Here are a few secrets about skiing and riding during the Thanksgiving holiday: Turkey day tends to be light on crowds at many ski resorts. November and the first half of December are considered very early season, certainly not 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.
See the below list of North American ski resorts and find your best bet for skiing and riding over the Thanksgiving holiday and into early December.
1&2. Lake Louise & Sunshine Village
Head north to Banff for early holiday snow this season. Lake Louise gives skiers and riders access to 4,200 skiable acres and 3,251 vertical feet of drop. History tells us it’s a good bet Lake Louise and Sunshine will be open in late October.
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. In a normal year (pre-COVID and AFTER-COVID, Lake Louise would host both men’s and women’s World Cup speed races (downhills and a Super-G) over Thanksgiving and the following week. Those races were canceled as racers stayed in Europe during the pandemic and likely for 2021. But, they will return, making a visit north of the Thanksgiving border an extra well-worth-it trip.
Depending on early-season conditions, Sun Valley makes every effort to be open for skiing and riding over the Thanksgiving weekend. Likely, you can 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 typical non-COVID Beaver Creek Resort opening day adds to warm holiday traditions by passing out cookies hot from the oven for their opening day celebration. The resort tries its best to be open just before Thanksgiving every year, as does neighboring Vail. 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. COVID closed down most activities last year.
Head to Steamboat after Thanksgiving for what are usually excellent early season conditions. Steamboat generally plans to open in early December. So, eat the turkey at home and then get a first look of the season at the resort’s 2,965 skiable acres.
Park City Mountain Resort is a great option for early-season skiers and riders as, with good early snow, it is likely to open in mid-December. Park City, located just 35-minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport, offers 7,300 skiable acres serviced by 41 lifts.
Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows normally opens its lifts just before Thanksgiving. It spans more than 6,000 skiable acres and features 42 lifts and 270 trails.
The resort invested much dollars in the past few years in snowmaking, so regardless of early season snow totals, there should be plenty of open terrains come turkey day.
Mammoth Mountain is generally open by mid-December and 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 early, with good skiing open for Thanksgiving.