If you can’t wait for North America’s ski season to start, you’ll want to read about this! Not all snowy regions are created equal. Some ski resorts open earlier and have better early season conditions thanks to strong October and November storm tracks, higher elevations and superior snow-making systems.

Of course there’s no way to forecast where the most snow will fall, but if you book your early season ski trip at one of these five North American resorts, odds are you’ll find great coverage and possibly some powder!

Book early to save up to 40% →

Where is the best skiing in December?

  1. Keystone, Colorado

    This Rockies resort races Arapahoe Basin and Loveland to be the first to open in Colorado each October. Out of the three, Keystone is our pick as the best early season destination thanks to their reliable snowmaking, playful terrain parks and lively base-village entertainment. Projected opening day: November 7.

    Keystone's opening day, Keystone opening day 14/15, Keystone opening day 2014, Keystone early season, Keystone El Nino
    Keystone’s opening day last season was a snowy affair. pc: Vail Resorts/Keystone

    Where to stay: Located in the middle of Keystone’s base village and less than 250 yards from the lifts, River Run Condominiums place skiers and snowboarders in the middle of all the Keystone early season action.

  2. Lake Louise Ski Resort, Banff, Alberta

    Located high in the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise is an early season storm magnet. Plus, their mountain operations team knows how to prep the slopes to perfection; they host World Cup races in late November/early December. Projected opening day: November 8.

    Lake Louise opening 2014, Lake Louise opening day 14/15, Lake Louise early season, Lake Louise World Cup 2014, Lake Louise El Nino
    Lake Louise has prime conditions early than most thanks to World Cup alpine racing events and a snow-friendly climate. pc: Lake Louise Ski Resort

    Where to stay: The 4.5-star Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is an iconic symbol of the Lake Louise area, and provides guests with an incredible experience including world-class onsite dining, a luxury spa and an Adventure Concierge to plan all of your excursions.

  3. Mammoth Mountain, California

    During normal snow years, Mammoth is a reliable bet for great early-season ski trips, and if the lingering affects of El Niño continue, Mammoth will reap the rewards in feet, not inches. Projected opening day: November 9.

    Mammoth early season, Mammoth El Nino, Mammoth opening dates
    With the possibility of an El Nino winter still likely, Mammoth’s early season conditions should be prime. pc: Mammoth Mountain

    Where to stay: The ski in ski out Juniper Springs Resort was recently named Conde Nast Travelers top 50 ski resort properties and offers guests relaxing amenities like an outdoor hot tub and swimming pool.

  4. Alta, Utah

    When storms barrel down Little Cottonwood Canyon, they settle in over Alta and stay a while. Recent ski seasons have started with deep bases, so if this year mimics the last few, skiers will be finding fresh tracks well in advance of the resort’s November opening. Projected opening day: November 23.

    Alta opening 2014, Alta opening day 14/15, Alta early season
    A classic skier’s lodge, Alta’s Peruvian is the perfect place to kick off the season and really get into the skiing mood.

    Where to stay: Located at the base of the resort, the Peruvian Lodge provides simple, comfortable and an inviting atmosphere.

  5. Sunday River, Maine

    Savvy East Coast skiers know about Sunday River’s legendary snow-making, and they’ll be schussing Locke Mountain’s pristine corduroy starting in November. Projected opening day:  November 19.

    Sunday River early season, Sunday River opening dates, Sunday River El Nino
    It was looking quite soft at Sunday River on Nov. 20, 2013. pc: Sunday River

    Where to stay: The slopeside Grand Summit Resort is perfect for Sunday River vacationers looking for convenience, amenities—like a pool, outdoor hot and spa—and reasonably priced rates.

We tapped Mountain Travel Expert Monique Iannuzzi to provide some early-season vacation tips.

Monique Iannuzzi

Mountain Travel Expert Since 2010

800-610-8911 x3046

“Keystone typically has great early season snow. If the storms don’t come all at once, the resort has fantastic snowmaking and grooming.”


If you’re eager to click in or strap in on snow, browse our featured deals and hundreds of deals online. When you’re ready, speak with a Mountain Travel Expert at 800-610-8911 or chat now to book your early-season ski trip!