Ski Season in Vermont – Tentative Opening Dates and Expansion Overview

By AlpineZone News |
Nov 01 2012 - 09:07 AM

STATEWIDE, VT – While we celebrate Halloween and the final show of autumnal color, Vermont ski resorts are preparing for first chair and opening their arms to winter. As temperatures drop, new snow-making equipment will fire up, and beautiful layers of white will start to cover the rivulets of trails winding down Vermont mountains. Make sure you’re prepared with a fresh tune and pass or ticket in hand as opening days are just around the corner.

Tentative Opening Dates:

  • Killington Resort: Opened for pass holders October 13-14, 2012! Full opening day expected early November
  • Stowe Mountain Resort: Saturday, November 17, 2012
  • Sugarbush Resort: Saturday, November 17, 2012
  • Okemo Mountain Resort: Saturday, November 17, 2012
  • Stratton Mountain: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
  • Mount Snow Resort: Friday, November 21, 2012 (11/17 if possible)
  • Smugglers’ Notch Resort: Friday, November 23, 2012
  • Bromley Mountain: Friday, November 23, 2012
  • Jay Peak Resort: Saturday, November 24, 2012
  • Bolton Valley: Saturday, December 8, 2012
  • Middlebury College Snow Bowl: Friday, December 14, 2012
  • Magic Mountain: Saturday, December 15, 2012 (12/8 if possible)
  • Mad River Glen: Saturday, December 15, 2012 (earlier if possible)
  • Pico Mountain: Saturday, December 15, 2012

For a taste of what Vermont ski resorts are doing to prepare for opening day:

Smugglers’ Notch Resort:

An investment of over $1,000,000 in snowmaking enhancements brings an additional 150 high efficiency tower guns and a new electric compressor to Smugglers’ Notch Resort. This investment will allow more snow to be made at a wider temperature range and with greatly reduced energy costs. New guns have been positioned to provide increased coverage on selected popular trails on each of Smugglers’ three mountains. Smugglers’ plans to kick off ski and ride operations on Friday, November 23, 2012, the day after Thanksgiving, with intermediate terrain on Sterling Mountain available for skiers and riders to enjoy with early season lift ticket and lodging pricing.

A popular early season event (now in its 18th year) is the resort’s annual BrewFest showcasing local and regional breweries on December 8, 2012. The evening features music, munchies and giveaways along with 8 beer samples and a souvenir glass for the $18 entry price. A group package for the weekend is available (1-800-521-0536).

Smugglers’ family programs were recently recognized as #1 among Eastern ski resorts by SKI Magazine readers in the magazine’s annual resort survey. This is the 14th year that Smugglers’ has received this recognition. The resort’s extensive programming begins on December 7, 2012 with SuperSaver pricing in effect through December 20, 2012. SuperSaver rates start at $85 per youth (3-17) and $115 per adult per night. Smugglers’ winter vacation packages include mountainside condominium lodging; daily lift tickets; snow tubing, access to the cross country ski and snowshoe trails; use of the indoor heated pool and hot tubs and indoor FunZone with games and climbing inflatables and teen centers; and family and adult evening entertainment. (; 1-855-814-7325)

Stratton Mountain Resort:

The season’s first snowflakes fell at Stratton on October 8, an early sign of the snowy and cold winter meteorologists are calling for. Stratton’s investments and improvements in an extensive snowmaking system, however, allow for what the weatherman cannot: a great snow guarantee.

Adding new snowguns to the arsenal, expanding coverage and increasing overall efficiency lets Stratton to lay down the white carpet over 93% of terrain. Getting that snow there is an art and a science, and our “mad scientist” snowmakers worry about just four things: air, water, temperature and humidity.

Cold, dry air is ideal for making snow, though Stratton’s snowmaking system allows for some flexibility thanks to the latest technology and innovation. Powerful land and tower guns combine air and water with maximum efficiency to make the same amount of snow with much less air and require less energy consumption. Over 250 million gallons of water are on-hand in Stratton’s reservoir system, which also allows almost 100% of water run-off to be recaptured and reused as next year’s corduroy.

Yes, Stratton has the firepower, but it takes experience and heart to make the kind of snow that gets skiers and riders talking. “It’s amazing what our talented team of skilled snowmakers and groomers can do with air and water,” said Mike Quinn, VP of Operations. “While I can tell you that we can cover a football field in three feet of snow in just one hour, what is really important is how the stuff feels under our skis and boards. It’s that commitment to quality that sets Stratton’s snow apart from others.”

Stratton Mountain plans to have that firepower at full force as soon as cold temperatures and low humidity strike, aiming to start the season on November 21.

Bromley Mountain:

Bromley will turn on the guns as soon as temps permit after November 1! We’ve installed 60 new, permanent, energy efficient snow guns over the entire top of mountain, Upper Corkscrew, Run-Around 1, Plaza and Peril. That brings our total gun count up to 310, spread out over 150 acres of our 178 acres of skiable terrain. Our projected opening date is November 23; work off your turkey dinner with us!

