Historically, Nov. 18 hasn’t been a particularly joyous day.
But this is the year Nov. 18 will be celebrated, at least by skiers and snowboarders who love Little Cottonwood Canyon. Because both Alta Ski Area and Snowbird Resort now plan to make Nov. 18 their opening day. Snowbasin near Ogden is getting in on the goods as well.
Just a few weeks ago, that date had the potential to be considerably more significant for the ski industry statewide after four resorts pegged it as the official start of Utah’s ski and snowboard season. Those resorts included Alta, as well as Brian Head, Park City Mountain Resort and Solitude. Following several weeks of snow storms and consistently cold temperatures, however, three of those resorts have since opted to open early and two of them are already welcoming guests.
Brian Head shocked the state when it opened Nov. 4. That opener was the earliest opener in Brian Head’s history and among the top five historically in the state. The announcement came from the resort shortly after Brian Head received roughly 17 inches of snow from a late October snow, with more forecast for the subsequent weeks.
“I’ve got to give it to Brian Head. They rolled the dice with that second storm,” said Jared Winkler, a spokesperson for Brighton Resort, which typically wins the race to be the first to open. “The first one was OK, and then they announced they were going to open on the anticipation of that forecast, and it worked out for them.”
Brighton ended up being the second resort to open when it got its lifts running Thursday at 11 a.m. That allowed it to narrowly claim bragging rights over neighboring Solitude, which twice moved up its opener before cranking things up at 2 p.m. Thursday.
Other ski areas have also decided to take advantage of the abundance of natural and human-made snow on their slopes. On Thursday, Snowbird moved up its opener from Nov. 30 to Nov. 18. Then, on Friday, Snowbasin and PCMR also bumped up the start of their seasons. Snowbasin will join the new crop aiming for Nov. 18, which would mark the earliest start in resort history. Meanwhile, PCMR moved up to Nov. 16.
“When it comes to skiing and riding, we know every day on the mountain counts,” Deirdra Walsh, PCMR’s vice president and COO, said in a media release, “and we are excited to welcome guests back earlier than planned for the 2022/23 winter season.”
PCMR instituted paid parking and reservations at its main Mountain Village base this year. However, that program will not begin until Nov. 18 while parking at The Canyons will still be free and will not require reservations for the duration of the season.
The ability for Utah ski areas to open early, and even provide fresh powder and a variety of terrain for their first customers of the season, stands in stark contrast to last season. Though October 2021 was one of the snowiest on record for the state, the moisture and cool temperatures, which are necessary for snowmaking, disappeared in November and December. That meant several resorts had to push back their openers.
Some ski areas have decided not to mess with their calendar even if they have the snow. Alta is one of those. Despite having perhaps the deepest base in the state, and having hosted many backcountry skiers on its slopes over the past few weeks, general manager Mike Maughan said he wanted to stick with Nov. 18 to give his staff time to get the resort up and running properly. Even with that extra time, however, visitors shouldn’t expect to spend much time on the east end of the resort. The upgraded Sunnyside lift, which will replace the old lift by the same name as well as the Albion lift, is not expected to be ready by the time the ski area opens due to supply chain issues. The hope is that it will be up and running by mid- to late December, according to Alta spokesperson Andria Huskinson.
Other ski areas staying the course include: Snowbasin (Nov. 25), Deer Valley (Dec. 6), Nordic Valley (Dec. 9), Sundance (Dec. 9) and Eagle Point (Dec. 16).
Four other resorts are also taking a wait-and-see approach: Beaver Mountain, Cherry Peak, Powder Mountain and Woodward Park City.
Update: Nov. 11, 3:30 p.m. >> This article has been updated to reflect changes in dates some resorts have made regarding their 2022-23 opening day.
2022-23 Utah Ski Season Opening Dates
Updated Nov. 11, 2022
Alta — Nov. 18
Beaver Mountain — TBD
Brian Head — OPEN
Brighton — OPEN
Cherry Peak — TBD
Deer Valley — Dec. 3
Eagle Point — Dec. 16
Nordic Valley — Dec. 9
Park City Mountain — Nov. 16
Powder Mountain — TBD
Snowbasin — Nov. 18
Snowbird — Nov. 18
Solitude — OPEN
Sundance — Dec. 9
Woodward Park City — TBD
— Julie Jag