Top Early Season Ski Resorts For The 2019-20 season

Image appears courtesy: Lake Louise Resort / Ski Big 3

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We’ve already talked about some of the first resorts to open this winter in last week’s post. The good news – the front range in Colorado has already received more than 40 inches of snow, and it’s only the first week of November! The bad news though – California is running into one of its classic dry spells with not a single flake falling in October. Fortunately, all it takes is one storm and game on in Tahoe! So, which resorts are your best chance to ride by Thanksgiving this season? Based on the latest weather outlook, here are your best chances by region.

Colorado (and OVERALL WINNER)

Monarch Mountain

Monarch Mountain
Image appears courtesy: Monarch Mountain

Due to the storm track this season, snow’s been hitting the Front Range of the Rockies hard! As we talked about earlier, the perennial snowmaking kings like Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, and Loveland are opening as much terrain as quickly as possible, but the clear winner right now is another: Monarch Mountain. With the EARLIEST opening in nearly 50 years (November 1st), they crushed the competition with nearly double the amount of terrain open in acreage. They’re currently planning on being open for weekends only.

Western Canada

SkiBig3 (Lake Louise, Mt. Norquay, Banff Sunshine)

Lake Louise Ski Resort Banff Alberta Canada skiing sunshine winter
Photo by: Dan Evans – Image appears courtesy: SkiBig3

As usual, the trifecta of resorts known simply as SkiBig3 near Banff and Lake Louise are starting the season off right. Lake Louise opened on Friday, November 1st, holding a current all-natural snow base of over 60 cm (17.5 in). Banff Sunshine is targeting to open on Friday November 8th. These 3 ski areas could be a good option for anyone looking to fly to a destination resort. In fact, Lake Louise is planning to open the Gondola on Thursday, November 7th, which will introduce even more terrain. As an added bonus to the snow, the town of Banff is right next door, and there’s a TON to do there when you’re off the slopes.

Pacific Northwest

Mt. Baker

The Mt Baker wilderness opening up
The Mt. Baker wilderness opening up

Mt. Baker typically receives heavy maritime snow, which translates to a great-type-of-snow-that-fills-in quite nicely. This also means they only need 18-30 inches to open up for the season. But, the best part by far about Baker is when they do open, it typically means you can ride nearly the entire mountain. That’s the opposite of almost all the other mountains on the list. Keep your eyes peeled on the weather forecast for Glacier, WA and look for snow levels below 3,500 feet. If snow happens, it might be time to book a flight for the Pac Northwest and get some pow turns in.



Fresh Snowfall over Mammoth Mountain - Image Courtesy Mammoth Mountain
Fresh Snowfall over Mammoth Mountain – Image Courtesy Mammoth Mountain

October has been VERY cold but not as wet as we all had hoped in the Sierra. If you want to put in some work, there are a few turns available at the higher elevations, but the weather pattern for the next few weeks is leaving Lake Tahoe & Mammoth high and dry. This means you’ll need to lean on Mammoth’s snowmaking and the fact that their base is one of the highest in the region at 8,909 feet. As any local knows, we only need one major snowstorm to dump a few feet and we could be in business. Fingers crossed, and let’s hope for a pattern change soon to colder storms.



Snowmaking in October - Image taken by Will Humber
Snowmaking in October – Image taken by Will Humber

Have you ever seen a man-made snowstorm? When the “Beast” turns on their snowmaking system, they can pump 720,000 gallons of water through 240 snowguns and cover 80 acres of terrain with a FOOT of snow!!! This allows Killington to offer what is the longest skiing season in eastern North America. If that wasn’t enough, they’ve already received 18 inches of snowfall, and it’s only the first week of November. They are poised to definitely have an epic Thanksgiving, especially if a few more storms roll through.



Opening Day Brighton Ski Resort Snow October
Photo taken: 10.29.19 – Image appears courtesy: Brighton

Similar to California, Utah’s weather pattern seems pretty bleak on any natural snowfall for the month of November. On the plus side, Brighton has already received 31 inches and has a 16 inch base. Like all things weather related, this can change quickly, but until then, it’s all about snowmaking for this part of the country. Luckily from a snowmaking standpoint, the cold snap reached as far south as Utah, setting records near the end of October. Also, Brighton has a bunch of other ski resorts near it that even if they’re only able to open up a few runs, you can easily go check out Solitude and the Park City resorts as well.


Ski Brule

Image taken by Brad Bergeron
Image taken by Brad Bergeron

Mt. Bohemia might be the “King” of the Midwest for the steep & deep, but Ski Brule is all about having the longest season in the Midwest. With a previous record-early opening of October 24th and then typically a late April closing, they always push to be the first resort open and last to close. It helps that Ski Brule’s system allows them to make enough snow to open a trail within 24 hours of ideal snowmaking. The target opening date this season is Friday, November 8th, with at least three trails and possibly another one if the weather stays cold.

These are just some of the best bets for skiing or snowboarding at each region. Ski season is already too short as it is, so extend that season by getting on the slopes at one of these resorts by Thanksgiving.

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