If you can’t wait for North America’s ski season to start, you’ll want to read this! Not all snowy regions are created equal and 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!

Where is the best skiing in November and December?

1) Keystone, Colorado

This ski resort in the Colorado Rockies typically competes with Arapahoe Basin and Loveland as the first to open in Colorado each season, typically sometime in October.

Although the opening date for the 21/22 season is still TBD, Keystone has been successfully consistent in their efforts to move up opening day each season thanks to better snowmaking and grooming. Keystone also benefits from playful terrain parks and a lively base-village that typically hosts plenty of early-season entertainment.

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Keystone’s opening day can be a snowy affair. | Photo: 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 and if you’re like us and live in the United States, we’re dying to see our friends up north.

The mountain operations teams at Lake Louise and Sunshine Village know how to prep the slopes to perfection as they usually host World Cup races in late November/early December. Both Banff and Lake Louise are relatively quiet early in the season and there is often plenty of room on the slopes to spread out and get your first turns of the year.

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Lake Louise has prime conditions early than most thanks to World Cup alpine racing events and a snow-friendly climate. | Photo: Lake Louise Ski Resort

Where to stay: The 4.5-star Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is an iconic symbol of the Lake Louise Ski 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

With the highest summit elevation in California, Mammoth Mountain is often the first ski resort in the Sierra to open to the public. During normal snow years, Mammoth is a reliable bet for great early-season ski trips. And if the Pacific really gets pumping, Mammoth can reap the early-season rewards in feet, not inches.

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Mammoth’s early season conditions can be prime | Photo: 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 on Little Cottonwood Canyon, they settle over Alta and stay awhile, dumping their powdery payload on these mythical slopes.

In recent ski seasons, Alta has started off with a decently deep base and many years, skiers can finding fresh tracks in late November. Alta is currently projected to open 11/20/21.

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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 a simple, comfortable, and 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 as early as the beginning of November. Look to Sunday River for easy access from Boston, MA, and Portland, ME.

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Making the most of the man-made stuff on the East Coast | Photo: 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.


Are you eager to get on the slopes for the 2020 ski season? Get a free quote today and be matched with one of Ski.com’s 65+ Mountain Travel Experts. Nobody understands why you crave time in the mountains more than we do and nobody knows how to guide you there better.