Heavy October Snows Enable Early Openings for Ski Resorts

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With Early Snow, Colorado’s Ski Season is Off to the Races This Weekend

By Steve Graham

Early fall snow may have snarled up commutes and closed schools this week, but Colorado’s ski resorts are looking on the bright side. With plenty of fresh powder several mountains are opening early for skiers and snowboarders.

Here is an update on several Colorado resorts, in order of their opening date. If your favorite spot isn’t on the list, fret not. More than half of the resorts in Colorado will open by the end of November.

Arapahoe Basin

In what has become a fairly predictable annual tradition, Arapahoe Basin was the first resort to open in Colorado. Lifts have been running since Oct. 11. The resort added 468 new acres last season, although not all the terrain is open just yet. A-Basin is currently operating one of its nine lifts, serving a terrain park and the Lower Mountain Blues, a blue run (as the name suggests).

This is also the first full season for Il Rifugo, the highest lift-served restaurant in North America. Enjoy wine, espresso and charcuterie boards overlooking the Continental Divide at 12,500 feet. 

Loveland Ski Area

Just north of A-Basin is another early opener. Loveland Ski Area opened last weekend. Three beginner runs are open off the new Chet’s Dream ski lift. Loveland also is offering a new family private lesson option for first-time families. Snowstang bus service is serving Loveland for the first time this year, with $25 rides from the Denver Federal Center or Union Station. Discounts are available for children, seniors and the disabled. The service starts on weekends from December through April. 

Wolf Creek

Down south, Wolf Creek claims the most snow in Colorado. Enough of that snow fell early to allow an early opening yesterday, complete with a haunted house. Wolf Creek turns 80 this year, and celebrates by opening the new Orion’s Beltway intermediate run. The resort is also adding a new sunroom and a new menu to the Raven’s Nest restaurant at the top of the Raven lift. 

Eldora

Closer to home for many in the Denver metro area, Eldora Mountain opens today, two weeks ahead of schedule. Eldora is helping you get to the mountain faster with new parking lot buses and a new rideshare app for carpooling. The resort also has a new terrain-shaping machine designed to create more consistent and innovative terrain park features. 

Monarch Mountain

Outside Salida, Monarch also opens today for weekend skiing, the earliest opening since 1969. The date is all the more remarkable because Monarch is one of the only resorts in the state with no snow-making capacity. 

“How cool is Mother Nature?,” said Monarch general manager Randy Stroud. “We are super excited to get a little bit open this early.  Even if it is a run or two, there’s nothing better than strapping on those boards and going downhill. Let the fun begin.” 

He’s underselling his resort, too. Three lifts are scheduled to open today, alongside the ski and ride school, saloon and more.

Monarch also turns 80 this year. The resort will continue tree thinning operations and plans to open a new gladed-tree run and a children’s interpretive run.

Winter Park

Making sure its 80th season is extra long, Winter Park announced its earliest opening on record. After 40 inches of snowfall in October, the resort will open tomorrow, Nov. 2. 

“Mother Nature brought the snow to Winter Park especially early this year, so we are taking advantage of the conditions and are excited to open the mountain more than a week earlier than expected,” said Marketing Director Liz Agostin. 

This year brings a $6 million upgrade at Winter Park in the form of the new six-person Sunnyside chairlift. The lift will cut ride time in half and reduce lift lines at Parsenn Bowl. Winter Park is also adding new off-mountain adventures including nighttime and backcountry skiing and riding.

Copper Mountain

Next Friday, Nov. 8, Copper Mountain will open. Once the season is in full swing, expert skiers and riders can access 273 acres on Tucker Mountain off the new three-person Three Bears chairlift. The lift climbs up to 12,421 feet, serving expert terrain that was previously only accessible by snowcat or some extreme hiking.

Opening weekend also brings live music from Tea Leaf Green and the Chris Bauer Trio, and an open house at the Woodward Copper Barn, an indoor action sports complex, including pro skating sessions, athlete autograph signings and more.