Plenty of ski areas open in early November— or even October— but for many skiers and boarders, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend marks the unofficial start to ski season. Along with reliable early-season snow— both from Mother Nature and snowmaking guns— these resorts offer special holiday activities that should make any visitor thankful to be on the slopes.
Vermont’s Mount Snow offers Thanksgiving dinner “take-out style.” The Thanksgiving Feasts To-Go serve 8-10 or 12-14 people. The full turkey dinner with all the usual fixings can be picked up on the hour from 1 to 4 p.m. on the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day. Orders may be made by calling 800-245-7669 and must be in by Monday, Nov. 19, at 5 p.m.
On Friday at noon, the annual Turkey Hangover Hillclimb will burn off more of those calories consumed the previous day. The run starts at the bottom of the Tumbleweed Lift. Costumes are encouraged for this free event.
The holiday weekend transitions from Thanksgiving to Christmas Saturday evening with the arrival of Santa and a torchlight parade down the Canyon ski trail at 5:45 p.m.
Sunday River in Maine tied Killington for the earliest opening in the East this year. More than a month into its ski season, Sunday River plans to have plenty of trails open and plenty of Thanksgiving food on the table. Camp restaurant in the Grand Summit Hotel will have Thanksgiving dinner available from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Turkey Day. Reservations are recommended and can be made at 207-824-5858. Cost is $28 for adults and $13 for children under 14.
On Saturday, Nov. 24, the resort will host a demo day at the South Ridge Lodge from 8 a.m. to noon. The $15 cost of the demo day could be a worthwhile investment when making out a Christmas wish list. Fireworks will cap off the holiday activities Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
Stratton in Vermont plans to open for the season on Nov. 21— a day before Thanksgiving. Before hitting the slopes on Thanksgiving morning, visitors can burn a few extra calories to balance out a big dinner by running in the Gobble Gobble Wobble 5K through the resort. Starting at 9 a.m., the run costs $35 with pre-registration or $55 on the day of the event. Costumes are encouraged for this fun race.
Santa evidently also likes to ski in the West, because he will be at Copper Mountain in Colorado on Friday, Nov. 23. The Jolly Ol’ Elf will light the Christmas tree in Center Village at 6:40 p.m. before joining his wife Mrs. Claus for photo ops with visiting families. Fireworks will follow at 8 p.m.
Steamboat plans to open for the season on Wednesday, Nov. 21. The Colorado resort will give free t-shirts to the season’s first 100 skiers and riders.
For Steamboat locals and visitors looking to get in the true spirit of Thanksgiving, the Routt County United Way hosts a Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the Steamboat Springs Community Center from 1 to 5 p.m. Volunteers are needed to fill 128 shifts to help with everything from turkey carving to the not-as-fun clean-up crew.
After cranking up its lifts way back on Oct. 19, Killington Resort in Vermont welcomes the world’s best female ski racers on Thanksgiving weekend. Held Nov. 23-25, the Killington Cup includes women’s slalom and giant slalom on the famous Superstar trail. Last year, the races set an attendance record for a FIS Women’s World Cup event in the United States. General admission is free, but tickets are sold for the best seating.
In terms of early-season snow and available terrain, Grand Targhee in Wyoming is traditionally one of the safest bets in North America. The resort celebrates its 50th season of skiing this winter. For Thanksgiving dinner, the Branding Iron restaurant serves a $39 three-course traditional meal from 2 to 8 p.m.
Sun Valley will have a double-dose of thanks with the Idaho’s resort’s opening day scheduled for Thanksgiving Day itself. Local restaurants will leave visitors with no shortage of options for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
Mammoth Mountain in California also has a wide range of traditional Thanksgiving dinner choices. Again to balance out those calories, the 4th Annual Mammoth Lakes Turkey Trot will cover 2 miles on Thanksgiving at 9 a.m. While 2 miles may not sound like much for those in decent shape, don’t forget that Mammoth Lakes is at an elevation of almost 8,000 feet.
While also appearing in Colorado Friday evening, Santa will magically manage to be at Mammoth at 6:30 p.m. for the Village Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony. (If you or your kids are curious, St. Nick uses the same magic for simultaneous shopping mall appearances.)