If you can’t wait for the new season of snow, this post will be right up your alley. Not all mountains and regions are created the same. Some ski resorts open earlier than others, and some will have much better snow compared to others. Why? Early season conditions will often depend on storm tracks, higher elevations and better snow-making systems.
Obviously, it’s difficult to predict where the best snow will be. However, if you do book somewhere, there are some resorts that are consistently good early in the season. Also, we have not restricted this list to the U.S and Canada, some of the best early season snow is found in Europe. Here are the top ski resorts with early season snow.
Alta sits next to Little Cottonwood Canyon. What does this mean? When a storm comes through the canyon, it settles over Alta and stays for a while. In recent years this has provided Alta with a very thick base for the start of the season. If we can take anything from previous years, you will be met with fresh tracks for the opening in November.
Keystone is frequently one of the first resorts to open in Colorado each year. There are some other resorts in the Rockies you could opt for, but this is our favourite. Regarding reliable snowmaking, Keystone takes the cake. Furthermore, there is always enough snow at the terrain parks. So, if you are keen to hit the mountain in early November, Keystone is a great option. SnowPak has heaps of great information on Keystone.
Lake Louise Ski Resort, Banff, Alberta
Firstly, Lake Louise is located high in the Canadian Rockies. This resort is an early season storm magnet. Not only is the location ideal for early season snow, but mountain operations here are also some of the best from around the world. They know how to prep a mountain to perfection. You need perfection when your resort plays host to World Cup races.
Mammoth Mountain, California
Mammoth is always reliable for great early season snow, even during an average year. However, if the effects of El Niño continue, Mammoth will start to see a great reward. We are not talking inches of snow, but feet! Not only does Mammoth get significant snow, but you still get a glimpse of that beautiful Californian summer. Plenty of sun and blue skies while you ski, perfect for the individual that doesn’t want to let go of summer too early.
If you can’t wait for the North American resorts to open, try Europe. Tignes will open as soon as the snow cover is good enough. The Tignes ski area and Grande Motte glacier are scheduled to open from late September in 2017! Yes, there are other options around, but many other resorts will wait for the crowds to come before opening.
The L’Espace Killy area will open as much as possible and as soon as possible. As long as the conditions allow it, which they often do, most runs will be open. If the snow isn’t falling, you still may be in luck. Tignes boasts one of the largest man-made snow systems in Europe.
Cervinia typically opens in late October. There is guaranteed skiing on the glacier if there hasn’t been enough snow fall. This glacier is shared with Zermatt. It’s unlikely that you can ski from the top of the mountain down to the resort at the start of the season. However, you can ski down to the mid-stations, LaghiCimeBianche or even Plan Maison if you’re lucky.
Cervinia will always do its best to extend the available skiing terrain as far as possible. Towards the end of November, at the latest, you can ski right down to the base. Once the snow falls, it’s hanging around due to the areas extreme height. By the end of December, snow coverage is at its peak, so early season skiing is ideal.
This could be the most reliable resort in the Alps for early season snow. The glacier here is actually open all year round, 365 days. The lower non-glacier areas are good for snow as well, both high by Austrian standards and very shady.
Unfortunately, you will get somewhat limited variety and challenge compared to other resorts, but the amount of snow is worth it.
Anyone of these great resorts will give you some great early season snow, it just depends on where you want to go.