Snow fell early in Utah this year, so much so that three resorts are running lifts and 10 of the 14 areas will be open for skiing and snowboarding for the Thanksgiving weekend crowds.
Brighton was the first to open on Nov. 11, one day before Solitude and two days ahead of Snowbird.
Brighton opened its Snake Creek Express and Majestic lifts.
All three are holding similar snow bases earlier this week – 29 to 34 inches. Which, in the days of snowmaking and grooming, is more than enough to afford good skiing.
It should be noted that the number of ski areas in Utah is back to 14. Eagle Point, formerly Elk Meadows, formerly Mount Holley, east of the town of Beaver, will reopen this season.
Closed in 2000, and after several attempts to return skiing, one that involved making the small resort open to private guests only, new management announced this past summer plans to restart lifts.
The resort is scheduled to open Dec. 15.
According to reports, Brighton received 44 inches of snow in late October, even while aspens in the area were still holding red and orange leaves.
More storms earlier this month allowed the resort to begin packing both natural and man-made snow.
Scheduled to open Nov. 12, Brighton opened one day earlier to accommodate veterans on Veterans Day.
Solitude, a few miles down the canyon, received similar snowfalls and opened, as announced, on Nov. 12.
Snowbird began its 40th year on Nov. 13, skiing and snowboarding on natural and man-made snow a week earlier than originally planned.
The resort opened its Aerial Tram, along with Gad Valley and Gadzoom chairlifts to access intermediate and expert terrain. It also opened its Chickadee lift, which accesses beginner terrain.
"The combination of recent snowfall, cold temperatures and a promising forecast should help us work towards opening additional terrain leading up to Thanksgiving week," said Bob Bonar, Snowbird president.
"The industry is exceptionally thrilled by the early season snow we are receiving this November," said Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah. "In addition to great Thanksgiving ski conditions, the early snow helps to boost consumer confidence and bookings for the remainder of the year."
Utah's ski season got off to a slow start in 2009, but finished as the fourth-best ever.
The total number of skier days for 2009-10 was 4,048,153, up roughly 2 percent over the previous year, which was 3,972,984.
The second-best season was 2006-07 with 4,082,094 skier days and the third best was 2005-06 with 4,062,188. The record season was 2007-08 with 4,249,190 skier days.
Resort opening dates
Alta. . .Nov. 19
Beaver Mountain. . .TBA
Brian Head. . .Nov. 20
Brighton. . .Nov. 11
The Canyons. . .Nov. 26
Deer Valley. . .Dec. 4
Eagle Point. . .Dec. 15
Park City Mountain Resort. . .Nov. 20
Powder Mountain. . .Nov. 26
Snowbasin. . .Nov. 25Comment on this story
Snowbird. . .Nov. 13
Solitude. . .Nov. 12
Sundance. . .Dec. 10
Wolf Mountain. . .Nov. 19