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early season in the rockies

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi there.
I come from spain and I'm plannig a trip to the us rockies for early december. It is a long trip from Europe so I'm little concern about snow conditions and I have to decide betwen Utah, Jackson hole or vail area resorts. What do you think it will be better.
post #2 of 14
Utah, plus if for some reason they didn't have that much snow there at that time, you could drive to your other locations.
post #3 of 14
We've had pretty good luck in Utah early season the last few years.The Cottonwood Canyons are always reliable and open in November, Solitude and Brighton usually first. Alta and Snowbird are rocky up high so it takes a lot of snow to cover the steep, off piste stuff. Even so, we've had terrific opening days at Alta/Bird the last few years, with nearly everything open. One year('02?) it didn't snow and didn't snow and then Thanksgiving week we got something like ten feet. The last two years or so we've gotten our first blizzard on Halloween (Oct 31st) and the snow didn't stop 'till spring.
It's nice. Worth the trip.

Ps- I'm at 7000'- it snows earlier up higher, sometimes in late August. There's still snow up there that never melted from last year, aside from the one or two little glaciers that hang around year after year.
post #4 of 14
Can't comment on Utah, but Jackson generally isn't very good early season. Vail really depends on the year - sometimes great early, sometimes not. They have enough snow making equipment that you will be guaranteed ok coverage, but I generally won't go to Vail until they open the back bowls (a fairly good indicator that the snow in general at the resort is ready for serious skiing); they usually open the back bowls the 2nd or 3rd weekend in December...

post #5 of 14
Im also from Europe & past 25 years have flown over to the US for the early skiing around Thanksgiving.
One thing to aware of, is even if the snow condtions are good alot of ski areas do not operate all the lifts.
In recent seaons I can name Telluride as a prime example. I also experienced limited operations in Vail & Aspen even though there was plenty of snow.
post #6 of 14
May be the reason they don't open all the lifts has to do with the 3 month work visa's of a lot of the employees.
post #7 of 14
Plug for Western Canada

December at Sunshine Village (neaf Banff, Alberta) would for sure have lots of snow for skiing. Whether it would be 100% open is questionable but for sure 75%.

Lake Louise would be skiable but depends on snowfalls.

Marmot Basin (Jasper, Alberta) depends on the year. They generally open November 28 with usually pretty good conditions. I have had outstanding Decembers and bad Decembers.

Interior BC skiing is very sketchy at that time, probably okay is the best I could say.

Can't speak for Whistler at all.

if you are booking a long way in advance your best bet is Sunshine Village. Unless some freak weather happens you will be skiing and likely in lots of fresh 100% natural snow.

Forget the glitz and the glam of the big US names, give the Alberta Rockies a try and I guarentee you will be back. plus save a tonne of money and ski an extra week or more.
post #8 of 14

The snow is usually the best early season you can get, and if it blows you can go to Canyonlands, Moab, or Grand staircase.

Good hiking and/or singletrack.....
post #9 of 14
JHMR doesn't open until early Dec, 7-10th depending on the calendar. Some years there was little snow some years were epic in Dec. Ya just have to make your reservations and then start praying to the snow gods.
post #10 of 14
Sunshine Village - Banff opens Nov 11th so I would say that is a pretty good indicator of early season reliability
post #11 of 14
Tony Crocker knows. Look his studies up.
post #12 of 14
Utah is great and usually gets a good early season. Park City has a fun "downtown" area to get good food and half strength beer. If you want full strenght beer, strong drinks and Colorado go to Wolf Creek in Southern Colorado. Stay in Pagosa Springs. The nightlife sucks, but the beer is good. Durango and Silverton are a hour to an hour and 1/2 away. Durango is a smaller mountain with less challenging terrain and good nightlife (especially if you want to see what a "Texan" is like). Silverton is a whole nother story. Make sure you do your homework before visiting.
post #13 of 14
Brighton, Utah is usually open the first week of November, with the other BCC/LCC resorts opening from the second week of November on.

To give you an idea of what early season Utah can look like, check out these photos from 10-31-04, Halloween day last year.

post #14 of 14
That much powder on Halloween? That sure is a "treat". You better not be trying to "trick" us!
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