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!
Where is the best skiing in December?
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 5, 2016.
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.
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 5, 2016
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.
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 10, 2016.
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.
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 18, 2016.
Where to stay: Located at the base of the resort, the Peruvian Lodge provides simple, comfortable and an inviting atmosphere.
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: October 17, 2016.
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.
Mountain Travel Expert Since 2010
“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!
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com managing the website and blog content, I couldn't be happier. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.