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Best Resorts for Thanksgiving Powder Turns

Best Resorts for Thanksgiving Powder Turns- ©Skye Chalmers

Two skiers stroll through Sugarloaf's village after a day spent chasing early season powder.

Copyright: Skye Chalmers

Here are a couple secrets about skiing and riding during the Thanksgiving holiday: Turkey day tends to be light on crowds at many ski resorts. November isn’t peak season, so resorts offer reduced lodging rates. You can avoid kitchen stress by dining out on traditional holiday meals. Sure, the fledgling snowpack may rely on heavy snowmaking for groomer skiing, but most skiers’ legs could use the warmup. However, if pre-season snow totals are big, Thanksgiving skiers may be stuffing their faces with more powder than turkey.


Best Ski Resorts for December Powder


See the below list of North American ski resorts and find your best bet for skiing and riding during the 2018 Thanksgiving holiday. 

1&2. Lake LouiseSunshine Village

Head north to Banff for early holiday snow this season. Lake Louise, one of the consistent North American destinations opening in early November, gives skiers and riders access to 4,200 skiable acres and 3,251 vertical feet of drop.

Sunshine Village, Canada’s highest elevated resort, is another option for Banff skiers and encompasses more than 3,300 skiable acres. Off the snow, soak in hot springs, twirl on ice skates, sightsee on the Banff Gondola and Christmas shop downtown. If you're looking to fly into Banff, you'll find many direct flights into Calgary International Airport; from there, Banff is within a 90-minute drive. 

3. Sun Valley Resort

Thanksgiving marks the opening of Sun Valley Resort. Depending on early-season conditions, expect to find at least two open lifts on Dollar Mountain and four to five open lifts on Bald Mountain. Sun Valley is known for its western flair and European styling. The resort offers 2,054 skiable acres and 3,400 feet of vertical drop. 

Grab a plate and enjoy live music and plenty of food at the annual Thanksgiving Buffet, located at the Sun Valley Inn. Off the slopes, stroll through galleries rich in artistic ambiance, catch a movie or play virtual golf at the Nordic center. 

A skier rips through Sun Valley powder. Photo courtesy of Visit Sun Valley.  - © Visit Sun Valley

A skier rips through Sun Valley powder. Photo courtesy of Visit Sun Valley.

Copyright: Visit Sun Valley

4. Beaver Creek Resort

Beaver Creek Resort adds to warm holiday traditions by passing out cookies hot from the oven for their opening day celebration (typically on or near Thanksgiving). The World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Competition features the top five finalists baking up 1,000 cookies each; you can vote on the tastiest and work off the calories skiing Beaver Creek's 1,832 skiable acres and 3,340 feet of vertical.  

To add to the excitement, guests are invited to witness the annual Beaver Creek Tree Lighting Ceremony to launch the Christmas season. Carolers, the winner of the children’s poetry contest, the lighting of the village, fireworks and a visit from Santa round out the family entertainment. 

5. Steamboat

Head to Steamboat this Thanksgiving for great early season conditions and holiday events. The Annual Routt County United Way Thanksgiving Day dinner brings the entire community together in downtown Steamboat for a feast to remember.

Steamboat's projected opening day in mid-November kicks off the season, allowing skiers and riders a first look at the resort's 2,965 skiable acres. 

6. Park City Mountain Resort

Park City Mountain Resort is a great option for early-season skiers and riders with its projected mid-November opening date and multiple planned events. Park City, located just 35-minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport, offers 7,300 skiable acres serviced by 41 lifts.


See Ski Resort Historically 1st to Open


Kaylin Richardson enjoys fresh powder at Canyons in Park City, Utah. The resort averages 355 inches of snowfall a year and has 4,000 acres of skiable terrain  - © Liam Doran

Kaylin Richardson enjoys fresh powder at Canyons in Park City, Utah. The resort averages 355 inches of snowfall a year and has 4,000 acres of skiable terrain

Copyright: Liam Doran

7. Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows typically opens its doors just in time for the harvest holiday, offering a traditional Thanksgiving meal at High Camp overlooking Lake Tahoe. Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows spans more than 6,000 skiable acres and features 42 lifts and 270 trails.

The resort has invested more than $1 million in snowmaking for the 2018-2019 season, so regardless of early season snow totals, there will be plenty of open terrain come turkey day. 

8. Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain typically opens prior to Thanksgiving (sometimes much earlier given the right conditions). During lean years, about half the mountain opens by turkey day. During stormy years, skiers and riders can find all lifts running across Mammoth Mountain's more than 3,500 skiable acres and 3,100 feet of vertical drop.

Off the snow, join the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot and view the annual tree lighting ceremony in The Village; this family event includes kids' activities and live music.

Sunshine and powder are key ingredients to an unbeatable day at Mammoth.  - © Liam Doran

Sunshine and powder are key ingredients to an unbeatable day at Mammoth.

Copyright: Liam Doran

9. Sugarloaf

Sugarloaf usually cranks up its lifts a few days prior to Thanksgiving. The resort, which sits on Maine's second highest peak, typically offers around 1,700 vertical feet with 3-10 trails open for the holiday weekend.

For families, Sugarloaf offers ice skating and unique indoor fun. The town-owned Antigravity Complex features trampolines, climbing wall and a skateboard park. 


Sugarloaf - © Skye Chalmers
Good season for Mammoth - © Liam Doran
A skier rips through Sun Valley powder..  Photo courtesy of Visit Sun Valley. - © Visit Sun Valley
Plenty for shoppers and foodies in Banff - © Paul Zizka/Banff Lake Louise Tourism

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