The Top 9 Resorts for Early Season Skiing and Riding

Brent Thomas | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Ikon Pass
Credit: Ikon Pass.

Anytime you plan a ski trip you never know what the snow conditions will be like. This is especially true if you are planning an early-season trip around Christmas or New Year’s. To help you plan, below is a list of some of your best bets for snow conditions and available terrain open for the early season. The list comes from ZRankings who took a thoughtful approach to create this resource.

To make this list, some important factors were considered. They were:

  • Percentage of terrain open by December 25th
  • Percentage of winters where the resort has less than half of their terrain open (smaller is better)
  • The resort’s average seasonal snowfall
  • Standard deviation of snowfall (how predictable the snowpack will be)

#1 Alta, UTEarly Season Snow Score: 99.0

  • Average percentage of terrain open by December 25th: 96%
  • Chance resort has less than 50% of terrain open by December 25th: 5%
  • True annual snowfall: 517 inches
Alta
Alta has the best snow ranking as well. Credit: Robert Hortlund

#2 Steamboat, COEarly Season Snow Score: 95.9

  • Average percentage of terrain open by December 25th: 93%
  • Chance resort has less than 50% of terrain open by December 25th: 5%
  • True annual snowfall: 368 inches

#3 Brighton, UTEarly Season Snow Score: 87.9

  • Average percentage of terrain open by December 25th: 90%
  • Chance resort has less than 50% of terrain open by December 25th: 10%
  • True annual snowfall: 504 inches

#4 Mt Bachelor, OREarly Season Snow Score: 87.9

  • Average percentage of terrain open by December 25th: 90%
  • Chance resort has less than 50% of terrain open by December 25th: 10%
  • True annual snowfall: 383 inches
oregon, bachelor, ski resort
Mt. Bachelor, OR. Credit: Mt. Bachelor

#5 Grand Targhee, WYEarly Season Snow Score: 87.0

  • Average percentage of terrain open by December 25th: 100%
  • Chance resort has less than 50% of terrain open by December 25th: 0%
  • True annual snowfall: 466 inches

#6 Whistler Blackcomb, BCEarly Season Snow Score: 84.0

  • Average percentage of terrain open by December 25th: 86%
  • Chance resort has less than 50% of terrain open by December 25th: 10%
  • True annual snowfall: 419 inches
Whistler Blackcomb biggest Ski resort
Whistler Blackcomb is North America’s largest Ski Area. Photo Credit: Whistler Blackcomb

#7 Solitude, UTEarly Season Snow Score: 83.0

  • Average percentage of terrain open by December 25th: 85%
  • Chance resort has less than 50% of terrain open by December 25th: 10%
  • True annual snowfall: 437┬áinches

#8 Snowbird, UTEarly Season Snow Score: 82.1

  • Average percentage of terrain open by December 25th: 84%
  • Chance resort has less than 50% of terrain open by December 25th: 10%
  • True annual snowfall: 497 inches

#9 Fernie, BCEarly Season Snow Score: 81.2

  • Average percentage of terrain open by December 25th: 88%
  • Chance resort has less than 50% of terrain open by December 25th: 15%
  • True annual snowfall: 376┬áinches
Skiing Fernie Alpine Resort
Skiing Fernie Alpine Resort; image: tourismfernie.com

Honorable Mentions

Vail, CO – Early Season Snow Score: 76.6

Jackson Hole, WY – Early Season Snow Score: 75.7

Big Sky, MT – Early Season Snow Score: 75.6

Winter Park, CO – Early Season Snow Score: 75.2

Beaver Creek, CO – Early Season Snow Score: 73.8

Aspen, CO – Early Season Snow Score: 72.1

Park City, UT – Early Season Snow Score: 70.2


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