Thanksgiving Week: Opening Days

By Matt McDonald

Forget pilgrims. This week, we’re thankful for ski season.

Why? This week, some of North America’s biggest and baddest resorts drop ropes on the 2018 – 19 ski season. 

Beaver Creek’s Cherry Chutes may not be knee-deep yet, but you can still chase that tofurkey with chocolate chip cookies and blistering hot laps. Or grab a Citradelic on the porch at New Belgium’s Ranger Station in Snowmass. Or gawk at Telluride’s Gold Hill Chutes as you sample early season San Juan bounty. Or break in your fresh Ikon Pass at Big Sky.

You get the point. If you want a ski-town Thanksgiving, here’s your guide to where, how, and when. 

*Opening dates are tentative. We recommend following your favorite mountains on social media so you don’t miss a last-minute early opening.

Aspen Snowmass, Colorado | Opened November 17 (Early)

Why we’re stoked: Once the first Aspen area opens for the season, you know the others aren’t far behind. May as well grab a room at the new Limelight Hotel and hunker down for a while.

Where to toast: Colorado to the core? You’ll need a Citradelic Tangerine IPA on the porch at the New Belgium Ranger Station. 

How to ski it: Ikon Pass, Mountain Collective

Beaver Creek, Colorado | Opened November 17 (Early)

Why we’re stoked: As if serving up daily chocolate chip cookies wasn’t enough, Beaver Creek’s opening day festivities include a cookie competition. Follow up your first turns of the year with sampler treats from five finalists. 

Where to toast: The exclamation point on the first day of a new ski season? Tequila. Grab a margarita at Coyote Café. 

How to ski it: Epic Pass

Park City, Utah | November 21

Why we’re stoked: The Sundance Film Festival returns to Park City on January 24. They may not accept your helmet-mounted GoPro edit from opening day, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Remember — if it’s not filmed in 4K, did it really happen? 

Where to toast: Utah isn’t exactly known for its nightlife or booze, but in Park City, you found the oasis. Now grab a double rye at High West Distillery and clank tumblers. 

How to ski it: Epic Pass

Telluride, Colorado | November 22

Why we’re stoked: Southwestern Colorado closed the first week of November at around 200% of its annual snowpack. That’s music to the ears of San Juan skiers. 

Where to toast: Brown Dog Pizza. It’s a staple. 

How to ski it: Epic Pass

Sun Valley, Idaho | November 22

Why we’re stoked: On the eve of opening day (that’s Wednesday, November 21), catch Matchstick Productions’ new film All In, which features as many high-profile women skiers as men, at the Opera House. Sleep, ski, then session the Thanksgiving Buffet in the Limelight Room. 

Where to toast: Don’t miss free shuffleboard, fat burgers, and crazy-good tuna steak (yeah, tuna in Idaho) at The Cellar Pub in Ketchum. 

How to ski it: Mountain Collective

Photo: Cody Whitmer

Big Sky, Montana | November 22

Why we’re stoked: It’s huge. It’s steep. It’s still relatively crowd-free. And on opening day, everyone’s a kid again.

Where to toast: The wings at Scissorbills Saloon stack up against the best, and the place has all the slopeside dive qualities you cherish — namely decent prices and a huge beer list. 

How to ski it: Ikon Pass, Mountain Collective

Whistler/​Blackcomb, British Columbia | November 22

Why we’re stoked: Canada may not give a hoot about pilgrims, gobblers, or stuffing, but there’s plenty to be thankful for north of the border this November 22. We’re thinking of more than 5,000 feet of vertical, nearly 500 inches of annual snow, and some of North America’s favorite ski terrain. Cue another season at Whistler Blackcomb. 

Where to toast: Why pick one spot when you can have four? Catch a tour with Bar Hop Whistler. 

How to ski it: Epic Pass

Alta, Utah | November 23

Why we’re stoked: When snow piles up, there are still few places we’d rather ski than Alta’s Mount Baldy. The terrain is sick, yes, but the down-to-earth vibe helps you reconnect with the soul of skiing.

Where to toast: Grab a room at the Goldminers Daughter Lodge, where breakfast and dinner are included. On opening day, sip your bevvy in the sun and people-watch the euphoric skiers who have waited too long for this day.

How to ski it: Ikon Pass, Mountain Collective

Jackson Hole, Wyoming | November 24

Why we’re stoked: While points south in Colorado and Utah struggled a year ago, Jackson Hole stacked up the powder days. Massive terrain, a community of pros, and healthy early snow indicate it’s still the place to be. 

Where to toast: Slip on your dancin’ shoes and stomp your feet at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. It’s one part watering hole, two parts time machine.

How to ski it: Ikon Pass, Mountain Collective

Snowbird, Utah | November 30

Why we’re stoked: The Gad 2 Chair drops you off above legendary tree skiing, where it’s steep and deep and tight and — 

We digress. Channel your adrenaline for midseason crushing into your opening day party laps. 

Where to toast: The Wildflower is a great place to relax. Order a pizza with arugula on top, shoot some pool, and do your best to be patient. 

How to ski it: Ikon Pass, Mountain Collective

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