Are you ready to hit the mountain this season? It's that time of year again – temperatures are getting colder and the opening day of the snowboard season is just around the corner! As die-hard snowboarders living in Colorado, we know the excitement that comes with the first day on the slopes. Let us guide you through what to expect on opening day and share some tips to ensure you're fully prepared for an epic first day of snowboarding this season. So, grab your board and strap in!
The Anticipation Builds
Countdown to Opening Day
The weeks leading up to opening day are filled with excitement. It's like waiting for a holiday you've been dreaming about all year! Keep an eye on the resort's official website or social media pages for the exact opening date. It's subject to change based on weather conditions, so stay flexible. Most resorts in Colorado try to get guests on the mountain in the month of November, but even then some can open as late as December or after depending on local snowfall and temperatures.
When is opening day?
Anticipated 2023 Opening Days For Colorado Resorts
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area: October 29, 2023
Winter Park: October 31, 2023
Keystone: November 1, 2023
Loveland: November 2, 2023
Wolf Creek Ski Area: November 3, 2023
Breckenridge: November 10, 2023
Vail: November 10, 2023
Copper Mountain: November 13, 2023
Eldora Mountain Resort: November 17, 2023
Purgatory: November 18, 2023
Steamboat: November 22, 2023
Beaver Creek: November 22, 2023
Crested Butte Mountain Resort: November 22, 2023
Aspen Snowmass: November 23, 2023
Telluride: November 23, 2023
Sunlight Mountain Resort: November 24, 2023
Powderhorn: November 25, 2023
Howelsen Hill: November 26, 2023
Monarch Mountain: December 1, 2023
Cooper: December 6, 2023
Ski Granby Ranch: December 9, 2023
Echo Mountain: December 15, 2023
Silverton Mountain: December 28, 2023
As a seasoned snowboarder, you know that weather can make a day incredible or one of the less enjoyable days on the mountain. Check the forecast frequently in the days leading up to opening day. Fresh snowfall can make your day even more epic, but it's essential to know what to expect also if there is not fresh snow expected for opening day. Some resorts within the same county or district can vary snow and weatherwise even though they’re just down the road from each other. Finding the best weather on opening day is a great way to start the season.
Getting Your Gear Ready
Check Your Snowboard
Before heading to the mountain, give your snowboard a thorough inspection. Make sure the bindings are secure, and the edges are sharp. This includes checking each and every screw on your binding that they are tight. Some binding manufacturers have a manual on how to make sure they’re bindings are tightened and ready to go for the season. Double check your binding ladders as they may have cracks or signs of over use that may fail you in cold weather. Local snowboard shops have replacements of these and finding a shop that carries your binding brand and picking up some extra ladders before the season could save a big headache later. If it's been a while since your last ride or you didn’t apply a summer storage wax, a fresh waxing is needed in order to ensure maximum speed and control on the hill. Your local snowboard shop can handle getting your edges tuned and your board waxed too if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself.
Dress for Success
Layer up! Dressing appropriately and having the best layers is crucial for a comfortable day on the slopes. Don't forget your gloves, goggles, helmet, facemask, snowboard boots, snow pants (lots of people forget their boots or snowpants on the first day) and a good quality snowboarding jacket. Dressing in layers allows you to adjust your clothing as the temperature changes throughout the day, and usually around opening day time, the mornings can be very cold and the afternoons very warm or vise versa if some unexpected weather rolls in.
Arriving at the Resort
Early Bird Gets the Worm
Arrive early if you want to catch the first chairlift ride of the day. This could be as early as 1-3 days of camping at the lift in Colorado with all of the first chair enthusiasts that we have around the state. Opening day is all about first tracks, and the early birds are the ones who get them. Be prepared to queue up before the lifts start running.
I-70 & Opening Day Traffic
Traffic from Denver to the mountains on opening day can get pretty busy. If you live in Denver or an area that requires you to take interstate 70 to the mountain, you might land yourself in some of this traffic. Leaving extra early on opening day could be necessary for you to get to the resort before the lifts open. If you arrive earlier to the resort than you anticipated, meeting fellow snowboarders and skiers or just enjoying the winter weather with a coffee in the parking lot is a great time on opening weekend, or any time for that matter.
Parking and Logistics
All of the resorts in Colorado can get crowded on opening day. Plan your parking and logistics in advance. Some resorts offer shuttle services from nearby towns, which can save you the hassle of finding parking. This is another important reason to get there early. You don’t want to arrive at 10:30 AM just to find out the parking lot is full and you now have to wait until a space opens.
