West's Resorts Begin To Fire Up Snow Guns For Opening Day

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With opening dates on the horizon, crews at many resorts in the West have been testing snow guns -- and looking longingly to the skies -- in hopes of putting down a base of snow in October.

Most ski and snowboard resorts have announced their anticipated opening days, although persistent warm weather in some regions may have something to say about that. A frequent check of resort websites is recommended.

However, hints of winter whiff the air and the high-country leaves are turning, so it's time to haul skis and snowboards out of storage and get them ready for the season.

The informal race to be the first to open in the nation falls upon the highest-elevation mountains along the spine of the Colorado Rockies. Traditionally, it's been Arapahoe Basin, Keystone and Loveland that vie for the title, but Wolf Creek surreptitiously snuck in last season by firing up its chairlifts on Oct. 16.

This year -- if official dates are to be believed -- Keystone will lead the pack by opening on Oct. 21, followed by Arapahoe Basin on Oct. 22, and Loveland and Wolf Creek on Oct. 29.

In California, 7,700-foot-high Boreal on Donner Pass is optimistic to begin on Oct. 28, while Mammoth Mountain plans to be in second place with an Nov. 11 opening. Tahoe's Heavenly has penciled in Nov. 18 for its first chairs.

Despite having middle-of-the-pack summit elevation, Lookout Pass (5,650 feet) on the border of Idaho and Montana has pushed its first day all the way up to Nov. 6 -- a full two weeks ahead of its previous earliest opening. Schweitzer, Sun Valley and Tamarack all plan to follow later in the month.

A pair of Utah mountains -- Brian Head and Park City Mountain -- hope to be the first in the Beehive State with openings on Nov. 18.

Skiers and riders in Washington will have to wait until December for Stevens Pass (Dec. 2) and 49 Degrees North (Dec. 3), while Oregonians will have to bide their time until Mt. Hood Meadows and Timberline (Dec. 11). Mt. Bachelor expects to follow close behind on Dec. 12.

In New Mexico, Sipapu has had a lock on first-to-open in recent seasons. For 2022-2023, the family resort tucked into the Sangre de Cristos has tabbed Nov. 18 to begin spinning its lifts.

 

 

 

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Inland Northwest Resorts Embrace Bikes, Hikes And Quietude

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Between the crest of the Cascades and western front of the Northern Rockies, a half-dozen ski and snowboard resorts stay open -- in varying degrees -- during the summer months for all to cool out a bit.

Summer activity menus ranges from the full-on "adventure park" concept to mountain biking and scenic lift rides to mellow hiking and meditating upon Nature.

Up near the Canadian border, Schweitzer Mountain looms above Lake Pend Oreille and Sandpoint, Idaho. A chairlift ride gets you to mountaintop restaurant Sky House for views, brews and food amidst the Kanitzu National Forest. There's a summit disc golf course, too, and more than 40 miles of MTB trails head down to the resort base -- home to dual ziplines, climbing wall, trampoline and more.

Jump across into Washington and check out 49 Degrees North, one of the northernmost resorts in U.S. It's old-school summer on Chewelah Peak: No lifts, no "attractions" other than a half-dozen MTB and hiking trails along service roads. Mid-summer mean huckleberry picking season all over the resort's three basins.

Still in Washington is Mt. Spokane outside the state's largest city east of the Cascades. The non-profit day hill is open for hiking and biking (no lifts), and Saturdays' Brews and Views at the summit's Vista House.

Back into Idaho, Silver Mountain above Kellogg boasts Idaho's largest indoor water park -- perfect for cooling down in a hot summer. Park has a dozen stations, including flow rider for surfing, lazy downriver tubing, Minor's Island for kids, and a overhead rope course. On the mountain, the nation's longest gondola runs carries lookie-loos, hikers and mountain bikers for fresh air at the summit.

Right at the Montana-Idaho border, Lookout Pass is a short drive from silver boomtowns Wallace and Mullan. Few bike routes compare with the famed Hiawatha Trail, operated by the resort. A premier rail-trail, the 15-mile, all-downhill ride straddles the state line with 10 tunnels, seven train trestles, interpretive stops and drop-dead views of the Bitterroots. At the resort, chairlift runs Friday-Sunday for hiking, mountain biking and soaking in the scenery.

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SnoCast: April Showers Brings...The Diehards

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Early April is always a toss up for weather and the number of open ski areas slowly continues to dwindle. But, that doesn’t mean we’re done! Here’s what to expect in the forecast for those of you still hitting the slopes this week.

