Utah ski resort makes a surprisingly early prediction for when it will snow

The Cedar City resort says El Niño weather pattern, snowmaking will allow for its second-earliest start to season.

(Brian Head Resort) Skiers and snowboarders ride a lift at Brian Head Resort on Nov. 4, 2022, the earliest opening day in the ski area's history. The resort is planning for a Nov. 10 opener in 2023-24.

Last year, Brian Head Resort broke the seal on an exceptional ski and snowboard season when it started its lifts churning on Nov. 4 — the earliest ever for the resort and the estimated fifth earliest in Utah history.

If this season’s projected opening date is any indication, operators of the state’s southernmost ski area are optimistic that 2023-24 will be just about that good again.

Brian Head announced Thursday that it expects to begin winter operations on Friday, Nov. 10. That early opener, according to a news release, will be the product of “a forecasted El Niño weather pattern, combined with the highest base elevation of any Utah ski resort and improved snowmaking systems.”

To open Nov. 10 would likely match the Cedar City ski area’s earliest opening prior to last year. General manager Marilyn Butler last year told The Tribune she looked back through 22 years of data and couldn’t find an earlier opening date. The last time the resort opened Nov. 10 was in 2000.

When Brian Head beat Solitude Mountain Resort and Brighton Resort to the bell last year, it was the result of a gutsy move banking on an incoming storm after the resort received 17 inches of late-October snow.

Park City Mountain is the only other resort in Utah to have announced its predicted opening date. It is eyeing Nov. 18.

Lift tickets at the resort cost $29 in advance for opening day and various days throughout the season. Kids 12-under ski for free. New this season, first-time skiers and riders age 13 and older are free with the purchase of an adult ticket.

As part of $1 million in improvements, Brian Head has expanded snowmaking coverage on the Lower Aught trail and added a new snowcat for grooming. It also thinned trees to add gladed trails under the Wildflower lift and on the Shotgun trail located near the Giant Steps Express.

Construction has already begun on a new 2,000-acre ski-in, ski-out development at Brian Head that will add a third lodge and 850 acres of skiable terrain.