Ski season starts today with the first U.S. ski resort openings of the year
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Each year, there's an unofficial race to see which ski resort will be the first one in the United States to start running lifts up and down the mountain.
And now we have our winner.
Arapahoe Basin (A-Basin), after teasing a "coming soon" announcement, will technically be the first North American ski resort to open as of today, October 11.
Meanwhile, with its earliest opening in two decades, Keystone Resort about 80 miles west of Denver in Colorado is set to open for the season tomorrow -- Saturday, Oct. 12. For a few hours today it looked like they would be the first resort to open this year, before A-Basin's last-second announcement.
That whole area just got a solid snowfall this week, but that's not the only secret behind the early opening. The very family-friendly Keystone Resort has set a goal of an early start and worked toward that goal with, as they put it, "significant investments to its snowmaking infrastructure and installing a new state-of-the-art, automated snowmaking system that allows the resort to operate more efficiently and productively during the early season."
Loveland, meanwhile, has tweeted that it will not open this weekend as there is still a good amount of snow to make for the bottom half of the mountain.
On Keystone's opening day, there will be access to the River Run Gondola and Montezuma Express lift that can take you up to the long and winding Schoolmarm, Silver Spoon and Last Chance. Keystone shares that Skiing and riding access will be offered from the top of Dercum Mountain to the bottom of the Montezuma Express lift. Day one riders and skiers can also help themselves to hot chocolate, donuts and coffee at the River Run Gondola -- with the first 100 in line getting a free pancake breakfast at Summit House.
Long ski seasons are great news for many sets of people, but especially for those with ski season passes. If you have an Epic Pass, you can start putting it to use as early as tomorrow at Keystone. Those with the Ikon Pass can start swiping it today at A-Basin. Note that Epic Pass prices increase again as of Oct. 13. Ikon Pass increase will happen on Oct. 17.
Here's a breakdown of all of the major U.S. ski pass programs. If you want to pick up some free Epic ski days for your child, Oct. 13 is also the deadline for the Epic SchoolKids Pack. There is no residency restriction, but you do have to apply in person in Colorado. Here are other ways kids can ski for free this season.
While we are talking about "free", the Hyatt Place Keystone is extremely close to the base of Keystone and not far from A-Basin and rings in at just a Category 4 Hyatt, meaning that an annual Category 1 - 4 award from the World of Hyatt Credit Card or 15,000 Hyatt points is all you need to book an award night near the first ski resorts to open this year in the U.S.
We're crossing fingers for a great 2019 - 2020 ski season. If you haven't mapped out your trips this year, here's a points and miles guide to ski vacations.