Nothing quite ends the year with a bang like early-season skiing. A number of North America ski resorts opened in early November, while many more are projected to open in the coming days (note that these are projected opening dates and can change quickly depending on weather and conditions). It’s been cold enough to fire up the snowmakers at many ski areas, while others have enjoyed some nice early-season storms. But has there been enough humidity to hit those early-season opening goals? Time will tell, but for now, here are some highlights of North America resorts that are looking good for early-season skiing and riding.
Best Bets For Early-Season Skiing
Keystone has the most trails prepped and lifts operating among the handful of ski resorts that opened in early November. Granted, the season kicked off with only a few open runs, however, skiers and riders have to take what they can get this early in the season. Keystone’s grooming and snowmaking capacity runs deep, so they’ll be opening plenty of more terrain as winter rolls in.
Other Colorado resorts that have hit the ground running are Arapahoe Basin, Eldora Mountain Resort, and Winter Park. Breckenridge, Vail, Loveland, and Wolf Creek are set to open the weekend of November 10-11, followed closely by Copper Mountain on November 13 and Purgatory on November 18. Riders along the I-70 stretch and a bit further south can enjoy some nice early-season turns.
In Utah, Brighton Resort is likely to be the first of the major hitters in Utah’s Wasatch Range to open its doors to the public for the 2023/24 season, projected to open by mid-November. Owned and operated by Boyne Resorts, Brighton is fully equipped with state-of-the-art snowmaking equipment and has been taking advantage of the wet and rainy weather in the Salt Lake Valley. Brighton is looking to open at least the Majestic Express, which gives riders access to its state of the art terrain park.
Alta Ski Area, and a number of other Utah ski resorts, are expected to open the weekend of November 17. Alta has seen a few different storms drop powder for the 2023 season, though not quite its November 2022 total of 85 inches, which contributed to its record-breaking season total of 903 inches. No worries; it’s enough to get folks lapping. Collin’s lift has access to advanced and intermediate terrain, and Sunnyside is suitable for beginners.
Oregon’s Timberline Lodge will likely be the first to open in the state by around mid-November, continuing its reputation as one of the most reliable resorts for skiing (almost year-round) in the United States. In 2023, Timberline stayed open until August 13th, thanks to the resort’s “snow farming” technique that preps the famous Palmer glacier and its snowfields for operation in the summer.
Located outside of Wenatchee, Washington, Mission Ridge is another Pacific Northwest ski area that plans to run its lifts before Thanksgiving. After coming off its most extended season in 26 years in 2022/23, the resort is geared up and ready to go for its 57th year, with a brand new fleet of rental gear available for riders looking to try out a fresh board or skis this early season.
California’s behemoth, Mammoth Mountain, is set to open on November 10, and has a full slate of activities planned on the day to welcome in its 70th year of operation. So even if only a few runs are open for skiing, there will be plenty to enjoy on Mammoth’s opening day, including complimentary coffee and hot chocolate before Broadway Express starts running (the first 100 people in line get a free 23/24 Mammoth Beanie). Enjoy a DJ and drinks on the famous Tusks Sundeck from 11:15 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
In Northern California, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe looks to be the first Tahoe resort to open, with lifts starting to spin on November 10. Its high elevation, at 8260 feet, means that it often enjoys an early start date. Look for more Lake Tahoe ski resorts to open the weekend after, just before Thanksgiving week.
Known as the “Beast of the East,” Killington Resort works day in and day out to prep for an early season open, especially because the Vermont mountain is regularly one of the first stops on the women’s FIS Alpine World Cup Tour, which takes place over Thanksgiving weekend. Killington’s base-to-peak ride, the K-1 Express Gondola, runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and so is one of their quads that provides access to advanced and intermediate terrain. The snowmaking team currently has 200 snow guns firing across the mountain, working overtime to resurface open terrain.
Maine’s Sunday River and Sugarloaf have projected opening dates of November 16, 2023. Snowmaking for the season began at Sunday River on November 1, with the goal of kicking off early season operations in the Jordan Bowl, weather permitting. During the summer, the resort tripled the water capacity of the Jordan Basin by upgrading existing snowmaking infrastructure and completing the installation of nearly two miles of snowmaking pipe, which is helping make this early season opening possible. The Jordan Hotel will also be open for ski-in, ski-out lodging earlier than ever before.
Quebec’s Sommet Saint-Sauveur was actually one of the first North America ski resorts to open, kicking off their season on November 2. The terrain doesn’t compare to Canada’s larger ski resorts, however, the majority of ski resorts have limited terrain and coverage this year anyways.
The season is well under way at SkiBig3’s Alberta ski areas, with Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay opening November 2. Sunshine is opening November 11th. SkiBig3’s resorts are often open in early November, meaning that you can often find decent early-season conditions. Check conditions and snow reports on our website, or app, as early-season conditions can be limited and change quickly. Ski areas often announce the opening of new terrain and lifts on their social media pages.