It's now November and, unless you've been making hikes into the backcountry, you're probably itching for those first turns at one of the many resorts in the area. For winter enthusiasts, there are few things that are as agonizing and fun as counting down the days till they're able to slide down the mountain again. So we thought we'd make it more convenient by listing the projected opening dates of all the resorts within 1.5 hours of Park City and let you know what kind of improvements they have in store for you this winter.
Projected Opening Dates
When the first lift takes off is, of course, heavily dependent on what kind of weather Mother Nature decides to bestow upon on. Ever since the first day of fall and its dusting of snow, we've all been guessing when the first big dump of the season will happen. Whether it comes early or if we are cursed with sunny skies and warm days into December is the ultimate deciding factor. In the meantime, mark your calendars for these resort opening dates:
- Nov. 16th - Brighton
- Nov. 19th - Snowbird (delayed, check website for updates)
- Nov. 23rd - Snowbasin
- Nov. 25th - Solitude, Alta (delayed from Nov. 18th)
- Nov. 26th - Park City (delayed from Nov. 18th)
- Dec. 2nd - Sundance
- Dec. 3rd - Deer Valley
- Dec. 12th - Powder Mountain
Utah's First Backcountry Resort
If you are a big fan of backcountry skiing and up for a bit of a drive (60 mins from Salt Lake City Airport and 90 mins from Park City), the inaugural season of Whisper Ridge Backcountry Resort begins this year. This is not your typical resort, full of lifts and restaurants, instead it's a massive cat and heli-skiing operation that grants access to 60,000 acres of steep, deep backcountry terrain. This is the first backcountry resort in Utah and given the custom adventures, from heated cat transportation to swanky yurts, at what's practically a private mountain, we're sure "North America's best kept secret" in winter fun won't stay secret for very long. You can book a tour with their experienced team and prepare for the big mountain adventure experience you've always dreamed of.
Resort Improvements for 2016-2017 Season
The competition is steep between ski resorts (pun intended!), meaning they're always looking to make improvements to lure skiers and snowboarders to their slopes versus the other guy's.
After dumping a massive $50 million into renovations at Park City Mountain Resort last year, the main news out of Vail is the EpicMix app's new lift line wait times feature. Theoretically, the app will allow you to navigate to the areas of the mountain that have the shortest waits, but there's no reviews in yet for how well this works if everyone heads off for the same lines. By now you've probably heard that Vail purchased the famed Whistler Blackcomb for a neat $1.06 billion deal. Although it won't be fully integrated this year, owners of the EpicPass will get five days at the Canadian resort this season.
Ever dreamed of skiing with a former Olympian? Head over to Deer Valley to book a half or full day adventure with one of six former Olympians through their Skiing with Champions program. Deer Valley has also offering a revamped menu at the stellar eatery "The Brass Tag" as a new chef takes the helm. The Montage Deer Valley recently launched Montage Expeditions, allowing high-rollers to take a day-trip on a private jet to experience the magic of Utah's National Parks during their mountain vacation. Also at Deer Valley, the Stein Eriksen Resideneces have been re-modeled to ensure top-tier lodging options for their guests.
Meanwhile, up at Snowbird they've been busy replacing tram cables with new fiber optic lines to ensure high-speed Wi-Fi in the recently completed Summit Lodge. The resort has also put $35 million into rebuilding the Creekside Lodge, tripling its square footage and eliminating shuttle rides to ski and snowboard school, and are expected to have the Cliff Lodge fully renovated for the upcoming season. Snowbird is also participating in the "Protect Our Winters" (POW) with their RIDE program which targets traffic congestion and CO2 emissions from people traveling and recreating at the resorts. Carpool (3+ people) to the resort and you're eligible for various incentives, including VIP POW parking, half price tickets, and various prizes.
Nearby Sundance Resort installed the new high-speed quad where the Arrowhead Lift used to be, bringing their total to six and Solitude renovated the Round House after it burnt down, making the trip for the expanded menu of Himalayan and Wasatch-inspired mountain cuisine more appealing than ever.
Finally, by mid-December Powder Mountain will finish the installation of two new lifts in Lefty's Canyon and Mary's Bowl, making an additional 1,000 acres of terrain, previously only accessible with all day cat skiing adventures, available to all their guests. With the addition of Mary's Lift and Village Lift, they increase their total acreage to 8,464 and claim the title of the largest resort in the country. Even so, they remain true to their mission of offering the "uncrowded, open, and adventurous experience POW Mow is known for" with a density of 1 per acre.
Utah saw a record-breaking 4.5 million visitors come out to play on the mountains last year, so here's to hoping this season will be even better.