Loveland chairlift ready to be first open. (Loveland/Facebook)
It’s the time of year when the first snow hits the high ridges, the ski shows debut – and resorts begin to announce the day that the new ski and snowboard season will arrive.
Of course, weather conditions always dictate whether an “official” opening day can happen, but the universal use of snowmaking equipment has made those predictions less risky. So here we go with the first ones out of the gate for 2017-2018:
Timberline Lodge took some of the steam out of the annual race-to-open-first when the Oregon resort on the slopes of Mt. Hood opened up Palmer Snowfields at the beginning of October.
But the competition remains fierce In Colorado, where Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin have fired up the snow guns and turned their prayerful eyes to the skies in hopes of greeting skiers and riders by mid-October. Summit County neighbors Copper, Breckenridge and Keystone all say Nov. 10 will be opening day while, farther to the south, powder-stash Wolf Creek hopes enough falls to begin the 2017-2018 season on Nov. 3.
In California, one of the best seasons in recent times has everyone pumped up for a repeat performance – from Lake Tahoe to the San Bernardino Mountains. The best bets for grabbing some early turns in the Golden State will Boreal in the north and Mammoth farther south. Both say they will crank up the lifts on Nov. 10. Squaw-Alpine Meadows and Heavenly claim to be close behind – a week later on Nov. 17.
This fall, Arizona Snowbowl won the sweepstakes for first snowmaking on the mountain this fall, and mountain managers expect to start spinning the lifts on Nov. 10. And, in Wyoming, Grand Targhee has been hit with early season snowfall so that ropes may be dropped as soon as Nov. 16.
As always, once the floodgates swing open for the early season in the West, the season rushes into full gear with most major resort open by Thanksgiving -- and the rest to follow suit shortly thereafter.
At southern Colorado's Silverton Mountain – where it’s all about powder and nothing but natural powder – will, again, be the last to open on Dec. 28.