Guide to 2016 opening day terrain and lifts at Keystone, Breck, Copper and Loveland
2016-17 opening dates
Arapahoe Basin is the first in the nation, as usual, and now ski areas are about to fall like dominoes — if Mother Nature cooperates. A look at tentative opening dates for other resorts in the region.
Nov. 1-5 — Loveland Ski Area (exact date TBA)
Nov. 4 — Keystone Resort
Nov. 4 — Wolf Creek Ski Area
Nov. 11 — Copper Mountain Resort
Nov. 11 — Breckenridge Resort
Nov. 16 — Winter Park Resort
Nov. 18 — Vail Mountain
Nov. 18 — Eldora Mountain
Nov. 23 — Beaver Creek Resort
Nov. 18 — Park City Resort
Nov. 18 — Heavenly
Nov. 18 — Northstar at Tahoe
Nov. 18 — Kirkwood
One down, four to go.
On Friday, Arapahoe Basin welcomed the first day of the North American ski season in early-season style, with a new heir to the first-chair throne and bluebird skies as far as the eye could see. The day was freakishly perfect for an opening — it hasn’t snowed more than 3 or 4 inches since Oct. 19 — and the remaining four resorts in the Summit County area are praying for something, anything, before their scheduled first day arrives.
For now, local resorts are on hold before Loveland announces an opening day and Keystone’s lifts start spinning on Nov. 4. Here’s a look at what to expect from terrain, chairlifts, base amenities and more this November.
Loveland Ski Area | Early November
Mother Nature hasn’t been kind to Loveland. She hasn’t been kind to anyone in the local ski industry, but the recent rash of warm and sunny days has put a big damper on the ski area’s snowmaking operations. After the first true snowfall on Oct. 19, officials expected to open sometime this week with at least another day or two of natural snowfall.
Instead, officials confirmed on Tuesday that the ski area won’t open until the first week in November. But it’ll be worth the wait: opening day brings top-to-bottom service on Lift 1. That means more than a mile of skiing (and 1,000 vertical feet!) on Catwalk, Mambo and Home Run, with a base of at least 18 inches from tree to tree.
Keep an eye on the Loveland conditions website for more info on conditions and snowfall. Chances are the ski area won’t announce its opening date until one or two days before, marketing director John Sellers said.
Keystone Resort | Nov. 4
Keystone is taking a page from the once-in-a-century World Series matchup and throwing skiers a curveball. For the past decade or so, opening day has looked the same: snowmaking on the easternmost Spring Dipper trail, with lift access from the River Run Gondola and Montezuma Express.
This season on Nov. 4, snowmakers will instead open the west side of the mountain — Schoolmarm and Silver Spoon — with lift access on the same chairs, beginning at 9 a.m. The hope is to give early-season skiers more variety (aka gentler slopes) before storms boost snowpack on the manmade snow, according to the resort.
The new plan also changes early-season terrain park access. Rather than build a temporary park under the Ranger Lift, the park crew will open a small batch of rails on the stretch between Silver Spoon and the entrance to A51 terrain park. This should help park crew get the full-sized park up and running earlier, officials said.
Copper Mountain | Nov. 11
Copper wants opening day to be about much more than fighting for first chair. At 9 a.m. on Nov. 11, the resort welcomes the first skiers and snowboarders of the season at American Eagle Chairlift for skiing on Rhapsody, Main Vein and potentially a few others (nearby Bouncer and Fair Play are regulars). The party gets started at 8:30 a.m. with music from DJ Landry, plus free hot chocolate and donuts.
The day continues with apres music, beer specials and giveaways at Endo’s in Center Village from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., followed by the Welcome Home Party at Jack’s Bar and Grill at 1:30 p.m.
The party carries over to Nov. 12 with a cornhole tournament, music and more at Copper Apres from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Prizes for the tourney include Copper four packs, gift cards and Under Armour gear. Woodward Copper finishes the day with the Woodward Barn Bash from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., featuring free (yes, free) two-hour intro session, live music, pro demos and hip-hop from Denver’s Down2Funk at 5:30 p.m. The new Union Bindings and Videograss videos premiere for free at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday wraps things up with (what else?) a Broncos Watch Party from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Jack’s Bar and Endo’s. Both have drink and food specials, giveaways and more.
Breckenridge Resort | Nov. 11
No, it doesn’t look like Breckenridge is ready for skiing anytime soon, but yes, officials still plan to open on Nov. 11 with a tribute to local and visiting veterans in honor of Veterans Day.
Those bare slopes at Peak 8 and Peak 9 mean the snowmaking crew hasn’t confirmed terrain or chairlifts for opening day, but chances are crowds will load Colorado Superchair at Peak 8, with riding on Springmeier, Powerline and maybe Four O’Clock to Lower Four O’Clock into town — those runs are the standards for opening day. Still no word on Park Lane or the Freeway jumps and superpipe, but the bones of all three are starting to take form.