Thanksgiving arrives next week here in the U.S., and with it comes the unofficial start of the ski season. So far this year temperatures have been warmer than normal, and the amount of snow on the ground is at an all-time low for the month of November. But, that doesn't mean you can't hit the slopes on the upcoming holiday weekend, and it doesn't mean that the 2016-2017 ski season won't be outstanding.
Who's open? How much snow is on the ground? We'll take a look at the major resorts and give you and idea of what you can expect if you venture out next weekend.
The eastern states of the U.S. have been unseasonably warm and dry throughout the fall, which hasn't made conditions good for either natural snowfall or making the artificial kind. But, that doesn't mean there aren't some top resorts open for the season and ready to welcome skiers on Thanksgiving weekend.
For instance, Kilington in Vermont has two lifts currently in operation and 16" base, which is enough to open 4 of its runs. Nearby Stowe Mountain is busily putting on the finishing touches to get their season off as well, with plans to open on November 23, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Jay Peak is anticipating colder temperatures in the days ahead, and are ready to fire up their snow guns to get some artificial powder on the slopes in time for the holiday. If all goes well, they'll open in time for the weekend too.
Up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Whiteface Mountain is starting to get some snow at long last (4" in the last 24 hours), and is aiming to open on November 25, the day after Thanksgiving. Others set to open ahead of the holiday include Loon Mountain in New Hampshire and Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, and Sugarloaf in Maine.
Perhaps the premiere ski destination in the entire U.S., Colorado hasn't been without its struggles so far this fall too. Sure, A-Basin and Loveland opened on schedule in the first week of October, but for the most part snow hasn't been falling much in the Rockies. Still, major resorts across the state are either now open or plan too soon. For instance, Copper Mountain opened on November 18 and Breckenridge follows suite on November 19. Vail currently plans to open on November 25, while Aspen Snowmass is hoping to begin welcoming skiers on Thanksgiving Day.
In short, conditions haven't been great, but the resorts are still set to open mostly on schedule.
The story has been similar in Utah, where there has been a bit of fresh powder, but not as much as the resorts would like either. Alta, Brighton, and Snowbird is expected to open the weekend before Thanksgiving, and Park City will follow suit on the November 26. Unfortunately, Solitude and Deer Valley have delayed their start dates into December, but thankfully fresh snow has been falling and they should open soon.
As we all know, California has been struggling with a drought over the past couple of years, and as a result the winter ski scene hasn't always been great. But, snow has fallen across the region in recent days, and the forecasts call for more in the days ahead. That has allowed resorts like Mammoth Mountain (base depth of 6-36"!) and Boreal Mountain to open already, with a number of others soon to follow. Places like Suger Bowl, Squaw Valley, and Heavenly are all expected to begin welcoming guests on Wednesday, November 23.
If you plan on hitting the slopes in California this coming holiday weekend, chances are you'll be very happy indeed.
Other Western Resorts
Other resorts in the western U.S. will be hit or miss depending on where you're going to be. Snow fall has indeed begun at long last, but for some of the locations there still hasn't been enough consistently cool weather to get things started. For instance, while Taos has delayed its opening day until December 15, Santa Fe is still planning on opening Thanksgiving Day. Both Jackson Hole and Sun Valley are aiming for November 24th for their opening dates as well.
Of course, there are a large number of other resorts throughout the U.S. that we didn't have time to check in with, but this gives you a good idea of who will be open in time for the holiday weekend. If you don't see your favorite ski destination on this list, be sure to check its website before heading out to the slopes.