in 2012, October 25.
Mammoth also gets walloped with early snow and
goes into June even July for late season skiing in California.