As we enter December, everyone gets an appetite to hit the slopes. So, whether you’re looking for an early start to the season or somewhere to ski over the holidays, we’ve got you covered. Here is our list of the best places to ski in December and unforgettable destinations with the best early-season skiing for your 2022-2023 ski season. We’ve included the right conditions to look for, and a variety of destinations so there’s something for everyone. Happy skiing (or snowboarding).
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Wherever you decide to go, you’ll want to check for the right weather conditions.
Oftentimes, the weather is still a bit unpredictable in December, so finding a ski resort with good weather and snow conditions can be tricky! Let’s break down the best conditions, and then we’ll discuss the best ski resorts for your early season start.
Here are THE BEST conditions for your ski season!
1) Good snow conditions
Some places have natural snow, while others rely on man-made snow. Either way, you’ll want to look into the snow conditions of every ski resort on your bucket list. All ski resorts tell you how many inches of snow they have. Ideally, you will want at least 6 inches of snow for a good experience and ski holiday.
Fresh snow is gold for avid skiers and snowboarders! So, if you see lots of snow in the forecast, book your tickets! But beware, if you’re new to the slopes, stay on the carved paths, especially after a fresh snowfall. There are usually lots of people on the carved terrain who can help you if you get stuck, and no deep or unexpected snow conditions to get in your way. Uncarved terrain can be dangerous if you don’t know your way around, so if you do go that route, be sure to buddy up.
2) The right temperature:
Make sure that the temperature is cold enough so that the snow won’t melt, but not so cold that you can’t enjoy yourself! Check the weather forecast to make sure that the days leading up to your big day on the slopes are good.
Rain is never a good sign. If the temperatures drop below freezing after it rains, the snow will freeze over and set you up for a slippery day in the mountains. If the temperatures don’t drop below freezing after a good rainfall, you’ll be navigating your way through slush rather than snow. So, if you see rain in the forecast, err on the side of caution and look for a new location.
Watch out for warmer weather, especially if the sun is shining. These conditions could mean you’re in for a slushy experience. The ideal temperature for skiing or snowboarding is between 10 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This will ensure that the snow is good, but you’re not too cold!
3) Time of day:
There is no bad time to hit the slopes! The paths are always lit up and paved, it simply depends on your preference. Just be sure to check the temperature, because depending on the time of day, they can change quite drastically. Never assume the weather will stay the same all day long.
Other conditions to keep in mind:
4) Windy conditions
Windy conditions could easily dampen your experience. Especially if you want to conquer the tallest mountain. Wind knocks you off balance, makes you extremely cold, throws snow in your face, and overall makes for a rough day on the slopes.
5) Sunny conditions
Sunny conditions are not something to be afraid of as long as the temperatures don’t rise enough to melt the snow. Sunny days are called Bluebird days in the ski world, and they make for a beautiful day in the mountains. If you’re looking for a good day for a family ski trip this December, a bluebird day is always a great choice!
6) Foggy conditions
Foggy conditions are okay depending on how far you can see. Oftentimes, the fog makes for a more mystical and adventurous experience. Be sure to stay on carved trails and runs where they’re lit up so you don’t get lost, and be careful not to wander out alone. Sometimes, if you can make your way up to a higher peak, you’ll see above the clouds. These conditions can make for a magical view that will make you feel like you’re riding on the clouds themselves.
So, with these key weather conditions in mind, where are the best locations and resorts in the US to book for your ski trip?
Keep reading to discover the top ski resorts and the best places to ski in December.
2022 opening date: October 28th
Keystone Colorado ski resort is a great place to go if you’re looking for a family-friendly skiing experience. With slopes for all abilities and a village that has something for everyone, Keystone is a great choice for your ski trip. The resort is also known for its excellent snowmaking capabilities, so you can be sure to get your fix of powder no matter what the weather conditions are like.
Keystone is a great destination for your Christmas vacation! From their snow-fort grand opening, and a firework show, to their torchlight parade.
2022 opening date: November 18th
Alta ski resort is located in the Wasatch Mountains in Utah and is one of the oldest ski resorts in the United States. They’re gearing up and excited for their 85th winter. They have a family-friendly atmosphere and some of the best snow conditions in the country. Alta ski resort usually opens around Thanksgiving, so it’s a great place to go if you want an early start to the season.
The resort is known for its challenging slopes, so it’s not ideal for beginners. However, there are plenty of other resorts in the area that are better suited for those just starting out. If you’re an experienced skier or snowboarder looking for a challenge, Alta is definitely the place for you. If not, check out the other ski resorts in the area.
In case you’ve ever wanted to go skiing with Santa, now is your chance! Santa will be making his appearance on Christmas even for a magical day on the slopes.
2022 opening day: November 11th
Mammoth Mountain Ski area is a world-famous ski resort located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. With 3,500 acres of skiable terrain, 300 inches of annual snowfall, and an elevation of 11,053 feet, Mammoth Mountain ski area is one of the largest and most popular ski resorts in the United States. Mammoth Mountain is well-suited for all ages and levels.
From their night of lights, live music, and fireworks, Mammoth mountain is a beautiful place to spend your holiday. They even have a weekend Après-ski party coming up that you won’t want to miss. Check out this article to learn more about après-skiing.
2022 Opening day: October 23
Arapahoe Basin ski resort is a world-famous ski resort located in the Arapaho National Forest in Colorado. With 3,518 acres of skiable terrain, 186 inches of annual snowfall, and an elevation of 13,050 feet, Arapahoe Basin ski resort is another one of the largest ski resorts in the United States. The resort has something for people of all ages and levels, with plenty of slopes to choose from, terrain parks, and a friendly atmosphere to explore.
Check out their NYE moonlight dinner party for a night of tasty food, complimentary sparkling wine, and live music! And don’t worry, even if you don’t catch this moonlight dinner party, they have more on their calendar.
Arapahoe Basin ski resort is known for its range of festive activities and events that take place throughout December. From holiday shows and fireworks to Santa visits and Christmas tree lightings, there’s definitely something for everyone at Arapahoe Basin ski resort during Christmas.
2022 opening day: November 18th
Killington ski resort is a world-famous ski resort located in the Green Mountains in Vermont. With 4,241 acres of skiable terrain, 230 inches of annual snowfall, and an elevation of 4,395 feet. Killington is great for people of all ages and skill levels.
Get ready for Killington’s NYE firework show and groomer parade. This an exciting destination for your Christmas vacation!
2022 opening day: November 17th
Sunday River Resort is a world-famous ski resort located in the Mahoosuc Range in Maine. With 870 acres of skiable terrain, 180 inches of annual snowfall, and an elevation of 2,815 feet, Sunday River Resort is great for people of all ages and skill levels.
Not only does Sunday River resort celebrate the holidays, but December is also their resort’s birthday. This means an over-the-top celebration for all! You can expect fireworks, fire dancers, and Santa Sunday with 250+ Santa coming to ski in full costumes. And on top of Santa Sunday, there’s even Santa week.
December is a magical time of year, and there’s no better place to celebrate than at one of the many ski resorts that offer special Christmas events. Wherever you decide to go, happy skiing and snowboarding to all!