Getting a Lift Ticket or Picking Up Your Season Pass
The ticket office is known to be very busy at most resorts on opening day. People forgot to bring their season pass, didn't receive one in the mail, or just were planning on getting it when they got there. It is going to be best to avoid this if you can. Buy your ticket online in advance or head up sometime before opening day to pick up your pass if you didn't receive it in the mail. Companies like Ikon and Epic usually send your pass ahead of time in the mail. If you’re picking up a day pass, pre-booking online can expedite your process.
Know Your Limits
While the excitement can be overwhelming, it's key to know your skill level and stick to trails that match it. Opening day is not the time to push your limits; it's the time to enjoy the start of the season safely, it's not worth taking a spill that could affect the rest of your season. A lot of resorts will only have a few runs open on opening day. Some runs will have only one run open due to snow as snowboarders and skiers call it - “The White Ribbon”
Helmets and Protective Gear
Safety should always be a top priority. Don't forget to wear a helmet and any other protective gear you usually use. It's not just about avoiding injuries; it's about setting a good example for others. A helmet can save you even if your the best rider. Being a good rider on opening day just doesn’t cut it. A helmet and protective gear could save your day and season. Sometimes it’s not your own skill you should be worried about, but the others on the mountain that may not be as proficient of riders and could collide with you.
Hitting the Slopes
Start with some warm-up runs on easier trails to get back into the groove. Remember, it's been a while since you were last on your board, so take it a bit easier at first and keep your speed within your control.
Trail conditions can vary on opening day. Expect some groomed runs, but also be ready for natural snow and potentially challenging terrain. Keep an eye out for early-season hazards like rocks and branches.
Hot Chocolate and Après-Ski
After an exhilarating day on the mountain, treat yourself to some hot chocolate at the lodge or your favorite après-ski drink. Many resorts have cozy lodges where you can take a break, relax, and sharing your shred stories with fellow snowboarders.
Meet Fellow Snowboarders
Opening day is an excellent opportunity to meet other snowboard enthusiasts. Strike up conversations in the lift lines or at the lodge. You might make new friends who share your passion. Opening day is all about getting the community back together for the season and kicking it off right.
Dealing with Unpredictable Weather
Snowmaking and Artificial Snow
If Mother Nature hasn't provided enough snow, don't worry. Many resorts have snowmaking machines to ensure there's just enough coverage on the slopes. They work their magic overnight and in the weeks leading up to opening day to create optimal conditions. Man-made snow is more coarse and harsher on your snowboard, so if you expect a good amount of man-made snow at your resort on opening day, a wax before hand will have you moving the best and protecting your base at the same time.
Be prepared for the possibility of weather-related closures. High winds, heavy snowfall, or other adverse conditions can lead to temporary closures, even on opening day. Always check the resort's website for updates.
A Memorable Day on the Mountain
Capturing the Moments
Don't forget your camera or smartphone! Opening day is full of unforgettable moments, from your first ride down the mountain to the celebratory cheers at the end of the day. There is always something on opening day that you wish you would have been able to capture.
Reflecting on the Day
As the day comes to a close, take a moment to reflect on the experience. Opening day is a celebration of your love for snowboarding and the start of another incredible season. Share how the day went with friends and family and avoid the four o’clock traffic leaving the resort.
Q: What should I do if the weather is bad on opening day?
A: Keep an eye on the resort's official announcements. They may delay the opening or close certain trails for safety reasons.
Q: Can beginners enjoy opening day, or is it mostly for experts?
A: Opening day is for everyone! Resorts typically have a variety of trails open, including beginner slopes. Most resorts will notify guests if they are unable to accommodate beginners on opening day
Q: Are there any special events or promotions on opening day?
A: Many resorts host special events, giveaways, or discounts on opening day. Check the resort's website for details.
Q: Should I book my lift ticket in advance?
A: It's a good idea to book your lift ticket in advance, especially if you want to secure your spot on opening day.
Q: How can I make the most of my opening day experience?
A: Arrive early, be prepared with your gear, and enjoy every moment on the slopes. It's a day to cherish!
Opening day for the snowboard season is a thrilling time for snowboarders like us. The anticipation, the rush of the first ride, and the camaraderie with fellow enthusiasts make it a day to remember. With proper preparation and a safety-first mindset, you'll have an unforgettable experience. So, get ready to carve those turns and create epic memories on the slopes. See you on opening day!