Stowe Mountain Resort:

Snowmaking investments continue at Stowe Mountain Resort. The winter of 2011-2012 proved that snowmaking is an essential component to any successful and sustainable ski resort. Nationwide, the winter resort industry experienced record-low snowfall for the past ten years. Stowe Mountain Resort received just over 200 inches of snow on Vermont’s highest peak, a mountain that averages 333 inches each ski season. However, even with undesirable weather conditions, Stowe had a good season last year. From snow surfaces to business outcomes, Stowe Mountain Resort differentiated itself from the industry with positive outcomes last winter. A key operational strategy to this success is snowmaking.

The ongoing on-mountain improvements that have taken place over the past eight years in Stowe are too numerous to mention here, but at the core of it all and the genesis of their half-billion dollar master plan is snowmaking. Beginning with the creation of a 116 million gallon water storage area named Peregrine Lake and New England’s first and only fully-automated snowmaking system on Spruce Peak, snowmaking at Stowe Mountain Resort has reached new heights.

This year Stowe Mountain Resort continues to invest in its state-of-the-art snowmaking operations with an additional 4.7 million dollars in new equipment and upgrades that include; 325 HKD tower guns, 150 energy efficient land guns, 16 Super Pole Cat fan guns and seven miles of new snowmaking pipe. In addition to supplementing its already superlative snowmaking, this year’s improvements will allow Stowe to operate with greater energy efficiency and eliminate 100,000 gallons of diesel storage, use and emissions. From a skier’s standpoint, the new snowmaking increases potential for more early season terrain, increases overall snow quality and allows mountain operations to resurface the mountain quicker.

Magic Mountain:

Magic Mountain has spent the summer adding two trails to its snowmaking system which covers 70% of the mountain. Expert trails Witch and Black Line are now on-line adding to snowmaking coverage on Magic’s famed West Side featuring some the East’s most difficult and challenging terrain. In addition, Magic’s volunteer army has been out in force on three weekends this fall clearing and opening up its existing network of tree-skiing glades while also creating an entirely new glade. The new glade is not on the trail map, but just ask a few of the regulars and they will be more than happy to show you where it is.

With Magic’s trails tightly mowed and cleared, the ski area will be ready for both man-made and natural snow for a mid-December season opening. Depending on the level of help provided by the snow gods, Magic will definitely be open by 12/15 and, with any luck, perhaps a week earlier on December 8th. The Black Line Pub will be open Thanksgiving weekend, with our TimberQuest treetop obstacle course open that Friday and Saturday. Magic’s snow tube park is a possible Thanksgiving holiday opening as well if snowmaking temperatures cooperate. Please stay tuned to for updates.

Sugarbush Resort:

Sugarbush Resort is heading into the 2012-2013 season primed and ready to hit the ground running. Snowmaking begins in earnest as soon as temperatures permit. Opening day at Lincoln Peak is scheduled for November 17th. Last season’s purchase of 40 new high-efficiency snowmakers adds to the already large capacity of snowmaking output at Sugarbush. These new guns allow Sugarbush snowmakers to make more snow, more efficiently and at a wider range of temperatures.

Not only is Sugarbush laying down more snow Sugarbush is making sure trails are in tiptop condition as well. Sugarbush boasts a Piston Bully Elite Fleet of groomers. This year Sugarbush has purchased another Piston Bully groomer to add to the fleet. The grooming technologies Sugarbush deploys allow for grooming of steeper slopes, better maintenance of trails and ultimately better conditions for the skier and rider.

Combine the latest in snowmaking and grooming technology and Sugarbush can all but guarantee some of the best skiing and riding around early season and throughout the winter even if Mother Nature isn’t cooperating. But it’s not all about snowmaking. Sugarbush is blessed with an average of 269” of snowfall each year. Perched along the spine of the green mountains that includes Vermont’s third highest peak, Sugarbush is well sited to take advantage of abundant natural snowfall. What’s more? Long-range forecasts are predicting a cold and snowy winter, which means that Sugarbush is in for a great season.

Bolton Valley:

Bolton Valley plans to start making snow toward the end of November. They will focus on getting trails off of Vista Peak open first. The planned opening date is Saturday, December 8th.

Okemo Mountain Resort:

Effects of the “Frankenstorm” and long-range, multi-colored weather maps predicting a weak-to-moderate El Nino year with above-average snowfall in the Northeast are spreading through social media like Vermont maple syrup on a warm pancake.

Okemo Mountain Resort is ready for whatever Mother Nature sends its way. Lifts have been load-tested, tower guns are poised and snowmakers are waiting for that first stretch of cold temperatures that will trigger the start of “Operation Winter.”

