• Banff Sunshine ski resort

The 7 Best Ski Resorts For Early-Season Snowboarding

Steamboat Ski resort Colorado

After a record-breaking 2018/2019 season of snow, it’s hard to believe history could repeat itself so soon. It’s only November, but the 2019/2020 season is already looking very snowy. In fact, there’s so much snow piling up there have been avalanches reported in British Columbia, Canada, as well as Colorado.

The Western U.S. has received enough snow to allow several resorts to open earlier than ever before. Here are our picks for great natural snow and sweet early-season snowboarding right now.

Arapahoe Basin, Colorado

Arapahoe Basin jumped ahead of every other Colorado ski resort with a surprise Friday opening day on Oct. 11. By the end of October, A-Basin had 160% of its average snowpack. If that’s not incentive enough, the resort kept the celebration going with “Slide into the Weekend” deals. On Fridays through Nov. 22, you can snag a $20 lift tickets for riding 2:00 – 4:00 p.m, and $5 beers and appetizers starting at 2:00 p.m. “It’s a new kind of Happy Hour that includes skiing and snowboarding. Does it get any better?”

Keystone Resort, Colorado

Keystone Resort almost kicked off the Colorado ski season. It opened on Oct. 12, which is the earliest opening day since 1995. A combination of an enhanced snow-making system and heavy snowstorms made the opening day possible. Still, only a handful of trails were ready for turns. Opening weekend, three trails off River Run Gondola were open to mid mountain, and riders and skiers could lap Montezuma Express before downloading on the gondola. 

“Our mountain operations team put in a tremendous amount of hard work to get our new snowmaking system ready for Keystone’s early opening,” Jody Churich, Keystone’s vice president and general manager, told Denver Post.

Big Sky Resort, Montana

Big Sky has had the third snowiest October in the last 20 years. So far, snow totals are 237% of average. Low temperatures have preserved the natural snow and allowed snowmaking to chug right along. Big Sky may not be open just yet (Nov. 28 marks the official opening day), but the white peaks are looking prime for turns already.

Winter Park, Colorado

After more than three feet of snow (40 inches) fell during October, Winter Park opened for the season on Saturday, Nov. 2. It’s the earliest opening in its 80 year history.

“Mother Nature brought the snow to Winter Park especially early this year, so we are taking advantage of the conditions and are excited to open the mountain more than a week earlier than expected,” Liz Agostin, Winter Park’s marketing director, told Denver Post.

Copper Mountain, Colorado

While Copper didn’t open to the public in October, some of its slopes were open for U.S. Ski Team training. If that’s any indication of the snow conditions, after Nov. 8 skiers and riders can enjoy awesome early-season conditions.

Banff Sunshine, Alberta

While not all of Banff Sunshine’s 3,358 acres of terrain is open, the bucket list-worthy ski resort is well on its way to a snowy season. On average, it receives over 360 inches of annual snowfall and the high elevation helps the season start early (Nov. 8 this year) and extend it well into the month of May or even June. Banff Sunshine got the season started with runs off Strawberry, Jackrabbit, and Wolverine lifts as well as the learn-to-ride magic carpets in Sunshine Village and $49 adult lift tickets. The 12-feature Strawberry Terrain Park is prime for early-season freestyle, too.

Banff ski resort Banff sunshine

Steamboat Resort, Colorado

October was the snowiest month ever in the ‘boat with 63 inches of pure Champagne Powder piling up on the slopes. (This October blew the previous snowfall record, a mere 40 inches, away.) As a result, Steamboat also joins the earliest opening day in history club, with opening day on Nov. 15.

“Winter came early to Steamboat and with record-breaking snow in October, opening sooner was an easy decision,” Steamboat Chief Operating Officer Rob Perlman shared in a press release. “We know our local skiers and riders are ready for the season, and we want to provide the opportunity for our employees to begin work and start getting paid as early as possible. This is a great way to kick off the season for everyone.”

Steamboat Ski Resort Colorado
Jennifer Nied
Jennifer Nied

Jennifer Nied has more than 10 years of writing and editing experience specializing in adventure and wellness travel, fitness, and spa. A Colorado native, Jennifer has been snowboarding for more than 23 years. She is a contributing writer for Women’s Health and her work has appeared in Budget Travel, American Spa, Good Housekeeping, Apartment Therapy, and more.

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