When Does Ski Season Start in Colorado: Key Dates


Colorado’s ski season is highly anticipated, drawing enthusiasts from around the world to experience the state’s renowned ski resorts and breathtaking mountain landscapes. Colorado is a premier destination for winter sports with an average of 300 inches of snowfall annually. Understanding when the ski season begins is crucial for planning the perfect getaway and hitting the slopes at the optimal time.


  • Colorado ski season typically starts in October, with some resorts opening as early as late October.
  • Weather and snow conditions significantly influence exact opening dates, varying from year to year.
  • Early-season skiing may offer limited terrain but provides the excitement of being among the first on the slopes.

When Does Ski Season Start in Colorado?

Anticipating the First Snowfall

The first significant snowfall in the mountains often marks the onset of the ski season in Colorado. Historical weather patterns indicate that the state typically experiences its first measurable snow in October, with some ski resorts capitalizing on early-season storms to kick off their operations.

Projected Opening Dates for Resorts

While exact opening dates can fluctuate based on weather conditions, many Colorado ski resorts aim to start spinning their lifts in October or November. Here’s a look at the projected 2023-24 season opening dates for some popular destinations:

  • Keystone Resort: October 25
  • Arapahoe Basin Ski Area: October 29
  • Winter Park Resort: November 3
  • Wolf Creek Ski Area: November 8
  • Breckenridge Ski Resort: November 10
  • Vail Mountain Resort: November 10
  • Loveland Ski Area: November 10
  • Copper Mountain Resort: November 13
  • Crested Butte Mountain Resort: November 20
  • Steamboat Springs: November 22
  • Beaver Creek Resort: November 22
  • Aspen Snowmass: November 23
  • Telluride Ski Resort: December 2
  • Ski Cooper: December 4
  • Monarch Mountain: December 6

Importance of Weather and Snow Conditions

Early season weather plays a crucial role in determining the quality of skiing and the extent of open terrain. Ski resorts rely on a combination of natural snowfall and snowmaking capabilities to establish a solid base for opening. Colder temperatures are essential for efficient snowmaking, allowing resorts to supplement natural snow and expand skiable terrain.

Planning Your Ski Trip

Choosing the Right Time to Visit

Consider snow conditions, crowd sizes, and resort events when planning your Colorado ski trip. Early-season skiing in November and early December can offer quieter slopes and discounted lodging rates, but terrain may be limited. Peak season, from mid-December through March, tends to have the best snow conditions but also attracts larger crowds.

Early Season Skiing Pros and Cons

Hitting the slopes early in the season has advantages and drawbacks. On the plus side, you’ll be among the first to make tracks on fresh snow and can often find great deals on lift tickets and accommodations. However, be prepared for limited terrain and variable snow conditions, as resorts may still be in the process of opening up additional runs.

What to Expect on Opening Days

Opening days at Colorado ski resorts are filled with excitement and anticipation. Many resorts celebrate with special events, live music, and giveaways. Remember that only a portion of the mountain may be accessible, and crowds can be substantial as eager skiers and snowboarders flock to the slopes.

Night Skiing Options

If you enjoy skiing after the sun has gone down and the stars are out, these are the ski resorts you’ll want to head to:

  • Keystone Resort
  • Steamboat Springs Resort
  • Howelsen Hill Ski Area
  • Hesperus Ski Area
  • Granby Ranch
  • Echo Mountain

Preparing for the Season

Gear and Equipment Checklist

Having the right gear and equipment is essential to ensure a smooth start to your ski season. Key items include:

  • Skis or snowboard
  • Boots
  • Bindings
  • Helmet
  • Goggles
  • Warm, waterproof clothing
  • Gloves or mittens

Remember to thoroughly check your equipment and consider tuning your skis or board for optimal performance on early-season snow.

Early Season Skiing Tips

Skiing early in the season may require adjustments to your technique and expectations. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Be prepared for variable snow conditions, from powder to packed powder to icy patches.
  • Stick to groomed runs, as off-piste terrain may have hidden hazards or thin coverage.
  • Take advantage of early-season deals on lift tickets, lessons, and rentals.
  • Dress in layers to accommodate changing weather conditions throughout the day.

Beyond the Slopes

Alternative Early Season Activities

If you find yourself at a Colorado ski resort before the official opening or when skiing is limited, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy. Many resorts offer scenic gondola rides, snowshoeing, ice skating, and snow tubing. You can also explore nearby towns for shopping, dining, and cultural experiences.

Ski Resort Amenities and Services

Colorado ski resorts offer a range of amenities and services to enhance your early-season visit. Most base areas feature dining options, from quick cafes to sit-down restaurants. You’ll also find retail shops for gear, souvenirs, and necessities. Some resorts even offer spa treatments and fitness centers for post-skiing relaxation and rejuvenation.


When is the earliest I can ski in Colorado?

The earliest ski resorts in Colorado typically open is late October, with Arapahoe Basin or Keystone Resort often leading the way.

How reliable are the projected opening dates for Colorado ski resorts?

Projected opening dates are subject to change based on weather conditions, so it’s important to check with the resorts for the most current information.

Can I ski in Colorado in November?

Yes, many Colorado ski resorts aim to open in November, with some opening as early as the first week of the month.

What should I be aware of when skiing early in the season?

Be prepared for limited terrain, variable snow conditions, and the possibility of early season crowds at some resorts.

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About the author

Simone Weisman

My deep appreciation for nature and active living strongly aligns with the vibrant outdoor culture of Colorado. My enjoyment of yoga, hiking, and exploring scenic trails provides me with a unique perspective that I bring to ReadyColorado.com. This personal passion enriches my ability to connect with and inspire our audience, whether they’re local residents or visitors seeking to explore all that Colorado has to offer.