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Dreamin’ Of A White Christmas: Early Line On Holiday Powder


A keystone holiday getaway is a good bet. (Keystone)

The B-rolls of early snowfall photos have started, and the usual suspects have already dropped their ropes on a new season. So the next question is: Where to ski and snowboard during the holiday season?

A half-dozen mountains in the West cranked up their lifts already, and many are poised to open before or at Thanksgiving. Ski-and-stay packages abound for the holidays.

Handicapping snow conditions for the December holidays is a very imperfect science, but SnoCountry will nonetheless give it a go:

Early snowfall. The Northwest and northern Rockies are getting the early dumps and, if temps stay low, should have decent coverage for the holidays. Tahoe-area resorts also seeing the white stuff.

Winter is indeed coming at Sun Valley. (Sun Valley/Facebook)

Snowmaking. The growth of guns on the mountain has exploded in the past decade, as a hedge against early-season clear skies. Colorado heavyweights like Breckenridge and Keystone pound their slopes as soon as possible. Sun Valley touts most sophisticated snowmaking system, and Heavenly claims nearly 3,000 acres within range of a snow gun. Solitude typically gets the head start in Utah.

First turns of the season at Lookout Pass. (photo Lookout Pass)

High elevation. A good foundation for a snowy holiday decision is to go as high as possible – elevation wise, that is. Chances better for more artificial snow and more natural. In Utah, that means up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Alta or Snowbird (both10,500-plus), or over the divide at Solitude or Brighton.

Looking a lot like Christmas at Squaw. (Squaw Valley/Facebook)

In Colorado, Summit and Vail counties sit alongside the Continental Divide (12,000-plus) that attracts storms to resorts like Copper Mountain and Beaver Creek.  

Forecasts. Professional meteorologists are deign to push too far out, so don’t expect holiday certainty any time soon. However, services like OpenSnow and NOAA issue long-term forecasts – with ample caveats – that can give holiday planners a hint of what’s to come. Be sure to keep an eye on temps, too. If you can wait to the last-minute, you can bank on freshies with greater assurances.


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