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

Related: NOAA Map Pinpoints Where to Find a White Christmas

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 5 North American ski resorts, odds are you’ll find great coverage and possibly some powder!

Where is the best skiing in November and December?

1) Keystone, Colorado

Projected Opening Day: TBD – October

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 its 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.

Keystone's opening day, Keystone opening day 2021, Colorado early season, where to ski in Colorado in December
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

Projected Opening Day: 10/29

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.

Lake Louise opening 2021, Lake Louise early season, Canada, Lake Louise World Cup 2021, Lake Louise La Nina
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) Arapahoe Basin, Colorado

Projected Opening Day: TBD – October

With the highest summit elevation in all of the United States of America, Arapahoe Basin is often the first ski resort in Colorado to open to the public. During normal snow years, Arapahoe Basin is a reliable bet for great early-season ski trips starting in October. And if the storms really get pumping, A-Bay can be the first place in the country to offer lift-served powder turns. Just make sure to get the rental insurance or bring your old rock skis.

Ski season opening day in Colorado
The opening day ceremonies at Arapahoe Basin on opening day 2017 | Photo: Barclay Idsal

Where to stay: Stay in nearby Summit County at the 2028 Ryan Gulch rental, which is the perfect venue for a group of friends who want to make their first turns of the season and follow it up with a muscle-melting soak in the hot tub.

4) Alta, Utah

Projected Opening Day: 11/20

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.

Alta opening 2021, Alta opening day, Alta early season, Utah early season skiing
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 with the best bar in the area for apres. 

5) Sunday River, Maine

Projected Opening Day: 11/6

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.

Sunday River early season, Sunday River opening dates, Sunday River opening day 2021
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.