[R160R, Great Divide Ski Area] has a reputation to uphold. The resort aims to be the first resort in Montana to open for skiing each year-even if it means beating out the other resorts by only one day.

"We try to be the first one open and the last one closed," owner Kevin Taylor told OnTheSnow.com. The day-use only ski hill opened last year on the day before Thanksgiving and stayed open until Apr. 26.

Taylor hopes to repeat that this year. He launched his snowmaking in early November in an area covering about 100 acres. Taylor quickly points out that the snowmaking zone covers crucial operations like the terrain parks, race courses, and night skiing.

Taylor has targeted Wednesday, Nov. 26, as opening day.  "If we get a good run of snowmaking, we may open earlier, but that's our target date," he explained, noting that the local Helena kids who don't have school can start the Thanksgiving holiday weekend early. Other ski resorts in Montana begin to open on Thanksgiving Day or later.

Tickets on opening day will be $9, and the lifts will run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Great Divide will run its lifts from Nov. 26-30, including night skiing on Friday. After that, the hill will operate on Fridays through Sundays only Dec. 5-7 and 12-14. The lifts run daily between Dec. 19 and Jan. 4, except for Christmas Day. The ski hill opens Wednesdays through Sundays during its regular winter season.