Okemo covers about 600 acres of ski and snowboard trails with snow blasting from nearly 1,200 guns. Okemo’s massive snowmaking system pumps 9,200 gallons of water per minute at full capacity and can cover a trail, making it skiable, in about 24 hours.

Okemo’s target opening date for the 2012/2013 ski and snowboard season is Saturday, Nov. 17. Season passes are on sale now. Skiers and riders can follow the progress of winter preparations on Okemo’s facebook page or follow @okemomountain on Twitter and keep track of how close opening day is with #countdown2skiseason.

Mount Snow Resort:

The big guns are ready to go at Mount Snow. Did you know that Mount Snow’s powerful snowmaking system can fill an Olympic-size swimming pool with snow in just 47 minutes? With a state-of-the-art arsenal of snow guns, anchored by more than 250 high output/high efficiency fan guns, once the temperature drops below the freezing mark for a couple of days skiers and riders will be seeing a lot of snow being made in a short period of time. The resort’s goal is to open with a quality product before Thanksgiving weekend with top-to-bottom runs for all ability levels, including a full terrain park at Carinthia. North America’s only six passenger bubble chair, the Bluebird Express, will service all open terrain from the summit of Mount Snow, the Discovery Triple will provide access to learning terrain and Nitro Express Quad will get freestyle skiers and riders to the top of Carinthia. Early season ski and stay specials are available at including the Thanksgiving Getaway package – book two nights, get the third night free. For the most up-to-date details on snowmaking and opening day, visit

Killington Resort:

In conjunction with Green Mountain Power and local Vermont farmers, methane gas from cow manure will be converted into electricity to “mooove” the K-1 Express Gondola. Killington Resort is pleased to announce that it will power its K-1 Express Gondola during the 2012-13 season with electricity generated directly from cows on Vermont dairy farms. The initiative was made possible through Killington’s enrollment in Green Mountain Power’s Cow Power program, which enables GMP customers to purchase all or part of their electricity at a premium and support Vermont’s dairy farms as well as the development of new cow power projects across the state.

Killington Resort has not announced the official opening day of the 2012-13 winter season yet, however, once the temperatures drop, our snow guns will be turned on for the second time this season. Optimal snowmaking temperatures allowed the resort to open for a pass holder event on October 13-14, 2012 that featured early season skiing and riding on one trail, Rime, with two lifts spinning.

Pico Mountain:

In celebration of the 75th Anniversary, Pico Mountain is introducing the 2012-13 Vermont Student Pass for $75 when purchased by December 1, 2012. This pass offers Vermont students, Kindergarten through 12th grade, unlimited access to Pico Mountain’s 53 trails for the 2012-13 winter season. Additionally, Pico Mountain has added a new trail for the 2012-13 winter season giving the mountain a total of 53 trails and plans to open on December 15, 2012 for skiing and riding.

Mad River Glen:

Over the first 17 years of co-op ownership, Mad River Glen has invested nearly $5 million in capital improvements. Unlike other ski areas Mad River’s goal is to maintain and preserve the experience rather than overhaul or upgrade it. Both the skier-owners and the management understand that skiers come to Mad River for the unique combination of legendary terrain, sense of community, low skier density and intimate atmosphere. “We don’t want to mess with a winning combination,” President Jamey Wimble explains, “Our capital plan is designed to maintain the existing infrastructure and to make small changes that will improve the overall experience for our skiers.”

While most of this year’s projects are relatively mundane and will not be obvious to many skiers, they are nonetheless very important to Mad River’s goal of keeping the buildings, lifts, and mountain in good shape and enhancing the overall experience for the skiers. The biggest chunk of the capital budget was earmarked for trail work, lift maintenance, and buildings. “Nothing fancy,” admits Mountain Manager Nate Martin, “Our skiers just want to come and have a great ski experience. Our job is to make sure everything is safe and it works, from the bathrooms to the lifts.”

 Jay Peak Resort:

As part of an effort to get people excited about the season and onto the slopes easier, Jay Peak announced that it is slashing the price of all of its lift tickets. Skiers and riders will see price drops in all ticket categories, from single to multiday, when they reload their tickets online. Some multi-day ticket prices will be lowered by as much as $50. A single-day lift ticket last year was $75. This year a single-day ticket will cost just $64—a drop of 15%. Single-day tickets for Vermonters will be only $50.

On the snow front, Jay Peak received a foot of the white stuff from two early-October storms and anticipates firing up its snow guns around the middle of November. The resort invested an additional $300,000 in its snowmaking system during the warm months to provide coverage on the trails that will be serviced by its new quad chair and across its new learning terrain.”

Trapp Family Lodge:

We have been running the excavator and chainsaws polishing out the trails for the upcoming ski season. We plan to fire up the snowmaking system before Thanksgiving, as soon as temperatures permit. In addition to our experienced returning crew of snowmakers, our new Director of Sports, Paul McNeil, brings with him years of nordic snowmaking experience, so our optimism for this winter is running high!