Ski season is here: Wolf Creek first US ski resort to open for 2021-22

Oct 16, 2021

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October is a month of beginnings: The beginning of autumn, the beginning of the holiday season and the beginning of ski season in the U.S.

Many resorts in the western U.S. have opening dates slated for late October into November, but the first opening of the season is already here. Wolf Creek in south-central Colorado officially opened its ski lifts today, Oct. 16, 2021, after 14 inches of fresh snow fell during a recent storm.

This is an early opening for the resort, the third earliest in history following its Oct. 13 opening date in 2018 and an Oct. 8 opening date in a prior year.

The Wolf Creek website lists Treasure Stoke, Bonanza, Nova and the Lynx lifts will all be open Oct. 16 and 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. before closing for the week. The slopes will reopen the following weekend.  The slopes will be closed during the week and will reopen the following weekend.

Right now, you can get lift tickets in-person at the ticket office priced at Local Appreciation Rates — $60 for adults, $31 for kids and $41 for seniors.

There are dining options available: The Upper Lodge is serving a limited menu, Pathfinder Bar is open and the Continental Espresso Bar is also open.

Wolf Creek has implemented 2021-22 COVID-19 operating precautions. Skiers will have to wear masks in all public indoor spaces. Group lessons are not currently available with the exception of Wolf Pups (which has limited capacity). Lifts will accommodate skiers who wish to ride alone or only in your group.

Additionally, enhanced cleaning measures, reduced capacity in indoor spaces (such as restaurants and even bathrooms) and employee requirements for vaccination or COVID-19 testing are all in place for the season.

Is the early season good for skiing?

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

If you live in the area and are hoping to get some early skiing in, you may be wondering if it’s a good weekend to head to the slopes.

Keep in mind that the resort is operating in early season conditions, which means that some obstacles such as rocks, small boulders, bare spots and short stumps will likely be unmarked.

Beginner slopes on Nova, Susan’s and Foxy are open, as well as most of the trails off of Treasure Stroke and Bonanza. However, extra caution is still needed — especially for beginners. The terrain in the early season is a bit more difficult to navigate and snowpack could be thin.

All that said, if you’re itching to get out on the slopes, the fresh snowfall should make for a beautiful weekend. Temperatures with highs in the upper 30s are forecasted with similar conditions expected for next weekend.

It’s rare for such a wide range of slopes to be open so early in the season, so locals comfortable on their skis can take advantage of less crowded lifts and fresh powder.

Additionally, you can get a jump on lessons — private lessons in the ski school are available for all ages and abilities, and Wolf Pups for kids 5 to 8 years old is open, too.

Related: 6 changes I hope ski resorts keep after the pandemic melts away 

When do other ski resorts open?

While Wolf Creek is kicking off early season this year, traditional “early season” ski openers, such as Loveland and Arapahoe Basin, won’t be far behind. In fact, Arapahoe Basin opens tomorrow, Oct. 17.

Here’s a quick rundown of the projected opening dates for U.S. ski resorts in October:

  • Arapahoe Basin (Colorado): Oct. 17
  • Timberline (Oregon): Oct. 29
  • Keystone (Colorado): Oct. 30
  • Loveland (Colorado): Oct. 30

Related: Best ski resorts for families in North America

Opening day at Loveland in 2020. (Photo courtesy of Colorado Ski Country)

Other resorts in the western United States will start kicking off the ski season throughout November. The East Coast trails behind, with the first slopes currently set to open in Maine and New Hampshire Nov. 20.

We can almost hear the clanking of the skis, the clamping of the boots and the yells of delight from here. Get your ski passes and ski resort award bookings ready to let the fun of the ski season begin.

Featured photo by Daniel Milchev/Getty Images. 

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