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Winter Stoke Is Here! Ski Season Starts at These Resorts in October, November

Will this year's El Niño be terrible or great for skiing and riding? As always, it depends on who you ask. But a lot of resorts are aiming for early start dates.

a chair lift with scant snow on the ground below itEarly November turns? It's happening this year for a few select resorts; (photo/Copper Mountain)
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For much of the U.S., this recent summer was an unrelenting inferno of sweaty thighs, fruitless searches for the cool side of the pillow, and endlessly applied sunscreen. But now the dog days of summer are behind us. Fall officially started on September 23, and the high country is rapidly cooling. Snow is already dusting the the Rockies’ highest peaks, and if you breathe the autumn air deep enough, you can almost taste ski season.

But when does ski season officially start? Here’s the current list the resorts that are already making snow, the ones that are already getting snow, and when they’re all hoping to open.

Copper Mountain (Colorado)

when does ski season start? copper mountain
Snowmaking operations at Copper Mountain; (photo/Copper Mountain)

Located off Interstate 70 south of Frisco, Copper Mountain received a dusting of white gold at base level! The team there took advantage of the snowfall to initiate snowmaking operations, with a scheduled opening day of Nov. 13 in the works. This season, Copper Mountain is opening a mid-mountain lodge called The Aerie.

The Aerie (which is, suitably, also the name of a large bird of prey’s nest) will be located at the base of American Eagle Lift. It will be a 25,000-square-foot lodge where guests can take a break from the slopes, grab a bite to eat or a drink, and relax with 270-degree views of the Gore and Ten Mile Ranges.

Angel Fire (New Mexico)

a snowless shot of the base area at Angel Fire
The base area at Angel Fire; (photo/screenshot Angel Fire webcam)

Things look a little grim by contrast over at Angel Fire, where a base webcam reveals nothing but Northern New Mexico dirt. But don’t be deceived; forecasters there are expecting a heavier-than-usual winter thanks to El Niño.

“A strong El Niño is on the horizon, and history tells us that it often brings heavy snowfall to Angel Fire. This means this winter promises to be one for the books, with powder days you won’t want to miss,” Greg Ralph, Angel Fire Resort director of marketing, said in a press release.

Last year (a La Niña year), Angel Fire got 162 inches of snow, the most it’s gotten in the last decade.

With that in mind, Angel Fire plans to open on Dec. 15.

Brian Head Resort (Utah)

a man snowboarding near some aspens
An employee at Brian Head Resort getting in this season’s first scanty turn; (photo/Brian Head Resort)

A little dusting is one thing, but notching those first turns is a whole different story. And that’s exactly what patrollers at Utah’s Brian Head Resort got this week after receiving (*checks notes*) 2 full inches of that sweet October fresh.

We’re certain they were riding their rock skis. But hey, any turns are better than none!

The family-friendly Southern Utah resort has a base elevation of 9,600 feet, and it’s aiming for an opening date of Nov 10. Kids 12 and under ski and ride free for the entire season.

Eldora Mountain Ski Resort (Colorado)

a view of a chairlift in the early morning at Eldora Mountain in Colorado in Octobe
(Photo/Cullen McHale)

The tiny mountain resort just 30 minutes outside of Boulder is likewise hoping to start snowmaking early and open as soon as possible. The resort told GearJunkie that it plans to start making snow on Oct. 17. Its opening day is currently set for Nov. 17 — at the latest!

This year, Eldora announced that it was breaking ground on a new 12,000-square-foot adaptive sports facility at the base of the mountain. The new building will make it easier for even more people to get up to the mountain and enjoy Eldora’s slopes.

Arapahoe Basin (Colorado)

el niño at a basin
Arapahoe Basin getting ready for a mid-October opening; (photo/Arapahoe Basin)

The snowmakers at Arapahoe Basin lucked out this week with “a great base [of snow] that we could build on,” according to a statement from the resort. Apparently, the team there ran snow guns all day on October 3, up and down the run “High Noon.”

The resort hasn’t announced an official opening date beyond “mid-October.” And the fact that snow is already flying there bodes well for early-season turns.

The Dillion, Colo., resort is legendary for good reason. Arapahoe Basin is historically one of the first resorts to open in Colorado, and is often one of the last to close, with a season running from October to June. It usually gets over 80 days of snow a season and averages a total of 278 inches annually. In 2017, the resort added the Beavers lift, which opened up approximately 468 acres of skiable terrain on the resort’s west side.

When Does Ski Season Start?

el niño at copper mountain - when does ski season start?
(Photo/Copper Mountain)

The above list isn’t by any means comprehensive. And, it’s still the early, early days — so be patient! The real start to ski season is yet to come. But so far, this El Niño year is looking hopeful. Here’s an overview of which resorts are opening in October and November.

Epic Pass Resorts

Mid-October — Keystone
Nov. 10 — Breckenridge, Vail Mountain
Nov. 17 — Heavenly, Northstar, Park City Mountain
Nov. 22 — Beaver Creek, Crested Butte
Nov. 23 — Whistler Blackcomb
Dec. 1 — Kirkwood, Stevens Pass
Dec. 2 — Deer Valley Resort

Icon Pass Resorts

Mid-October — Arapahoe Basin
Nov. 3 — SkiBig3-Norquay
Nov. 9 — Buttermilk
Nov. 10 — SkiBig3-Lake Louise, SkiBig3-Sunshine
Nov. 11 — Snow Summit
Nov. 13 — Copper Mountain
Nov. 16 — Mammoth Mountain
Nov. 17 — Alta, Eldora, loon Mountain, Solitude Mountain Resort, Sugarloaf
Nov. 18 — Stratton, Sugarbush, Sun Peaks Resort, Taos Ski Valley
Nov. 22 — Big Sky, Crystal Mountain, Palisades Tahoe, Snowshoe, Steamboat,
Nov. 23 — Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Tremblant
Nov. 24 — Bear Mountain, Jackson Hole, Mt. Bachelor, Schweitzer, Snow Valley
Nov. 25 — Alyeska Resort, Kitzbühel
Nov. 29 — Blue Mountain Resort
Nov. 30 — Snowbird

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