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SnoCast: Bursts of Snow and Wintry Chills

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In this week's SnoCast, we'll see bursts of snow for the Rockies, the Midwest, and Northeast ski areas. And with late-January chilly temperatures on tap, bundle up and hit the slopes during this fairly quiet stretch.

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SnoCast: New Snow from Coast to Coast

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This week brought more wild swings in the weather country-wide. The West has benefited greatly with building snow cover, and the East eyes the next weekend wintry wallop. Here’s the forecast in this week’s SnoCast.

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Pacific Northwest Ski Resorts Roll Out New Lifts, Terrain, Lodges For 2021-22 Season

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Following the challenging winter of 2020-2021 when ski areas implemented measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic - including limited seating capacity on chairlifts - this season's outdoor operations will look much like they did prior to the pandemic. Ski areas plan to return to full chair lift capacity for 2021-2022.

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11 Idaho Resorts Offer Mountain Biking

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It’s summer, but that doesn’t mean heading to the ski hill is out of the question. Eleven of Idaho’s ski areas offer lift-served mountain biking and North Idaho’s resorts offer plenty of options.

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Inland Northwest Resorts Set Out Polices For Season

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The half-dozen ski and snowboard resorts that sit east of the Cascade divide and on the western edge of the Rockies have begun to announce ticket policies for the upcoming season to comply with local and state Covid-related capacity caps in place.

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Idaho Ski Resorts Prepare for Summer Operations

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If you're heading up into the mountains, grab your hiking boots and mountain bike.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Active West & Bluebird Skies in the East

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Plenty of sunshine to go around both east and west this week, but the west will see the most snow days. This week's SnoCast outlines the best conditions and best bets to hit the slopes through the weekend.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Ending January on a Snowy Note

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The final weekend of January delivers fresh, snowy conditions for both the west and the east. Some areas will measure in the feet. Read on for more details of this weekend’s weather outlook.

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Plenty Of New At Idaho Ski And Snowboard Resorts

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As the 2019-2020 season opens in Idaho, skiers and snowboarders who venture into the northern tier of the Rockies will find lots of new lifts, terrain and facilities to explore.

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Doubles Anyone? Romantic Double Chair Lifts

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Valentine’s Day is approaching, and luckily for us skiers and riders, it’s a holiday you can spend on the slopes. There’s no better way to enjoy quality time with your favorite person than a traditional double chair, the original love seat built for two. It’s probably too cold to keep your phone out, so enjoy some conversation, sitting close and dreaming of all the runs you’ll take together.

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Finding Off-Beat Ways To Celebrate Holidays In The Hills

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Christmas in the mountains runs deep with traditions. But a number of resorts try to work outside the box and be creative with their celebrations.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Feet Of Snow For The Northwest

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Multiple storm systems and a steady plume of moisture will stream into the Pacific Northwest, bringing big totals into the weekend.

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Snowmaking Upgrades In Colorado, Lookout Extends Hours, Boreal Gets New Chair

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As a new season begins, skiers and snowboarders head to the hills, always looking for what’s new at their favorite resort – and what improvements they might find if they venture to other areas.

Here’s a look at a quintet of resorts in Colorado, Idaho and California that expect to drop the ropes in early November.

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Kids Getting Active At Summer Mountains

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Willy Booker, head of Burke Mountain Academy which hones some of America’s finest ski racers, bemoans that kids are less active and athletic today and don’t get outdoors enough. 

One way to remedy that is to have fun at a mountain resort this summer.

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Lookout Pass Adds Trail, Looks To Future Lifts, Trails

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Plenty of trees to navigate at Lookout. (Lookout Pass/Facebook)

This season, the snow gods have smiled mostly upon the Northern Rockies, just in time to debut a new trail at Lookout Pass and produce optimism for planned upgrades.

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Get It On In Rockies: January Is Learn to Ski and Ride Month

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All New Mexico resorts have discounted lessons. (Ski New Mexico/Facebook)

Ski and snowboard resorts all want more people on the slopes, and one way is to introduce newcomers to the sport.

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SnoCountry SnoCast: Bitter Cold Plunge And The Effects

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Midwest resorts are in prime location to pick up several inches of snow and keep it around. (Boyne Highlands/Facebook)

Cold air dominates most of the United States and Canada through Christmas, leading to favorable conditions for snowfall in many areas.

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